|The Ocean Princess
Author: EventHorizon6 PM
Ben Kaiser's life is an ongoing battle to find food for his family when he dreams of sailing the seas, but when he learns of the mystical Ocean Princess he stows away aboard a ship and finds himself caught in an adventure bigger than he imagined.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Friendship - Chapters: 2 - Words: 3,524 - Reviews: 1 - Updated: 09-11-11 - Published: 09-10-11 - id: 2951054
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A Shot O' Rum
The man's fingers shook as perspiration slipped down his forehead. Bravely, he lifted the glass to his lips before tipping it back and downing the liquid. He coughed slightly, but with as much pride as he could muster, slapped the shot glass down on the wooden table. A cheer went up as people egged them on.
The man across from the first took his next shot and downed it easily, seeming not even fazed as he slapped the glass down on the wooden table and another cheer went up. The table was nearly filled with the amount of shot glasses that had been accumulating over the past hour. The people laughed and sloppily filled two more glasses.
"Finish him! Finish him!" a rowdier man that didn't smell too nice shouted.
"More! More!" another cried as the trembling man raised the glass to his lips once more. His hands were shaking so bad it was a wonder he didn't spill it before downing it. The taller man smirked and leaned back casually as his opponent raised it to his lips before suddenly dropping the glass and tipping back in his chair.
A cheer of delight went up as coins were passed back and forth.
"Eh, kid, yeh do have me money right?" A bald man with a course white beard demanded, lumbering up to a shorter figure leaning against the wall near the back.
"Sod off, will ya? Can't we just forget about this bet for once?" the boy groaned. The bald man growled and grabbed his shirt collar before pulling him away from the wall and slamming him down against the table the two men had just used for their competition.
The boy gasped as the bald man wrapped his hands around his throat.
"You'll give me that money now, boy!"
"Bentley, give the kid a rest! He's never missed a payment for ya," another man called as he laughed with his friends. Bentley scowled down at the boy his hands were wrapped around before throwing him forward so that the table tipped and the boy rolled before immediately jumping back to his feet.
"You get me that money by tomorrow, Benjamin Kaiser, or you'll never live to trade in my tavern again!" Bentley roared and lumbered off as Benjamin sneered and fixed his shirt and buckle bag over his shoulder before storming out of the tavern known to the town as The Spyglass.
"How the hell am I gonna get that money for tomorrow? Ma won't be too pleased about that," he grunted as he made his way down the cobblestoned street. Carts rolled by as townspeople went about their business like they did every day. Ben sighed and blew a strand of brown hair out of his eyes as he began the trek home.
"Ben! Kaiser!" Ben halted in his tracks as he was suddenly flanked by Miles, his closest friend. "Any luck?" the blonde haired boy chuckled.
"No, not today," Ben sighed.
"How did Bentley take it?"
"I've owe him the money first thing in the morning, but I ain't even got one doubloon."
"You need to stop with the gambling, Ben."
"It's not gambling!" Ben snapped loud enough for some ladies to look over. He hurriedly lowered his voice. "Listen, gambling is when you got nothing left to do, so to ease the boredom, you bet. I don't call what I do fun, I call it good business, except for days like this one," he explained as they walked.
Miles rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"I don't think so, Ben. I think you're gambling." When Ben opened his mouth to protest, Miles cut him off. "You know you enjoy it, don't pretend. It's the only fun thing that happens in your day, and if you bet right you get more money to bring home some extra bread for your sister and mother." Ben scowled and turned away as Miles put a hand on his shoulder. "I know why you do it."
"Yeah? Well what do you expect me to do, leave 'em to starve while dad heads out on some adventure and doesn't come back for months?" Ben grumbled. Miles pursed his lips.
"You know it's not like that. He does it to support the three of you." Ben sighed heavily, knowing his friend was right.
"I just wish I could sail like he did, and I miss him. I'm sick of staring at the tall ships and knowing I'm stuck as a landlubber the rest of my life," he shrugged sadly.
"You'll get your chance, trust me, Ben. Besides, your dad's coming in tomorrow. Take a day off from your usual rounds and come see the ships dock."
"I can't, I need the money."
"You need your father."
Ben halted and shifted his weight as he looked right at Miles who was grinning.
"You haven't seen the ships come in for two years now since you never do business with the docks," Miles pointed out. Ben continued walking, hitching the bag over his shoulder better.
"Don't need to do business there. You know all them sailors are lying cheats," he grunted.
"Except your dad."
"What is it with you and my dad?" Ben chuckled, glad his friend was with him nonetheless.
"I just think he's a great guy, and that you should be proud of him."
The two boys turned down a more rugged street and watched as few respectable villagers walked this way.
"It's hard to be proud of someone you don't see in months." As the two boys headed up the street they were suddenly stopped by one of the peasants.
"If you please, sir. I have no money for food tonight," the little boy pleaded, holding up his grimy hands.
"Neither do I, kid," Ben replied, trying to go around, but the boy was persistent.
"Please, sir. Just one doubloon for a slice of bread tonight."
Miles gave Ben a pointed look and Ben groaned as he took out a coin and pressed it into the boy's hand.
"Don't you dare waste that bread," Ben threatened as the boy thanked him and scurried down one of the dark alleys that connected the network of streets in Kitsburg. Miles and Ben continued on in silence after that. Ben thought about what Miles had said. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt to skip the rounds tomorrow and watch the ships dock, but then again he needed to get the money for Bentley and he wasn't a little boy anymore.
