The Adventures of Jarod Pillagebane: Book 1: Beware of Zombies is, or was selected as the Featured Article of the Week!
ThunderBook Productions 2012


There was once a son born to two wealthy parents. His name was Jarod. He was very small, however nothing seemed to be wrong with him. One day, at the age of seven, his father took him to a dueling arena. He quickly took an interest in dueling, and was always asking for lessons, or at least his first blade. Finally, at the age of nine, on his birthday, his father gave him his first sword. It was a rusty old hanger, with a hand guard onto which was burnt some markings. However, they were not legible. He was going to need gold to buy the expensive brush he would use to uncover them. At the age of 15, he was employed by an arena that hosted duels. He was a famously amazing fencer. One day, he was 19, and had been working there a for a long while, he almost had enough gold to purchase the brush he needed. Today he was fighting the renowned behemoth of a man, Miguel Parry.

Chapter 1

"Ironic," he thought to himself. He was preparing for the duel. He practiced the move he created specifically for this duel. "You ready, mate? Time to duel," a man named Tobias said. "Yes, I'm ready. I believe I'm going to be doin' well today." The arena was very unique. It was different every time. Different obstacles, different twists, different opponents. And no one was allowed to tell the contestants what was in the arena. However, some drunkards would crack if you gave them a barrel or two of their favored rum. A man told Jarod, "It's dirt, with lots of hills. Oh, and stay away from the arch. There are grenades that fall on their unlucky victim when they're triggered, by putting weight on it. But that could work to your advantage, savvy?" He realized he was taking a very long time. He began to walk up the rusty iron stairs up to the platform of the large arena. He finally reached the top. The announcer, Jack Cannonshot, announced in a booming voice that rattled Jarod's eardrums, "Duelists! Are you ready?!" "Aye!" Miguel Parry looked at Jarod in disgust. "At least you will have an honorable death..," Miguel said coldly in a voice like stone. "We'll see," Jarod said mysteriously. "Duelists! Draw your blades!" Jarod drew his hanger, and Miguel drew an ornate and light epeé. "Duelists ready! And... DUEL!!!" Miguel charged at Jarod, and at the very last second he ducked and slid past the massive man, kicking him back while doing so. Jarod charged, and did an astonishing flip followed by several swift lunges and landed on the other side of Miguel, and kicked him into the arch. He was thrust into a massive array of flame and shrapnel. The air was smoky, and he thought he had it in the bag. However, Parry had just barely avoided it, and was infuriated. He charged at Jarod, but he was blinded by aimless rage. Jarod executed a perfect backflip but on the way impaled him with a forceful thrust and a grunt as the blade pierced his vulnerable heart. The man hollered out a seemingly rehearsed chain of curses, before saying, "Gah....." "GAH..." to you too," Jarod replied with a hearty laugh. The seemingly bloodthirsty crowd screeched with strange excitement and joy at the death of this mammoth of a man. Jack Cannonshot handed Jarod his prize money as he thought to himself, "This is more than enough! I think I'll get a mug o' rum on the way to Charles Bladeginty's shop." He left a bloodthirsty crowd in awe as he exited with gold in his coat pocket and a grin on his face.

Chapter 2

Right when he left the barbaric arena, he set off to Charles Bladeginty's shop. On the way, he stopped at a tavern called King's Arm, and ordered his favorite: light rum with molasses and cinnamon. He paid the tavern owner, Johnny Mcvane, and exited the tavern as he nearly bumped into a massive man that smelled of old cheese and black rum. "Evening, mate," he said nonchalantly with breath so foul Jarod had to swallow hard not to gag. "Fine day, ey?" "Err.. Aye," he said as he passed him and exited the tavern quickly. He started down the way to Charles' shop. He saw a beautiful girl halfway down the path. "Hello!" he said warmly with a smile. "What's your name?" "Nerissa," she replied in the same tone. "Would you please help my goat? His head is stuck in this fence, heaven knows how or why. Would you be so kind as to help me?" "Certainly," he said as he walked over. He did a perfect double backflip and landed a kick to the fence, loosening the boards so the goat could get out. "How did you do that?" she asked, dumbstruck. "I could show you sometime," he replied with a wink. "Well, I must be on my way. Goodbye, Nerissa," he said hurriedly. "Goodbye," she replied. When he arrived, he was greeted warmly by Charles Bladeginty. "Ah, Jarod! I see you've returned. Do you have the money?" "Aye," Jarod said absentmindedly, thinking about the girl he just saw. Jarod handed Charles the gold, and Charles handed Jarod the brush. It came with a blade sharpener and a polisher. "This can make even the rustiest old edge into a thing of beauty, something fit for a king!" Charles proclaimed with pride. "Guess that explains the price..." Jarod muttered, followed by a chuckle from Charles. "Use it well, and you will turn that rusty old hanger o' yers into a blade fit for a king," Charles said as Jarod was exiting. Jarod arrived at his blacksmithing shop, which was an old shop behind the Faithful Bride, and had never really had business. Technically, it wasn't even his. No one even knew it was there, so it was more like his workshop. To get to it, you had to go over a gate (more like a wall, the keyhole had rotted and molded beyond repair years ago) via a series of stacked crates. He liked his little workshop, it was one of