A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Fifty-One)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Fifty-One)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“I was too busy to hear tales,” “Dizzying Blade” says with shake of her mane.  “After demonstrating and defeating many of the girls and some of the boy horsies in sparring matches with different weapons I said I should win a prize each time I win.  They are a very competitive bunch so they agreed.  I told them for each match I win they must give me a bow and quiver and some of their spears.  Unfortunately, most of the girls would not be able to pull the horsies’ bowstrings, nor hold the thick shafts of their spears.  So, I said we would take their children’s.  A lot of little ones broke out in tears as I was given their play weapons.”  “Dizzying Blade” laughs and out of habit everyone including Olanis follow suite.

“Haven’t seen the “Harlot””, Olanis says glancing about.

“We’re to call her “Flag Weaver” now that she’s a proper woman with a single man,” “Wheel Turner” says.  “She and her lover are staying indefinitely with the Horse People.  She’s an ambassador now.  I’m going to miss her little sarcastic replies.”                       

“And where is the “Ship Builder”?” Olanis asks.

“Down below,” “Wheel Turner” replies.  “We’re going to get you your own ship as soon as the anchors are aboard,” she continues with a grin.

Standing beside the Captain on the fo’c’sle without her eyepatch Olanis sings loudly, “Grab the handles of the capstan ladies

Get the anchor to its place at the stern

Heave the ropes to raise the sails

We’re off

We’re off to the sea

Early in the day the Captain asked her to sing a song to rouse the crew.  She changed a few words to bows and arrows because they rarely used cannons now.

Prepare the bows and arrows

Sharpen whatever blades you carry

And drink up your share of rum

We’re off

We’re off to war!

As she sings Olanis sees “Unibrow”, Janice, and the Cannibal fill up the pewter mugs that the crew has attached to their capris with leather string.

“I’m on first watch,” the Captain tells her.  “Dizzying Blade”, “Wheel Turner”, “Storm Bringer”, “Ship Protector” Umi are with me.  You’ll have Zala as First Mate, Aarini as Helmswoman, Janice as Navigator, Arsema as “Ship Protector”, and Amelie as Master-of-Arms.”

“Aye,” Captain Olanis says with a grin.  “And Mesi and Althea?”

“Best let them sleep through it all,” the Captain says with a wink.

“Aye again,” Olanis says with a gleam in her eyes.  She tingles all over at the idea of playing captain.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

Book Review of Nnedi Okorafor’s WHO FEARS DEATH

Book Review of Nnedi Okorafor’s

Who Fears Death

by Dan Watt

Nnedi Okorafor, PhD. is a multi-award winning author including a Wole Soyinka Prize, The World Fantasy Award, Nebula Award, Hugo Award, and more.

Her current book: NOOR was released late November

However, this is about a book published eleven years ago by Daw Books, Inc. called:

WHO FEARS DEATH

Okorafor’s description of sand reminded me of Barry Lopez’s description of the many types of snow and ice in his Arctic Dreams (Vintage Publ. 1986, 2001).  Always shifting and changing.  Something to hide within during the night, or run from when the wind is so strong the granules tear gashes like tiny knives. 

Her writing felt so real it brought back memories of reading Elenore Smith Bowen and Laura Bohannan’s: Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1965).  Both Return to Laughter and Okorafor’s: Who Fears Death creates natural interactions that could happen anywhere in the world.  Throughout Who Fears Death, Okorafor deals with the very real emotions of desire, fear, jealousy, and misunderstanding. 

Where Okorafor’s Who Fears Death becomes more mythological is her use of JuJu for both violence and healing and her very realistic description of physical transformation.

The main character is written in first person.  Her name is Onyesonwa, a girl born of rape between a Nuru and Okeke.  The child of a Nuru and Okeke is called an Ewu.  Here, Okorafor includes in her narrative, the conversation of how humans treat children of rape, and biases based on appearance and gender that can lead to slavery, war, and perhaps genocide.

Eventually Onyesonwa will head into the desert to fulfill what she believes is her destiny with a group of friends.  While journeying through the deserts we, as readers, will learn that camels and other creatures are much wiser than we may have considered.

The natural way Okorafor writes the spiritual connection both the Nuru and Okeke have to the goddess Ani; her use of ju ju; and the connection Onyesonwa has with the animal kingdom in such a clear way has me wondering.  Did she sleep to wake in the Wilderness, and upon returning, remember what happened?

This is a story that will pull you in so that the soles of your feet press against the warm sand.  You will feel, hear, and smell what Onyesonwu and the other main characters do; until the very end.

I won’t say more because I want you to experience Nnedi Okorafor’s: Who Fears Death for yourself.

To learn more about Nnedi Okorafor and her books:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nnedi_Okorafor

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Fifty)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Fifty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Olanis wakes to the tinging sound of a cowbell Nippi keeps in the Galley.  It’s the single the Captain and the others have returned.  She groans as she pulls off her covers and dresses.  The first thing she sees is the Captain with “Storm Caller” heading down below deck.  She knows Alejandra will congratulate all the girls who battled last night and check on Gazala.  “Dizzying Blade” is already giving Arsema instructions.  She saunters over to greet those who returned.

“I want the Cannibal and Janet out of my room,” “Dizzying Blade” is saying in a tone that will tolerate no retorts.  “And I want all of my weapons placed back where they were but–,” she says as she rubs her chin in thought, “first get Amelie so she can be congratulated.”

“Aye, Master-at-arms,” Arsema says and dashes off.

“Greetings Master-at-arms,” Olanis says with a tired grin.  “And to you Helmswoman, and you Umi.” 

“Greetings,” each officer replies in turn.

As a completely exhausted looking Amelie steps up to the group, Olanis sees Arsema head towards “Dizzying Blade’s” room.

“You did a valiant job of defending our ship, Amelie,” “Dizzying Blade” says with pride until her eyes squint with suspicion.  “That dagger you have looks very familiar.”

Olanis watches with intrigue as Amelie very humbly holds out the dagger, with both hands palms up.

“You were exceptional, I heard,” “Dizzying Blade” says biting her lower lip.  “I have taught you well.  Hold onto it for now for soon we will be fighting a much bigger battle.”

Amelie’s eyes sparkle as she nods, flips the dagger so the handle is in her hand and disappears down the hatch, Olanis assumes to her hammock.

Following Arsema out of “Dizzying Blade’s” room is a disheveled Cannibal. 

“What happened to your neck?” Olanis asks Melinda.  There’s a thin red line in the centre and side of the Cannibal’s neck.

“Janet put her hammock too close to my bed,” Melinda says touching her wound.  “I got up to use the pottie and my head hit the rope of her hammock.  In a flash she cut me with a tiny blade.  I put one hand to keep the wound closed and the other up so she knew I meant no harm.  She never apologized but she did give me a cloth to cover the wound.  She’s a strange and deadly one.”

“That’s our Janet,” Olanis says with a grin.

“The Horse People have cannibals too,” “Wheel Turner” says.  “In some of their tribes they tie captured enemy male warriors between two trees.  The women bite off and eat their manly parts to improve fertility, and the men cut out their still beating hearts and devour them to gain their power.”

“That’s horrible,” Melinda says, and from the horrified expression on her face, Olanis believes she means it.

“The Horse People told you this?” “Dizzying Blade” asks.  “I heard nothing of it and I was there with you.”

“No.  Peg-leg told me,” “Wheel Turner” says knowingly.   “He also told me in some tribes the women cut off whichever breast is on the side they aim their bows with.”

“Perhaps,” Olanis says thoughtfully, “he is imposing other stories he’s heard on the Horse People.”

“Maybe,” “Wheel Turner” says with consternation.  “But it sure sounded real.”  Olanis sees “Wheel Turner” turn towards Melinda.  “He’s got a hooked hand where you ate most of his hand now.  And he’s called it Melinda in honour of you.”

The Cannibals face goes beat red.  “That’s so kind of him,” she says shyly.

“Peg-leg told me something as well,” The “Ship Protector” pipes in.  “as he looked at me with a sad ‘look at poor me’ expression and shuffled closer to me.”

“Come to think of it, he tried the same thing with me,” “Wheel Turner” interrupts.

“That’s when I pulled out my dagger and pretended to clean my nails with it,” The “Ship Protector” says.  “He told me when some of the Horse Peoples tribes capture enemy tribe women the women are given a choice.  They can become wives or be placed in a giant wicker like structure and burnt alive.  That their ashes are poured over the ground to make it more futile.”

“Fertile,” Olanis corrects her.

Where most of the weapons come from “Interview with Laura Suen, CEO of Fire and Steel”

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (part eight: blog forty-nine)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Forty-Nine)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Very little shocks Oli but Amelie’s both daring and simultaneously stupid attack, has.  She unsheathes her dragon claw katana and peers over the gunwale.  Well, that’s amazing she thinks.  Amelie is standing atop the body of one of the attackers, cursing the few still alive.  Meanwhile, Amelie’s friend, the dixopus, is fighting one sailor with the wooden practice sword and another with a steel sword; probably taken from one of the corpses.  She squints to see through the thinning mist and finds what she’s looking for.  There’s a pile of bodies.  And lucky be it, one of the corpses is holding a Miquelet pistol. 

“Hold the ship lasses,” she says before leaping down onto the pile of corpses.

She slips the pistol through her sword belt and joins the remaining fray.  She has no qualms about killing these men.  She doesn’t do it with quite the aplomb Amelie is.  Slashing, dodging with both her ninjato and dagger that looks vaguely familiar, while screaming out insults in French.  The dagger definitely looks like the one “Dizzying Blade” wears sometimes.  She leans back as a wooden trident with stone tips flies through the air piercing one of the male sailors.  The distraction is good enough to let her slit the throat of a sailor staring dumbfounded at the trident sticking out of his comrade’s chest.  

With a quick scan of the pinnace she realizes there are no enemy remaining alive.  “Let’s take what goods they have and heave them overboard,” she says when Amelie starts arguing with someone.  Oli squints into the dispersing mist and sees Amelie yelling at a very bright red dixopus.

“Leave the steel sword,” Ameilie is admonishing.  “It will rust in the salt water.”  Oli is quite intrigued when she sees the dixopus raise a central limb in Amelie’s direction and invert it so the suckers face up.  The dixopus slides into the water almost causing her to lose balance.  Once in the water one tentacle slaps the surface causing a spray to cover Amelie.

“Idiote dixopus!” Amelie screams at it.  Amelie starts picking through the corpses’ bodies, dropping anything worthwhile on the floor of the pinnace.  She notices that if Amelie doesn’t find anything worthwhile she kicks the corpse.  Oli finds this so amusing she sits on her own pile of corpses and watches.

Amelie finally notices her.  “How did you get here First Mate? Should we just toss the useless ones over?”

“Let’s make sure we thoroughly check them for goodies first,” Oli says jumping to her feet.

After they search each corpse they throw the corpse into the ocean.

“Do you know which girl?” Amelie asks her.

“Gazala,” she replies with a heavy sigh.

“Dead?”

“Not so far,” she replies with a weak smile.  “If Canneta and Areso can get the bullet out and sterilize the wound in time she has a chance.”

“Where?”

Oli can see the expression of failure on Amelie’s face.  If Gazala dies, and that breaks Amelie, Amelie will never become a full commander in the sisterhood.  “The forehead, to the left side.  Our amazing surgeons believe it’s lodged in the bone of her forehead.”

“I hope she lives,” Amelie says and continues searching.

“Good news,” Oli says.  “”Unibrow’s” arrow struck true and we can pull the other pinnace in.

“We did good,” Amelie says with a beaming smile.

“We did extraordinarily good,” Oli says, her own smile widening as she pockets a pewter jar full of gunpowder, and a leather bag containing ball bearings.  

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

An Interview with Laura Suen, CEO of Fire and Steel

An Interview with Laura Suen, CEO of Fire and Steel

By Dan Watt

I met Laura Suen, CEO of Fire and Steel, at the 2018 Kitchener Comic Con.  She was extremely busy but gracious enough to let me take a few pictures.  I’ve wanted to interview her ever since…

Where did the creative idea to start Fire and Steel come from?

Well firstly, I always loved geeky things! My family didn’t have that much money growing up, so I remember taking so long to save up to go to Fan Expo – a comic convention — as soon as I could afford it.

My older sister is a huge geek and I really looked up to her as a kid. We would spend so much time gaming, reading fantasy novels, and watching sci fi TV shows. I of course was the generation that was raised on Saturday morning cartoons too, which included a lot of Japanese anime. Personally I also loved martial arts and do kung fu on the side, so Fire and Steel was just the perfect way to combine my love of martial arts with geeky things.

For legal reasons I can only use weapons designed or created by Fire and Steel on covers, such as the one for the weekly blogged story A Motley Sisterhood Of Pirates! However, Fire and Steel has a large assortment of weapons from a variety of styles and sources. Could you tell us about Fire and Steel’s own weapons?

So I use to work as a physicist and from that, I learned how to 3D model. It’s funny how programs that would be used to design laser ion traps can be used to design swords too. Not everything we carry is modelled by myself of course, but there are a few things that we’ve designed in house! I feel so honoured you’ve featured several of them on your book covers.

Fire and Steel has all sorts of weapons including ones we see in cosplay, magna, comics, TV shows, movies, and traditional. Could you talk about the Japanese katana?

We sell Japanese katanas of all types and quality levels, so we hope you will be able to find something that suits your needs! We sell wooden training swords called bokken and bamboo practice swords called shinai. These are traditionally used to train with and you’ll see those items showing up in anime all the time. From there, we have carbon steel katanas, which can take some light impact but are more made for display purposes because it is a softer blade. Beyond that, we also carry high carbon steel katanas, which are typically sharp (battle ready) in several different grades. The higher the number, the harder the blade. These blades can typically take a lot of impact and are what you see in a lot of our “Will It Cut” YouTube videos.

YouTube channel

I was watching some of the video clips on Instagram and Facebook and saw something very intriguing.

You have the exact same weapons in different grades from metal to foam. This would be perfect for making a movie or TV show. Have any of your weapons been used in movies or TV shows?

Yes! Actually I’m so honoured to say you can see some of our stuff in the background of shows like American Vandals, In the Dark, The 100 and Power Rangers just to name a few.

Your foam weapons look like they’re made of metal. Great for cosplay, LARP, or if a young person wants one of the weapons. Could you tell us more about the foam weapons and their uses?

Foam weapons are great as safer alternatives for people who want to train with swords but don’t want to hurt themselves. In addition, they’re great for cosplay since many conventions and festivals, for safety reasons, do not allow steel swords to be carried around as a part of a costume, even if they’re blunted. For this reason, many people see foam as a great alternative and it saves people a lot of time since you don’t have to make your own sword anymore for your outfit!

Fire and Steel can also design specific weapons for customers. How would a customer go about ordering one of these weapons?

