|The Pirate's Legacy: New Beginnings
Author: trustnme PM
A kidnapped princess finds herself on the Pirate King's ship and must help him find a mystical object in exchange for returning her home. In an adventure that constantly twists and turns, she learns that she isn't the only one with an identity to hide.Rated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 34 - Words: 130,896 - Reviews: 93 - Favs: 122 - Follows: 17 - Updated: 07-31-10 - Published: 07-30-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2833708
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: "Why doesn't this story have more reviews?" - anonymous reader(s)
This seems to be the #1 question that I receive from new readers, and while I'm quite happy that you guys care about how so few reviews New Beginnings has, I'd really like to clarify why this is so (and no, it's not the usual "because other stories that suck get more reviews" explanation).
Last summer, I decided to try getting New Beginnings published. When I did get the manuscript accepted, of course, I took the book down from FictionPress for plagiarism reasons. However, the deal the publisher wanted to cut with me was totally crap, with me coming out the worse of the two in the long run. So I ended up canceling the deal, and I put New Beginnings back up on FictionPress. The reviews that I had before I took it down (and yes, I had a lot of reviews) I had saved, so now they sit in a file on my desktop, and I like to read them every once in a while because the praise and critiques make me happy. :D
But this little tidbit doesn't mean you, as a new/old/extraterrestrial reader, should NOT be discouraged from reviewing New Beginnings, even if seems already finished! I always welcome reviews because there is always something to improve upon. Hence why I love writing more than math and science.
Take that Bio and Math majors! :D
Another note: Because of FP's latest update, it took out all my page break astericks. So the new page breaks will be Ms (MMMMMM), so if you see these Ms, they mean a page break! Thank you.
The kingdom of Tarym's seaside ports, mainly located on the fringes of Delta Point and the mainland's crown of three islands to the south, were relatively calm and bustling with life, despite the reports the king and queen had received over the last few months from their top naval commanders. These reports contained information about renewed pirate attacks in the southern area of the peninsula against the commercial ships going in and out of the kingdom. It was because of the serious threat of these pirate attacks—which were becoming more and more frequent at an alarming rate—that Valerus and Amelia Quiesco had left the main capital of Tarym and journeyed to the southern ports to make a personal, yet unofficial, survey.
The royal couple left the state of affairs to Valerus's aging father, Arturus Quiesco. Arturus once ruled Tarym as its king for forty years, but he abdicated the throne soon after his only son's marriage to Amelia Kraven, believing Valerus was finally ready to take the responsibility of the kingdom. Now the family's patriarch, Arturus acted as a regent whenever the king and queen were away from the capital city.
As a precaution, the royal couple's location was disclosed only amongst their guards in the ports and their advisors in the capital. They traveled with no retinue. Amelia Quiesco was more adamant than her husband about blending in with the mostly merchant populace that lived in and around the ports. Unlike her husband (whose towering stature and impressive figure always brought him unwanted attention, no matter what manner of clothes he wore) Amelia's rough life on the sea prior to becoming queen of Tarym was her advantage when it came to blending with the commoners by the ocean side.
After surveying the quiet yet bustling ports on Delta Point, the royal couple took a small but heavily guarded vessel to the crown of three islands that lay a few miles off the mainland. These three islands, particularly Vantage Island, had taken the brunt of the pirate attacks in the last few months because of their vulnerable location.
Amelia felt in the pit of her stomach the suspicion and the borderline fear that encompassed the three islands. The feeling grew so malevolently in her gut as they drew nearer to Vantage Island that Amelia came to suspect that it was more intuition than empathy.
Valerus stepped closer to the bow of the ship when he caught sight of the thin outline of Vantage Island, their last destination. When he did not immediately feel his wife's presence next to him, he turned a concerned, dark brown eye over his shoulder. "Is anything wrong, Amelia?" he called over the tumultuous sounds of crashing waves and the idle chatter of the guards on the main deck. For a moment, Valerus thought she might have seen a pirate ship approaching them, and he quickly looked around.
Amelia finally took a step forward to stand beside Valerus. She placed a hand on his arm. "I've had a presentiment since we left the mainland," she admitted carefully.
Valerus raised an eyebrow as he looked down at her; she barely reached his shoulder. He had heard all about her "gut feelings" and their power of foresight, but he had never in the years he had come to know his wife witnessed them until now. Valerus tried not to smile as he asked her, in a feigned serious tone, what the feeling in her gut was.
Amelia looked at him with annoyance. She knew very well of his skepticism towards a sailor's superstitions, which she had grown up with. Stubbornly, she insisted, "Something's going to happen, Valerus, and it will be soon." She saw the blank expression on his handsome features and sighed, almost worriedly. In a softer tone, Amelia added, "It won't leave me. Please, trust me on this."