his most valued possessions. He felt secure behind the large wall, where he wouldn't be pestered by the EITC to pay a ridiculous amount of taxes. It was his safety. His solitude. His escape. His FREEDOM. When he entered his shop, he closed and locked the door and sat down with his delicious, sweet, light rum. He unsheathed his hanger, and set it on his desk, with his light rum next to it. He got to work. He dipped his brush in a barrel of water he kept in there. "Oops. I needed that....," he said, feeling foolish. "Oh well. I'll just go get another barrel. There's one over here...." he said as he walked over and grabbed a barrel full of water. He tripped on an upward-pointing rock, and it spilled. But something fell out of that water. He gasped. It was one of the finest, most well-balanced daggers he had ever seen. On the blade was carved the following inscription: The well-known warrior will stop the flow, of the ridiculous taxes Beckett's orders show, and obliterate the tyranny that rules the hour, or we'll all end up under Beckett's power. If done, and Beckett's blood is spilled, the long lost prophecy will be fulfilled: "The cruelty needs to end, to let our wounds mend. Pirates, unhanded, Beckett's men, disbanded. And if you can only perfect it just right, strike down Beckett with all your might, you will leave his men shaking in fright. And with gifts you'll be showered, for your bravery, that towered, for killing the coward, for shooting his head: the war will not end, until his blood is shed, the war will not end, until Beckett is dead." Jarod looked up in amazement. What could this mean? That he had to kill Beckett to end the war on piracy? That he had to disband Beckett's men? It all seemed so unreal. Seemed like this whole thing was a dream. Though he wouldn't admit it, part of him wished it was. He went over to his desk, and felt dizzy. He took a swig from his rum, and that seemed to do the trick. He found a small sheath, connected it to his belt, and put the dagger in it, but then unsheathed it to look at it. It really was a thing of beauty. It had a cruel, curved blade that had jagged points on it, shaped like arrows. He had seen a dagger like this before. It was known as a sword-breaker. You would catch a blade with it. Then, one flick of the wrist, and it just snaps the blade right off. He had always dreamed of having one of these. It was a fine weapon as a dagger, too. He pricked his finger with it. "Ooh!", it literally made him wince as he pulled it away and put it in the now-filthy water. He sucked his finger. He polished and sharpened it. It looked amazing. It had a long curved handle wrapped in a cushion with wire on it, with a silk covering. He had seen weapons like this before. When he had seen a general of the EITC. Made with pure gold. The hand guard curved around almost half way to the start of the pommel, which was actually made of steel, though it was bejeweled. He had no idea how it hadn't rusted at all from being in a large barrel of water, but just to make sure, he cleaned it with the brush, polished it, and put it back in its sheath.He began to work on his hanger. He picked it up and scrubbed the blade first. The brush worked surprisingly well. All of the rust, grime, and scratches were coming out quickly. After about 20 minutes, the blade looked great. It shined translucently in the warm Caribbean sunset. He began on the handle, which only took about ten minutes. He was amazed. He never knew how amazing his sword was! It was tempered, quality steel. The pommel was connected to an ornate bronze hand guard that had an engraving of a galleon flying a pitch-black flag with a pistol pointing at a grinning skull from above, with two crossed cutlasses starting at the right and left top corners. He picked it up, and executed a few practice slashes. It swiped the air as the blade swung gracefully around. It felt so much lighter than it did before. The markings were just as strange as the others: it was in Dutch. He was Dutch, but couldn't translate this. He would take it to his father. He knew Dutch, English, and French, which was an astonishing feat at the time, though Jarod knew most Dutch and English. But he was dead (more on that later). He created a new move, where he ducked and avoided a blow and then slid back, tripping the enemy while doing so. He would then flip to get up, do a front flip, and land with a heavy downward plunge to the victim. He named it the 'Unexpected Killer'. His sword looked fantastic. He went down to the dock, and found that an EITC Treasure Fleet was being loaded. He saw a massive chest, and realized it was the tax money! He sneaked over behind an EITC soldier and kicked him off the dock with a sharp kick to his back. Fortunately for him, he knew how to swim. However, his fellow soldier whom Jarod did the same to was not nearly so lucky. He sunk like a rock. A soldier spotted him, and Jarod knew he was about to alert his fellow guards of Jarod's "activities". So, he did the only thing he could: he shot him in the leg, and before he could react, Jarod picked him up and threw him into the water. Oi, he thought, didn't think that would work. He slyly picked up the chest, and began to go back, however, a stray gold coin fell out, and they were after him. He turned a corner, just dodging a bullet by about an inch, and felt many more whiz by his ear, before he sprinted over to a rickety wooden ladder. He got up just in time, and as they were climbing up, right before the first man was going to make it up, he kicked it down. "Phew," he thought aloud with a sigh of relief. He picked up the chest with pride, went down the other way, (which, fortunately, the guards had not seen) and walked down to his workshop. "What a day," he thought in amazement.