We do take custom requests normally, but COVID has thrown a bit of wrench in schedules and timelines. Please feel free to send us an email at support@fireandsteel.ca for a quote if you want something made – but who knows? We might already have it made and you don’t even realize it!

Fire and Steel is on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Are there are any other links you want to mention?

Our social media handle is @RealFireNSteel for TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We also are active on TikTok as @RealFireandSteel too! Find us there. Also of course, check out our website for updates:

www.fireandsteel.ca

Fire and Steel will be at the

Ottawa Comic Con

November 19-21  2021

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Eight)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Eight)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

*Interview with Laura Suen, CEO of FireandSteel.ca will be posted this week!*

As soon as she sees “Unibrow” beside Janet, dipping arrow heads into the flammable plant oil, she turns to the others.  “Keep low and prepare your arrows,” she reminds them in a tense whisper.  “Remember, we are used to the movement of the boat but you’ll have to adjust when you let the string go.  First nock the arrow, then hold until you get a feel for the movement of the boat, and know which way the wind blows and how strong.  Ready.  Today we show,” she spits into the air, “Barthodrow what our Sisterhood can do.”

When the girls are arranged along the starboard gunwale she turns to the fo’c’sle and holds an inhaled breath as “Unibrow” nocks her bow.

“Ready,” Amelie whispers.  She raises her own bow and nocks an arrow.  She nods at “Unibrow”.

“Wait,” she whispers as the heavy arrow with its burning tip flies.

There are shots in both Spanish and English coming from the pinnace now.  “Wait until you can see,” she says.

There’s a bang followed by a cry from one of the girls near her.  “Steady,” she says not taking her eyes off the ocean.  Cannetta and Areso will do the best they can for the girl.  “Unibrows” flaming arrow drops right towards the centre of the pinnace.  “Shoot!” Amelie shouts not caring if the men on the pinnace can hear.  “Vengeance for the fallen!” she shouts nocking her second arrow.  This time she waits until “Unibrow” shoots her second flaming arrow before she shoots again.  Now in a rage she stands up and shouts in English but as her rage increases in French, “Good luck trying to shoot anyone else with arrows raining down on tu, vous connard!”

The other girls follow suit; screaming out as they stand and shoot arrow after arrow into the pinnace.  The only ones who are silent are “Unibrow” and Janet.  When her arrows are all gone Amelie glances up at the fo’c’sle.  She sees “Unibrow” and Janet hugging each other.

“It’s done,” she says to the others with a croak in her voice.  Exhausted she turns to “Unibrow” and nods.  She sees “Unibrow” discussing something with Janet.  Janet points into the distance.  She watches as “Unibrow” launches another arrow followed by an even heavier arrow with a fish eyehook at its end.  Attached through the eyehook is a strong string.  Janet continues to stare starboard and talk as “Unibrow’s” arm quivers from adjusting her aim.  Finally “Unibrow” shoots.  Amelie feels like her heart has stopped as she waits.  If “Unibrows” arrow doesn’t stick someone will have to swim out to the pinnace.

As she waits she feels a bump from the portside of the Nague.   She didn’t think the Captain and others were arriving quite yet.  She hurries over to the portside.  As she glances over the gunwale her instinct tells her to turn to the side.  A bolt whizzes by her.  “Nous sommes attaqués—we attacked!” she shouts.  She pulls out a throwing knife from her bandana and is about to throw it when a grappling hook nearly hits her.

Furious now, she simultaneously pokes her head over the gunwale throws the knife.  This time there’s a bang and where her head was a moment ago there’s now a chunk of wood missing from the gunwale.  Her heart is pounding so hard it feels like it will erupt out of her chest.  She draws out her ninjato and starts sawing away at the grappling hook’s rope.  A few feet away from her there is another thunk and another grappling hook latches onto the gunwale.  “One Eye” and some of the others are near her. 

“Nippi and Janet are on the portside of the fo’c’sle now,” “One Eye” tells her.

“You three,” Amelie whispers to the girls with bows.  Step back ten paces and take aim.  You are too close here.  The rest of you draw your stabbing weapons.  Cut the other hook’s rope,” she says to “One Eye”.

“Good thinking,” “One Eye” says with an encouraging wink.

“Que es eso!” she hears one of the sailors shout in Spanish.

“Kraken!”  Another sailor shouts in English.

“My friend is aboard,” she says to the others with a smirk on her face.  “I always wanted to do this.”

“No Amelie!” she hears her sisters cry out.  Some try to grab her but she is too fast. 

“La mort arrive!” she bellows out as she leaps overboard with her ninjato grasped in both hands with the tip pointed down.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Seven)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Seven)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Amelie feels a hand gently pushing her shoulder.  She grabs the wrist of the hand.  Unlike “Dizzying Blade” she isn’t inclined to stab anyone who awakes her.  “Get up Amelie,” “One Eye” is whispering in her ear.

“Dixopus is here now?” she asks groggily.  She can see light through her eyelids.

“No, but a Dolphin Tail just threw some stones up onto deck.”

“A warning?” she asks.

“It’s night now lass, and the mist is dense,” continues in a whisper.  ““Storm Caller” isn’t here to look, so Janet is, and she thinks she sees a pinnace heading our way starboard side.”

“Why would the Captain be returning that way?” she asks.

“With men aboard,” “One Eye” says with a hiss.

“Barthadrow!” Amelie exclaims.  She makes a spitting sound, as does “One Eye”.  She gets dressed as quickly as she can in the light from the lantern “One Eye” is holding.  “Are you going to wake the others?” she asks glancing at the other occupied hammocks below deck?”

“Not yet.  Too much chaos will let the enemy we know we know they are coming.  We’ll wake only those who know how to use a bow and arrow for now.  Especially Nippi, for distance she’s strongest after “Wheel Turner”.  I’ll wake Canneta and Areso.  If any girls get wounded I want them attended to immediately.”

Amelie walks with stealth past all the hammocks.  She only gently nudges awake the girls who can use a bow and arrow.  She realizes there are not many with the strength or knowledge to shoot the needed distance.

Up on deck she glances at the few gathered and let’s out a long sigh. 

Amelie notices that “One Eye” keeps the lantern hooded and at hip level with just enough light for the others to see each other.  “We want the pinnace to get as close as possible,” “One Eye says with a stern voice uncommon for her.  “All the men aboard are to be killed silently.  We want that pinnace intact.”  With a glimmer in her unpatched eye “One Eye” says with great want, “And we want to capture the ship she came from.”  She sees “One Eye” glance her way.  “Amelie.”

“Aim for the chest, and if you hit the neck all the better,” she whispers with urgency to the others.  She has killed before but most of the girls on deck have never had to fight.  “You do this to protect yourself.”  She knows the pirate code is generally about self-preservation.  “And your sisters.  Each of you shall set five arrows within hand reach.  Shoot until you have no more arrows left.  And if you shoot with a killer shot into the same man more than once—good.”  Accuracy and thoroughness wins ranged battles “Dizzying Blade” had explained to her and Arsema numerous time until it became a mantra. 

“Nippi,” she says to “Unibrow”, “you will be shooting the flaming arrows.  Janet will give you direction.”  Turning to the other girls she says, “Wait for the arrow’s light to guide you to a target.”

Amelie stands silently as she watches with racked nerves as “Unibrow” crouches low before ascending the steps to the fo’c’sle where Janet is peering over the railing.  They can’t afford to use a telescope.  The glass of the lens might reflect off the light of the stars and two moons.  All the lessons the Captain, “Dizzying Blade”, “Wheel Turner”, and “One Eye” taught her are coming to use in this one desperate moment.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

Movie review of DUNE (2021)

Movie review of DUNE (2021)

By Dan Watt

I read the original Frank Herbert, Dune series, before high school.  And like many others felt an immediate familiarity to Maud’Dib, enough so that I named a Dungeons and Dragons character after him.

In the original David Lynch movie two things stuck out as noteworthy to me: the worms and Baron Harkonen.

Before watching the Denis Villeneuve version I watched the trailers (Denis Villeneuve directed the amazing sci-fi/thriller movie Arrival (2016)).

Dune, as Frank Herbert admitted and tried to do, was next to impossible to write a script for.

As Stellan Skarsgard (who plays Vladimir Harkonnen) said in an interview (paraphrasing): To make a book work on screen you have to remove 90% of it.  I would say Villeneuve succeeded!

Is Dune important, yes!  The first book was published August 1965 by Chilton Books.  Eleven years after J.R.R. Tolkien’s first Lord of the Rings book:  The Fellowship of the Ring.  And it came out nearly twelve years before George Lucas’s: Star Wars.  The use of politics, greed, and the devastating effects on nature are comparable.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy, to me, spoke of the damage done by industry, and there was evil brought about by the eye of Sauron.  In Star Wars, entire planets are eliminated through the use of technology; and there is the light and dark of the Force.  In between is Frank Herbert’s Dune; where technology has turned a living world into a desert in the name of greed and addiction; and there is the spice that allows for space travel and foresight along with other special abilities.

Political comparisons could be made between the Dune books and George R.R. Martin’s series:  A Song of Ice and Fire (August 1, 1996).  In both, families war against each other in both physical and mental battles in order to rule all.

Before I saw the movie a friend told me the effects and soundtracks are amazing.  I mentioned this in an Instagram message to Tina Guo who plays on the Dune soundtrack (she has also played on other soundtracks by Hans Zimmer.  You can see more of her at:  tinaguo.com).

The movie introduces a number of families and groups worth looking up on the internet if you aren’t familiar with the story:  Fremen (original Arrakis dwellers); Bene Gesserit (witches who have many secrets); The Atreides (you’ll have to watch to see what happens to them); The Harkonnens; and House Corrino.  There is of course the gigantic sandworms who produce the spice that allows rapid space travel.  There are others you will likely meet in the upcoming films.

My recommendation is see Dune on the biggest screen you can. 

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Six)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Six)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“Master-at-arms,” she hears Sasha shout.  Then someone else saying something to Sasha, maybe “One Eye”.  “Assistant Master-at-arms,” Sasha corrects herself.  Groggily she slides out of her hammock and starts dressing.  She hurries when Sasha starts screaming out: “Amelie!  Amelie!”  “The octopus—dice-opus, is back!”

“Dixopus!” Amelie admonishes as she tugs on her boots.  “Learn how to speak French, Sasha,” she continues as she belts on her Ninjato.  She grabs the wooden practice sword—just in case.

Up on deck she sees “One Eye” staring down from the fo’c’sle with an amused expression.  On the deck, near the helm is the dixopus wielding the wooden sword back and forth as Sasha runs from stern to port trying to get away from the tentacled limb and its weapon.

“Are the Captain and others not here?” Amelie shouts up to “One Eye”.

“They signaled it will be another day,” “One Eye” shouts down to her with a grin.  “This situation is all yours Assistant Master-at-arms.”

Amelie raises her chin and lowers her upper eyelids giving her eyes a confident, half lidded appearance.  “Come for a lesson dixopus?” she asks with a twirl of the wooden sword.  She charges forward, wielding the sword.  The dixopus brings its sword down on her.  She easily side steps the attack and with a circular movement of her sword hand disarms the dixopus.  Stepping back she tells the very large mollusk, “You’re attacks are wild and clumsy.”

The dixopus grabs the sword with the same tentacled arm.  This time, holding it out and waiting. 

Amelie steps in moves with the graceful movements of a dancer; just as “Dizzying Sword” taught her and Arsema.  She taps the dixopus’s sword on one side then the other.  Next she holds her sword arms still.  The dixopus reproduces the same tapping on her sword.

Time seems to stand still as she teaches the dixopus to lunge, but not over extend; to side step while attacking and parlaying; and the unique style of overhead, mid body, and lower body attacks.  These including jabs, thrusts, parlays, and slices.  Soon the dixopus is looking grey and its siphons are straining for air.  So Amelie makes a low sweeping bow to it then points her sword towards the gunwale.  As the dixopus disappears over the rail, Amelie shouts, “Same time tomorrow!”

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Five)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Five)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

That night, with the two moons shining overhead, Amelie leans against the main mast.  The Captain sent a fire signal that the rest of the crew would be returning on the ‘morn.  The girls, who will be up throughout the night, are sitting or lying on the deck, wrapped in blankets around “One Eye”.  The First Mate is sitting on a chest full of adapted brooms and mops, singing while playing her mandolin.

“We are heading back to sea, back to sea,” she hears “One Eye” sing.

“May a strong wind fill the sails

To carry us to our destination

But not a gale, not a gale….”

As “One Eye” continues to sing Amelie sees “Dizzying Blade’s” door open.  Wrapped in a blanket, her hair disheveled, steps out Melinda.  The Cannibal’s canine teeth glint in the dual moonlight.  There is a sensuous movement to the Cannibal’s steps that reminds her of a large cat.  She sees Melinda sit with the other girls.  Amelie thought the girls would be terrified by the Cannibal but they seem drawn to her.

Amelie, along with the others gasp as Janet jumps to her feet and lets her blanket fall to the deck.  She’s only wearing a loose night gown; nearly see through in the light of the two moons.  Shaking she points a finger at the Cannibal and shouts in a shaky voice, “Eat me and no one else!”

“That’s not for me dear,” Melinda replies with a look of shock on her face.  “There are some others I think here who would be most happy to oblige, and some on my ship.”

Amelie notices “One Eye” has stopped playing and now has a mischievous grin.  “I think she means, literally,” “One Eye” says to the Cannibal.

“Oh no,” Melinda says with a shake of her head towards Janet.  “I detest that, and only do it when one moon covers the other.  That will be a long time from now dear.”

“Well,” Janet replies raising her chin and squinting at the Cannibal, “I will stay with you until you return to your own ship.”  As Janet is talking Amelie notices Janet is wearing a thin string around her waist with a hardly noticeable sheath hanging from it.  She glances closer and believes Janet has a fish skinning knife in the sheath.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

Book Review of Darren Joy’s upcoming novel “A Malignant Fetch”, book two of the Plagueborn novels

By Dan Watt

Available Nov. 8

Book Review of Darren Joy’s upcoming novel “A Malignant Fetch”, book two of the Plagueborn novels

By Dan Watt

Joy’s second book in the Plagueborn series: A Malignant Fetch, is just as exciting and engrossing as his first novel: A Viral Imperium.

A Malignant Fetch flows like a great movie.  The writing is engrossing; the cinematography vivid; with knowledgeable actors portraying fallible and real characters; all coming together under Joy’s superb direction. 

The story focuses on the unwitting growth of Threadfin Todder into a viral mage.  We also learn more about the history of the High Mage, Rasnal Nalrost; the former Aidari, Wither; and why Lorn Larthuz stole something that could change worlds.

As the story progresses we become familiar with the role of Shraeds and Torments and what they are.  However, it’s Threadfin Todder and his connection to the Fetch that have us riding on a raft down rapids we don’t want to escape. 

