Chapter Seven

            He boarded the ship and took up occupation as navigator. He translated the maps for Armando and Paxton without issue, pointing the men towards great wealth. His time on the boat was spent, despite being navigator, as an attempt to ear the trust of these men. Now Paxton and Armando were both from two different parts of the world: Armando was a former member of the Spanish Empire who came to rule the Sea of Thieves, and Paxton found about the place on a whim, finding peace in the blood he can shed and coin he can make from taking it from others. These men, these hardened men saw his face, his shot eye and the scars, they also recognized his weariness, his tired mind, recognizing a friendly and weathered soul, such as is the common feeling from traversing through the Shroud. They knew his experience, but they remained open minded. Beneath the tiredness of Alastair, he could make good conversation with these men. He earned a degree of trust from Armando, but not from Paxton, as Paxton had seen enough people come and go to not be so easily misguided. But Alastair stuck to his maps, he was able to piece together the main course of the two men’s voyages, but what perplexed him was the degree of attention these men were sailing. Their ship was not by any means haggard, yet they charted what Alastair ascertained as a great length throughout three different kinds of areas: The Wilds, The Shores of Plenty and the Ancient Isles. Each of these places looked and sounded like they had a reputation that was ill refuted. No denying their worth. And Alastair understood why: He travelled to all the corners of the Sea of Thieves with Paxton and Armando, and they earned a great amount of wealth. But the ultimate test of Alastair was yet to come.

            The men were over at a reasonably tall, yet not so large, island known as Crooked Masts, when Alastair was freaked out by something emerging out of the sky: It was a giant skull with glowing green eyes! “UHH LADDIES?!” Alastair nearly hollered in a fit of fright “WE GOT COMPANY!” Paxton and Armando immediately ran back to see what Alastair was talking about. They both laughed until their eyes with riddled with tears. “What- What are you afraid of Alasatirrrr?” Armando replied after regaining consciousness. “Uhhh, BIG GIANT BLOODY SKULL?!” Alastair replied with continued fright. “It’s a skeleton fort you worm” Paxton barked. “We gotta get over there and kill them skeletons.” “Why?!” Alastair replied with a fit of surprise “Because”, Paxton groaned, “They have treasure! Didn’t you know that?” “Not really no” “Good, then get yourself ready for battle”

            Their target was a small fort to the North of Golden Sands named Keel Haul Fort. Alastair had seen it before, thought they were abandoned from a bygone age some time ago. That would not be the case. As their ship made its way to the fort, cannons were echoing around, and Alastair replaced his arm bandages for battle. His sword was sharp, and he was checking his shot inventory. “Here, you’ll need this” Armando hands Alastair a blunderbuss. “I can easily hit them in head, yeah?” Alastair asked. “True,” Armando replied in agreement “But they will take more than one hit. Trust me. I know” So Alastair took the blunderbluss, filled his pockets with shot. “ALL HANDS ON DECK! LAND HO!” Paxton roared from the helm “Steel your nerves. We are in for a fight”. The ship was parked, all three men ascended to the beach, the battle was about to begin.

 

~

 

            It was quiet. The cannons fell silent. Alastair had his measly sword in hand, and Armando had his blunderbuss, while Paxton carried an Eye of Reach. “Paxton!” Armando whispered, pointing to the tower. Paxton affirmed and ran up to the top of the structure. Alastair and Armando checked the beach interior, but nothing. Almost as if whoever was here ran. Alastair whistled to Armando, pointing to the main fort structure in the middle of the island. Both men moved up the winding wooden ramp. At the top of the stairs, both of the men found a big doorway, torches lightly lit, and some mist in the area. Heading inside, both of the men looked around, slowly stepping throughout the structure, without a sign of life, whatsoever. “Where are they-“ Alastair whispered only to be stopped by Armando. Armando then took his left hand and pointed it down. Bones. Everywhere. Skulls, femurs, hands and legs, spread everywhere on the floor of the fort. While the men were inside the fort, Paxton took a moment to look around at the island itself. But then, all three men were greeted by a small wheezed cackle, which grew, and grew, and grew, to the sounds of hundreds of laughing, evil laughter. Then, without a sudden, it stopped! All three men looked around, only to be greeted with the sound of a roaring deep horn. Armando stared at Alastair, drew his sword, smiled….and winked.