Chapter 3

When Jarod awoke the next morning, he thought of the prophecy. He figured out that the warrior was obviously him, and also that he had to shoot Beckett. Then, it says that he has to shoot Beckett. He heard two men talking. "..... And we believe he went this way with the taxes, because one of the men saw him and..." Jarod froze. They were talking about him! He lived in his workshop now, and even had a bed in there, ever since his parents were hanged for helping a damaged pirate vessel when his mother and father got passage on an English merchantman when they were going to visit his Uncle Jaarod Van Der Pilaagebaen, whom he was named after (in English). On light feet, he went over to the door, opened it, and listened. "He is to be hanged for his crimes against the Crown, or at least rot in jail for all I care." "I'd like to see 'im dangle from an iron collar!" He recognized this one. This was the man he had kicked into the water! He almost laughed. He dressed into dark clothing: a jet black puffy shirt with reinforced sleeves, a black vest with gold embellishments, pitch black buttoned breeches, black tall boots, a black silk sash that held his sword belt in place (into which he also loaded and placed four pistols, bullets, a powder horn, and his dagger) and a black hat with a wide rounded brim and an ostrich feather, and then went out the secret way. It was through an old unused back door into the Faithful Bride, into a room which could not be accessed, due to the fact that A. The keyhole had rotted away and B. An irresponsible owner had misplaced the key a year ago, but he could still get free rum and wine in there. The way through was up a series of rotting crates, onto the roof and down a little smooth iron rail that he had moved towards the back, where he could simply slide down and land on the side of the tavern, and walk out as if nothing abnormal had just occurred. His black clothing wasn't hot at all because it was loose, and, in fact, comfortable. He made his way over to the main entrance of the tavern, and walked down to the docks. He saw an EITC Corvette class ship being with no one on it. "Must all be at the King's Arm", he thought to himself. He stealthily jumped onto the side of the ship, and moved over to the bow, still dangling from the side, and did a flip and landed on the forecastle. He walked belowdecks. The ship really was vacant. He looked in every cabin, but found no one. He was going to commandeer a ship on his own. He had a lot of experience sailing. He threw a knife he found in the captain's cabin at the rope tied from the bowsprit to a grimy old dock post made of rotting wood that had perhaps seen too much seawater. It severed instantly, and the vessel began to drift slowly with the wind. He lowered the jib, raised all sails and grabbed the helm. He was setting off to Port Royal to find a crew. First, he needed to alter his vessel a bit. He got a paint brush, some black paint and got to work. He tied a rope around his back and painted over where it said EITC Corvette, and wrote The Dark Executioner. He then took down the EITC flag and put up the custom one he had made to look like the one on his hanger. He caught a fair wind and arrived at Port Royal in a few hours' time. When he arrived, he got a dock permit out of the Captain's Cabin, and handed it to a dock official. "So you're EITC Captain Walter Morris?" he asked knowingly. "Err.. Um.. Yes.. Uh..," Jarod then literally kicked him into the water. He had no time to waste on nonsense like that when he could simply, and joyfully, sidestep a run-in with the Royal Navy like so. He walked over into the town center, and entered a tavern: Royal Anchor. He set up a large table with an ink quill and paper, that said, "Sign up here to join the crew of The Dark Executioner!" with another flag like the one he had made next to it on the table. A massive and burly man by the name of Will Swordskull, who had to be at least seven feet tall, signed up, and was made first mate. He was very nice, and Jarod could tell he was going to be loyal. He said he was one of the most wanted men by the EITC, and a master at firearms. This was backed up by him carrying six pistols, powder, a large pouch of bullets, and a musket, though he was good with his ornate cutlass, with a bronze hand-guard and long, slender blade. Next, a man named Jack "Warmonger," who was a master at arms, with muscles, a musket, cutlass, throwing knives, and four pistols to prove it, was made quartermaster. Next, three brothers, James, Lawrence, and John, who looked almost exactly identical besides their necklaces (that were gold dolphins, sharks, and whales, each brother with a different pendant having one of the three: John with the dolphin, Lawrence with the shark and John with a whale) and claimed to be triplets who applied to be gunners, because they were master gunners. No one doubted this: they had soot on their faces and cannon rams strapped to their backs. Followed by them, was a man named Matthew Stormshot, who was a master swordsman and dagger wielder. After that, a man named Jeremiah Hexshot, who was an extremely experienced navigator and charts man, was to be the ship's navigator. Many different men came after that, until the ship had a full and impressive crew of 250 men. Jarod went to the