Author's Note: Hey guys! It's me Raine! This story is the product of a joint effort: me and Jaden Anderson. She had this great idea one day and asked if I wanted to help and I was like, "Of course!" So, this is the beginning. We both hope you guys enjoy it and HAVE FUN reading.

Raine0211 and Jaden Anderson

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Prologue

The sun shines almost blindingly on the blue-green water of the Kertic Sea. Tiny boats dot the horizon and local fisherman walk nimbly from water to shore along salt-encrusted gangplanks. A boy with shaggy black hair weaves his way through the early-morning crowd full of wives shopping for dinner and husbands heading off for a long day of work. His loose, cotton pants billow out behind him as he races the salty breeze to his next destination: the end of the docks.

            The boy's green eyes twinkle as he absorbs the various sights, sounds and smells around him as he passes them by: the distant grey masses of the neighboring islands; venders calling out their wares; and the pungent smell of fish freshly caught. A giggle escapes his throat unawares and several people turn to stare at the strange boy. Anyone can see by the content set of his features and lazy gait of his stride that this is a happy boy.

            As he nears the end of the dock, a flock of seagulls squawking over head catch his attention and he stands for a moment to watch them leisurely circling for food. But, being a young boy, he is soon distracted from this pastime and he resumes his jog. Rounding the last bend before his destination, he halts mid-stride at the sight of an enormous ship with three masts and huge sails. A flag adorns the top of the center mast indicating that this glorious piece of woodwork is indeed a pirate ship. The boy's eyes widen in wonder and he grows slack-jawed as he tries to digest the sight before him. Bulky-armed men scramble around the deck, preparing her to dock and the proud captain stands at the helm shouting orders in a loud, gruff voice.

            "Wow," the boy breathes in awe. He'd never seen anything as large or fantastic as that pirate ship before. A few men spot the young interloper and throw obscene comments in his direction. One man even bares his knife and shakes it menacingly at the boy who immediately turns and runs at the sight of the gleaming, razor-sharp edge.

            He jerks to a stop right at the edge of the dock, waving his arms frantically to keep his balance. Turning back for a last glance at the magnificent ship, his young mind forgets the threat the boat poses as he once again gapes at its size and potential to be a prominent aspect in his fantasy life.

            A scuffling footstep grows closer and the boy peers over his shoulder to see who approaches. It is another child with fiery red hair and intense brown eyes.

            "Did ya see that there ship?" the newcomer asks with excitement, waving his arms in the direction of the pirate ship.

            "That I did! It's a beaut! I'm gonna work on a ship like that someday!" the black-haired boy says with conviction.

            "No ya ain't. Yer ma and pa would never let ya do that," the redhead states, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

            "Oh ya?"

            "Ya."

            "I bet ya I could be a better pirate than you could any day," the boy with the shining green eyes challenges, bending his knees as he prepares to take on his playmate.

            "In your dreams," the carrot top replies as he lunges for his comrade.

            They both roll around the edge of the dock, coming dangerously close to the edge, but never falling off into the cold water below. Their tussle leads them under many feet and extracts many exclamations of annoyance from the adults attempting to work around them. Finally, one man holding an exceptional large fish takes a swing at the dueling pair, catching the redhead in the arm.

            "Oof! What was that for?" he cries in surprise.

            "Yer good fer nothing vagrant. Go play yer games somewheres else. I've got work to be doin'," the large fisherman scolds and both boys take off running. It ends up being a race through an obstacle course of venders, crowds of tired people, and trudging animals.

            "Last one back to me house is a rotten egg," the black-haired boy cries as he dodges a basket full of cheese hanging off a rotund woman's arm.

            The wind whips through their hair as their short legs carry them as fast as they can to the house.

            "You're a stinkin' egg!" the green-eyed boy cries with delight and satisfaction.

            "Ah whatever. Let's just go see what yer mom's made for lunch."

            With that said both boys head into the house to fill their bellies. After they eat, they head outside to play for a few more hours. As the sun begins to go down the redhead leaves for home, as his parents are expecting him for dinner.

            The other boy goes back inside his house to find his parents setting up for dinner. Although they are far from well-off, the family always manages to eat dinner together, even when the father has to work late.

            "Did ya have a good day, son?" the boy's father inquires while stabbing his fork into a piece of potato.

            "Ya! I saw a pirate ship with three sails! It was amazin'."

            His father chuckles. "My boy, you know pirate ships don't dock here. It's too dangerous for them to show themselves in public."

            "But I swear it was a pirate ship! I even saw the pirates….one had a patch over his eye and his partner had a peg leg. And I could have sworn I saw a parrot sitting on the captain's shoulder…"

            "Alright, alright, my boy, I believe ya," his father interrupts.

            The family finishes up their meal with light chatter and then the mother gets up to show her son to bed.

            "But ma, I'm not the least bit tired yet. Can't I stay up with you and pa?" the boy whines as he pulls of his wrinkled shirt and his mother slips on his nightshirt.

            "No ya can't, baby. You need your sleep to grow. You know that. Now get under the covers now," his mother says as she pulls back the covers and pats the bed. With a sigh, the boy crawls slowly into bed and his mother covers him. Bending down to kiss him goodnight she whispers, "I love you, baby."

            "I love you, too, ma," he says as he snuggles down closer under the covers and stares into the fireplace. He sighs contentedly, and despite his earlier protests, he feels happy and at peace.

            The flames in the hearth lick the stone and crackle softly in a soft lullaby. Gazing into the red flames, their dance entrances him, and he feels his lids getting heavier by the second.