A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part three Blog twelve)
By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Master-at-arms ‘Dizzying Blade’ Sadie yawns as she buckles on her rapier and slips throwing knives into each of her boots. Next she clasps a thick silver necklace with a detachable letter opener over her neck. As she clips a corkscrew into her hair she sighs. She feels sorry about almost killing the Navigator but ‘Storm Caller’ should know better. In her pierced ears she puts in jewellery that can easily bend into lock picks. However, if she did accidentally kill—well not kill but maim—maybe just permanently damage ‘Storm Caller’s’ fighting hand, she could have that marvelous rapier her father gave her. She sighs again. ‘Storm Caller’ is her friend, her sister in their common quest to kill Barthadrow. Sadie’s glad she didn’t kill or maim her.
Barthadrow. The foul name that touches everyday of their lives. She was eight, maybe nine when the Queen of Pirates rescued her from the criminal ship both she and Alejandra were imprisoned on. She grimaces at the memory of her drunken father using most of the meager funds made from the small farm they rented in Wales to buy cheap mead. Her mother was another story: strong, fierce, and determined. She made that farm work as best she could. Still there was never enough food so Sadie took to stealing. A mistake when the British Empire decided they wanted to increase the Celtic population in Australia.
As drunk as he got her father was still a skilled swordsman and light infantry. Now that she’s much older she realizes the wounds he took as a soldier in the War of the Spanish Succession led him to his drinking problems. Since she was the only child he and her mother begot, he taught her from a young age how to use a sword—more of a dowel of wood at the time. He also taught her how use a bow, and how to load a rifle. She was too young to actually fire the rifle. It was the Queen of Pirates that made her the weapons expert she is now.
“Mornin,” First Mate Oli,” she calls to ‘One Eye’ who isn’t currently wearing an eyepatch.
“Mornin,” Master-at-arms Sadie ‘One Eye’ shouts back with a tired grin as she stands on the Poop Deck with her hands on two of the wheels spokes.
“Zala,” she says as she climbs up to the fo’c’sle and heads towards the bowsprit where the captain watches the water with a spyglass.
“Mornin’ Master-at-arms,” Zala replies. She looks terribly bored.
“Not much to call out?” she asks.
“Pretty still. Only excitement is watching the Sames trying to keep ahead of the Canibals.”
“Tristan’s ship and the Real Talls are out of sight?”
“Aye sir, heard that’s to be expected.”
“Well, keep alert Zala, our lives depend on it.”
“Looking forward to the glow of the Deep Dwellers sir.” That, Sadie notices, Zala says with some excitement in her voice.
“Comforting glow of colours that is,” Sadie says as she heads over to the Captain.
“Captain,” she says staring off into the clear horizon. She can see the Cannibals hurrying towards the Sames as Zala pointed out. With a glance back she can see Captain Peg legs’ Surprise trying to catch up.
“We’re almost out of gunpowder Master-at-arms,” the Captain says, as she continues to look through the spyglass. “And we need a ranged alternative so ‘Harlot’ Thelma is making string. What we need to do is find a shoreline that has wood we can turn into bows and maybe even crossbows.”
Sadie glances at the size of the deck and the length of the Nagua. “We could also make catapults and ballista. Or try to.”
“Talk to the Ship Builder and Navigator Master Jo Ann and see if between the three of you that’s worth doing but I want the bows made priority.”
“Aye, aye Captain.”
“We need them before we get close to Dread Island,” the Captain says in a whisper that she would have missed if there had been a stronger wind.
With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne
Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor
A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part two Blog ten)
By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
As the horizon grows redder Master Jo Anne is shocked to see Captain Peg leg’s Surprise less than ten fathoms away.
“Mornin’ Kyaputen, Zala,” she hears Umi say.
“Morning Umi,” the Captain replies groggily.
She hears the Captain walk up to her.
“Bastards are trying to take our wind now that we’re in the open,” the Captain says. “You are officially relieved to sleep Master Jo Anne.”
“I thanks you Captain Alejandra,” she replies passing the Captain the telescope. “Zala will call for you?”
“Aye,” the Captain replies rubbing sleep from her eyes. “Could you send our ‘Master-at-arms’ to me?”