market and bought provisions and supplies. He also got four barrels of rum for his cabin, and added large proportions of molasses and sugar and mixed it in. He also bought dark, regular, light rum and food, such as smoked meat, fish, pork, et cetera. When he was about to set sail, he spotted several navy guards discussing things. He ducked around the corner, and overheard some of their conversation: "You seen a somewhat below normal height muscular man in black clothes near 'ere?" "Aye. Heard he was recruiting some men for a voyage in Royal Anchor." That was all he needed to hear. He gathered his men, went to the docks and set sail. Will Swordskull came up to him on deck. "Cap'n, ship up ahead!" "What flag is she flying?" he yelled to the lookout, Edward Daggerbain, who actually had a cannon and a slot with cannonballs and powder up in the Crow's Nest. "EITC! She's an Ironwall class by the looks of her!" he replied. "Ready the guns! Make full sail! Take her about!" followed by the frantic calls of the gunners, and getting the cannons locked into their slots and the loading of many guns. Jarod turned the ship to the bow of the vessel, this being it's week point. "FIRE!!!" Jarod ordered, relayed by Will. Edward fired first. He was firing chain shots down at the masts from the Crow's Nest on his unique cannon. A shot went hurling and just missed the mast and broke the water. There were the ear-cracking sounds of cannons firing, and smoky shrapnel filled the air. They took out the masts, then destroyed its heavy hull armor. "Prepare to board!" Jarod shouted through the cannon blasts as he shot grappling hooks at the railing. Jarod shouted, "Attack!!!" as they boarded the vessel. Gunshots, clanging of blades, it was an epic battle. Jarod shot two men. Will took out a tiny repeater he had concealed in his pocket that Jarod hadn't even seen before. It had six barrels. He took out an identical one with the other hand and shot four men. Jack swung from a rope, stabbed the quartermaster, and threw two venomed daggers at two men. "DIE!" Jarod shouted as he shot a man about to throw a knife at Will. "Ahhh!" the sailmaker yelled as he fled from a massive man with a humongous broadsword chasing him around the deck. Will shot him, and he fell, dead. "Thanks, mate!" he yelled in gratitude. "Die, you filthy rat!" Jarod yelled as he shot the Captain's hat, causing it to fly off. Edward dropped a cannon ball on the first mate's head from the Crow's Nest. "Abandon ship!!" yelled the second mate to avoid a massacre. They were getting into the longboats. "Load their cargo!" he said as the crew connected the gangplanks and began to load the cargo. "And don't forget the ammo!" Jarod exclaimed. After all the cargo was loaded, the crew swung back over to the Executioner, cut the grappling hooks, and sunk the Ironwall. They caught a favorable wind, and set sail for Kingshead. They were there in a short time. They were coming to disband Beckett's men, and had a plan. They went and killed four men and took their uniforms. They then located Mercer, Beckett's, second in command and Assassin's dagger from a room, stabbed an EITC high-ranked man with it and the men in EITC uniforms they took it to a group of men. "Mercer's gone rogue!" making everyone scramble around in chaos. Taking advantage of this, Jarod and 20 other men climbed to the top of the fort and dropped explosives everywhere. There were hundreds lying around. Jarod dropped a blazing torch, and all the men jumped into the ocean. A massive array of smoke, flame, shrapnel, and wounded men was the outcome of this situation. Jarod looked at the massive burning fortress with pride. "This is Beckett's nightmare!" he said with a grin.

Chapter 4

The next day, Jarod and his crew were sailing towards the Dutch province of Curaçao. Jarod was excited. Some of his relatives he had never met were there. Suddenly, Edward yelled down from the Crow's Nest, "Bounty Hunter off the prow! IT'S A JUGGERNAUT CLASS!" he said nervously. "Ready the explosives!!!!" he said, relayed by Will. "Take her about!!! Ready! Onto the rear cannons!" Fire chain shots!!" was followed by frantic men rapidly loading cannons. "FIRE!" Jarod ordered. A man named James Swordwrecker fired first, followed by an array of shots. RRRIP!It tore an oval-shaped hole in the large jib-rigged sail. This was followed by many cannon shots. A loud creaking noise was heard. CRREEEAAK! The mainmast was torn down, causing the bowsprit to fall, which broke the rutter. It was now completely dead in the water. "She's dead in the water mates! Prepare to board!" ordered Jarod. They shot grappling hooks at the golden and intricate railing. "Attack!!!!" Jarod yelled as he swung aboard. The battle was intense. These men were the elite, well-trained bounty hunters. However, all of the men onboard the Executioner had many tricks up their sleeves. For example, a man named Jack had a cannonball in his shirt and threw it at his unfortunate adversary. Jarod dodged a bullet, and convincingly acted like he had been hit. Then, when a man was about to stab him, he kicked him in the leg and tripped him, and threw his dagger at his knee. The man spasmed in agony as Jarod "retrieved" it. Jarod ran around on deck and found Will. "Get the captain, they're just following his orders," Jarod