Ben remembered the times when he'd flee to the docks every day waiting for his father to come home and when he did return Ben would give him the biggest greeting he could muster. He had long outgrown that. He was seventeen now, almost a man. He never did do very well with heartfelt reunions. In fact, over the years, Ben's heart had become almost stone cold and completely stoic. He was good at pretending and hiding things. He did it to help his mother and sister and face his enemies head on.
There were many times when he was scared, when he was terrified and his mind almost blank with fear, but showing weakness was not an option unless you wanted your one meal for the day to be swiped.
His father would understand. He always did, even though Ben could see it in his eyes. He could see the sadness when they were together again. As much as he did love his father and care for his welfare, Ben found it hard to talk to the man. How could you rekindle close relationships when the other spends months away from you? How can you pretend that everything is fine when in truth it is not?
Ben found it was easier to be silent and cold than to try and pull back into a warm relationship with his father. At least when he left he didn't feel that old pang of hurt and sadness like he used to. It was easier this way, for both of them.
"Ben! Ben! Ben! Ben! Ben!" Ben and Miles looked up just in time for a six year old girl to come bursting out of one of the rowdier inns that only travelers and men with no money attended.
The girl had long brown hair with a dirty brown dress on as she flew at Ben and launched herself into his arms.
"Hey there Ruth," Ben chuckled as he picked his younger sister up and twirled her around as she squealed happily and clung to him. Miles smiled at the two as Ben set her down and tapped her nose.
"Have you been good to mother today?" he inquired, giving her a playful look.
"I helped do dishes, Ben, and mommy thinks Mr. Walters will pay us extra for that!" she stated proudly.
"Good job, Ruth," Ben smiled, feeling guilty he'd need to take the well earned coins to give to Bentley the next day. He cringed at the thought, but pushed it aside for now.
"Did you bring us some bread?" she asked, looking hopeful. Ben sighed, hating to lie to those enormous brown eyes. Like her mother, Ruth had received all of her good characteristics. She had Mrs. Kaiser's brown eyes, delicate features, and warm smile. Ben had taken after his father with broad shoulders and a set jaw as well as a pair of emerald eyes.
"Not today, Ruth," Ben apologized quickly.
"Mommy says you'd get bread tonight," she whined, her lower lip jutting out. Ben sighed as he ruffled his sister's hair, hating to see her go hungry even for one night. Miles looked at Ben sadly as Ben looked back.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Ben?" he inquired, clearing his throat. Miles didn't have a family by blood as far as he could tell. Instead he ran with a street gang that acted like a big family of brothers and sisters. They worked together on food, so it was difficult for Ben or Miles to help each other out financially when both of them didn't do well.
"Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow," Ben called as Miles turned and headed off, slipping down a darker street and disappearing just as suddenly as he had come. Ben clenched his jaw for a moment before smiling falsely at Ruth. "Let's go see mommy," he suggested and lead the girl inside.
Ben's mother worked at an old tavern run by a rude, obnoxious man known as Mr. Walters. Since they couldn't afford even a small house, Mr. Walters allowed their family to stay in one of the rooms on the upstairs level. In exchange, Ben's mother would work for him until she could pay off the debt. Ben scowled at the thought of that man. He knew every time his mother came even close to paying it off, Walters would raise the bar even higher.
As Ben entered the crowded tavern he hurriedly sent Ruth up to their room. He didn't like it when she hung around the men in the tavern, knowing full well some might cease the chance to take advantage of her if they could. Ben pulled his bag closer to him protectively as he made his way through the crowd to find his mother.
It didn't take long.
He found her serving one of the back tables as a couple of men sat there drinking heavily. Mrs. Ellen Kaiser had her hair tied up and wore a dirty dress with an old apron on.
"There you are, gentlemen, enjoy," she smiled kindly as she delivered their food and tucked the tray under her arm. She was about to hurry away when one of the men reached out and grabbed her arm. She froze as he pulled her closer.
"Oh we will be enjoying some, won't we boys?" the man smirked as she hurriedly began to struggle. Ben felt bile rise to the back of his throat as he ran over and punched the man in the jaw sending him sprawling. His mother stumbled back in surprise.
"Don't you dare touch my mother like that!" he roared, grabbing the man's shirt collar and throwing him against the wall. By now the whole tavern was watching.
"Ben, don't!" his mother called, but Ben was too worked up to listen. He'd lost another bet to Bentley, he had to watch his sister go hungry again, his father was gone, and his mother was now being looked at in such a way that made his whole head explode with rage.
He punched the man good as instincts took in. Just for good measure he punched him again as the man's head whipped back and blood spurted from his nose.
"Ben!" his mother screamed as patrons began rushing forward trying to separate the two that were practically rolling around on the floor now.
"Ha? Ha? You want some, pretty boy?" the large man demanded as he pulled a knife from his boot and held it up as Ben hurriedly backed off with the others. He held up his hands as the man waved the knife around threateningly.
"Don't touch him," his mother ordered, stepping in front of Ben protectively. The man scowled and put away his knife, not daring to attack the lady.
"You just be lucky your mother's here to save you or I'd carve you insides right out!" he shouted and stormed out of the tavern, slamming the door behind him.
The patrons gasped as Ben slumped against the wall in anxiety.
Too long of a day, he thought miserably, especially when his mother gave him a harsh look of cold disappointment. Too long.
A/N: Tell me if I added too much background or characters in this one right away. I just wanted to introduce some of the main characters especially Ben. Once again reviews and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated!
Also I went back and edited up chapter one a bit and special thanks to Infermation for the helpful review! :D