Valerus immediately wrapped an arm around his wife's small waist. "I do trust you, Amelia," he reassured her. "I've always trusted you. Now, will you trust me when I tell you that everything will be fine?"
Amelia bit her bottom lip, but seeing that her husband would not take seriously the ominous feeling seeping through her stomach, she nodded to appease him.
Smiling now, Valerus dipped down and kissed her. "I promise that after we are done with this tedious task, we will take the whole family for a vacation. Frankly, the palace is starting to bore me to death," he laughed. "There is only so much of the court and the same old rooms that I can take."
Amelia agreed wholeheartedly. Even after nine years of marriage to Valerus and the birth of their daughter, Amelia was still not used to the regality and pomp and responsibility that were the price of her new life with this man. She believed that, after many years of wearing loose clothes that were more about necessity than fashion, she'd never be accustomed to the dresses worn by the ladies of the court.
Valerus was still speaking. "—everyone with us. Not the whole court, gods forbid, but Father, Emelia, and Annalyn." By this time, the king of Tarym had finally noticed the silence of his wife and looked down at her again. He saw the closed expression on her face. Shaking his head, Valerus gently chided his wife. "Remember, she is your daughter, too."
Amelia pulled away from him and fixed him with a hard look. "Correction. She is your daughter," she retorted.
Suddenly, the alarms were raised, drowning out all other sounds. The tedious bustling that had gone on the deck around the couple now changed into movements of panic and fear. Sailors poured onto the deck from the hatch. Everyone knew that the sirens blazed for only one reason other than a natural disaster.
"Your Highness!" the commander of the ship shouted urgently from the helm.
"What is it, Captain?" Valerus turned to face the man.
The frantic answer: pirates. A pirate vessel was quickly approaching the port, its flags raised, and the king and queen's ship was directly in the pirates' path.
"Is it Dread Robin?" Valerus demanded, evoking the name of the rising young pirate whose reputation was beginning to strike fear amongst the pirates and the merchants alike.
"No, Valerus," said Amelia.
Valerus spun around and saw her jaw determinedly set with anger. In her left hand, she held the jewel-encrusted cutlass that was always strapped to her belt whenever she came to the ports. "He wouldn't dare come here," Amelia continued. She looked him in his dark brown eyes. "It's much worse."
Valerus nodded stiffly. He placed a kiss on her lips before turning back to the anxious captain. "I want all hands on deck this instant, Captain," Valerus barked. "Ready the guns!"
The king and queen of Tarym were dead, killed in a pirate raid on Vantage Island.
The royal family, now down to three members of the Quiesco line, was sent into swift mourning for its loss. However, what struck the family's patriarch most particularly about the details of the attack was that the pirates did not sack the port they had supposedly been after. Instead, after the king and queen's ship had been attacked, the pirate vessel had quickly disappeared before royal navy ships arrived on the gruesome scene.
Still, the old patriarch could not dwell too long on this disturbing occurrence. He had more important matters to attend to, like arranging the funeral for Valerus and Amelia's remains.
The entire mourning party slowly wound around the capital city, so that the commoners could properly see the two caskets of their beloved monarchs, toward the Temple of Gods just miles from both the palace and the city. Out of the three Quiescos left, only the youngest daughter of Valerus and Amelia visibly showed her grief on that dark and cloudy day. Tears flowed like waterfalls from the dark brown eyes Emelia Quiesco had inherited from her father's side of the family, and her small six-year-old body shook in time with her wailing sobs. Arturus, who gently guided the little girl through the whole event with a heavy heart, staved off an equally aggrieved expression for one of determined calm for his granddaughter's sake. The eldest daughter, Annalyn, had an expression like marble behind her thin lace veil as she stiffly walked behind with a black umbrella held aloft in her matching gloved hands.
Eulogies were lavished upon the two caskets as the mourners tightly gathered inside the underground mausoleum, showing various degrees of sorrow, from pained expressions to great sobs just like the youngest princess. When it came time for the bodies to be put to rest, the living royal family stepped up to the caskets for their last goodbyes. While Arturus and Emelia went from Valerus's casket and then to Amelia's, Annalyn only briefly placed her gloved hand on her father's casket in his memory before returning back to the gathered crowd, completely disregarding the existence of the second casket.
The High Priest of Onus stepped forward and took his place at the head of the two gilded coffins. At his beckoning, everyone bowed their heads as he led the prayer for the two monarchs' safe passage into the afterlife. When the last prayer left High Priest's cold lips, Emelia stopped sobbing and fell in a cold faint. Before anyone could react, a small boy around her same age suddenly broke through the crowd of shocked mourners. Dropping onto his knobby knees, the blond-haired little boy took the unconscious girl by the shoulders and began to frantically shake her awake.