whispered. Will and Jarod made their way up and found the Captain near the helm. Jarod drew his hanger, and the captain drew a steel saber. The captain lunged swiftly several tomes, one catching Jarod on the arm. Jarod did a flip and landed on the other side of the captain. He cut a deep slash at the Captain's thigh, followed by a jab to his back. He whipped around and nearly slashed Jarod's leg, but Jarod jumped and grabbed a loose rope of the rigging and kicked the captain in the stomach. He swung on it, and landed by plunging into the captain with his blade. The men were in disarray, and just attacking randomly. They were just running around hacking away, but suddenly, the first mate was about to take charge, when Will shot he and the second mate. There were heavy losses on the opposing side. Jarod kicked a man off the deck into the warm water below. He then went into a crowd and did a broad sweeping slash, slashing twelve men at once. They were all killed instantly. The men weren't abandoning ship. Jarod was slashing and parrying, jacking and cleaving, and there were only five men left. They were literally defending themselves well. Jarod kicked one, and broke their little wall. They were in a wall-like formation, but a hollering Edward came flying from a rope and kicked the middle, sending hem flying backwards. One literally fell off the deck. Jarod executed a broad slash, and hit all of them, except the man in the middle. Will then shot two of them, and Jarod stabbed another. This left one. He looked up at Jarod, took off his hat, and said, "Hello, Jarod." "Uncle Kaanaekker?" said Jarod in amazement. "You're related to him?" Will asked in shock. "I was pressed into service. This is certainly not what I would choose," he said tiredly. "Explains how you dodged that blow. Glad I didn't kill you. Come on, let's get you back to the ship, you have several wounds," said Jarod. The crew loaded all the cargo. Most important was the massive and expensive supply of explosives. Jarod was in the cargo hold, when he found a massive chest. "Ey, what have we here?" he said in curiosity. He opened it and almost gasped. It was holding the new sword of King George the II of England. That would never arrive. It was amazing. It was a long cutlass, with a golden hilt and hand guard. The handle was a light brown leather with wire wrapped a around and a soft covering. It had a gold snake pattern running down the blade. He knew exactly who to give this to. "In the form of extreme loyalty, superiority, sheer power, and great friendship, I hereby give this sword to my faithful and trusted first mate, Will Swordskull," proclaimed Jarod. There was a general cheer going through the crowd. "Thanks, mate! I needed a new one. This old one was getting old, he said as threw his cutlass over the railing. Jarod caught it. "According to Charles Bladeginty, this could be turned into something fit for a king!" Jarod said. Everyone laughed. Will looked at his new cutlass. "Wow..." he said, feeling how light it was by taking a few practice slashes, swiping the air. He tossed it in the air and caught it. "Perfectly balanced," he said. He pricked his finger. He winced. "This be a fine blade, indeed." Jarod dropped anchor at Curaçao. They went and reloaded their supplies. All the men went to a tavern called Captain's Dachter. Jarod met his Grandfather Jaarod Van Der Estaeaas and his son, Jaak and granddaughter, Heidi. He then went to his ship, and fell asleep in his warm, soft, bed. It had been a LONG day.

Chapter 5

Feeling a general boldness, though he did not know why, Jarod pushed back his covers, got put of bed, and began to dress. He donned a red and white puffy shirt, a black bandana, black breeches, a pair of black boots, and a large belt. Once he had finished dressing, a though hit him out of nowhere like a bullet: what if there were EITC patrolling the city? What would he do then? He pondered this a bit, and finally stumbled upon an answer: Will, he thought, smirking. "I'll take him and some of the men with me." He tied two large metal repeaters and their holsters, his hanger and its sheath, an old broadsword he'd found and fixed up, and his dagger to his belt, and through a sash covered by the belt. He debated wearing his ostrich hat, but decided to just stick with the bandana. Ready, Jarod walked across the room, but stopped abruptly: he walked over, and tied a pouch of grenades to his belt. "Completely prepared," he said, picking up and tying a powder horn, "now," he chuckled. He walked across the spacious cabin, and to the door. He walked out, to find that his men were already working. "Ye're all up bright an' early," he said, chuckling,"and if I may ask... Why? O' course, I was about to send for ye anyway." "We heard you were taking a group of men with you ashore," a gunner named Thomas O'Martin said," and so, we was trine' t' do a bit o' cleanin', o' sorts." "Aye," all three triplets said in agreement, in harmony, at the exact same time,"well, have ye chosen?" "Err, six men. Will," he said, pointing to his massive first mate, "Roger," he said, beckoning for his second mate to come, who, no one knew much about; not even his last name,"Thomas," he said, pointing to the man as he did a sort of jig,"Pencil Boy," he said, pointing to the ship's artist (who Jarod had