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Authors: Aiden James,Michelle Wright

Curse of Stigmata (The Judas Reflections) (19 page)

BOOK: Curse of Stigmata (The Judas Reflections)
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John’s reaction surprised me. I thought him to be a man of compassion, unlike myself. But then, since our first meeting there had been signs of strangeness. His nonchalant attitude to blood all over his floor, talk of secret societies, and even Rachel’s almost submissive change to do his bidding as if cherishing his every word.

While Juan slept off his ordeal, I was in urgent need of a distraction. Politely, I asked John for transportation to the dock. He was more than happy to arrange it, assuring me he’d look after Rachel. I had earlier asked if she wanted to come along, as I was going to meet with Dirk. She declined the invitation on the grounds of Captain Chivers not holding Christian values. I refrained from commenting. She now much preferred to behave like a nun, committed to spend every hour nursing Juan back to health.

I left them all to their own devices. A good dinner washed down with a fine rum to brush away the cobwebs was needed, and the Captain would supply just that. He was delighted to see me and I enjoyed his company, made even better without Rachel.

“I have something special for sale, so special you won’t be able to say no,” he said, pouring me a mug of rum.

“Then show me the goods and we’ll see,” I said, curious as to what he had to offer. Exotic rare spices, or much in demand tobacco, perhaps?

Instead, he returned with a girl, her hands and feet loosely bound with chains, she shuffled into the cabin. “This is Camala, she’s all of seventeen years, and you must admit, beautiful.”

“I have to admit that yes, she’s very beautiful,” I replied unable to take my eyes away.

Standing before me was a vision of perfection. A slave girl he’d captured from the Island of Île-de-France, with the face of an angel.

“Can you not see yourself with a fine filly like this at your private disposal? She’ll do whatever is asked and more. Once back in Europe, rich men will fight over her, money no object.”

As if African slavery wasn’t bad enough, I had heard there was a darker more secret trade attracting rich European men, mostly married, who sought out girls like Campala, or younger. She would fetch a very high price, even if I shipped her to America, I would still be in good profit. As much as I didn’t condone the slave trade, and had already rejected two others from the Captain, this one was
irresistible to turn down. Her eyes so striking, I quivered.

“She’s a delight, I know for certain,” he continued with a lustful glint in his eye.

“How much?” I asked.

“Put down what you think she’s worth on the table. Let’s see if you’re taking me seriously.”

“Of course I know you’re serious, so here,” I replied putting down what I thought to be more than enough gold to fill his coffers.

“You jest with me… not enough for this treasure!”

“Here,” I replied, adding a solid gold necklace to the money on the table.

“That will do very nicely,” he replied carefully checking the quality of gold. “I’ll keep her down below along with the others, but she’ll have extra rations so she’s full of energy.”

“How many have you got down there?”

“I squeezed in about thirty. It would have been more if I didn’t have so much cargo.”

“I don’t want her in the hold,” I said. “I hear too many slaves come riddled with scurvy. Put her in a good cabin, give her three meals a day, keep her clean and safe from the crew, and… don’t forget a walk on deck every day. I’ll pay the expenses. Now… apart from slaves, what else do you have?”

I negotiated for a particularly handsome collection of diamonds choosing not to ask of their origins and the Captain volunteered no information. They would sell quickly to the diamond houses of Antwerp in Belgium.

I’d done well, acquiring a high value slave, more spices and a cache of diamonds, all fetching a tidy profit. If only I could work out what to do with Rachel and the coin, life would become infinitely sweeter.

“I like you, Emmanuel Ortiz,” the Captain said, slapping me heartily on the shoulder, causing my rum to spill. “If you ever wish to consider a profitable life on the ocean waves, you’re welcome to join my ship.”

The mere thought of living out my immortality as a pirate was laughable, but not wanting to offend or evoke his wrath, I told him I would consider the offer, in earnest. I’d come a long way in common sense to know not to become involved with such thieves and scoundrels seeing as I could easily become one. Campala was dutifully led away and locked in the cabin. I needed to protect my precious cargo. Leaving the door unlocked gave opportunity for escape, if caught she ran the risk of severe pirate punishment and I’d be out of pocket.

“I must go now,” I said. “Tomorrow I’ll bring your cook some fresh vegetables from the garden of my host.”

“Where’s the other cook, Juan? He knows how to make a fine fish stew with plenty of garlic.”

“He’s not himself; the heat caused an upset stomach. You know how it is, the tropics playing havoc on your insides.”

“It had better be the truth. If I discover he’s avoiding me, I’ll be angered. I don’t care if I never see Rachel again, but Juan was a decent man and a good drinker,” he replied sternly.

“Of course he’s not well… why would I lie to you?”

In spite of his power, Captain Chivers was desperately worried about what people thought. Convinced no one liked him, he wasn’t far from the truth. Most people who came in contact, including his crew, pretended to be agreeable toward him either out of fear or seeking opportunity. I was no different. Personally, I didn’t care for his arrogance or vile temper. Nor did I care for his unwashed stink. Yet, I bowed and condescended not knowing why. Considering I had more than adequate funds for an alternative passage home, it remained a mystery.

A few hours of heavy drinking passed between us, whereupon I found myself drunk on deck, following the Captain around in his drunken circle.