            To battle! The skeletons in the fort then rise up, taking their shape in life. Alastair and Armando went to quick work dispatching the horde. “Your arm alright, Alastair?” Armando called out. “Still kicking like old! Haha!” Alastair replied in hearty response. Alastair embraced the battle, cutting down skeletons left and right. At one point, Alastair even cut off a skeletons head with his sword in one hand, and pointed the blunderbuss at another with another. Such a sight was amazing to Armando, taking a moment’s reprieve to notice Alastair’s prowess in battle. Alastair cut down five skeletons trying to charge at him, he eliminated two with a blunderbuss, and sliced through the chest of the other three. In another instant, Alastair also took the pistol from the hands of one skeleton, shot the skeleton behind him, while punching the first skeleton in his head. However, after three days of fighting skeletons, something had to give.

 

~

 

            This group of skeletons that came next were a feat of strength: All members of the 50 man horde were carrying blunderbusses, save for one taller skeleton adorned in a captain’s outfit. The whole time the horde was moving onto the fort, Paxton was shooting at the captain, captain unfazed by the ordeal, but not before he ran out of ammo. The horde was closing in, slowly upon Armando and Alastair, but not before Armando proclaimed “FOR THE CUTTHROATS!”. He charges at the horde! The captain lets out a high pitched shriek ordering his men to attack! Alastair followed behind to provide support, unknowing that Paxton was right behind. All three men eliminated the captain’s minions, but the skeleton did not give up, drawing out sword to fight off the pirates, the whole while of which Alastair amazed at how strong the skeleton was, taking three shots from his blunderbuss with no fidget from the skeleton. Paxton then sliced down at the captain’s legs, while Armando stabbed it in the chest. Looking up at his three attackers, the captain was greeted with the bell of Alastair’s gun. The skull in the sky vanished in a flash, and the skeleton’ head, and hat, were blown to pieces, but then, without a sudden, the skeleton’s body turned to a green glow, shredding away into the sky, much to the surprise of the crew, revealing a fabulously large coin adorned with a skull face and glowing green eyes. Paxton was quick to take the coin, while Armando followed behind. Alastair stared as the green light dissipated from the sky. “Come on Alastair!” Paxton called out. Alastair stood up, making his way to the others, Alastair’s foot clanged against a metal object in the sand of his fallen enemy: A sword. But this was no sword, for Alastair recognized it on the captain’s person. This sword was forged with some of the blackest iron Alastair ever did see, and all across the sword were gold hues. On the handle was the golden symbol of an evil looking horse with emerald eyes. His first reach acquisition of wealth on the Sea of Thieves. He put the sword on his person, along with his main sword and blunderbuss, and made his way to join the others.

 

~

 

            “About time!” Paxton proclaimed with a jaded yet proud commentary. “I think you should have the honors”. Handing Alastair the coin, Alastair heads underneath the stairway to notice a doorway glowing an eerie green like the coin, the eyes on the coin glowing brighter as Alastair got to the door. He placed the key in the doorway, but then light turned off. Nothing. Alastair turned in confusion, but not before the door glowed a green light to fill the fort. Then quickly vanished. Two locks then released from the top of the door, which then slowly slid down to reveal something amazing. Treasure. Lots of it, and all shapes, sizes and colors. Chests that were solid gold adorned with fabulous gemstones, ornate cups, but most of all, special items that were laced with the bones of animals, and glowing skulls. Alastair fixated his attention on the skulls, getting spooked with each dry whisper that echoed from them. Armando and Paxton carried one lone chest back to the ship: Red and black in color, but with the spinal cord of some unknown animal. Alastair was taken aback at the truth of the legends: The Sea of Thieves is a place that pays handsomely.