taught); the name just stuck, and that was now what he was referred to as by the crew: his real name was Jason Disney, "and James." James O'Morgan was an average-sized man, though he was strong and an excellent gunner and a master of the dagger, handy with a cutlass as well; an excellent man to take. "Well, that's all," said Jarod, drawing many disappointed sighs. "Don't worry, we'll be back," he said,"and with rum!" he said, drawing many smiles and nods of approval. "Now back to your stations, savvy?!" he said firmly. The men obeyed and went back to work instantly. Jarod attached the gangplank, set it there, and walked down the plank. The men walked to a merchant, and Jarod asked,"Ik wil graag vier kratten met gebraden varkensvlees, een krat mollasses en suikers, en drie vaten van uw mooiste rum," Jarod said, and translated this to the men in English: ”I'd like four crates of roast pork, a crate of mollasses and sugars, and three barrels of your finest rum," drawing some nods of approval; mostly due to the extreme desire for rum. The man replied,"Uitstekend, zal ik bij de hand wanneer je terug bent. Dat zal komen honderdvijftig stukken van goud," which Jarod translated for them: "Excellent, I will have it ready when you get back. That will come to one hundred fifty pieces of gold," and Jarod paid the man with a large an extremely heavy pouch of gold. He gladly accepted, and told him to come back later. Jarod told the men to go to the tavern, De Kapitein Dochter, for a while. They happily went. He and Will continued down a long path into the city, and finally reached a large mansion, two stories and many rooms. "Looks like Grandfather ran into a bit o' wealth," he said, as he and Will laughed. He knocked on the door, to find it answered by a man who looked maybe fifty. "Jarod! Doei! I haven't sen you since you were... what, ten years old?" "Something like that, yes," said Jarod, chuckling. He hugged his grandfather. A beautiful young lady entered. "Ah, Heidi!", he said, greeting his cousin. "Hallo, Jarod! And who is this?" "This is my first mate, Will," he said. "Hello, miss," he said with a smile. "Well, I haven much to show you. Come." Jarod and Will started up the stairs.there were many. "Daag, Heidi!" he said, saying goodbye to his cousin. As he climbed the enormous staircase, Will began to speak. "I have a.. well, confession to make. I haven't been entirely honest with you..." "Yes?" Jarod replied. "Well, ye see, my name really isn't "Swordskull"," he began nervously. "Well, that's a bit obvious, mate. I mean, over half of the crew go by fake or nicknames they come up with so as they cannot be tracked down, and so no harm comes to their families. I mean think about it: Pillagebane, O'Menace, Swordskull, Daggerhawk. Really, ye got nothing to worry about," Jarod said with a chuckle. "Well, yes, I know, but Will isn't my name either. My name is Declan William Finnegan O'Connor. "Swordskull" was just a nickname I was given because of a rather gruesome way I ended an EITC soldier, of which I would prefer not to get in depth with," he said, disturbed."Haunts me to this day." "Irish, eh?" Jarod said, purposely ignoring Will/Declan's last comment. "Well, I happen to be half Irish me-self. I have many relatives in Ireland, in man places. Such places include Bailieborough, Balbriggan, Baldoyle, Balgriffin, Balla, Ballagh (Galway), Ballagh (Limerick), Ballaghaderreen, Ballaghmore, Balally, Ballickmoyler, Ballina (Mayo), Ballina (Tipperary), Ballinaclash, Ballinacurra, Ballinadee, Ballinagar, Ballinagh, Ballinaglera, Ballinagree, Ballinakill, Ballinalee, Ballinamore, Ballinascarty, Ballinasloe, Ballincollig, Ballindaggin, Ballinderreen, Ballindine, Ballindooley, Ballineen, Ballingarry (Limerick), Ballingarry (Tipperary), Ballingeary, Ballingurteen, Ballinhassig, Ballinkillen, Ballinlough, Ballinode, Ballinroad, Ballinrobe, Ballinteer, Ballintemple, Ballintra, Ballintober (Roscommon), Ballintogher, Ballintubber (Mayo), Ballsbridge, Ballysadare, Ballitore, Ballon, Ballybay, Ballybeggan, Ballyboden, Ballybofey, Ballybrack, Ballybrittas, Ballybrophy, Ballybunion, Ballycanew, Ballycarney, Ballycastle, Ballycolla, Ballyconnell, Ballyconneely, Ballycotton, Ballycroy, Ballycullane, Ballycumber, Ballydavid, Ballydehob, Ballydesmond, Ballyduff (Kerry), Ballyduff (Waterford), Ballyduff (Wexford), Ballyedmond, Ballyfarnan, Ballyfermot, Ballyfin, Ballyforan, Ballygarrett, Ballygarvan, Ballygawley, Ballyhack, Ballyhaise, Ballyhale, Ballyhaunis, Ballyhea, Ballyheigue, Ballyhide, Ballyhuppahane, Ballyjamesduff, Ballykeeran, Ballyknockan, Ballylanders, Ballylaneen, Ballyleague, Ballylickey, Ballyliffin, Ballylongford, Ballylooby, Ballylinan, Ballymacward, Ballymagauran, Ballymahon, Ballymakeera, Ballymascanlan, Ballymoe, Ballymore (Cork), Ballymore (Westmeath), Ballymore Eustace, Ballymote, Ballymount, Ballymun, Ballymurphy, Ballynacally, Ballynacargy, Ballynahinch, Ballynanty, Ballyogan, Ballyporeen, Ballyragget, Ballyroan, Ballysaggart, Ballyshannon, Ballysloe, Ballyvary, Ballyvaughan, Ballyvourney, Ballywilliam, Balscadden, Baltimore, Baltinglass, Banagher, Bandon, Bangor Erris, Bannow, Bansha, Banteer, Bantry, Barefield, Barleycove, Barna, Barnane, Barrowhouse, Batterstown, Bawnboy, Bayside, Bealadangan, Bective, Bekan, Belcarra, Belderrig, Belfield, Bellanagare, Bellanamullia, Bellavary, Bellewstown, Belmullet, Belturbet, Belvelly, Bennettsbridge, Bettystown, Binghamstown, Birdhill, Birr, Blacklion, Blackrock (Dublin), Blackrock, Blackwater, Blanchardstown, Blarney, Blennerville, Blessington, Blue Ball, Bohaun, Boherbue, Bohola, Bonniconllon, Boolavogue, Booterstown, Borris, Borris-in-Ossory, Borrisokane, Bree, Borrisoleigh, Boston (Clare), Bouladuff, Boyerstown, Boyle, Bracknagh, Brandon, Bray, Breaffy, Bridgend, Bridgetown, Brittas, Broadway, Brosna (Kerry), Brosna (Offaly), Bruckless, Bruff, Buckode, Bullaun, Bunacurry, Buncrana, Bunclody, Bundoran, Bunmahon, Bunratty, Burnfoot, Burtonport, Butlersbridge, and Buttevant", Jarod said, out of breath. "Wow," said Will," a lot of b's." "Aye," Jarod said, and they both laughed. By this time, they had finished climbing the staircase. "Here we are. The artist's paradise," he said with a laugh. Jarod gasped. There was everything there, from the numerous canvasses lining the walls, to the pencils, and paintbrushes scattered across the ground, to the paintings, sketches, busts, and marble statues to the sheer amount of use and activity: there were seven people doing things ranging from sketching and painting to sculpting and carving. "It's marvelous," Jarod said in awe. He couldn't believe his eyes. Many paintings, designs, sketches, and anything else you could think of that has even he slightest amount to do with art lined the walls. He sat down, and sketched for a while. He taught Will/Declan a bit about sketching, and he finally had it down. After awhile, they were both given large silver platters with Gouda, croissants, grapes, oilykoeks, and mugs filled with water. They sketched for a bit more, ate the sensational food, and continued onto the next room. "This," he began, is the cartography room, where you can draw and create maps to any extent you desire. Inside, there were about six men on one side, and a lone man on the other side. He was wearing a green and brown coat; the Dutch colors, moccasins, a pair of silk stockings, and had a pen in his hand: he was drawing a map. They continued on. The next room was a large room with paper, desks, and pencils inside; the men in here were writing books, music, and plays that would probably be performed by somebody well-known. Jarod asked if he could take an empty journal as his log; he kept it, and put it in a pocket on his shirt. He saw many more breathtakingly beautiful and shocking rooms. When they finally finished their tour of the house, they went back downstairs, and after saying goodbye to all of his family, he and Will left. Upon leaving, they went to the tavern and sent the men to pick up the supplies Jarod purchased, and go back to the ship to store them and to wait. After all of it was loaded, the men back on the ship, Jarod and Will were about to exit the tavern when Jarod saw it: a brigade of EITC soldiers patrolling right near the tavern. He informed Will of this, and they exited the tavern. When the men were about to turn around, they spotted a pair of barrels perfect for them to hide in: empty. They climbed into the barrels, and hid. There were little crevices, and, through which, Jarod and Will whispered amongst themselves. "Get down! They'll spot you!" "That isn't exactly, what you'd call "easy" for me. I'm about 7"2' and you're what, 5"2'?" "Good point," said Jarod, as they laughed. The men spotted them! They were coming toward them, and fast. Jarod easily climbed out of the barrel, and threw it at a man who ran very close to him, tripping him, and causing another to trip. This left about eight men, though they were still a small distance away. Will, however, did not have such luck, and was frantically struggling to get out of the barrel. At the very last second, he gave a mighty kick with such force that it split the barrel, and sent a large chunk of metal and wood flying with great speed. It hit one in the head, knocking him out, and another in the jaw, making him fall over in pain. Another man tripped over the fallen two and landed smack! into the hard ground, knocking him unconscious. Five left. Will ran with the barrel. He attempted to throw a large piece of metal at one of the men, however, he ducked and dodged it. These men aren't fools, Jarod thought. He took out a grenade, motioned towards the impending men, and, immediately, he understood. Will ran alongside Jarod, and finally rolled the entire barrel at the men, causing them all to trip. They fell down, cursing and muttering. Will set a barrel of gunpowder in their path. Will ran and took cover, and Jarod on a roof above, threw a smoking grenade, and jumped for cover. The men, however, had taken cover, though greatly deterred by the large explosion. They were pretty banged up, many scars and pieces of ash in burnt places on their bodies. "Time to leave?" Will said, running alongside Jarod. "Sounds like a wonderful idea. Run while ya can, don't mind that ye ran, and don't think of being a man!" Jarod said, laughing. They ran aboard the ship, lifted the gangplank, and quickly sailed away as the harbor batteries began to open fire. They made their way into safer waters, and finally began speaking. "Well, that was certainly an interesting visit to Curaçao. Let's come back another time," and with that, Jarod walked into his cabin.

