Chapter Six

            He woke up, groggy and with a splitting headache, to his home. Midday. Wearing his formal attire as if for a party, but no one in sight, still missing his one eye. He looked around, with his one eye to find his home as he remembered it: Books upon shelves, harpsichord at the ready; his home adorned with many rugs and warm hearths of three roaring fireplaces. He could not believe it. He was back home. He spent a good couple minutes looking around, observing the ambience, the solitude, and definitely the pleasure of a warm fire, as he spent his time at sea, fighting for his life. Walking from the foyer to the great dining room, he was overjoyed at the sight of various meats and cheeses, wine by the bottle, wonderful assortments of desserts. He almost could not believe it, but he was too busy gorging himself to think. His belly had not been satisfied for months, so a reprieve came at the best moment. He walked all around his house to find nobody, shouting across every hall, crack and crevice for some sign of life, but no response. But his house was full of all the items he remembered. Surely someone must be here. Then as he walked up to the second level of his house, things started to change.

            As he walked up the second floor, the paint on the walls started to turn to a moldy green, the floorboards became destroyed, disheveled and molded. His house, his world, was a dream, but the scariest thing of all was that as he moved away from each speck of his home, he could only see what it was, not what it had become. When he made his way up to the second floor, as the house shifted and turned around him, he came upon only one door, at the end of the hallway, half opened. All the others were closed. The lights were still bright, the house was well lit in his views, say nothing of the world behind him. As he walked, there was a moving series of shadows coming from behind the door. He could assume it was his family behind the door: His wife Aurelia and his daughter Veronica. As he got to the door, he could hear…voices. No one talking to him, rather the voices around him were just passing, ghostly almost. He then reached for the door, the voices grew loud, but loud enough so as not to drown out his own thoughts. The door then burst open to reveal a bright yellow light. He became engulfed in the light as we walked through.

~

            Beholden to his condition, his eyes were blinded by the sun. He was outside the house of the estate where he was interrogated, but it was a different color, decrepit and seemingly abandoned. The roofs on the east and west wings were both caved in, and the shutters were all hanging on their last rusted hinge. The estate grounds were actually not in as equal condition as the estate itself: The bushes were still pruned, the hedges were trimmed, and the flowers were perfect; everything was green and full of life. Except for the house. He could have walked back out onto the rocky path to find some answers, but a thick redwood forest blocked the exit, a forest of redwoods that he knew would get him almost perfectly lost in. Nowhere left to go but inside the house. As he looked around, making his way up to the steps, he noticed the hand of some creature in the doorway entrance, vanishing into the darkness of the home.

            He had to investigate the creature at the door maybe they could help him out of here. He wanted to get back to his house. The inside foyer was absolutely destroyed, burned, the tapestries were ripped from the walls, the fireplace was empty and riddled with soot. He was not scared as much as amazed by the sight he beheld. The creature from the doorway made a fast beat towards the drawing room, he saw it, and ran quickly after it, to gain his attention. Then, without warning, the whole house became encased in darkness. He could not see anything in front of his face. He stumbled over a lantern that was dimmed, so he had to use what light was left to walk through the house and find a way out. While he walked, his mind played tricks, as rain and thunder started to roll in, his mind wandered about his atrocities he committed, and he became scared of his current predicament, as signs of light were dim save for a few thunderstorms. The creature was watching, over him, a hand covered in leather bandages wearing a black cloth of some sort. His hair adorned as a long tail, his face covered in sidewhiskers and a green paint of sorts that was glowing. A growling beast of a human, standing on a balcony coated in darkness, staring down at him, for the creature knew he was not alone, and he could strike at the perfect moment.

~

While walking through the house, Alastair was careful not to run so as not to be detected. But then a huge thud came crashing behind him. The lantern instantly went out, darkness engulfed the room, and Alastair could not see but hear. Heavy breathing, swift running, and a sword drawn: Alastair was not alone in the room. Alastair runs forward, away from the sounds, crushing what felt like glass bottles and mirrors in his tracks. He kept running, and as he ran, screaming sounds came around him, noises of people being killed, swords and guns, dogs and cannon fire, all raining down on his ears. Yet, all Alastair could do was run, for fear the creature may kill him at first attempt. Swiftly, the ground shook, and suddenly the room Alastair was in became engulfed in flames! All around him, pieces of his former life were burned in an avalanche of fire. Alastair steered clear so as not to be consumed. Beneath the flames, he could see images of cities being burned, its citizens being slaughtered or kidnapped. Those taken were either used for labor or made an example. One man, carrying a sword adorned with a unicorn handle made the decisions, and did not show mercy. He even keelhauled 15 men on his ship at one time, and made their children watch. Alastair could reflect on the brutality, and only watch the horrors that unfolded, but then he heard footsteps, so he had to keep running.