            “Get me a glass!” Paxton yelled from the ship. Alastair quickly fetched one form his pockets, handing it Paxton, as he snatched it form Alastair’s hand. “Red colors, Diamonds. Heading this way” Paxton analyzed as he looked through the spyglass. “We need to collect the rest of the treasure” Alastair replied. “Good!” Paxton exclaimed with excitement, “then lets collect and get our selves ready for a fight”. War was to be had, so with an approximate hour to prepare, the men turned the anchor up, then Paxton turned the ship so the port side cannons faced off the southern end of the island, pointed directly at their enemies. 45 minutes. With the cannons prepared, Alastair and Armando continued hauling up the plunder, taking brief pauses to observe their intended threat. 30 minutes. Armando prepared a wall of gunpowder barrels in the waters surrounding the ship, close enough to be left unnoticed, but noticeable to the naked eye. 20 minutes. Alastair prepared supplies for the cannons, but Armando took a position on the fort cannon nest that was flush with the bowsprit, while Paxton made his sword and pistol ready. 15 minutes. All the men stared at their attackers, their ship edging ever closer, while Paxton made his sniper ready to strike the barrels. 10 minutes, close in range to hear faint voices. Beneath battering waves, a distant storm, the crew ascending on the fort heard a loud howling sound from the fort, followed by a series of chants and grunts. On the ship, Paxton let out the howl, while Armando chanted and grunted, a technique to get in the minds of their enemies, to trip them up. 5 minutes. Both men continued to chant, their distant noise turned to a controlled sound, changing the tone of their challenge from confident and vigilant, to hardened and focused. 1 minute. Both sides knew their places. Paxton fired a sniper shot at the barrels.

 

~

 

            BOOM! With that one shot, a chain line of 5 barrels exposed their destructive force to the galleon. The galleon ran right into the brunt of the explosion, but they stopped moving. Their anchor was dropped. “LET THE BARRAGE BEGIN!” Armando called out. All three men used cannons to attack the enemy galleon. Cannon fire rained down. Not a single sound was heard from the ship. “Go over and check it out Alastair” Armando replied with a smirk. Making his way to the ship, Alastair unsheathed his new sword while on the top deck. The ship reeked with the scent of gunpowder and water, all three masts were destroyed, and both the helm and capstan were heavily damaged. But the ship was lifeless. Water was rushing in, but the ship was slow to sink. There was literally no fight to be had. Something did not sit right.

            He unsheathed the new sword while entering mid deck. One member was pinned to the stove, impaled by a piece of wood. Two more were in pieces from a cannon shot. But then all of a sudden, making down mid deck Alastair was then jumped by a bloody stained crewman with one hand, punching Alastair in the face. Alastair’s eyepatch came undone, revealing his eyehole, but that punch made Alastair spit out a tooth. Not good for the other guy. Not wasting time to pick up his eyepatch, Alastair went right over to the crewman and starting a swordfight. The crewman braved onslaughts of powerful and offensive sword attacks from Alastair, while all Alastair saw was red: He was ticked off and wanted to end his enemy. The crewman found separation and ran up to the top deck, being chased around the ship by Alastair, until the crewman ran out of room in the captain’s quarters. The crewman drew a pistol with no shot. Alastair smiled as he drew closer, aiming the sword at his enemy. Alastair went to cut him down, but the crewman ducked out of the way, and the sword got stuck on a chair in the room. The two exchanged fists, with the crewman beginning the attack by hitting Alastair in the face. But then soon, Alastair found ground, grabbing both arms of the crewman, throwing a fast headbutt, followed by several fast body shots. This incapacitated the crewman, but Alastair was not done. He followed up with a couple of forced knee hits to the crewman’s head, then ended with picking the crewman up and planting him through the table in the quarters. The crewman went lifeless. Until he started to move out of the table, trying to regain his footing. Alastair snapped, his nose full of crimson, dripping onto his shirt. He broke the left foot of the crewman, letting out a huge wail in the process. Alastair flipped the man over, grabbed him by the throat, whispering to him: You should not have gotten up.