Joy hasn’t just written another epic fantasy story but one that swirls with dark fantasy and dark humour.  It’s a story that is both physical and simultaneously metaphysical.

A Malignant Fetch is available on November 8th

Darren Joy can be reached at:  darrenjoy.com

You can also learn more about the first book in the Plagueborn series “A Viral Imperium” at this website.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Four)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Four)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Without thinking she pulls on her capris, wraps her hair in her bandana and slides her tiny throwing knives inside the cloth near her ears.  She’s barefooted and only wearing a night gown.  Oh well, if death greets her above she won’t have to worry whether she combed her hair or not.

She hurries up to the deck with her Ninjato in her right hand and a Spanish Stiletto dagger she borrowed from “Dizzying Blade’s” horde of weapons, in her left.  She never, thought much, of fighting with two swords; too much movement from the waist.  On the deck she gapes up at something towering over two girls and falls to her rump.  Once she recovers from the shock she rolls back onto her feet, and brandishing both weapons moves towards the giant—she tries to remember the name—octopus!    But—an octopus has eight legs and—she counts ten on this tentacle limbed creature with the really big oblong head and gruesomely large eyes.  Though, she admits to herself, the vibrant red of its skin with the fascinating orange dots is appealing.  However, this—this dixopus—will regret boarding the Nague.

The dixopus rears its head back and its red and orange flesh turns darker, almost black like oil.

“Maybe don’t attack it,” she hears “One Eye” shout in a non aggressive voice from the fo’c’sle.  “Might be reading to cover you in oil, which would also get on the Nague, and that would be bad.”

“Nice dixopus,” Amelie says, lowering her weapons.  She stands proudly with her chest out, her chin up, and her eyelids half closed.  There is still tenseness throughout her body.  Prepared to dodge or attack any sudden movement made by the dixopus’s.

She’s sees one of the forward most tentacles gingerly raise up and ever so slowly touch the tip of the pommel of her lowered ninjato.  Amelie does not move.  The end of the tentacle smoothly caresses her hand around the hilt and slides down to the blade.  The tentacle releases the ninjato and pulls back.

There is utter silence as she contemplates what this is about.  But then she believes she understands.  “Thupeltha,” she calls to one of the girls who was screaming.  “Ask our First Mate to give you two practice swords from our First Mate and slide them towards the dixopus.”

Thupeltha is one of the younger girls, perhaps ten or eleven.  She is tiny with dark hair and eyes, and her skin is olive coloured.  Amelie tries to remember where Thupeltha came from.  Life had taught numerous times that, unlike appearance, an individual’s attitude is from their upbringing, and a reflection of where they grew up.

“A what?” Thupeltha asks as she hurries towards “One Eye”.  The First Mate is already heading towards “Wheel Turner’s” room to retrieve the wooden swords.

“Dixopus,” Amelie says with irritation.  “That,” she adds, pointing at the dixopus.

As she waits for the wooden swords Amelie notices fleshy siphons at the sides of the dixopus’s head sucking in and out.  The dixopus is starting to look asphyxiated.  Its vibrant red skin with its orange circles is paling quickly.  Thupeltha slides the two wooden swords, one to Amelie and the other to the dixopus.  Hurriedly the dixopus grabs the wooden sword and walks rapidly with nine legs to the gunwale.  Amelie blinks and the dixopus is gone over the side.

“I am too superior of a fighter for her, him—it,” she says with a grin.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures of Saugeen Shores

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Three)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Three)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Once the throats of the kept fish are slit in kindness with a thank you for giving themselves up for sustenance Amelie takes her time in the hold to rest.  She knows the corpses of the fish will be thrown into barrels to be rolled into the gallery where ‘Unibrow’ Nippie and Janice will skin them and hang them and coat them with brine to dry out for storage.  That means the crew will be eating fried fish skin with seaweed soup for the next while.

Amelie closes her eyes with a sigh.  All of ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ weapons are now stored in the Captain’s and ‘Wheel Turner’s’ rooms.  Such an interesting assortment of fighting utensils, and of course, Arsema is away.  She already misses sparring with Arsema under ‘Dizzying Blades’ caustic tutelage.  As she falls asleep she envisions her and Arsema practicing deeks and ducks, spins, switching weapons from one hand to the other, and fighting with a weapon in each hand.  As they practice she hears girls screaming.

She opens her eyes and listens.  Starlight filters through the partially open windows that were once for the now never used cannons.  She realizes the screams are not coming from her dream, but are real, and happening. 

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

Book Review of Nandita Khandelwal’s “Climate Change – Health Connection”

By Dan Watt

Available as an ebook on Amazon

Nandita Khandelwal’s “Climate Change – Health Connection” explains everything you want to know about climate change and how it affects Earth’s: water, land, and every species.  She also explains how it affects our overall health and the nutrition value of our foods.

“Climate Change – Health Connection” is an enjoyable and thought provoking read.  At the end of each chapter Khandelwal asks questions that encourage all of us to make a difference.   This is the perfect book for the general public, and as an educational resource for schools, from junior high, to college and university.

Khandelwal writes in understandable language, backed up by scientific research. The structure of the book, and its chapters, are a great template for further books on climate change, and for other environmental subjects.

This is a positive book.  Khandelwal explains what climate change is, how it affects every aspect of our life, and offers suggestions on what we can do to alleviate the situation.  She encourages us to work with the government as well as special interest groups.

“Climate Change – Health Connection” is available through Amazon at:

India

Canada

United States

United Kingdom

For other countries try typing amazon (followed by your countries name)

Nandita Khandelwal has a Master’s degree in Geology from Rajasthan University, and is a certified Nutritionist through ISSA.

Nandita can be reached at:

@nanditakhandelwal

YouTube channel:  Nandita Khandelwal

Stay tuned for our Zoom interview…   

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Two)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Two)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

While the rest of the remaining crew pull in the nets, under the instruction of Aarini, Amelie is trying to teach Mesi and Althea how to fight with wooden swords.  In between words of encouragement and curses under her breath, she glances under the fo’c’sle at ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ room; where the Cannibal women, Melinda, now resides.

“Don’t worry about flicking your hair,” Amelie tells Althea as she attempts again to demonstrate the proper combination of footwork and arm movement when using a sword. 

“But I want her to know who the better fighter is by showing my superior confidence,” Althea replies in her determined Egyptian accent. 

“She knows I’m a better fighter, and much more beautiful,” Mesi says in her soft Pilipino accent, flicking her own hair back.

Amelie bunches up her shoulders and is about go snarl at the two girls when she hears Aarini shout out, “Pakad! Hold!”  Amelie instantly draws out her two tiny throwing knives, that she keeps secreted in her bandana, as she spins around towards Aarini.

Stuck within the interlocking ropes of the net, are two Dolphin Tails, seemingly stuck together.  “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” Amelie says to herself.

“Get the First Mate,” Aarini tells one of the girls, who was pulling in the rope.  The gaped mouthed girl stares for a moment longer, before rushing off to wake up ‘One Eye’.

“Alive?” Amelie asks as she slides the knives back into her bandana, and draws her Ninjato out.

The tails of the two Dolphin Tails slap, and with a loud cry they try to separate within the ropes.  The one underneath has breasts, and well, the one on top does not try to roll over, but slides off.

“Get them out!” she hears a groggy, First Mate Oli, shout out.  She sees “One Eye” hurry towards the captured Dolphin Tails.  “Loosen the bridles!”

As Aarini loosens the bridles Amelie steps closer.  It’s up to her to protect her shipmates.  She has seen Dolphin Tails occasionally; either their heads peaking above the sea’s surface, or their flukes slapping the water as they dive, but never this close.

The upper body of both the female and male Dolphin Tails is humanish.  Only the fluked tails and thick rubbery skin that runs from the back of their head to a blowhole near the bottom of their neck, gives them a mammalian appearance.  She peers closer; and sees thick webbing between their unusually long fingers.  She leans even closer, to get a better look at why the male has rolled onto his back.

As the nets are pulled off, both the Dolphin Tails walk rapidly on their hands, hurrying towards the rail of the port gunwale.

“Help them over!” First Mate Oli shouts as she gets under the female Dolphin Tails’ one arm.  Aarini gets under the other.  Amelie sees the female try to fight them off at first, but as ‘One Eye’ talks to her in her sing-song voice, the female lets them help her onto, and over the gunwale.  The male, with his bulging arms and back muscles, refuses any help as he pulls himself over.  A number of the girls run to the port side.  ‘One Eye’ yells for the others to go starboard as the Nagua starts to list.  

Amelie shrugs, ignoring ‘One Eye’s’ warning, and looks over the port side.  She’s the current Master-at-Arms, so she can do almost anything she wants—because whatever she does is important.  The male Dolphin Tail is slapping the water with his fists.  He points a webbed finger at the rigging.  Amelie sees ‘One Eye’ pull a section of netting to the port side.  The male Dolphin Tail makes a fist again and shakes it at the net.

“I understand,” ‘One Eye’ shouts to him before turning to the rest of the crew on the deck, and telling them, “I have no idea if he understands what I’m saying, “but we’ll have to figure out another way to catch fish.  Now everyone, knock out the fish, so they don’t suffer, and throw anything we can’t eat overboard, so it can live a long and cheery life.”

“Like we did with the amorphous Dolphin Tails?” Aarini asks, with a mischievous grin.

“Just so,” ‘One Eye’ says.  “Thank you for not killing them,” she says to Amelie.

“De rien–you’re welcome,” Amelie replies adding the English translation.  With a beaming smile she sweeps down into a low, flamboyant bow.

Amelie modeled by Andraya Watt
Throwing Knives and Ninjato by Fire and Steel
Gemstone necklace by Street Colours

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-One)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-One)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

(Part Seven) Amelie stands beside Arsema on the Fo’c’sle before the First Mate and the Navigator.  Amelie glances at an oil lamp hanging from an eyehook on the foremast.  The lamp cast shadows as it swings in the strengthening wind.  The ‘Ship Builder’ and ‘Navigator’ readapted an oil lamp that would have used whale oil or kerosene with one that now uses a plant oil.  They called the plant hairy olive balls because it tastes and looks like olives but is about the size of a teacup and has fibrous hairs growing out of the skin.  According to the ‘Navigator’ the ‘Ship Builder’ says it burns longer then whale, kerosene, and olive oil from Earth would.

“Arsema,” the First Mate says with a mischievous grin, “you will now be assistant Ship Protector.” 

Amelie sees Arsema’s eyes drop.

“You will be known as Master-at-arms of the sea, until our own ‘Dizzying Blade’ returns.”  Arsema looks up and smiles.

“Amelie, you are assistant Master-at-arms.   However, you will remain in your own hammock within the hold but moved closer to the hatch.  All the weapons must be moved out of the Master-at-arms’ room while our guest stays there.”

“Who is our guest?” Amelie asks in her uppity but enchanting French accent.

“A Cannibal named Melinda,” the ‘One Eye’ replies with a sardonic grin.

“Can we feed Mesi and Althea to her?” Arsema asks in her sarcastic but lovely Eritrea accent.  They all laugh.

“They’re still at each other?” ‘One Eye’ asks.

“Still, as always, sir,” Amelie says.

“Now that they’re bodies are more like a woman’s,” Arsema says as she looks around to make sure no one else is listening, “they compare their physiques.  Mesi presses out her big boobs as she glares up at Althea, and Althea measures her own with her hands and while glaring down at Mesi, says hers are actually much bigger.”

“Thank the two moons that they’re not men comparing something else,” ‘One Eye’ says with a grin.  “Arsema,” she continues in a more serious note.  “You and ‘Ship Protector’ are to return with ‘Storm Caller’ and help the Captain and the ‘Ship Builder’ release the Surprise from its current perch upon a jagged boulder.  That will mean diving underneath to check the damage.”  She turns to Amelie.  “Have Althea and Mesi practice sword fighting while the others pull in the nets to see what we’ve caught to eat.”

Amelie groans and nods her head.  Taking in a deep breath she says in Arsema’s direction, “Oh to be a mermaid at this moment.”

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier, Ninjato with Throwing Knives:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Street Colours for gemstone worn by Amelie: Streetcolours.com

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Forty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

The Captain and the rest of the shore crew, along with what’s left of the Surprise, stagger back to the pinnace.  Master Jo Anne notices that the ‘Harlot’ and Humphrey are missing, and so is ‘Dizzying Blade’.  She looks quizzically at the Captain.

The Captain gives her an archaic smile and staggers up to her.  “We can’t call her ‘Harlot’ anymore.  The Horse People are letting her and Humphrey stay together in one of their strange stalk huts made from a plant similar to sugarcane.”  The Captain shrugs and sighs so that Master Jo Anne can smell the heavy sent of brandy on her breath.  “And…after much drinking, ‘Dizzying Blade’, sparred with one of the Horse Woman and won; though I told her to lose.  Now she has to stay with them until the Surprise is ready to sail and teach them her fighting skills.  Silly girl, it’s her fault, she refuses to lose to anyone.  However, she told me Arsema and Amelie can replace her.  So we’ll have two Master-at-arms now.  At least until the Surprise drops her and the ‘Harl—.” The Captain slaps the side of her own head with the palm of her hand, “Thelma.”

“We could caller her Sewer, Stitcher, or even Flag Weaver from now on,” Master Jo Anne suggests.

“’Flag Weaver’,” the Captain says thoughtfully.  “That would do.  Two days from now we’re going to use our pinnace and the other one that’s amongst the Aloe Vera, if it still floats, to get the Surprise free.  ‘Ship Builder’ says we need to do it during the end of high tide.”

“So we’re staying?”  Everyone knows time is precious to attack Barthadrow and take over another ship before heading towards the Pregnancy Ship.  She spits and can see the Captain knows who she was thinking of.

She and the Captain both stop talking.  Baffled at the sight of the Cannibal woman Melinda sauntering up to Captain Peg leg. 

“Get your rapier ready,” the Captain tells her as she starts to draw her own out.

Dumbfounded she watches Melinda kneel before Captain Peg leg and take his wrapped hand or what’s left of it in her owns hands. 

“You could have tried to eat me,” the Cannibal woman says in a soothing voice.

Captain Peg leg’s eyes grow wide as the Cannibal girl stands back up, with his wrapped hand still in hers.  “I wanted to feast on the one who stole some of my crew.  You know what happened to them, when they were put in that barrel.”

“I do,” Captain Peg leg says before gulping.

“Listen,” the Captain says.  “Take our pinnace with ‘Wheel Turner’ and return to the Nague now.  We’ll be here a few days, so I want you to go back to the ship and tell ‘One Eye’,” the Captain continues, while still watching the surreal scene between Captain Peg leg and the Cannibal, “that we need to drop the nets and catch some fish.  And let Amelie know she’s Master-at-Arms until ‘Dizzying Blade’ returns.  However, our guest,” and the Captain nods towards the Cannibal, “will stay in ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ room sans the weapons.”