He then found himself in the dining room, bare of any furniture except for a lone chair in the middle of the room, and two hands holding onto the back, as if for support. The doors then slammed shut, but the fire still took over the room. “Hey, we gotta get out of here” Alastair shouted to the person behind the chair, “Can you hear me?!” He walked to the chair, and he found his wife Aurelia protecting herself. “You came for me. Alastair” she replied with a sigh of relief. Hugging one another, sitting in two great chairs next to the fireplace, the fire that once engulfed the room simply vanished, and the room became filled with candles and comfort. “They framed me. Took everything from me” Alastair said with a heavy heart. “Yes, they did” “I had to escape my predicament, before I was to be lost forever” “Yes” “I escaped, and killed the person who did this to me” “Yes” “But now I do not know where I am” “You are with me.” “But…I…How did” “You make it here? You never left. You’re still here Alastair. Your home, hearth and family are all here” “But I was imprisoned, escaped, and then was out in the water.” “You escaped, and now you’re safe. That’s what matter sweetie.”

~

            Alastair had to regain consciousness for a minute, but Aurelia just stared with a lover’s face of concern. She then got up and held his left hand, giving him a cute little smile, reminding him everything was okay. “Your daughter loves you, your friends love you, and I love you. Just sit back here and relax” Aurelia reassured Alastair. “Aye”. So he sat back in the chair by the fire, acting as if everything was okay. But something caught his eye that seemed off, it was a painting on the top of the fireplace: It held was the symbol on the map he had from the prison. Regaining his thoughts, Alastair knew he had to get out, so he instantly ran for the main doors to the hallway to escape. Upon opening the doors, the room was returned to normal, same décor and lighting as when he first woke up. But something seemed different. Aurelia was right next to him, talking to him, her smile and reassuring face turned sour, to near yelling and screaming at him. But no noise was heard. Alastair then heard the footsteps again. “You running from me mouse?!” The voice echoed throughout the room. Alastair looked around to find the noise but nothing. “You can not fight what is coming. Otherwise, they’ll do you in like they did to me”. Alastair kept running, and as he ran, the voice kept talking to him “No wife. No home. No child. What are you to do?” “Kill you that is for sure!” Alastair answered back in anger” “How can you kill what you canna see?!”

Making his way to the master bedroom, Alastair saw figments of his believed moral crimes: Decapitating that kid in anger for his loss, he saw the whole thing as if he was witness to it. “Yes, you did wonderful work there.” The voice warmly congratulated Alastair. Alastair then shouted in fear as he ran out of the room into the hallway, only to find another door. “Will ye walk through?” Slowly, Alastair made his way to the door, but as he stepped, the voice returned “You betrayed yourself, you wanted to step through a doorway to Hell, what did you think you would find?” The voice asked. “You think the way out would be easy? No, You will carry these memories, and your death will rid you of them. You have a greater purpose than you realize.” Alastair went through the door, to find himself on a burning hill, watching down. A city was overrun with criminals, vandals and pirates.

~

“You ever stop to think what that riot of yours did to the city? The criminals there overran it, started destroying everything. You made them believe in their status, and they embraced it. The unity and brotherhood ye gave them made them believe in their abilities and power. You are important.” The voice reassured Alastair. “No. No!” Alastair shouted in agony and disbelief. Alastair then ran away from the vision towards another doorway that led out of the hallway to his personal study. He just sat down and burst to short tears. Aurelia came back to comfort him. All she did was hold him, as he sat. Alastair accepted the gravity of his perceived more crimes. He just needed only the embrace of his wife. For Alastair, his mind was at peace. His mind focused only on what was happening. The fire was gone, and he was in a safe place. A familiar place that, in his mind, removed all the evil he witnessed, all the atrocities he endured; the pain and suffering washed out by his wife.