“Aye Captain Alejandra, that I will.” She and the Captain consider each other sisters. In front of the crew she will only say ‘Captain’ but alone they refer to each other by title and true name. A reminder that they are no different than any of the other girls.
As she walks towards the stairs she says, “Morning Zala.”
“Mornin’ ‘Navigator’,” Zala replies wavering on her feet.
On the deck she sees ‘One Eye’ talking to ‘Wheel Turner’ and the ‘Harlot’. ‘One Eye’ has her mandolin strapped around her shoulders.
“Looks like Humphrey peeing over the gunwale,” She hears ‘One Eye’ say mischievously.
“That’s who I want,” the ‘Harlot’ says followed by a cooing sound. The ‘Harlot’ steps up to the deck’s starboard gunwale, and making a funnel with her hands shouts out. “Looks more like a mushroom than a carrot.”
“I’ll carrot you, you flat chested harpy.” She can just hear Humphrey shout back at the ‘Harlot’.
The ‘Harlot’ undoes her blouse and shakes her chest in reply.
“What are you doing?” ‘One Eye’ asks as she bends over laughing.
“He’s seen it a few years ago,” the ‘Harlot’ replies with a shrug.
“Did you try to get pregnant than?” ‘One Eye’ asks.
“Nay, was too young, made him pull out. Kinda regret that now. But I’d want to keep him with me and that’s not allowed. Well my mischievous sisterlies, I’m off to make strings for bows and crossbows.” The ‘Harlot’ nonchalantly sways her hips as she walks away.
“Why would she be making strings for bows and crossbows?” ‘Wheel Turner’ asks. “And a bit of regret in that last statement. Wonder if we ever get a permanent place on the mainland if she’ll surrender her sea feet to have a land bound family.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me,” ‘One Eye’ says.
“Her last statement reminds me. I’ve got to wake the ‘Master-at-arms’ before I can sleep,” Master Jo Anne says as she wonders what the Captain has in store for the crew.
“I’ll go with you,” ‘Wheel Turner’ says.
“Both of you be careful,” ‘One Eye’ warns them. “She sleeps with a knife.”
“I’ll poke her with a mop handle,” Master Jo Anne tells ‘One Eye’ with a grin.
A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part two Blog nine)
By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
The water in the channel to the sea has white caps now. She bites her lower lip in concentration. In the light of the two moons she can see boulders to the port and starboard. “Stay be forward ye cranky dawdler!” she shouts out.
“Keep ye straight ye long haired nilly!” she hears Umi shout out in her Japanese accented English and nearly chokes with laughter.
“I’m be straight ahead ye incompetent lassies!” she can just make out ‘Wheel Turner’ shout back.
She finds it hilarious hearing the girls argue in a variety of accents mostly in English. But often as not the girls will incorporate a few words of their native tongue. A boulder comes into sight right in line with the Nagua’s bow. “Turn ye port like a banshee!”
“Port ye Yōsei!” she hears Yumi scream out.
She stops breathing, clenches onto the scrying ball, and stares eyes wide as the boulder looms ever closer. Then the ship turns and she exhales. She closes her eyes and thanks the two moons that ‘Wheel Turner’ is so fit and strong. “Thank ye Eau-de-vie,” she says to the smaller cognac coloured moon, “And ye Cachaça,” to the larger whitish coloured moon.
A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part One Blog eight)
She laments how a single moment can damage someone so badly. Until they’re ready to fight Barthadrow the Ship Builder will have no closure. She on the other hand keeps memories close, to give her strength.
Her father was coerced into sailing to Australia on a ship of criminals. For her it was an adventure. She had lost her mother to Scarlet Fever when she was four. So her father brought her up in his blacksmith shop. As they sailed her father told her that a lot of the ‘criminals’ were people who were caught stealing food in order to survive.
Somewhere on the Indian Ocean their galleon, the New World, was attacked by a pirate galleon. Sailing nearby by though, was Captain Barthadrow’s dreaded Corrupta; a hundred canon galleon. There were also five more, smaller galleons in his fleet. So the Ship Builder told her when she was older.