“Not Arsema?”  To her Arsema always came across as closest to ‘Dizzying Blade’.

“Arsema is going to train with ‘Ship Protector’ as Master-at-Arms of the Sea,” the Captain replies in a drunken, but thoughtful tone.  “I want Arsema along with ‘Ship Protector’ to dive down and investigate the damage to the Surprise.  We’ll also need them to help the ‘Ship Builder’ get the ropes in place to release the Surprise from that rock.  I want this done as soon-as-possible.  We need to prepare to attack—you know who.”

She and the Captain both spit on the ground.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

Interview with Darren Joy, author of the epic, dark fantasy book A Viral Imperium

Interview with Darren Joy, author of the epic, dark fantasy book A Viral Imperium:  The Plagueborn Series: Book One

by Dan Watt

The fantastic first book, of the Plagueborn series by Darren Joy, A Viral Imperium.

As I read through Darren Joy’s, A Viral Imperium: The Plagueborn Series: Book One, I was immediately caught up in the imagery and banter.  Joy has written a book that pulls you into a world where magic and undead make sense.  There is also an introduction to Viralic and Spectralic magic, and the combination of the two.  The characters are not always who, or what they seem to be, nor is it always clear if they are good, bad, or complicated.  As the story progresses, you’ll find yourself reading long past your bedtime. 

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a story that caught my attention and held it to the very end.  How long have you worked on A Viral Imperium?

I began this book way back in 2014. I had written three unpublished novels before it, so technically this was my fourth book. It should have been completed much sooner, but due to illness, I had to shelve it for a time in 2016. I managed to finish it last year. Overall, it’s taken almost three years.

Your description of characters, creatures, buildings, and sceneries is both vivid and engrossing.  How do you go about writing those scenes?

A lot of rewriting, lots and lots of rewriting. No kidding. That’s how. What’s in my head never translates to the screen as I write it, or at least, I’m never happy. So going back and reworking those descriptions, and the novel as a whole is essential, and that’s what I put it down to. That, and I read a lot, so descriptions in other books do grab me. I try not to write paragraphs of description too often, but blend it in with the ongoing story wherever possible.

Within the main plot there are many subplots.  The webs and layers of George R.R. Martin’s: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones TV series); Ken Follett’s:  Pillars of the Earth, and Edward Rutherford’s: Sarum come to mind when I consider the plots within A Viral Imperium.  Did you sketch these out beforehand or did you find them writing themselves?

 Well, put simply, ’I’m a pantser. I write from the hip, not having much of a clue where it’s going to go. Well, maybe a little clue, but I certainly don’t have it all planned out. This means I have to do heavy rewrites. Ideal? Probably not, but I tried planning novels in the early days, and I never finished those. I tend to plan as I go, adding in notes to the first draft, and rewrite drafts, which I then read as I go through the book the next time, also making more notes. It’s my process, and I don’t know if other writers work that way. It works for me though. I also write each main character’s storyline as a separate manuscript before combining them later, so as to make sure the structure for each story is as I want it.

If I was a publisher I would be contacting you and Amazon books to work out a deal.  How do readers and publishers contact you and where is A Viral Imperium available?

For the moment, it is only available on Amazon, but I am strongly considering having it available on other platforms soon. I don’t know if any publishers will contact me, but anyone including readers can get me through the contact page on my website at: www.darrenjoy.com

I also understand you have the second book in the series coming out.  Could you tell us when and if there’s a pre order?

Yep, anyone can pre order it now on Amazon. It’s called A Malignant Fetch and it is on sale for 99cents from the 8th of November this year, so not long to go. I’m getting nervous all over again. Easiest way to pre order it is to just pop over to my website, www.darrenjoy.com, and there is a link from there.

Available November 8th, 2021

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.  I’m very much looking forward to reading A Malignant Fetch!  

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Nine)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“What was the plan,” ‘Wheel Turner’ asks passing over a biscuit and a wooden cup full of diluted rum.

Master Jo Anne watches in utter surprise as Melinda’s expression blossoms into hate and rage as she replies, “To feast on Barthadrow and his crew.”

Everyone, including Melinda spits.

“Worthy task,” she hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say with a nod.  “Well our Captain is impatient so the ‘Ship Builder’ and I will just lug this casket of liquid gold to the talk.” 

Master Jo Anne sees the ‘Ship Builder’ glance her way with concern.

‘I’ll be fine,’ she mouths back to him.

“I think the Navigator will agree with me when I say we are a Sisterhood,” Zala says.

“Aye,” she replies turning away from the ‘Ship Builder’.

“What sort of religion do you follow?” Zala asks the Cannibal.

“I follow the most righteous religion,” Melinda replies.  “Drebee is my goddess.  All other religions are backwards and despicable.”  Leaning forward the Cannibal adds conspiratorially, “They eat their own children.”

“But you said your world is overpopulated,” Zala says. 

Master Jo Anne smiles.  A real thinker is Zala.

Melinda’s mouth opens and she stares off with a confused expression on her face.  “Well, that’s what our priests tale us,” she starts to explain but then hesitates again.  Then she perks up and says enthusiastically, “They don’t take care of themselves and die of disease.  And the couples hate each other.”

“Should you be eating them then?” Zala asks.

“Let us talk about something else,” Melinda says and her smile is charming and persuasive although her mauve irises grow darker and the red specks increase in size.

“Yes,” she hears Zala agree.  She sees Zala move slightly farther away from Melinda.

“The one with the lost gaze and strangely misplaced missing finger seems handsome in a pitiful kind of way,” Melinda says with a smile that causes her canine shaped fangs to glint in the light of the two moons.  “Is he spoken for?”

“Yes,” Master Jo Anne replies curtly and before Zala can say anything.

“Here?” Melinda asks looking back at the Nagua.

Master Jo Anne slides her hand over the pommel of her rapier and partially withdraws it.  “It’s not to be discussed,” she warns through gritted teeth. 

“Well, no matter,” Melinda replies.  The look in Melinda’s eyes cause Master Jo Anne to think of a painting of the Greek or is it Roman deity, Apollo.  She shakes her head to clear her thoughts.

“So,” Melinda continues without any show of fear.  “Have you ever been in a place where one day it stops raining and the surrounding villages won’t let you in?”

“No,” Master Jo Anne hears Zala reply in a very inquisitive like tone.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Nine)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“What was the plan,” ‘Wheel Turner’ asks passing over a biscuit and a wooden cup full of diluted rum.

Master Jo Anne watches in utter surprise as Melinda’s expression blossoms into hate and rage as she replies, “To feast on Barthadrow and his crew.”

Everyone, including Melinda spits.

“Worthy task,” she hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say with a nod.  “Well our Captain is impatient so the ‘Ship Builder’ and I will just lug this casket of liquid gold to the talk.” 

Master Jo Anne sees the ‘Ship Builder’ glance her way with concern.

‘I’ll be fine,’ she mouths back to him.

“I think the Navigator will agree with me when I say we are a Sisterhood,” Zala says.

“Aye,” she replies turning away from the ‘Ship Builder’.

“What sort of religion do you follow?” Zala asks the Cannibal.

“I follow the most righteous religion,” Melinda replies.  “Drebee is my goddess.  All other religions are backwards and despicable.”  Leaning forward the Cannibal adds conspiratorially, “They eat their own children.”

“But you said your world is overpopulated,” Zala says. 

Master Jo Anne smiles.  A real thinker is Zala.

Melinda’s mouth opens and she stares off with a confused expression on her face.  “Well, that’s what our priests tale us,” she starts to explain but then hesitates again.  Then she perks up and says enthusiastically, “They don’t take care of themselves and die of disease.  And the couples hate each other.”

“Should you be eating them then?” Zala asks.

“Let us talk about something else,” Melinda says and her smile is charming and persuasive although her mauve irises grow darker and the red specks increase in size.

“Yes,” she hears Zala agree.  She sees Zala move slightly farther away from Melinda.

“The one with the lost gaze and strangely misplaced missing finger seems handsome in a pitiful kind of way,” Melinda says with a smile that causes her canine shaped fangs to glint in the light of the two moons.  “Is he spoken for?”

“Yes,” Master Jo Anne replies curtly and before Zala can say anything.

“Here?” Melinda asks looking back at the Nagua.

Master Jo Anne slides her hand over the pommel of her rapier and partially withdraws it.  “It’s not to be discussed,” she warns through gritted teeth. 

“Well, no matter,” Melinda replies.  The look in Melinda’s eyes cause Master Jo Anne to think of a painting of the Greek or is it Roman deity, Apollo.  She shakes her head to clear her thoughts.

“So,” Melinda continues without any show of fear.  “Have you ever been in a place where one day it stops raining and the surrounding villages won’t let you in?”

“No,” Master Jo Anne hears Zala reply in a very inquisitive like tone.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Eight)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Eight)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“You were eating Peg leg’s left hand?” she hears Zala ask the Cannibal girl as they catch sight of ‘Wheel Turner’ talking to the ‘Ship Builder’.  She notices that they brought the pinnace farther up the stony shore now that the tide is in.

“Before coming here I lived in a land with too many people,” the Cannibal girl replies.  “You notice the Horse People will only allow us to land to trade.”

“But it’s the same for us,” she hears Zala say.

“Some of your men told the Horse People how pale skins, like myself, and your friend with the interesting sword hilt, would claim their lands as they did in the world you came from.  Now the Horse People won’t allow my people to land because when the brandy moon moves in front of the milky one we have to feed. “

“Where we came from there was disease and war,” Zala says.  “Didn’t that stop you from having too many people?”

“Some of us are not affected by disease or got it and survived,” the Cannibal girl says indifferently.  “We tried war but that didn’t work.  Some of the members of the warring tribes fell in love with each other and we like to make little ones too much.  So a month before the three moons become one, we stop eating and only drink.  Then during the eclipse, because we are starving, each tribe attacks another.  We do not hunt down the children but adopt them afterwards.  Unlike the Horse People we do not bury those killed.   We eat them as nature intended.  Afterwards we are horrified and apologize to the children that we ate their parents.  Mostly we are a caring and loving people.”

It makes Master Jo Anne queasy when she realizes what the Cannibal girl says makes sense.  She worries, as she knows the Captain does, that overpopulation on the ships will bring trouble.  “What is your name?” she asks.

“Melinda,” the Cannibal girl answers.

Master Jo Anne notices her glancing at the ‘Ship Builder’, especially at his missing finger.

“We did that?” Melinda asks.  “That would be an awkward finger to get at without eating the others?”

“No one knows what happened exactly,” Zala replies, looking at Master Jo Anne for confirmation.

“It was something else,” she says.  If they ever find the Witch, everyone will understand.  She turns to ‘Wheel Turner’ and the ‘Ship Builder’ and tells them, “This is Melinda, she came from the other ship,” she tells them.  “She ate part of Peg leg’s left hand but she’s better now.”  Deftly she uses her knife to cut the vines binding Melinda’s wrists.

“Are you hungry?” ‘Wheel Turner’ asks everyone.  Master Jo Anne knows this is a test to see if the madness is out of Melinda, or not.

“Very much so,” Melinda replies, “and thirsty!”

“We have biscuits and dried fish to eat,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says, noticeably keeping her body turned sideways to Melinda.  “As for drink, there’s watered down rum.”

“I don’t eat flesh,” Melinda says, “So some rum and a biscuit would be wonderful.”

Master Jo Anne is shocked at Melinda’s reply.  “You don’t eat flesh?” she asks.

“That’s only once a year, to cull the population, otherwise I abhor it,” Melinda replies.  “Sadly the two moons did not converge as planned.”

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Seven)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Seven)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“This one is injured,” says the tall, dark Horse Man with the bulging chest muscles that ripple as he speaks down towards the Captain.  “She gnawed on wood leg’s left hand between sensual whispers.  A girl, must be one of yours?”  The last statement was definitely a question made plain by the Horse Man’s arched left eyebrow.

“We’ll take her,” the Captain says with a frown and after a pause, “and the others.  In our boat we have a casket of liquid sunlight.”  The Captain shakes her head, making it clear; she’s losing greatly in this deal.

The Horse Man raises his square shaped chin so his eyes are half lidded.  His tail whips side to side.  “Bring gift, and we will share a meal to seal deal.”  The Horse Woman says something to him in their language with much vigour.  With a voice torn between lust and regret he adds, “And take the pointed ear one with succulent canine back to your boat, now.  She may not come back.”  The Horse Man raises his hands before his face and independently moves them as if to make sure that all his fingers are still there.

“Master Jo Anne, you and Zala take our guest back to the pinnace with you,” the Captain tells her.  “And ask Synthia and the ‘Ship Builder’ to return with our special gift.”  She notices the Captain doesn’t give Synthia’s title.

The Horse Woman makes a nod behind her and a male Horse Teen trots up to the tree.  Like the others he has shaggy hair.  He carries an obsidian dagger that he uses to release everyone but the Cannibal girl.  After a moment of hesitation the vines that encircle the tree around her and the gag in her mouth are cut, but not the vine that binds her wrists.  Master Jo Anne notices the teen is very cautious around the Cannibal girl.

“I won’t hurt you,” the Cannibal girl says to her and Zala in such a sweet and honest voice that Master Jo Anne instantly believes her.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Six)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Six)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Its sunset and she knows the bugs will smell their sweat once they move past the wind that always touches the shore.  The red rimmed eyes of the ‘Harlot’ are heartbreaking.  The poor girl holds her bow with knocked arrow pointing at the ground as she furtively tries to glance everywhere at once for signs of her lover.  There are two known dangers on the island.  One is the Cannibals whose ship they didn’t see anywhere; the other is the Horse People who live here.

The sound of a hoof striking a rock is unmistakable.  With only the two moons to give light and the faint mist that blankets everything it’s hard to decide if what she sees is a tree, a plant, or something on two or four legs.

There are two more distinct strikes of the hoof and an impatient cough.

She sees the Captain raise an arm.  Zala also raises her arm to make sure everyone sees.  “I am Captain Alejandra of the Nagua we come to negotiate the release of any survivors of the Surprise.  The ship stuck on the rocks near your shore.”

“You are not welcome here,” says a cocky baritone voice.  “Drop weapons and clothes and–,” there’s a loud oomph sound from the speaker.  An angry feminine voice says something in a different language.

“Keep all clothes on and everything,” says the voice in a much higher tone.  There’s silence then, “Put hands above head.”

“I think his wife just gave him a toe or knuckle reminder of who his eyes should stay on,” whispers ‘Wheel Turner’ with a snicker.

As she sheathes her rapier and raises her arms above her head Master Jo Anne has to chew on her lower lip to not laugh out loud.