That very night, long after Emelia had been brought back to the palace and revived by the royal physician, that same boy, Cicero, was at the young princess's side again. This time, Emelia was very awake and arguing with her best friend about her growing hatred of pirates while her governess, who also happened to be Cicero's mother, watched anxiously from out of earshot.
"How would you know if you hate them, Em?" Cicero insisted. His face was as red as a tomato from trying to keep their heated argument from floating to his mother's ears.
Although not as light skinned as her best friend, Em's tanned, round cheeks turned scarlet underneath her long black hair. "It's because of them that I am an orphan," she wailed. The little princess furiously wiped away the hot tears in her eyes with her knuckles. "My father and mother are gone and won't ever come back."
Cicero nodded with a surprising depth of understanding for a six-year-old. His family was nearly the highest in the social hierarchy, just behind the royal family, and his education was one of the best. However, this young boy could not wrap his mind around a concept as heartless as hatred. Much deeper than that, Cicero couldn't imagine his normally sweet best friend turning into a woman like the distrustful oldest princess, Annalyn. Admittedly, the young boy now feared and resented the pirates in the south as much as he did the barbaric tribal people of Dracon in the far north.
As if she had read his mind, Emelia, nicknamed Em, looked him steadily in his dark green eyes. "I could almost hate the pirates more than I am scared of those savage Draconians, Cicero," she whispered.
Before Cicero could collect his thoughts together properly, he blurted, "That's dumb! Those barbarians are much closer to the capital than the pirates!"
Em blinked rapidly at first, but then, her face contorted in fury. With all her strength, Emelia pushed Cicero backwards before lifting her heavy velvet skirts and running away.
Cicero's mother, Selene, rushed towards her son and helped him to his feet. "My son, what did you say to the princess?" she demanded worriedly.
Cicero opened and closed his mouth for a moment in disbelief at his mother's anger towards him before he pointed the way Em left and shouted, "But Mother, she pushed me!"
Em's anger kept her tearless as she ran through the palace. She managed to make it to the royal garden. With its towering, well-manicured hedges that created numerous twists and turns, the garden was more of a giant maze than something just for mere pleasure. Thankfully for her that night, it was also for only her family's use. No one else was allowed inside unless with royal permission.
Without a second thought, Em plunged head-first into the maze's mysteries. It was not long after she had time to calm down did she realize that she was not alone in the garden. Here and there, Em heard snatches of both feminine and masculine laughter, but she couldn't quite place where the sounds of merriment were coming from. All she knew was that she had recognized the former sound immediately as Annalyn's slow, seductive titters.
Anger began to bubble inside of Em. How could her sister sound so happy—laughing, no less—on this gravest of days? She decided to find Annalyn and berate her older sister for her callousness. The laughter flitted from one place to another like a pair of lovebirds engaged in a game of hide and seek. No matter how close Em thought she was to finding them, the couple would be heard far off somewhere else. Her anger slowly changed into curiosity as time went by and she had yet to catch even a glimpse of them. After a while, Em couldn't hear either Annalyn or her sister's latest beau anymore. For a few more minutes, she tried to navigate through the maze to the last spot she had heard her sister's tittering laughter. That search turning up fruitless once more, and Em gave up entirely with a disappointed sigh. Looking up, she noticed how clear the stars were tonight. The dark clouds the sky had been filled with earlier that day were now all gone. Em deduced that she had stayed later in the maze than she had originally intended. Then, she remembered how she had left Cicero and immediately felt guilt wash over her.
Promising to profusely apologize to her best friend the next time they met, Em began to walk around in search of familiar landmarks to help her out of the maze. Her memory of the vast garden seemed to be hampered greatly at night, for she continuously found herself facing a dead end. A distinctly familiar tittering laugh caught her attention on the other side of the latest hedge she faced. Seeing an opening in the wall up ahead of her, Em silently crept towards it and poked her head on the other side. Anger exploded in the pit of her stomach at the scene in front of her.
She had found Annalyn with her latest lover, who looked to be a young duke. They were leaning against the smooth leaves of the hedge, clinging to each other and kissing fiercely, even as Annalyn's laughter managed to escape from between their infused lips from time to time. Her pale skin almost seemed to glow, making her more a vision than tangible. Seeing the duke begin to dip his head below Annalyn's neckline, Emelia suddenly regained control of her body. She quickly retracted her head, but not before Annalyn spotted Em out of the corner of her onyx-black eyes.
The young girl bit hard into her balled fist to stifle an angry cry. How could her sister lack proper sorrow and mourning for their parents' death when their family had just buried Valerus and Amelia's remains that same morning? How could Annalyn have the conscience to be in her lover's embrace when she could be contemplating stricter, harsher laws against pirates since she was so soon to ascend the throne? As tears began to cloud her vision once more, Em spun around and ran into a direction she knew brought her deeper into the maze. All thoughts of returning to the palace to apologize to Cicero were gone.