“Ah… I tell you what lads, bring me a big breasted wench from the bordello, or I swear it’s sixty lashes!” Captain Chivers demanded. Most of the crew were hesitant to heed his request. Pirates were a lazy lot, and most preferred to do little except lie in the sun, drink and steal. But they feared the Captain, especially when worse for drink.

“Where’s the stupid bitch with her poisoned blood dripping everywhere? I don’t see her… where’d she go?” he slurred.

“Rachel is ashore, don’t you remember?” I told him.

“I take it you mean the bitch isn’t coming back?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps while you’re docked she’ll remain on land. Who knows? I’m not her keeper.”

On deck, in the searing afternoon heat with the sun beating hard on my shoulders, I failed to notice the Captain’s cutlass coming down hard across the top of my bare arm. He slashed deep, intending to cause damage and, by the look of sudden hatred in his eye, death.

“I will kill you today because I can. Because I feel like it.”

“A good try Captain,” I replied. “But it’s unfair, don’t you think? I’m not armed to defend myself.”

Without saying a word, he snatched a cutlass from a fellow pirate passed out on the deck and threw it toward me. He stopped and stared stupidly at the wound closing on my arm.

“Where’s the blood?” he asked, worriedly.

“What blood? I don’t bleed for long.”

“Eh? There should be blood as punishment for bringing the evil vixen.”

Drunk and confused, he challenged me to a battle. We went after it with gusto and I must say it was exhilarating. It had been a while since I had enjoyed a good sword fight!

“I failed to slash you deep enough before, but now I will,” he announced. If the fool hadn’t drunk so much of the special brandy after rum I doubted whether we’d even be on deck, let alone in conflict.

“I can assure you of failure. Let it be known, Captain, I’m a master swordsman,” I replied in all seriousness. “I would hate to kill you, but will do so if you persist in your foolishness.”

He looked around the deck for his cronies to come to his aid. Not one pirate got up from their lazy asses to come to their Captain’s defense, preferring to lounge around laughing and enjoying the show. Amusing as it appeared, there was a bad side to the situation. If I killed the Captain, I would then have to deal with the crew, who could turn on me. For now, we were equally matched. Even when drunk, he gave me cause to keep my wits, aiming to hack away with his cutlass and bring me down. A pirate who was worth his gold couldn’t bear to lose face in front of others. I, on the other hand, would be content to return below deck and finish the brandy.

“Are you tiring? I see exhaustion in your eyes,” I said, slicing his hand and hoping he had weakened enough to surrender.

“You cut my finger. Bastard!” He lunged angrily at me.

The advantage of a cutlass meant I could maneuver on the deck with its nooks and crannies. A typical pirate, Chivers had no style. He flailed his weapon as only a drunk man could.

“I will slice you wide,” he announced loudly before collapsing in a heap on the deck floor.

The crew laughed heartily at the spectacle while I threw the cutlass down in disgust. One of the pirates, a burly man, took off his hat and bowed mockingly.

“Do ‘im now, matey, we need a new captain,” he said.

“I’m not your matey,” I replied.

Captain Chivers rose to his feet, as blood gushed from his finger. He struggled to steady himself on a barrel. We were on the foredeck where sacks of potatoes, barrels of salted fish and onions lay. Not prepared to give up, he lunged at me again, muscles trembling with every move. He left me no choice but to fight on.

“Mortals,” I muttered. “Have no idea what they let themselves in for.”

Captain Chivers’ sea-worn face had aged him double than his twenty-nine years. Dangerous enough to plunder and kill, he was also strong enough to ignore the wound I’d inflicted as we continued our feverish duel. I launched myself at him with the ferocity of a tiger pouncing on his prey, anger fuelling me into a regrettable frenzy.

“Okay,” I announced. “To the death.”

Captain Chivers was missing my blows with the sharpness of his defense, and lightly cut me two or three times more. I in turn pushed him backwards with great force until he was wedged between two sacks. He fought hard to avoid my furious onslaught, defending himself as best he could while he struggled to get free.

It was as if a fire exploded inside of me, a volcanic surge of pent up emotion resulting in an indescribable rage. Grabbing hold of a chain I hoisted myself up, this gave me the advantage to swing with both feet and kick the trapped Captain hard. Like a wall of stone, he crumbled. I stood waiting, the cutlass held high above my head, ready to strike.

“Ahh… umm,” he mumbled unable to get up. Why were we fighting and over what? Was it the meanest alcohol spurring him to an early departure to hell or, his feelings for Rachel coming out in the worse possible way?

I never bothered to ask as he lay passed out cold on the hot deck, blood dripping from his finger and lips cracked and bleeding from the sun. I could have put an end to his meaningless life, sure of the knowledge he had done a great deal of harm to others. I doubted his crew even cared. As I looked around, they had either disappeared below deck or outright abandoned ship.

I lifted him unconscious by the ankles and dragged him roughly across the deck. Then I pushed his pathetic ass below, his head banging hard on each stair until he fell into a crumpled heap at the bottom.

“What kind of a pathetic maggot are you?” I hissed in anger. There was no response, not even a flinch.

aving acquired the key the Campala’s cabin, I opened the door to find her in shaking and scared in the corner.

BOOK: Curse of Stigmata (The Judas Reflections)
12.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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