“I bet I can reach my throwing knife and implant it into his throat before he could let off an arrow,” she hears ‘Dizzying Blade’ tell the ‘Harlot’.

“Where do we go?” the Captain asks.

There’s some inaudible conversation between the female and male voice.  “Forward ten paces,” the male voice demands.  There’s a pause.  “Twenty of yours.”

As she walks with the Captain and the others through the mist, passing glimpses of tree trunks and bushes, Master Jo Anne realizes they are entering an opening with a giant tree before them.  There’s the sound of the hoof against a rock again.  To her right about ten paces away she sees the shadowy image of a well-endowed massive horse body with a torso of an equally large man.  Beside him, perhaps three-quarters the size, is a buxomly female.  The male is holding a spear and the female a longbow with a knocked arrow.  

The tree’s trunk is clothed in thick vines that grow vertically up its trunk.  As she gets closer she sees Captain Peg leg with a leaf wrapped around his left hand.  Humphrey and some others from the Surprise are tied and gagged with vines against other trees.  The ‘Harlot’ cries out and dashes to Humphrey.  Master Jo Anne tears up as she watches the ‘Harlot’ caressing her lover’s cheek but smart enough to know not to try to cut the vines.

Master Jo Anne follows the others to the other side of the tree.

The Horse People couple are closer now, along with others.  The male who spoke to them, is as tall as a Shire horse.  At least nineteen hands tall at the horse’s shoulder and another seven hands to the crown of his head.  In the mist his skin is dark and glistening.  Long, auburn curls fall around his broad shoulders.  His irises are green or grey.  She can see the muscles in his cheeks twitch confidently as he smiles through thick lips that show off his shiny white buck teeth.

She hears a hiss and turns her attention to the female, who is now glowering at her with wide hazel eyes.  The girl’s dark brown hair flows around her bare chest and farther down until it leads Master Jo Anne’s eyes to the arrow aimed at her own chest. 

“Navigator,” she hears the Captain whisper.

Quickly she turns her attention back to the tree.  A lush young woman is tied there.  The woman is wearing a similar mix match of clothing that everyone on the Nague wears: a vest from here, capris from there, a laced shirt from somewhere else.  The girl’s irises are a peculiar mauve with specks of red.  The girl glances back at Master Jo Anne inquisitively.  In the mist the freckles on her long narrow nose and full cheeks are only visible intermittently.  The vine gag shows her long, thick canines.   She must be one of the Cannibals.  Because the girl has what looks like curly slate grey hair in the mist, tied back in a bun, her long pointy ears are clearly visible.  They twitch causing Master Jo Anne to involuntarily step back.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Five)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Five)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

The Surprise rests against an outcropping of rocks with minimal damage to her port side.  Master Jo Anne agrees with the Captain and ‘Ship Builder’ that the ship can be salvaged with enough help.  From the hold she hears the ‘Ship Builder’ call up that the crew’s personal chests are locked.  A short time later she hears him shout up that the barrels in the cargo hold are all tied and untouched.

Once on deck she hears him say in his deep, solemn voice, “The Cannibals just wanted meat it seems.”

She notices that there’s no other sign of death but for the chipped beams from obvious sword and knife fighting.  She thought there would be blood.  It was so long ago but she remembers now that when the Cannibals killed and ate all of Barthadrow’s men on the Nagua, there were few signs except for a few pieces of flesh and a tooth here and there.

As they head towards the island she realizes the pinnace is loaded with a motley crew.  The Captain and Zala sit on the front seat facing towards the rocky beach they head towards.  On the middle seat are ‘Wheel Turner’ and the ‘Ship Builder’.  She wonders if his finger makes rowing harder.  With her, seated at the very back, is ‘Dizzying Blade’ with the ‘Harlot’ between them.  Watching ‘Dizzying Blade’ slide a flint stone along the blade of one of her throwing knives is very intimidating.  The ‘Harlot’ is sitting forward with an intent stare. 

In the centre of the pinnace is the metal fire pit for the ‘Ship Protector’, two sacks, and a barrel of sustenance very dear to the Captain.  One of the sacks is full of biscuits and dried fish.  The other contains a few of the bows and arrows the Captain asked to be made.  The arrow heads are coated in a resin Nippi made from a plant called Bell Iron.  The husk of the plant is thick and hairy like a coconut but bell shaped.  Inside is an inedible and viscous liquid that smells horrible but hardens the tips to the strength of iron.  She remembers looking inside an open fruit and seeing fibers that hold the large seed inside.  The fibres are soft like silver but extremely strong.  The ‘Harlot’ made some jewellery from the fibres.

A light drizzle makes everything glisten.  But the wind is a zephyr and warm.  As always the water has a stench from the rotting vegetation left by low tide.

Partially hidden amongst some giant Aloe Vera growing near the shore is another pinnace. 

“We’ll land between those two boulders,” she hears the Captain call in a soft voice. 

‘Dizzying Blade’ puts away her sharpening stone.  Zala takes out a bow and a quiver with six arrows from the one sack.  She tosses the ‘Harlot’ another bow and quiver.  Everyone else but the rowers draws out whatever type of rapier or sword they have. 

Once the pinnace slides into the pebbled shore the Captain and Zala leap out first.  ‘Dizzying Blade’, herself, and the ‘Harlot’ leap into the shallow water next.  As they all head towards shore ‘Wheel Turner’ and the ‘Ship Builder’ pull the pinnace farther onto shore and spike its rope into the ground.  They won’t be coming with them.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Four)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Four)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Master Jo Anne grimaces.  An idea comes to her that could save her life—for a moment at least.  She finds Janet asleep in the hold beside Nippie.  Gently she shakes Janet and whispers, “I need you to sing for me, m’love.”

Janet wakes up with a stir and Master Jo Anne is shocked by the absolute look of hate and terror she sees in Janet’s eyes.  But the glaring stare softness with recognition. 

“You want me to sing?” Janet asks in a sweet, grumpy voice.

“Aye lass, a lovely tune,” Master Jo Anne says with a kind smile.  With tender steps so as not to wake the rum infused girls sleeping, she leads Janet to the deck.

They walk past the girls who are raising the sails to ‘One Eye’s’ singing and mandolin playing.   Master Jo Anne holds a hand up for Janet to stay just outside of ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ room.  “Don’t out sing First Mate Olanis,” She tells Janet, “but sing that lovely song you sing during full moons.  Our Master-at-arms loves that song and it’s her birthday soon.”  She has no idea when anyone’s birthday is but it could be true.

“My heart is broken,” Janet sings in a soprano voice full of sorrow.

For the full moon reminds

Reminds me of cannon ball fire

Reminds me of rape and pillage

Master Jo Anne covers her ears as Janet wails:

Why!?

Why!?

Does the moon grow full…

“Oh, shut your trap!  Please Janet!” she hears ‘Dizzying Blade’ cry out. “I hate that song!” Master Jo Anne hears lament in ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ voice.

Janet turns to her.  “You said she loves this song.”  Master Jo Anne doesn’t miss the accusatory look now on Janet’s face.

“She loves it,” she assures Janet, “but maybe only on full moons.”  Turning to ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ door she shouts.  “Captain wants you on the pinnace.”

There’s a sound of something banging and an unmentionable string of words from ‘Dizzying Blade’.  “I’ll be there in a moment but I need to use the Head first.  Now where’s that throwing knife I was sharpening.”

“Go back to bed now Janet,” Master Jo Anne says with a thankful smile.  “You did awfully wonderful for me.”

“Okay, but that was strange,” Janet says as she walks off with groggy steps.

Master Jo Anne wonders if Janet is the only one that doesn’t have to say “Aye, aye sir.”

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-three)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-three)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Master Jo Anne clenches the scrying ball in her left hand as she sits on the bowsprit with her chin jutting out as she peers through the wet wind.  Raven had called out that a ship was stuck and listing near the shore of an island called Nasty To Get Off.  

She can now see that the mainmast was broken off just below the crow’s nest.  She wonders if Peg leg’s Surprise had cannon shot or did the Cannibals?  As the Nagua gets closer she knows it isn’t the Cannibal ship but the Surprise.  She turns to the ‘Harlot’ and sees the red rimmed eyes under her hand that she uses as a visor.  The ‘Harlot’s’ lips are also cracked.

“Is that the Surprise?” the ‘Harlot’ asks in a raspy voice full of worry.

“It is,” Master Jo Anne replies.  “But there’s no pinnace aboard and they had two.”

“I want to go ashore,” the ‘Harlot’ says and there’s no room for argument.

“We need to get to the Surprise first, see what’s usable before we check the shore.”  Master Jo Anne reaches back and pats the ‘Harlot’s’ shoulder.  “The Surprise is listing Northeast!” she shouts.

Surprise Northeast!” she hears Umi shout from the fo’c’sle, “Wake Captain!  Surprise listing!”

Faintly from a distance she hears Aarini’s ragged voice reply, “Aye, aye, ‘Ship Protector’!”

“I’m going to get the Master-at-Arms to teach me how to kill if they ate my Humphrey,” the ‘Harlot’ croaks out.  “If they did, by Crazy Bumbee’s hairy arse, I’ll kill them all!”

“You’ll need to eat first and no more rum!” Master Jo Anne tells her with true concern in her voice.  Never has she seen the ‘Harlot’ appear so distraught. 

As the Nagua nears the Surprise Master Jo Anne hears Aarini shout out the Captain’s orders.  “Lower the sails and prepare to drop anchor!”  ‘One Eye’ and Zala must still be sleeping if Aarini is repeating the Captian.  “Roll call for the pinnace is–,” Aarini continues to shout when the ‘Harlot’ takes off down the fo’c’sle’s steps.

“Me!” Master Jo Anne hears the ‘Harlot’ cries out.

There’s silence for a moment.  A moment later Aarini shouts out: “Thelma is chosen!  Navigator wake the Master-at-Arms, and if you live wake Zala.”  Drunken laughter erupts through the ship.  “First Mate Olanis will be in charge of the ship,” Aarini continues, “with me as her First Mate.  Our most esteemed Captain will be joining the others on the pinnace.  The Captain says, and I quote, ‘A final rule me lovely crew of Mary Reads, if you see any horsemen cantering on the shore, especially if they’re starkers, no catcalls!’”

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Thirty-Four)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-Two)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-Two)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“I’ll take me kip now,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a glance up at the sky where the much closer Eau-de-vie blocks the milky white of the much farther away Cachaça.

Oli sees Aarini gulp.  “Steady lass,” Oli says reassuringly.  “We see this once a year.”

“I saw what they did to Barthadrow’s crew on the Nagua—before we took it–and the Queen of Pirates gave it to the Captain,” Aarini says shivering as she stares up into the sky now the colour of brandy.  “The only thing left was the blood stains mixed with bits of skin and slivers of bone.  Is that what happened to the ‘Ship Builder’s’ finger?  He had to fight off the Cannibals when Eau-de-vie covered Cachaça?”

“Best forget that,” Oli hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say in a stern tone.  “Captain and Navigator don’t like talk of what happened to the ‘Ship Builder’s’ finger.  Besides, I don’t need nightmares before a potential battle.”

“Ah!  The girls Zala has chosen have arrived,” Oli says with a sigh, glad to change the subject.  “Off to bed for you Zala,” Oli says to the girl she is sure will be a captain someday.”

“Aye, aye, First Mate,” Zala replies.

As ‘Wheel Turner’ and Zala leave Oli turns to the waiting girls.  The younger ones already look woozy from the rum.

“Four of you older and bigger girls get on the spokes of the capstan and help Cook Nippie and Janet get that anchor aboard,” she shouts out.  “Ye others get pulling the ropes to raise the sails and be prepared to pull on the sheets.  Except you Kitkun,” she says to a tall, lean girl who is deep into her child bearing years. 

Her nickname is Raven, both because of the meaning of her name and her and keen eyesight.  “We need you in the Crows ‘Nest.” 

Kitkun once told her she came from a giant Island off the shore of an even larger island.  Where her people made totems poles and warred with the tribes from the other island.  She had also told Oli her parents gave her the name Kitkun because ravens circled over her mother as she gave birth to her. 

“You’ve got the eyes of the raven lass,” Oli reminds Kitkun.

“Aye, aye, First Mate” Kitkun replies as she clambers up the rope ladder of the main mast.

Oli plucks the strings of her mandolin and sings:  “Have you heard the tale of Whimpering Isaac?”

“We have,” the girls sing back, “but tell us again First Mate Olanis.”

Oli swings her mandolin behind her and climbs the steps to the fo’c’sle.  On the bowsprit sits The Navigator, Master Jo Ann, and beside her huddled in a canvas sheet is the ‘Harlot’.

“He was the first pirate to survive the Cannibals.  Well most of him.”  She sings.  She pauses, entranced as the ‘Harlot’ glances her way; with a stare so familiar.  Oh, she thinks, I know whose eyes the ‘Harlot’s reflect.  That look of devotion, and of determination, of desperation, and fear of never seeing her lover again.  The ‘Harlot’ might lose her nickname if this is true.  I think she’s smitten with Humphrey.  That pained face the ‘Harlot’ wears as the growing wind whips her hair into her face, is the spitting image of the one she so often sees, on ‘The Shipbuilder’s’.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-Two)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-Two)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“I’ll take me kip now,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a glance up at the sky where the much closer Eau-de-vie blocks the milky white of the much farther away Cachaça.

Oli sees Aarini gulp.  “Steady lass,” Oli says reassuringly.  “We see this once a year.”

“I saw what they did to Barthadrow’s crew on the Nagua—before we took it–and the Queen of Pirates gave it to the Captain,” Aarini says shivering as she stares up into the sky now the colour of brandy.  “The only thing left was the blood stains mixed with bits of skin and slivers of bone.  Is that what happened to the ‘Ship Builder’s’ finger?  He had to fight off the Cannibals when Eau-de-vie covered Cachaça?”

“Best forget that,” Oli hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say in a stern tone.  “Captain and Navigator don’t like talk of what happened to the ‘Ship Builder’s’ finger.  Besides, I don’t need nightmares before a potential battle.”

“Ah!  The girls Zala has chosen have arrived,” Oli says with a sigh, glad to change the subject.  “Off to bed for you Zala,” Oli says to the girl she is sure will be a captain someday.”

“Aye, aye, First Mate,” Zala replies.

As ‘Wheel Turner’ and Zala leave Oli turns to the waiting girls.  The younger ones already look woozy from the rum.

“Four of you older and bigger girls get on the spokes of the capstan and help Cook Nippie and Janet get that anchor aboard,” she shouts out.  “Ye others get pulling the ropes to raise the sails and be prepared to pull on the sheets.  Except you Kitkun,” she says to a tall, lean girl who is deep into her child bearing years. 