But what felt like a short brief interlude of peace changed instantly. A bright white light engulfed both of them, and Alastair found himself standing on a beach of pale white sand, still holding onto his wife. “I could leave ya know?” Alastair softly spoke staring off into the sea. “You could” Aurelia replied with remorse. “But then you forget how important you are to yourself. You choose to leave, now, you miss out on everything.” “Everything is gone Aura, me family, me life, you and our child Veronica, have all been taken from me. My life is gone” “Not entirely” “You are not real” Aurelia kisses him. “Am I real now?” “Uhhh, feels real to me” Alastair replied with a grinning smile “Then, you should stay.” “But you have to be willing to accept this situation.” Aurelia then points to a nearby ship “That ship is your voyage onward. You said you wanted to leave me? That’s the first boat….onward. Or…you can take this ship here. And you can do as you please.” Aurelia then walked off, towards the beach, out to the sea. “Wait! What awaits me on this boat here?” Alastair called out. She looked back and replied with a small little smirk, but then a shrug from her shoulders. “I don’t know. But all I know is that you might like what’s out there” Aurelia then walked out from the beach into the water until she disappeared. Alastair could see the ship getting closer. He had no choice to make a decision, so he quickly ran towards the docked ship. He ran to the edge of the pier when another set of footsteps came from the edge of the pier. A headless body came rushing at him! It then stopped not three feet from Alastair before it reached behind its back to reveal a head. It placed the head on the neck, letting out an evil ghastly howl, only to then utter three words: You did this. The creature then slowly walked towards Alastair, but Alastair came running towards the creature, without fear, to then see it turn to sand upon contact. Alastair stopped, but he had to keep moving, the ship was about to dock. He made his way to the ship, his hand was about to touch the ladder of the boat, but without any sudden movements, he woke up.

~

            He woke up, took a great breath of fresh air, but then winced as his injury: A bandaged left arm. “Easy there mate! You took a thrashing when we found you” A woman calmly explained. Alastair looked around: He was in a bed, in a tavern, looking at a red haired woman. “Gave us a scare, we didn’t know if you made it”. “Where…where am I?” Alastair asked nearly breathless, with an airy voice. “Why, you’re at Golden Sands Outpost matey” “Where is that?” She looked at him with a confused face “The Sea of Thieves?” Alastair’s eyes widened, but he tried to move as little as possible because of his injury. But as unimpressed as he felt, but the region beyond the Shroud is in some tavern, of all places, he was more relieved to be out of that chaos in his head. It was truly something unexplainable, but the demons in his head were at bay for a time. Alastair had a take moment to breathe, and his arm was bandaged and felt numb. But he still made it. That is what counts. The tavern keeper, whom he learned was named Tasha, eased him up out of bed and handled him some fresh water. Best thing he had all day. He walked down the steps to the sound of a raucous crowd that quickly turned quiet. Everyone was staring at him in happiness, content that he not only made it but he also was welcomed in a solemn fashion. He walked out the tavern door where he saw another bright light, which brought an all-familiar sight to his eyes: Ports littered with ships and the talk of the traders and merchants. But he took the time to observe his surroundings. He could not do anything with his arm in this current state, so he decided to take in the sights and sounds.

            Alastair was amazed by the majesty of the island itself. Golden Sands Outpost was beautiful! It was one island made up of a series of smaller islands connected by bridges. The tavern, named the Captain’s head, rested in the middle island, ports were on all sides, but the merchants were concentrated near the main port. He walked to the clothing shop every now and again to talk to the shopkeeper, see how business was flowing. But mostly, he took the time to look out to the water. Behold the world around him. The ships that came in were either decimated and their crews in shreds, or returning with a series of treasures and riches. He wanted to get back on the seas, but his injury left him impaired for the time being. But this was an opportune moment. With the nightmare buried, and past him now, he can focus on how to get back out on the open waters. But first, he needed a ship.

~

            Alastair’s arm healed about two months later, so he was free to figure out how to find a ship. He needed some clothes though, so he rummaged through a closet near the bed he was in to find a black midshipman shirt with a yellow cloth wrapped around it. He also found a set of orange cloth and some gold buckles he fashioned into a belt. His face was still a haggard mess from the gunpowder, so he cleaned up his face, but an unruly scar was left from the powder that looked unpleasant but was still intriguing nevertheless. He still had his black leather boots with that amazing buckle on the front. He needed to find an eye-patch so he traded his boots with an unknown tavern patron. He was already wearing a patch, but there was a spare one: Gray leather, beautiful gold pattern on the front, resembling an eye half shut.

            So Alastair had to figure out the best way to get a ship was to gain entry on a crew. But he did not gain too much luck as all crews were filled up. But, one day, he came upon two men hauling some loot off their boat. One of them was a Spaniard, very muscular and wearing a short brown coat with no shirt on. The other was a thin Englishman wearing ropes on his hands and a red vest, Navy in design. “You lads looking for a crewman?” The Englishman scowled but the Spaniard welcomed with open arms. “You be correct Amigo, what’s ya name mate?” “Alastair Groovybeard” “Well, Alastairrrr, We’d love to have you with us. My name is Armando Castillo de Cadiz. I came here to rule to the Sea of Thieves” “What about….him?” “I am Paxton Moran ya crooked nosed gimp” “I will have to trust you two for a time”.

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