It was a desperate fight for the pirates, whose ship was rotting. They used grapples to attack the ship. As they fought the Spanish soldiers and British mercenaries aboard, the chained criminals cheered and cried out to them. She remembers her young eyes widening with wonder when a woman with flowing brunette hair and icy blue eyes dressed in a shimmering robin egg robe climbed aboard the ship. The fascinating woman stole a ring of keys from the main jailor as he was fighting the Ship Builder and started unlocking the criminals. Meanwhile, her father was stabbed in the chest. He managed to defeat the soldier he was fighting and unbuckle the belt that held the sheath of his rapier. He tossed the belt and his rapier to her and in a fading voice yelled, “Hide!”
That’s when a shooting star flew overhead, alighting the sky in a cobalt blue glow. At the same time a funnel as wide as the eye could see appeared over the sea. She watched, mesmerized, as it pushed into the water until there was only a massive whirlpool. That’s all she remembers until the Ship Builder and the Witch saved her and Alejandra at the other end of the Milky Way.
They told her they had found an abandoned bilander and swam to it. Three other men, all former prisoners on the New World joined them: Jandamarra, who was captured from Western Australia; Drissa from the Ivory Coast; and Esadowa from somewhere between the Northeast of the Thirteen Colonies and Southeast of Canada.
She remembers gazing over the gunwale at the wreckage of ships. Later the Witch would tell her they may have come from different time periods; perhaps different worlds. She wondered if the shooting star kept the earlier ships and people swirling in the whirlwinds before letting them all go at once into the sea of this world.
Jandamarra, Drissa, and Esadowa now live among the horsepeople. All three men warned the horsepeople about Barthadrow and the European idea that if they disembark on your land they can claim it. It made finding a land base difficult but it also stopped Barthadrow from taking over anything on the mainland. So far Barthadrow only controlls a single island, she and the other pirates call Dread Island. The Ship Builder told her that peaceful giants with long arms and big bellies let Barthadrow and his crew land on their shores to trade. But Barthadrow struck a Spanish flag and a smaller British flag for the mercenaries into the land and claimed it for Spain. The giants were butchered until they submitted and became slaves.
The only good outcome of the battle was that Barthadrow used up most of his cannon shot and so far no alternative to gunpowder has been discovered on this world. Oh well, there’s always trouble on whatever planet your on she supposes.
A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part Part Two Blog seven)
“The sun is down and the two moons visible,” Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne sings as she stands at the base of the bowsprit peering into the darkening horizon with a telescope. “Smell the salt in the air to know how close to shore you are.”
Compare the direction of the wind to the movement of the waves
And you’ll know where you’re heading even in thick fog
Learn the stars that are the same but just off from those you remember seeing on lost Earth
Then take another sip of rum and you’ll see dolphin-tails and fish-tails even when there are none.”
She hears the Captain talking to the Ship Builder behind her. The Captain will sleep through the night before taking over her role as navigator in the morning. ‘One Eye’ will take ‘Wheel Turner’s’ position during the day until they get through the deadly shallows of what is secretly called Hidden Cove Strait. She watches the rapid water flowing between the barren island No Life and the cliffs that contain the cove they just left, known as Only Death Lives Here.
She glances back just as Umi climbs up to the fo’c’sle with a dim lantern. Umi will be the caller for the night until they get through the shoals. She has quite the lungs for such a quiet girl. Normally Master Jo Anne only sees her dressed in a white loin cloth; white to ward off sharks or whatever swims below in this world. Right now Umi’s in a mix match of capris, fish boots, and a blanket. What she’s wearing under the blanket Master Jo Anne can’t tell. She sees the Ship Builder nod at the Captain and Umi as walks her way.
The Ship Builder stands beside her with a rolled cloth. “In case you need it,” he says in halting words.
“I’m good,” she replies tapping the coiled hand guard of her rapier. Her gaze stays on his missing finger. “I miss her too,” she says. She looks up and notices his face drawn in. “Look,” she continues as she lifts a small scrying ball attached to a thick silver necklace from her shirt. His expression turns to admonishment. “I didn’t steal it, she gave it to me,” she says hurriedly. “She was teaching me how to use it. When I’m out here alone it helps me to focus. I don’t think it tells me what is about to happen. More it clears my thoughts so I can predict what is up ahead based on what I already see in front of me.”