Her nickname is Raven, both because of the meaning of her name and her and keen eyesight.  “We need you in the Crows ‘Nest.” 

Kitkun once told her she came from a giant Island off the shore of an even larger island.  Where her people made totems poles and warred with the tribes from the other island.  She had also told Oli her parents gave her the name Kitkun because ravens circled over her mother as she gave birth to her. 

“You’ve got the eyes of the raven lass,” Oli reminds Kitkun.

“Aye, aye, First Mate” Kitkun replies as she clambers up the rope ladder of the main mast.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-one)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty-one)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“We have a pact with Peg leg,” Oli says.

“Aye, we do,” the Captain agrees.  “Forget your eye patch and pull out your mandolin my First Mate.  The girls will need a song to carry them through the next while.”  Oli watches as the Captain stares into the sky.  “And a storm is brewing.  I’ll take first sleep so you’re in charge.”

“Aye, aye Captain,” Oli says with a grin.

Oli feels a nudge against her shoulder.

“Sir,” the ‘Harlot’ says to her with tear streaked cheeks and a determined stare.  “I wish to help pull the sheets and whatever else it takes to make the Nague fly towards Captain Peg leg’s ship the Surprise.

“Aye sister,” Oli replies.  “Help make them bows twang with the Master-at-Arms and the Shipbuilder.  We’ll handle lowering and raising the sails.”

“But we need to hurry,” the ‘Harlot’ says in a tone that surprises Oli; there’s no sarcasm only worry in it.

“We’ll make haste and if he hasn’t been eaten yet save your heart,” Oli assures her.

“Thank you sir,” the ‘Harlot’ says with a shake of her now clasped hands. 

Oli goes to her room under the fo’c’sle and straps her mandolin over her shoulder.

“Lasses all, hear me!” Oli shouts out as she walks towards the post of the main mast while lightly strumming the strings of her mandolin.  “We must save our friends on the Surprise from our friends the Cannibals.”  She starts strumming the strings of her mandolin with more vigor.  “There’s a wind building and a storm brewing, so we must hurry.  Now see Cook Nippie and Janet and receive your quota of rum for this wild ride.”  Zala and Aarini step to either side of her.  “Zala will choose which of you rest and which of you stay on deck to work.  We’ll be doing shifts of eight hours.  Helmswoman Synthia has turned the first hourglass over.  Those of you resting get as much kip as you can.  The rest of you!  It’s time to fly!”

“With me Aarini,” Oli sings as she saunters over to the Poop Deck where ‘Wheel Turner’ is waiting for them.  “You’ll be pulling the spokes one way or the other,” Oli says as ‘Wheel Turner’ steps back so Aarini can take the wheel.  “Zala will be calling the direction from the fo’c’sle where Master Jo Ann our beloved Navigator will tell her which way we wants to go.”

“Where will you be sir?” Aarini asks with a mixture of concern and excitement in her voice and on her face.

“I’ll be nearby,” Oli replies with a wink, “Giving orders between singing a song.”

The planks of the deck, the sails, and everything else are suddenly tinted a semi-translucent brandy colour.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Thirty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“You’re a genius First Mate Olanis,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says and slaps her on the shoulder.  “Up you go while I pass the skin sacks to you.”

Oli grunts as ‘Wheel Turner’ gives her the sacks.  “If we really wanted to get fresh water we would need to hook up a pulley and use buckets,” she says through gritting teeth.

“There’s a wind coming up and dark clouds in the sky that says are time here is up,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies with her own grunt.

“I’m thinking we tie a string to the sacks and place them on some of the broad leaves so we can slide them down,” Oli says wiping perspiration from her forehead.  You might be able to carry them but they’re too heavy for me to lug down.”

“Aye,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says. 

Oli sees ‘Wheel Turner’ hack off a couple of leaves from unfamiliar plant.  The leaves are as long and wide as she is. 

Once they get to the water Oli makes one of Umi’s Ama whistles.  In a short time she sees the pinnace being rowed their way.

The growing waves rock the pinnace as it makes it back to the Nagua.  Once the two water sacks, seaweed, and dogweed are loaded Oli goes with ‘Wheel Turner’ to see the Captain on the Fo’c’sle.

“Captain and Navigator,” she and ‘Wheel Turner’ say in unison.

“There’s fruit and fresh water and we found a new people,” Oli tells the Captain.

“Taller than the Real Talls and with a dorsal fin along their backs,” ‘Wheel Turner’ adds.

“Well,” the Captain says as she pinches her chin in thought.  “All we saw was Peg leg’s Surprise pass us with the Cannibals’ ship close behind.”

“And there are full moons crossing,” ‘Storm Caller’ says ominously.

“Ah!” Oli cries out.  “All of us women will be howling at the moon.  It will be a crazy ship for the next while.  Poor, poor ‘Ship Builder’.  He’ll be hiding more than normal.”  She laughs.

“And Janet will be singing her lamenting songs,” ‘Wheel Turner’ adds with a groan.

“Two full moons crossing one another,” ‘Storm Caller’ says again.

Everyone goes silent.

“The Cannibals will be wanting to feed,” the Captain says in a wearisome tone.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Review of The Tomorrow War

Review of The Tomorrow War

by Dan Watt

Picture only used for this post

The movie starts off with Chris Pratt’s character, Dan Forester, waiting to find out if he has a new teaching job.  Everything is normal until individuals from the future show up.

The script by Zach Dean (Deadfall, 24 Hours To Live) is about a future war with aliens but with a twist. 

I really enjoyed the human reaction to everything that goes on in The Tomorrow War.  The interaction between the characters reminds me of George Lucas’s 1978 Star Wars (Episode IV).  In Star Wars the characters are so endearing because they act like we would to situations.  Dan’s interaction with his wife and attitude towards his father is down to Earth and real.  I also enjoyed Dan’s interaction with his daughter(s).  The casting for this film was right on.  Everyone makes the scenes believable. 

Unlike the screenplay by Edward Neumeier (Robocop) for Starship Troopers (based on the book of the same name by Robert Heinlein) the social and political comments aren’t commercials or newsreels but ones we make to each other daily.  In The Tomorrow War lack of faith in world leaders and NATO is brought forth by individual comments.

The battle scenes are similar to Ridley Scott’s Blackhawk Down.  The director, Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) makes sure you’re right there. 

A pivotal realization in the movie made me think of Neill Blomkamp (Elysium) and Terri Tatchell’s (Chappie) screenplay for District 9.  And for anyone who has read Liu Cixin’s Dark Forest, the movie suggests another terrifying possibility.   

The Tomorrow War gives me hope that Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War can finally be made.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Nine)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Nine)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

‘Wheel Turner’ pops her knife out of her mouth and with a shake of her head whispers, “The ‘Harlot’ would be hypnotized by the pendulum swing of the one fellow down there.”

Oli almost spits out her knife as she holds back a laugh.  She takes her own knife out of her mouth.  “How many leagues do you think we climbed to get to the pond?”

“About ten at least,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies.

“Then how tall do you figure them peoples down there are?”

She sees a mind churning expression on ‘Wheel Turner’s’ face.

“Maybe three, three-and-a-half for some.  They’re all different heights.”

“How tall would you say the Real Talls are?”  Oli asks, desperate for another peek but knowing its best she doesn’t.

“Two, two-and-a-half tops.”

“The Real Talls don’t have dorsal fins on their back, or wide hands with webbing between though, do they?” Oli asks conspiratorially.

“They don’t have feathery things for hair or wide splayed feet, or walk around nude either,” ‘Wheel Turner’ adds.  “Thought I saw an opening at the far end of the lagoon but couldn’t be sure with all the foliage.  Do you think they’re newbies and still haven’t found their way around?”

“There was some poorly made huts,” Oli replies thoughtfully.  Could be their ship was dashed to pieces and they’re all that’s left.”

“Really want to take another look,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says while she clasps her hands into fists.

Oli glances up into the sky.  “Best we get some water and relate all this to the Captain,” she says with a finger to her lips.

She and ‘Wheel Turner’ take turns filling their water sacks.  While one fills the other keeps an eye on the far side of the pond.

“Would have liked to lay nude and all and let the sun dry me but we best get back,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a sigh.  “Do you think we’ll ever be safe to do what we want?”

“What fun is it to do what we want and be safe,” Oli says with her head tilted to the side and a wide grin on her face.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Eight)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Oli sees that Eau-de-vie is not far from Cachaça.  She helps ‘Wheel Turner’ climb down then without waiting drops down herself.  The pond is only a few steps away.  She glances around as she waits for ‘Wheel Turner’ to taste the water.  There’s plants growing in the water but no fish, a good sign its fresh water.  At the far end there’s a V-shaped gap where she guesses any overflow of water from rain flows down to whatever is below.

“It’s fresh,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

Oli glances up at the sky then strips off her clothes.  “Who knows when we’ll be able to bathe in fresh water again,” she says.

“Aye,” ‘Wheel Turner’ agrees pulling off her own clothes.

Oli notices the pool is only a league deep near the shore where she and ‘Wheel Turner’ frolic for a moment, splashing water at each other.

“Let’s see what’s over the other ridge,” Oli suggests.  She dunks her head in the water.  When she surfaces she shakes her hair.  “This water feels so good,” she laments.

“Off to the edge of the world,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a whiny voice followed by a laugh.

Oli grabs her knife.  She sees ‘Wheel Turner’ follow suit.  Never good to be weaponless, as ‘Dizzying Blade’ has reminded her many times. 

With her knife blade in her mouth Oli pulls aside some fern leaves.  Her eyes widen as she stares down a precipice.  On the far side she sees a waterfall pour into a pool.  Around the pool are very peculiar looking people.  With much diligence she lets the leaves of the fern fall back into place.  She glances at ‘Wheel Turner’ whose bulging eyes she imagines are a reflection of her own.

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Seven)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Seven)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

As she and ‘Wheel Turner’ make their way towards the top of the ridge Oli notices there are numerous birds and flowering insects.  Many of the trees and other plants she recognizes but there are also many she doesn’t.

“You think if the Real Talls, Sames, and Cannibals,” she says gasping for breath, “came from another world, they also brought animals, insects, and plants with them as the Captain suggests?”

“Why not,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies, wiping perspiration from her face.  “We did.”

“But there’s the Deep Dwellers, fish-tails, dolphin-tails, horsepeople, and giants,” Oli says.

“And those are just the ones we know of,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says as they reach the crest.

“What happens when we defeat Barthadrow?”  Oli asks and spits on the ground.

“It’s the other one I’m worried about,” ‘Wheel Turner replies.  “Comparable to a first mate, that one–.”

Without thinking Oli has ‘Wheel Turner’ on her back.  She blinks perspiration away and realizes the point of her dagger is imprinting the skin at the side of ‘Wheel Turner’s’ neck.

“Didn’t mean comparable, as in to you, but in how close that person is to Barthadrow.”  ‘Wheel Turner’ instinctively spits sideways.

“Aye,” Oli says with a grin and a shake of her head.  She gets up, re-sheathes her dagger and offers ‘Wheel Turner’ her hand.

‘Wheel Turner’ shows her strength and Oli grimaces as she’s thrown onto her chest and face.  Before she can catch her wind ‘Wheel Turner’ is kneeling on her shoulder blades with the point of her own knife poking just behind the flap of Oli’s right ear.

“Ye’re like my sister,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says in a soft, deadly voice.  “You didn’t run me through, not even nick me so I’ll do as like.  But never, ever, think I would compare you to that monsters second-in-command.  Agreed?”

Oli gulps, “Agreed.”

When Oli is on her feet again she places her hand on the hilt of her rapier.  She sees ‘Wheel Turner’ do the same.  And they both laugh.

“I could never kill you ‘One Eye’,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says giving her a bear hug.

“Nor I you,” Oli says laughing hugging her back.  

“Now if either of us had been ‘Dizzying Blade’,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

“Either one of us would be dead now,” Oli finishes for her.

“I swear, I see that one whose eyes could be either light grey or green pending on the clothes she wears, always scoping everyone.”  ‘Wheel Turner’ says with a wearisome shake of her head.  “All the years we’ve known her and I’ve still never felt safe around her.”

As she chuckles Oli says, “And she’s our Master-at-Arms.”

“Crazy Bumbee’s bollocks I’m glad she’s on our side.

Oli hears something beyond the dense foliage in front of them.  “Shhh,” she whispers.

She and ‘Wheel Turner’ carefully part the foliage until they come to the other side of the ridge.  Glancing through the long, rib-like leaves of some kind of fern Oli sees a half league down a large circular pond.  At the far edge of the pond is a row of palm mixed with banana and other trees.  “I think past the pond is a precipice,” she says.

“Help me down and I’ll taste the water,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.  “If it’s fresh I’ll help you down.”  ‘Wheel Turner’ stares up into the sky.  “We’ll have to head back soon.”

Dan Watt is the author of BARD an epic fantasy story

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

DANCER

Concept art for the poem.

He stands in the doorway of a hexagonal room

The sea air wafts through the open windows

Its night with only a crystal chandelier to give light

To his left is a wall of weapons

To his right a fireplace

He walks to the front of the fireplace

Atop its mantle is a chessboard

The squares are made of cararra and fior di bosco marble

He places a long necked vase onto the Queen’s space

Asiatic lilies are painted all around the base

He uncorks the vase and slides the cork into his right breast pocket

From the wall of weapons he pulls off a Tai Chi sword

He raises the blade above his head with his right arm

While simultaneously lifting his left arm and leg

He pinches together all but the index and middle finger of his left hand

“For the World,” he calls into the air

The song from the Hero soundtrack by Tan Dun plays loud and clear

He slides his left foot back as the knee of his right leg bends

He simultaneously thrusts the sword and his left arm forward

The Tai Chi sword moves fluidly as he uses the sword and his feet to attack

To ward off imaginary enemies he transits the sword to his left hand

When his body is warm he returns the flexible Tai Chi sword to its rack

Now he takes hold of a katana that was folded a thousand times

He slips its sheath through the belt of his dress pants

“Seven Samurai,” he says

Fumio Hayasaka’s music plays all around him

The blade’s sharp edge is up as he draws it out

He moves rapidly, mostly with both hands on the hilt

The steel on his tap shoes click with every lunging movement he makes

But he is not interested in the rapidness of a fighting style right now

Instead the attack and defense movements are drawn out

To emphasize emotion

When he is done he kneels and places the sword before him

He sets his left hand followed by his right onto the floor 

And bows deeply

He sits up placing his right hand on his right thigh first

With another slight bow he places the sheathed katana back on its rack

Now he stands with soft knees

“Play,” he says

Falls from Ennio Morricone’s The Mission soundtrack fills the room

He inhales as he raises his arms above his head

His wrists flex so the tops can be used to block

When his arms reach above his head he begins to exhale

Pressing down with his wrists extended to strike

Three times he repeats this movement

Closing his eyes he waits to a count of seven

Before raising his right hand to take her left

He encircles her upper back with his left arm

He feels her right hand resting on his left shoulder

Inhaling deeply he smells the intoxicating scent of lilacs from her hair

The sound of Wallace Courts Murron from James Horner’s Braveheart soundtrack pours through the room

He feels her body press up against his

The beat of her heart matches his

Both increasing as they move faster

Her voice hums to the sound of Am I Not Merciful from Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator soundtrack

Causing his steps to falter but for a moment

Her hips squeeze firmly into his as Promontory from Randy Edelman and Trevor Jones’ The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack blares through the room

She moves away from him so only their hands are touching

They hold up each other’s weight as they dance in circles

He pulls her closer again and she lays her cheek onto his chest as Elysium from Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator soundtrack plays

When the song ends his hands hold only empty air

His eyes open and at first he feels disoriented

Soon he takes out the cork and kisses it

Diligently he presses it into the top of the vase with his left hand

Not realizing his right hand is resting on the King’s square

D.W. June 2021

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Six)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog Twenty-Six)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“You look like a sick peacock!” ‘Wheel Turner’ shouts at the bird as she runs after it.