Before Em knew it, she found herself in the very heart of the royal garden. A magnificent fountain made of figures of mythical creatures at the center was almost completely shrouded by the drooping branches of the willow trees that surrounded the fountain. Sitting meditatively on a carved wooden bench close to the fountain was Arturus Quiesco. He was the first of the two to notice the other, seeing as Em's entry from out of the main part of the maze was loud because of her heart-wrenching sobs. Arturus slowly rose from the bench.
The small princess stood frozen for a moment a few yards in front of her grandfather, whose frail voice belied the warhorse body he had retained from his past days as a soldier and then-top commander of the royal army. In a split second, she flew into his waiting arms and cried even harder than before. Her words came incoherent and muffled against the brocade robe Arturus wore. When he had guided his granddaughter back to the bench and sat down, he waited until she had calmed down to ask what had happened to her.
Sniffling, Em immediately began to describe hearing Annalyn's laughter mixed with that of her lover's, how Em had been curious to find out what her sister was doing, and then, Em's horror when she finally found her sister, in the arms of the young duke. "Why is she acting like this, Grandfather?" Em wailed. "She's acting like—like—" Em tried to search for an appropriate word to describe her feelings of betrayal but failed to.
Arturus brought his granddaughter close to his old body again and softly patted the top of her head with one of his veined, calloused hands. "I'm sure, child, that this is just Annalyn's way of coping with the loss of your mother and father," Arturus reassured her. "This is devastating for all of us." However, while Em was slowly beginning to relax with that comforting thought, Arturus knew his words were contrary to the truth and felt deeply troubled by Annalyn's behavior.
"I'll never get to see Mother again," Em sniffed. Two fat tear drops fell from her eyes. "She and Father are gone forever."
A distant sound of chirping amid the willow trees attracted Arturus's attention before he could comment back. His dark brown eyes, the exact same as Em's, slowly swiveled around until he caught sight of a bird's nest. Smiling slightly, Arturus gently prodded Emelia to sit up on the bench and then slowly follow behind him towards the tree housing the bird's nest. A family of robins greeted the two silent intruders. The only two robins that could be seen, whom Em and Arturus took to be the father and mother, dismissed the silent humans as non-threats and returned to tending to three aquamarine colored eggs in their nest.
Arturus slowly lifted his granddaughter into his arms so that she could see the eggs better. In her ear, he whispered, "See the eggs, Emelia? They will soon hatch and bring forth more robins, more life." Arturus looked at the six-year-old and saw the confused expression on her face. "Don't ever believe that your mother and father are gone forever and that you'll never see your mother again," he continued. "In fact, I've begun to see her more in you as you grow each day."
Em tried to understand what her grandfather was trying to tell her. It was a while longer until he spoke again. "Have you ever heard of the Bird Myth, child?"
She shook her head and softly, so as not to disturb the family of robins, pleaded him to tell her.
Arturus's chuckle caught the beady-eyed attention of the father robin, which turned its little head watchfully towards the older human. "To put it simply, some people believe that when we die, our souls assume the bodies of birds so that we may continue to watch over our loved ones," he told her.
Em looked at the family of robins in deep contemplation. She spoke slowly. "I could be looking at Father and Mother right now?" She turned back to Arturus for confirmation.
The old man could not suppress another chuckle in spite of the serious look on Em's young face. "Perhaps," he said. "Though, I've always regarded your mother as more a raven than a robin."
Em looked at the old warhorse to explain, but Arturus said no more other than that she'd find out when she was older. Sighing in disappointment, Em innocently posed another question that had been on her mind all day. "Will they crown Annalyn the queen soon?"
Arturus brought her back to her feet, shaking his head slowly. "Oh no, dear child. She will not occupy the throne for quite some time to come. Your sister Annalyn has much to learn before she becomes entirely fit to rule the kingdom." Arturus began to gently nudge Em in the direction they both knew was a shortcut out of the garden maze. "Now," he said sternly. "I'm sure Selene must be worried sick by now. I shall see you in the morning, my dear."
"Goodnight, Grandfather." After receiving a goodbye kiss on the forehead, Em turned around and began walking back towards the palace. As soon as she stepped out of into the main part of the maze, a guard, one of the few privileged to be inside the garden on patrol, stepped out of nowhere and began to closely follow the young princess. Em chanced one last look behind her shoulder at her grandfather, who was again watching the nest of robins.
"Move along, Princess," the guard rumbled.
Nodding, Em turned her head forward and quickened her pace. She left the large maze with the haunting image of Annalyn's beautifully pale face, shamelessly blissful, with absolutely no trace of sadness.