She notices his lips quiver before he takes in a deep breath and tells her, “I’ll leave you to it then.” She watches him climb down the ladder of the fo’c’sle.
A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part One Blog six)
By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Oli nods at the Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turn’ Synthia who is standing before the helm. The spoked wheel is almost as tall as she is. Next she and Aarini climb up the steps to the fo’c’sle where the Captain is holding Oli’s mandolin and standing with the Navigator and Zala. Together they watch as the girls pour up the stairs of the hold to the deck. Making sure they line up properly is the Master-at-arms.
“We’re a sisterhood of pirates,” the Captain whispers into her ear as she passes Oli her mandolin.
“Ahoy, me hearties!” Oli sings down to the crew.
We’re a sisterhood of pirates!
The Captain says it’s time to sail
Turn the capstan to lift the anchor
Unfurl the masts it’s time to go
“Aye, aye, Captain,” the crew sings.
“We’re a sisterhood of pirates,” they continue as the Master-at-Arms grabs a hold of one of the capstan’s bars. The cook, ‘Unibrow’ Nippie joins in along with some of the teenagers.
“Round and round clockwise we go!” They sing over and over again.
The surgeons get some of the younger girls to climb the masts and help unfurl the main and mizzen sail.
Once the anchor is locked into place at the side of the forecastle Oli changes the song:
A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part One Blog five)
By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Oli flips open the covering to the stairs to the hold. She doesn’t need to switch the eyepatch yet, there’s enough sun seeping through the canon windows left open by the girls. “All hand hoy!” she shouts out at the rows of hammocks hanging from the hold’s beams. Some are two abreast a side. She slaps the thick wooden pillars and shouts out again “All hand hoy!” Some of the younger girls wake up with a start and fall out of their hammocks onto the chest below that contains all their belongings.
She goes farther into the hold, occasionally with her hands above her head running her fingers along the thick ropes that connect the helm wheel to the anchor. Her eyes methodically check the condition of the overhead rope that attaches the capstan to the chain of the anchor. Once she reaches the section of the hold where the teenage girls sleep, she shouts, “Zala!” to a tall girl originally from Ethiopia. “Go immediately to the Captain. Aarini, you’re with me,” she says shoving the hammock of a girl born to a fishing family in India.
Aarini follows her as she walks farther along. She finds the surgeons Canneta and Areso already out of their single extra wide hammock. Canneta is so tall her head nearly touches the ceiling of the hold. Oli has always been fascinated by Canneta’s appearance. The surgeon has short orange hair and blue eyes with dark skin that Oli could only wish she could get tanning in the sun. Canneta was ten in Nigeria when her father took her and her mother on his fishing boat to escape a battle between local tribes. Areso on the other hand is much shorter than Canneta. Oli thinks of the attractiveness of Tristan’s crew when she sees Areso. Long dark hair flows over Areso’s shoulders and her face is mesmerizing. She too was on her father’s fishing boat to escape fighting in North Korea when a whirlpool in the Japanese Sea sucked them into this world. Both girls are attractive and smart and yet they cannot continue their hereditary by being together. Oh well, Oli thinks. Life is full of mysteries.
Past another set of wooden pillars is ‘Unibrow the Cook’ Nippie and her helper Janice. Janice tosses and turns in her cot. Maybe the string necklace the Captain asked ‘Harlot’ Thelma to make with the boy Dirst’s molar will set her at ease. Nippie was on a ship full of orphans heading from Britain to Australia when it was sucked into a whirlpool. Nippie doesn’t know her age or just refuses to tell anyone. Where exactly she’s from is another mystery. She’s tall and stalky and strong. Her voice is harsh and boisterous. Most of the time she keeps to herself so the galley is a perfect spot for her. However, every girl has to work with her at some time. Learning to cook and salt fish and other meats, knowing the right amount of beer or wine to add to fresh water to keep it safe, and how much vodka to add to fruits is imperative to survival on a ship. ‘Unibrow Nippie’ is still snoring so Oli shakes her awake.