 

~

 

Alastair then brought the crewman to his knees, punched him square in the gut, but then broke the crewman’s right kneecap with his fist. Bringing him back up to his knees, Alastair then punched his neck, using his hands to rip off the crewman’s head. With each pull and tear of the muscles, the crewman cried and begged for forgiveness, but Alastair did not care. He wanted him dead, and so death was assured. Success. Paxton and Armando found Alastair in the quarters, Alastair stared back with wide eyes, his face full of blood and his eyepatch missing. “Are you okay mate?” Armando asked politely with concern. Alastair stood back up, ripped out the sword from the chair, and handed the head of the crewman to Paxton. “Am I worthy now?” Alastair leaned over, staring back and asking with a deep low growl and lifeless angry eyes, twitching at times. He knew Paxton was the hardest on him, had been since he joined. Something inside him that snapped earned Paxton’s approval, albeit his fear because Alastair just ripped a man’s head off. Armando was impressed, but knew he was a serious man in a fight. But before the crew could make a minute to relax, they had to get off the ship as it was sinking. Alastair quickly ran below deck to get his eyepatch. The day was theirs. Full of loot.

 

~

 

            Taking a minute to relax on the beach. Alastair wiped the blood from his face, and stared at the moonlight. “You okay?” Paxton asked, less doting than before. Alastair looked back, did not even give the pirate a look. He just walked off. But Paxton pressed. “What you trying to get outta me?” Alastair asked. “If I have to get your approval, so be it, but I defeated my enemy in a gruesome manner and you have NOTHING to say to me. Now what do you want?” “You impressed me today” Paxton replied with a small smirk. “And me and Armando wanted to extend you an invitation to our fleet”. “Fleet?” “Aye. The Cutthroats” “Im listening” “We are a fleet out here that commits themselves to great destruction of our enemies. And since you chopped off a man’s head, I say you deserve it.” “What would you have me do?” “What you do best: Kill” “I can do that. Where do we meet?” “Here and there” “Well, I shall make it my mission to get to know each and every last one of you” “Good” Armando replied. He then put a bag over Alastair’s head, manacling him to the mid deck. The ship sailed for a week. Until, Alastair found himself in the deep caverns of an unknown island. Torches. The bag removed from his head, Alastair was presented as if at a tribunal.

            “Do you pledge yourself to the Cutthroat Experience?” A voice replied. “Uhhh, how do I respond?” Alastair’s voice echoed. “Paxton asked and you said yes, is this correct?” Another voice asked. “Yes he did” Alastair answered. “Do you vow to uphold the techniques and training along the path you shall maintain as a Cutthroat?” The first voice asked “Aye” “Then on this day, I, Jones, Proclaim you a member of the Cutthroats. Huzzah!” “Huzzah!” The whole cave echoed in a spirit of profound rejoice for their new brother. Alastair easily smiled and was directed to a table. He was asked what kind of tattoo he wanted. Alastair got a series of diamonds and spades on his left hand, and skull and crossbones on the back of his left side of his head. “Tis a true pirate tattoo mate” the artist replied. Alastair only replied with affirmation. He met many great people, aside from Paxton, Armando and Jones, there were people from all walks of life. Monks, Mullahs, Thespians, and Privateers from all over the world have joined this group. Some of them even put on competitions to prove their worth to other members, like arm wrestling, bareknuckle pugilism, and dice games. While other members engage in music, dancing, drinking, and stories of their former lives before arriving. It was truly a sight to behold. Alastair made his way to the bar in the cave, and while getting his third pint of ale, he beheld someone’s presence on the edge of the table. A woman, wearing a majestic dress and hat, catching his attention. The woman took a minute to take off her hat, revealing a sight of beauty that was perplexing to Alastair. He grew mad with love, with a huge smile that was radiating from his face. He was truly in love.

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