“Barthadrow’s barrel!” the bird screams back at her and makes a spitting sound.

“I give up,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says turning her back to the bird and taking a seat beside Oli.

Oli passes her some mulberries.  “Best we keep going,” she says getting up and dusting herself off.

“Aye,” ‘Wheel Turner’ replies with a sigh.  “Work, work, work, is all we do.”

“It’s a sad world,” Oli sings as she playfully nudges ‘Wheel Turner’ with her shoulder.  “Crazy Bumbee had it right,” she continues to sing as they trudge deeper into the forested area of the atoll.

Captain Crazy Bumbee he was

Flirted with our Captain

Tried touching without her consent

And our Captain in her wisdom

Gave him a permanent grin

Oh, Crazy Bumbee

We miss your cackle

We miss your wild tales

We miss even the madness in your eyes

Captain Crazy Bumbee he was

Smiling all the while

As he and his insane crew

Shot through the rapids

In sealed barrels

Right over the watery precipice

Of the Endless Waterfalls

“Lovely song First Mate,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says as they work their way to the top of the ridge that surrounds the atoll.

“Been working on it, silently, inside my head,” Oli replies with a prideful grin.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog twenty-five)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part fIve: Blog twenty-five)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“At least it’s sandy here,” Oli hears ‘Wheel Turner’ say as they trudge through the water.

“Fresh water is heavier than salt water so it will be fun dragging the bags back,” Oli says. 

As they get closer to the dry sand of the atoll she sniffs; there’s a faint smell of rotting vegetable where partially wet seaweed rots along the shore.  She notices more birds amongst the pine trees and other plants she thinks only exist on this planet. 

“Look!” ‘Wheel Turner’ shouts and points at an area on the shore between two Indian Mulberry trees.  “That colour bird with the long legs and really long tails with markings like a fish’s scales.  I swear that’s a liarbird!”

Oli notices the Indian Mulberry have fruit and her mouth salivates.  She glances at the ground and sees a bird dashing around.  “Lyrebird with a ‘Y’ instead of an ‘A’ or an ‘I’ Oli corrects ‘Wheel Turner’, or at least hopes she does.

“If it doesn’t tell me the truth it’s a liarbird,” ‘Wheel Turner’ snarls back.

Oli’s squints with determination as she replies, “Well let’s capture it and find out what it has to say.”

“Maybe there’s some parrots too,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says. 

On the shore Oli turns to ‘Wheel Turner’.  “You go after the liar and I’ll collect some of them mulberries.”

As ‘Wheel Turner’ tries to capture the lyrebird, Oli shimmies up the Indian Mulberry tree.  She has to climb around because the first berries she sees have silk worms all over the leaves surrounding them.

She cuts off a branch with only a few silkworms on it and lets it drop to the ground.  She tosses the mulberries she plucks off the tree onto the leafy branch.  Before she descends back down she glances around.  Peering through the leaves she sees a screw pine a bit deeper in.  Her eyes alight.  If the weather is good and the Captain allows it she’ll come back with more of the girls.  Even if they don’t find fresh water there’s lots of fruit to eat.

On the ground she sees ‘Wheel Turner’ facing off with the lyrebird.

“Come here you lyingbird!” ‘Wheel Turner’ shouts at it.

“You lyingbird!” the lyrebird shouts back.

“I’ll put you in Barthadrow’s barrel!” ‘Wheel Turner’ screams at the bird before spitting on the ground.

Oli sits back against the trunk of a coconut tree.  She glances up and sees the coconuts are unripe.  Now she can concentrate on the interaction between ‘Wheel Turner’ and the lyrebird.  Leaning forward with eyes wide she scoops in a mouthful of the mulberries.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Five: Blog twenty-four)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part fIVe: Blog twenty-four)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“Cachaça is getting full and Eau-de-vie is getting closer,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says as she wraps leather around her clogs to keep them from getting damaged.

Oli gazes up into the clear sky at the milky white colour of Cachaça.  She reaches up with both hands and opens them so it looks like she’s holding the moon.  The moon is so large it takes up most of her sight.  “Wonder if anything lives on her?” she asks.  ‘Wheel Turner’ doesn’t reply so she turns her head to the east.  “Makes me thirsty,” she says staring at the burgundy coloured Eau-de-vie.

“We’ll get you as close as possible, sirs,” Zala says.  Oli smiles at the tall girl in her violet robe, taken from somewhere, maybe from a wreckage.  It makes Zala look noble and in control.  Aarini who wears a nearly see through silk blouse and Chesah in her own kimono could be princesses; pirate princesses. 

Oli sees Umi checking over the fire box in the middle of the pinnace.  Next the waterproof buckets and ropes.  Lastly Oli sees Umi have each girl stand up and unfasten their robes to check that their knives are secured tightly. 

Peering over the side of the boat into the water as they get closer to the shore Umi raises her hand.  “Halt!” she commands.  “There is a sandy stretch towards the atoll here.”

Oli climbs over the side followed by ‘Wheel Turner’ as the girls lean the opposite way to counterbalance.  Once in the water Oli realizes it only reaches just above her knees.  Zala passes her and ‘Wheel Turner’ each a water sack made from sheep stomach.  Oli realizes that the sacks are older than she is since they came from Earth.  She and ‘Wheel Turner’ tie the mouth strings of the sacks to their waists and swing the body of the sacks over their shoulders.  Next Zala passes them each a chord of thin rope, and wrapped biscuits which Oli and ‘Wheel Turner’ tuck into their tops. 

“When Eau-de-vie is in front of Cachaça,” she hears ‘Wheel Turner’ tells Zala.

“Aye, aye, Helmswoman,” Zala replies.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part five: Blog twenty-Three)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part five: Blog twenty-Three)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Zala follows her up the stairs to the fo’c’sle where the Captain is conversing with Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne.

“Afternoon my ‘First Mate’ Olanis, and Zala” the Captain says with a jovial tone to her voice.

“Captain, Navigator,” Oli says.

“Sir,” Zala says.

“How’s our supply of fresh water in the hold?”  The Captain asks.

“I went with Aarini the other day to sound the barrels and they’re about eight of ten full.”

“It would be good to mark in another place for fresh water.  Do you think that atoll has any inside her?” the Captain asks with a hopeful smile.

“We can look tomorrow,” Oli replies.  “’Wheel Turner’ would like to come along.  We could get the boat close enough to walk to shore I think.”

“Wear clogs and wrap your hands,” the Captain warns.  “Might be things like sea urchins and there’s certainly coral.  Bring some water skins just in case.”

“Will do Captain,” she replies.

“Than it’s you, ‘Wheel Turner’, Umi, Zala, Chesah, and this time take Aarini.”  The Captain turns to Zala.  “You can dive with Umi to learn how it’s done.  When she’s in the water you’re in charge of the boat.”

“Aye, aye, Captain,” Zala says and Oli sees a gleam in her eyes.

“Zala?” the Captain asks, “how do we collect fresh water while at sea?”

“Dew off the old sail sheets we hang over the sides at night and buckets if it rains, sir,” Zala replies with so much confidence Oli is relieved.  If everything goes as planned Zala will be a captain of her own ship soon.

“Should a captain and first mate ever leave the ship at the same time?” The Captain asks Zala.  Oli can see the strain in her face.

“Not unless there’s a fire or the ship is being careened for repairs, sir.” 

Oli believes Zala will be wearing her own tricorn hat soon.

“Very good.”  The Captain glances at her and Zala.  “Let Umi know and prepare for tomorrow.”

“Aye, aye Captain,” Oli says at the same time Zala does.

“Don’t get too giddy,” Oli says to Zala as they head towards the Poop Deck to give ‘Wheel Turn’ the news.

“Why would you say that?” Zala asks with suspicion in her voice.

“Because soon you’ll outrank me and I won’t be able to talk to you like that anymore,” Oli says patting the now beaming Zala on the shoulder.

“Oh, I don’t think it will be I captaining the next ship, sir,” Zala says turning and looking down at her with admiration.  “But I wouldn’t mind being your First Mate.”

For the very first time First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis is dumbfounded.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

The Reason I Wrote:  Healing the Temple of the Soul (a story about body image and eating disorders)

The Reason I Wrote:  Healing the Temple of the Soul

(A story about body image and eating disorders)

By D. Watt, B.A., PT

I remember volunteering at a YMCA when a very thin girl came up to me.  She grabbed the skin of her arm and asked me how she could lose fat.  I could see her bone through her skin.  I knew very little about eating disorders then so I told her she didn’t need to lose fat but needed to add muscle.

On TV there would be fashion shows.  I expected to see eye appealing curves and femininity.  What I saw instead was skin and bone; androgynous wraiths wearing clothing that hung on their emaciated bodies.   

Initially I didn’t find many books about girls with eating disorders so I wrote a book about a girl struggling with an eating disorder and body image.  Knowing, that as a male, I could only take what I had heard, seen, and read and bounce it back to create the main character Cynthia, I decided to ask women I knew to read it.  It was strange to have women who had and were dealing with an eating disorder tell me I was on track while professionals who worked with individuals with eating disorders told me I was far off track.

Over the years I did find some books on eating disorders.  The one that stayed with me is Joan Ryan’s Little Girls In Pretty Boxes.  Ryan did research on female gymnasts and figure skaters and interviewed some of the athletes.  After mentioning the book to women I knew or trained my view of what causes eating disorders and body image struggles altered greatly.  Up to that point I had thought eating disorders were only a symptom of trying to control body weight and appearance.  I was shocked when I was told that much of it is caused because of physical, psychological, or/and sexual abuse at a young age.  Healing the Temple of the Soul deals more with the need to belong, attention, and sports.       

A client told me about a model friend of hers who was giving a seminar on modeling.  This was another eye opener.  Programs like Photoshop allow editors to completely change the physical attributes of a model.  A size three can become a size zero, facial features like freckles can be removed, bosoms can be enlarged or shrunk, and the neck and waist can be made thinner.  I am not a fan of what I would call the “mannequin” look. 

I wanted the cover to represent a scene in the book so I asked my Goddaughter to model for the cover of Healing the Temple of the Soul.  She looked healthy and vibrant in the picture so Stephanie McColl did an amazing pointillism portrait of her looking gaunt.

There’s a song I include in the book by Alanis Morissette called Mary Jane.  A verse in the song says what so many people who care are:

I hear you’re losing weight again Mary Jane
Do you ever wonder who you’re losing it for

Arcade Fire’s Creature Comfort points out the need for attention:

Some girls hate their bodies
Stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback

Now there’s a new song/message from Billie Eilish called Not My Responsibility in which she deals directly with body image and weight:

Is my value based only on your perception?

Or is your opinion of me?

Not my responsibility

Body shaming can come in many forms: too heavy, too light, showing too much skin, or not enough.  Sexual attraction is natural but it needs to be surrounded by respect.  The movie The Fifth Element comes to mind when discussing sexuality and respect.  Bruce Willis’s character Korben reaches out to touch a mostly naked Leeloo played by Milla Jorovich.  Leeloo grabs Korben in a strangle hold and tells him, “Never without my permission.”

The goal of Healing the Garden of the Body is to encourage anyone with an eating disorder or body image struggle that they can overcome their fears.                                                                                                                                                                                                I also wanted to point out that everyone has struggles and the importance of support.  Mostly though, I want people who are struggling to understand that there are others who care about them, including men.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-Two)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-Two)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Oli sees Zala and Chesah pull harder than they should have to.  Because Zala is stronger the pinnace turns east.

“It’s dragging,” Zala says.  Oli sees her stop pulling so hard.

“Well my sea dwelling sisters we haven’t sprung a leak,” Oli says with a shrug, “so struggle on, we’re nearly up to our ship.”

“So hard,” Chesah gasps, heaving on the handle of her oar.  As she does the boat suddenly spins in a circle. 

Oli grabs onto the bottom of her seat as the girls raise the paddles of their oars out of the water.  ‘Ship Protector’ Umi also has a hold onto the bottom of her seat.

“Whatever was causing the boat to drag seems to be gone,” she says taking in deep breaths. 

Taking a calming breath herself Oli tells Zala and Chesah, “Let’s try rowing again.”

As they get near the Nagua Oli shouts out, “Ahoy you sleeping sea pixies!” 

From the gunwale of the Nagua she sees ‘Harlot’ Thelma peer down.

“All hand hoy!” The ‘Harlot’ shouts out.  “First Mate Olanis and her crew of misfit and naughty nymphs are returned!”

 Oli drops cork bricks held on by short ropes over the side of the pinnace closest to the ship’s hull.  Thick ropes with hooks are lowered using pulleys.  Oli wraps the ropes around the bundles of dogweed and seaweed as Umi, Zala, and Chesah stable the pinnace by holding other lowered ropes.

“Captain wants to talk to you,” Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia tells Oli once she’s on deck.  “Many biters?”

Oli skips and claps her hands as she replies, “No, but its shallow a long way from the atoll.”

“I could use a swim,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.

“Maybe if Umi and Zala get enough dogweed and seaweed tomorrow we can go back before it gets dark.”  Oli says patting the muscular shoulder of ‘Wheel Turner’.

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-One)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-One)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Once she has cut through three stems of dogweed she swims up with them.  On the surface she uses the isobue technique of the Ama.  She blows out whatever air she has left making a high pitched whistling sound.  She passes the dogweed to ‘One Eye’.  Taking in another deep breath she dives back down.   

Ten more times she returns to the surface with three long stems; each time making the high squealing sound.  There is no more dogweed nearby so she cuts off the stems of some seaweed instead.  The fiber of the seaweed will be made to make strings for the bows and repair rope for the sails and anchors.  The leaves will be used as salty herbs for ‘Unibrows’ soup to ward off scurvy.