Next Oli wakes up ‘Ship Protector’ Umi. Umi, a Japanese Ama pearl diver was on the ocean floor collecting oysters when she was pulled into a whirlpool. Tiny and very fit, Umi is the only one who can search the ship for damage or ocean passengers. She is also the one who communicates with the dolphin-tails and occasionally the fish-tails.
Lastly Oli gets to the stern of the hold where a door leads to the room where the Ship Builder sleeps and works. She bangs on the door and shouts, “All hands hoy! The bow of the ship has a funny smell. Could be one of the sitsees in the Head is clogged!” Inside the room she hears a thud she is sure is his head hitting one of the overhead beams. Grinning she returns to the deck with Aarini.
A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part One Blog three)
“I asked her,” Oli says with frustration, “I swear that one is the child of Lust. She got drunk on rum and admits she may have opened herself willingly to Captain Peg leg’s crew. It’s Janice I worry about. One of Captain Peg leg’s younger men decided she was willing when she was not. “Wheel Turn” Sylvia stopped him before he could get on top of her.” As she worried would happen the Captain once again spits into the water.
“Master Navigator Jo Anne,” she hears the Captain call out with a voice full of icy decision. Their Navigator ties back her long brunette hair with a blue ribbon as she saunters towards them. Oli notices how the Navigator already has her hand wrapped around the hilt of her rapier. The hand guard is a marvel of coiled metal.
“She sleeps with that rapier,” Oli says, hoping it will dwindle down the deathly coldness she feels emitting from the Captain. “I asked her if I could try it to see how smoothly it wields. She took a step back and partially withdrew it. I won’t ask her again after that.”
“It was her father’s,” the Captain says, “the last reminder of him from Earth. We’re off to see Captain Peg leg,” the Captain says to both her and the Navigator. “Our dear Helmswoman, “Wheel Turn” Synthia, will be in command.” Oli follows the gaze of the Captain as she peers over the railing of the fo’c’sle where a female figure is slouched against the base of the foremast with her right hand still holding a bottle of rum. “Or our Master-at-Arms “Dizzying Blade” Sadie.” Oli once again follows the Captain’s gaze. This time towards the centre of the deck, where their Master-at-Arms is sprawled against the capstan. In her right hand she is grasping the hilt of her rapier and in the other a jug of rum.
“Thelma,” the Captain calls to the girl sewing the battens into the extra mainsail.
Oli is always amazed how Thelma’s skin constantly glows with sensuality now that’s she’s a young woman.
“Yes, Oh Captain my Captain,” Thelma replies while continuing to sew.
“Your encounter with Captain Peg leg and his crew, was it consensual?”
“Aye Captain, it was. Not all seeds sown grow. So I can’t rely on a single sower can I?”
Oli is as surprised as the Captain by Thelma’s nonchalant words.
“You want to get pregnant?” the Captain asks.
“What about the Ship Builder,” Oli blurts out. She wishes she hadn’t as the Captain is now giving her a dark look.
“You wouldn’t know this because you moved out of the hold years ago,” Thelma says to her. “But he’s like an absent father, the kind who is always around. We’ve known him since we were children and never has he abused any of us. I thought he was just arrogant, only ever speaking to the Navigator and Captain.” Oli didn’t miss the sarcasm. “However,” Thelma continues, “when the Captain told me to sew up a torn sail with poor instruction–.”
“I was never good at it,” the Captain interrupts.
“The Ship Builder came over to me, and in his deep, hesitant voice, kindly showed me how. I’ve been excellent ever since. Also, where he’s missing a finger is creepy. How do you only lose that finger—it makes no sense.”
Oli gasps at the sudden paleness on the Captain’s face.
“So you want to get pregnant?” the Captain asks regaining her composure.
“I do. I want to sail with the Pirate Queen again.”
“You don’t like it with us?” Oli can hear the hurt in the Captain’s voice.
“It’s more I don’t just want to have a baby I also want to be around them.”
“Well, by the time we reach the Pregnancy Ship we’ll know if that’s to be or not,” the Captain says. It’s the first time Oli has seen the Captain flustered. “By the way, until the Helmswoman or Master-at-arms wakes, you’re in charge.”