On her twentieth time returning to the surface ‘One Eye’ shouts to her, “Full!”  ‘One Eye’ helps her on board as Zala and Chesah lean to the other side as counter balance.

Umi sits between Zala and Chesah to use their body heat to get warm as ‘One Eye’ puts more wood on the embers.

“Tomorrow, if weather is good, I teach Zala and Chesah,” Umi says as she helps the girls tie the stacks of dogweed and seaweed.

“When you’re ready ‘Ship Protector’,” ‘One Eye’ says as she passes around battered salted fish between sliced Hardtack biscuits.  She uncorks and hands Umi a clay jug full of beer to drink from first.

 “We try sushi tomorrow!” Umi says with a devilish laugh as she puts her kimono robe back on and ties it tight with the sash.   

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Umi sees ‘One Eye’ drops an anchor on the port side and another on the starboard.  Once the boat is gently bobbing more-or-less in place Umi slips her awabi-okoshi through her fundoshi or as ‘One Eye’ calls it, a chastity belt in case a dolphin tail male seeks her out.  The long handle of the awabi-okoshi was originally used by Ama to scrape abalone off surfaces.  She keeps it to scrape off whatever grows on the outside of the hull.  Next she slips a Nihonto Tanto knife through the fundoshi; a gift from her dying father after he fought off three of Barthadrow’s men.  She grimaces at the memory of him thrusting it hilt first towards her as blood poured out of his numerous wounds.  Memories of all the horrible things Barthadrow has done and caused makes her blood boil.  She spits into the water. 

Lastly she ties a thin but strong rope around her waist.  Next she ties the other end onto the handle of a wooden basket caulked so it floats.  At the bow of the pinnace ‘One Eye’ ties another rope through an eyehook a top the gunwale to the basket then places it onto the surface.

“One pull I’m coming up, two pull me up,” Umi reminds Zala and Chesah.

 She rolls her shoulders back and lifts her heels alternately off the bottom of the boat while taking in controlled breaths.  When it feels right she takes in a deep breath and dives into the water.

It’s cold but also refreshing as it covers her mostly naked body.  She doesn’t wear clothing because it absorbs water and captures air.  It also keeps the coldness in when she exits the water.

She’ll cut off long lengths of the dogweed first.  The hope is that the weed will keep both its strength and flexibility for the bows and arrows the Captain wants made.  The rope to the portside anchor is taught and near her.  As she cuts near the bottom of a dogweed stem with her Nihonto Tanto she feels a gush of water against her back.  She glances back but doesn’t see anything.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

As the Nagua moves beyond the visibility of the city Umi’s thoughts turn to the next day when she will dive for the wooded plants ‘Dizzying Blade’ wants for the bow and arrows.  “You will come on the boat with us tomorrow Zala and Chesah.”  She smiles at the others.  “The rest of you, we try next time.”

She hears the other girls grumble that they won’t be going.  Umi smiles at the sight of Zala putting her arm around Chesah and asking her if she’s excited about the coming morning.  Only a few of the girls are willing to swim.  Most are terrified of putting their head below the surface.  She chuckles under her breath at the memory of the ‘Harlot’ telling her, she would rather eat ‘Unibrow’s’ wormy fish meal, like they were forced to years ago, than learn to be an Ama.

The Nagua is anchored about a mile from the shore of an atoll.  Umi is wearing a kimono robe with images of the leaves from a sakaki tree stitched on.   She closes her eyes and takes in deep, even breaths of the salty air. 

She opens her eyes and sees ‘One Eye’ who isn’t currently wearing her eyepatch looking back at her from the bow of the pinnace with a lopsided grin.  “We’ll keep the embers going while you dive,” ‘One Eye’ says with as she swipes away one of the flying insects that live near the shore. 

Umi stares into the yellow sky.  Pelicans with their long thick beaks swoop nearby.  She can also see frigatebirds with their thin pointed beaks and long tails.  Nearby a yellow beaked masked booby, with its wings drawn in, dives into the water.  Most of the other birds she has seen on this world keep closer to shore.  She remembers the Captain saying she wonders if they’re originally from Earth and were resting on the ships when the whirlpools pulled them to this planet.

Before her, in a cast iron box made from one of the unused cannons, are the embers of a fire.  She’ll need the warmth when she leaves the water.  She undoes her sash and lets the sun shine on her mostly bare skin.  She ties a tenugui over her head to keep her hair out of her eyes.  She is already wearing a fundoshi below.  Over the side she can see the sunlight piercing the water.  About two fathoms down the tops of seaweed flow back and forth in the current.   Growing in-between the seaweed are the hard and straight stands of what the Queen of Pirates named dogweed.

To the stern of the pinnace sit Zala and Chesah rowing.  ‘One Eye’ is navigator.  Zala’s eyes are bright and observant.  Chesah appears a bit squeamish. 

“First Mate Olanis knows that if I tug the rope once, I’m coming up, but if I tug twice I’m to be pulled up,” she tells the girls.

“And if we see danger we tug twice, wait for a tug back from Umi, then pull her back to the surface like Crazy Bumbee would,” ‘One Eye’ adds.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Four: Blog Eighteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Four: Blog Eighteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

‘Ship Protector’ Umi stares over the starboard side of the Nagua.  The Captain insisted she only have five girls with her, including Zala and Aarini.  Zala and Aarini would have to learn the secrets of the Ama just as the Captain had insisted Umi teach her, ‘One Eye’, ‘Storm Caller’, ‘Wheel Turner’, and ‘Dizzying Blade’.  She knew, as the other leaders did that the Captain planned on obtaining another ship from the monster Barthadrow’s fleet.  That would mean splitting up the crew.  The idea both excited and saddened her.  This crew was her family and she knew the rest felt the same.

The other girls she chose included Chesah from the Philippines.  Chesah is short like Umi and grew up near the sea.  Next she chose Bayu from Indonesia.  She too is short.  Her final choice was Hayami, another girl from Japan.  All the girls are around twelve to fourteen.  Old enough to learn the ways of the Ama.  There were other girls she wanted to bring.  Amelie was born in Southern France.  Tall, lean and fearless but still needs maturity.  Arsema, from Eritrea.  Arsema is also tall and very clever.  Umi didn’t invite her because ‘Dizzying Blade’ has had her eyes on Arsema as an understudy.  ‘Dizzying Blade’ is the only gaijin who reminds her of the samurai that terrified her whenever they entered her village.

“Does it matter if we talk?” Chesah asks in a whisper.

“No.  However, maybe some of you remember when the Captain had a knotted rope attached to a cannon ball lowered towards the orange glow of a Deep Dwellers’ city.  At fifty fathoms the cannon ball went no lower.  Do any of you remember what happened?”  She asks with her eyes wide with mock terror.

“No,” all the sisters reply in unison.

“Something or things pulled on the lowered rope so hard,” Umi spreads her arms wide, “So hard that the ship nearly capsized.  We were in great peril!  That’s when Helmswoman Sadie ran up with an axe and with her great strength chopped through the rope.”  She peeks over the gunwale.  Through the water she can see the bright orange glow of a Deep Dwellers’ city.  “Look!”

The girls scramble to look.

“Let your eyes adjust and you’ll see things moving inside.  We have not been here in years so I could not show anyone before now.”

“There are tiny things moving inside,” Zala says, stretching her long body farther over the gunwale. 

“According to the dolphin tails the fish tails inter—inter-act with the Deep Dwellers, and say they are hugeous,” Umi says struggling with the English but emphasizing every word anyway. 

“Is it the only city of the Deep Dwellers?” Chesah asks peering even farther over the gunwale.

“No but it is the only one we see from the surface so far,” Umi says so all the girls hear her reply.  “The dolphin tails say there are many more but they are so deep their light never reaches surface.”

“Why don’t they come to shore?” Zala asks, as she too leans farther over the gunwale.

“The dolphin tails say the Deep Dwellers cannot survive above a hundred and fifty fathoms because there is not enough water above them to keep them alive.”  Umi sighs.  “Carrying a weighted stone I have never dived beyond ten fathoms.”

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Seventeen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Seventeen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

The deck is filling up with most of the girls.  Sadie hears ‘One Eye’ playing her mandolin as she instructs Aarini how to turn the wheel.  “Straight ahead, for the wind is directly behind us,” ‘One Eye’ instructs in a sing-song voice.

Umi is at the starboard gunwale with a few of the girls pointing out into the calm waters.

“Ship Protector Umi,” she calls out, “a word.”

 Umi says something to the girl and comes over to her.  “Mornin’ Master-at-arms.”

“Mornin’ to you as well.  Need more seaweed for the ‘Harlot’ to make bow strings.”

“I’ll get ready,” Umi replies, “as soon as we’re near the shallows.”

“Bugs and birds,” Sadie says with a groan.

“Aye, and all sorts of sea creatures,” Umi adds.  “I’d think the Deep Dwellers homes will be visible tonight.  Do you think you could put in a word with the Captain to let me show some of the girls?”

“Will do,” she replies.  “Pick the girls you want.  I’ll talk to the Captain first than teach some of these motley sisters how to fight and hoist the sails.”

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Sixteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Sixteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

She inhales the mixed scent of fish guts and baking bread once more than turns to one of the long tables where the ‘Harlot’ is chatting to Althea.  They’re making string from the kelp that ‘Ship Protector’ Umi brought out of the sea. 

“Grab the string and stretch your arms apart so it’s tight,” Sadie says to Althea.

Althea grimaces as she holds the string apart as hard as she can while Sadie pulls on it.  Turning to the ‘Harlot’ she says with a nod, “Not bad.  We’ll test it with wood in about a week from now.”

“The ‘Ship Protector’ will need to get us more,” the ‘Harlot’ says with a sarcastic grin.

“I’ll let her know,” Sadie replies.  “Betty’s your aunt and she’ll bake you a pie,” she says as a further compliment.  She turns towards the kitchen and shouts out, “I don’t want any bones in my soup this time Nippie!”

“Aye, aye ‘Dizzying Blade’,” Nippie shouts back with an accent no one’s been able to figure out yet.

As she steps out of the galley she hears Mesi cry out, “I’ve knicked me ‘self!”

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part three Blog fifteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog fifteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Sadie can smell raw fish and baking bread as she steps into the galley.  In the very fore of the galley, past the few long tables and fixed chairs where the ‘Harlot’ and Althea are sitting together, she sees a single window with a wide serving ledge.  To the far right is the entrance into the kitchen itself.  She knows from helping Nippie out when she was younger that there’s a stove, and a pantry with flower, spices, and salted fish.  The kitchen also has a distiller, an oven, and grills.  

She hears Mesi complaining to Nippie about Janet hitting her wrist with a spoon instead of just telling her when she guts a fish wrong.  As she steps closer she hears Nippie say in her boisterous caustic voice, “Janet doesn’t talk she only sings.”  Sadie peeks through the window.  She sees they are gutting large fish that have the length of a pike but the shape of a wide mouth bass. 

Janet has her head turned slightly towards Mesi.  Janet is a tall girl.  She wears a mix match of clothing under a robin egg coloured apron.  The sleeves of her white cotton shirt are rolled up.  Although her shirt is worn loosely it still can’t hide her ample bosom.  Nor do the loose fitting brown capris hide her round hips.  Her hair is the colour of flax and escapes the plain olive green bandana that covers her head.  Her face is smooth and brown with large pouting lips.  The simple string necklace the ‘Harlot’ made for her dangles loosely from her neck.  The one with the tooth the Captain obtained from the young rascal, who tried to take Janet without her permission. 

Janet glances back at her and Sadie realizes that from a distance its Janet’s body that draws attention first, but up close, it’s the green iris of her eyes with the faint circle of brown around the pupils.  Janet received the best physical attributes from her Creole parents.  Sadie wonders what Janet would have been like if Barthadrow hadn’t captured her when she was a child.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part three Blog fourteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog fourteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Master-at-arms ‘Dizzying Speed’ Sadie stands beside Zala on the foc’s’cle with her mouth wide open in awe.  She’s completely engrossed in the fight between the tiny, busty Filipino girl Althea, and the tall wide hipped Egyptian girl Mesi.  The two girls are screaming at each other in a mixture of English and their ancestral language.  Suddenly Althea trips over a bucket.  Mesi grabs Althea’s hair and yanks Althea back to her feet.  Althea jumps to her feet smashing the crown of her head under Mesi’s chin.  Althea starts crying while holding the top of her head while she points an accusatory finger at Althea.  At the same moment Althea is rubbing her chin with one hand while pointing the finger of her free hand at Mesi. 

“Sir?” Sadie hears Zala says but waves her off.

Mesi is staggering and shifting her lower jaw side-to-side while Althea is pointing at the top of her head and crying while she shouts at Mesi.  Mesi punches Althea in the stomach with her thumb wrapped under her fingers.  Both girls cry out.  Althea is now holding her stomach and Mesi is rubbing her thumb.

“Shouldn’t you be breaking this up, sir?” Zala says, her voice a bit louder this time.

“But…,” Sadie says.

“They might hurt each other sir,” Zala warns her.

Mesi charges Althea with her head just as Althea slips on the wet deck.  They both crash into a very angry looking ‘Unibrow’ Nippie whose wielding a ladle.

“I’ve never seen such a horribly bad fight,” Sadie says in awe.  “Not even a pretend fight,” she continues as she climbs down to the deck.

“Great fight,” she hears ‘One Eye’ cackle across the ship from the Helm.

“Absolutely amazing,” Sadie agrees absent mindedly.  Her very concise mind is still pondering how two people could fight with such imprecision.  She knows some of the other girls are Egyptian and Filipino but none of them fight as horribly as these two.

“Mesi!  Althea!” she shouts out at them then after a moment of thought continues, “And Nippie!  Stand down!”  She walks briskly towards them.

‘Unibrow’ is snarling at the girls as she taps the spoon of the ladle against her palm.

“We wish to duel sir,” Mesi says with her chin held high.

“To the death,” Althea adds.

“The problem with that,” Sadie says in a quiet, mocking tone, “Is that you would probably kill yourselves instead of each other.  Mesi, you’re to go with ‘Cook’ Nippie and work with her and Janet in the Galley.  Althea, you’ll find ‘Harlot’ Thelma and help her make strings.  Now!”

She hears ‘One-Eye’ laughing from the helm.  “We could send them to Barthodrow if he wasn’t such a bilge-sucking rapescillion,” ‘One-Eye’ shouts.

“That would make it too easy to defeat him,” Sadie shouts back.  “Everyone’s got a talent.  Well met sailing sister, got to go and carve bows so they shoot arrows that sing like banshees.”

“Keep sturdy on your feet,” ‘One-Eye’ says as she turns the wheel counter clock-wise.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

Fire & Steel (medieval rapier): https://fireandsteel.ca/