Chapter 6

Jarod was feeling anxious. The moment he'd gotten up that morning, he knew there would be trouble. So, feeling ridiculous, he strapped ten of his intricate wheellocks to his belt, and tied a folding bag of grenades, which he had "borrowed" from a crate in Curaçao. He got up, and summoned for his massive first mate. "Okay, mate, first things first: which do you prefer, Declan or Will?" "I'd prefer Declan, thank you," he replied, seeming elsewhere occupied. "Okay," stated Jarod wearily but in his usual casual, yet serious voice, "we need a heading, Declan." "Will." "Oh, sorry, Will." "Declan." "Okay... Declan." "Will," he said again. Jarod looked at him with a long, somewhat irritated and paranoid stare, feeling weirded out. "Mate, I think you need some rum." Jarod handed him a mug of light rum with molasses and cinnamon, which was reserved for only the highest officers of the vessel. Will took the rum, and dropped it to the floor. "Mate, are you feeling alright?" Will began making strange noises, shortly before stabbing a knife into the table. Jarod looked at his first mate, concerned as if Will was his son. Will was having random muscle spasms; something, which, for a man of his stature, would not be pleasant to the unfortunate victims of his humongous arms, Jarod included. He literally began running around with a mug of rum tied to his bandana, shortly before falling unconscious without warning. Jarod ran over to the scene, and several crew members followed in a blurred mix of fear, concern, awe, amazement, confusion, and murmuring. "Will!" said Jarod, attempting to wake him up. "I've a suggestion," said a medium-built Scottish sailor named James MacGregor whom the crew had press-ganged from a vessel called the Edinburgh Trader. He was more well-known amongst the crew as "The Smelly Scot": he reeked of fish oil, sweat, and failed attempts to catch fish, resulting in such a repulsive smell that most of the crew evaded meetings with him as frequently as possible. "I doubt your smell will help, Scotty," said an unidentified sailor; Jarod couldn't tell which due to the sheer populous of sailors practically screaming at Jarod. "No, really. My father was a surgeon, and was dealin' with this sort o' thing quite often," he said, shortly before walking up to him and making him drink a brew of fish oils and other unidentified substances of which James was hesitant to identify, finally referring to them as "a flechdaere," whatever that was supposed to mean. Will jerked up with such speed that he hit James smack right in the face. After all the craziness was dealt with, Jarod and Will were, once again, in his cabin. "So," said Jarod irritatedly, "now that you're done spazzing out and going insane, let's discuss our heading. "I apologize for that... Err, attack, Captain." "That's no problem. Now, I've been feeling we should head to-" Jarod was interrupted by a loud bang. He got up, and looked in the crate near his bed. He was shocked. He saw the girl he had met at Tortuga. Jarod was stunned. "Why, exactly, did you stowaway on this vessel?" asked Jarod skeptically. "My father and mother were killed by Beckett's men: two merciless, vile mercenaries named Brown and Riper. I had nowhere else to go, and I was going to give you this. You dropped it as you left." She handed him an illustration he had done of his parents. Jarod sighed, studying the piece of paper. "Thank you." "I was going to give it to you, but I was fleeing a man wielding a bayonet, so I hid on this vessel, same as you. Strange we ended up on the same one." Jarod was stunned, his mind struggling to keep up in the mental race to comprehend all this. All he could muster was a quiet "aye". Finally, he tried the words quickly. "Well, it's not like we can refuse, so, well... Welcome to the crew, miss." "Thank you for kindness," she replied warmly. After yet another interruption, Jarod was a bit annoyed. After providing their newest crew member with a cabin, Jarod and Will were sitting in the Captain's Cabin yet again. A drunk man randomly ran in and started dancing on a chair. "That's it!" yelled Jarod, throwing the nearest thing at and knocking out the man, which turned out to be a massive sack of flour. "Now, as I was saying," growled Jarod angrily, feeling paranoid, "I believe if we head to the island of Port-De-Paix, we will have a good base camp-like to attack the English strongholds at Port Royal, and, ultimately, find a place from which we could attack the EITC. We're preparing for an uprising, mate." "I'd agree with what you're proposing. That thing Scotty gave me has made me tired, and my mind can't function properly. I'm off to my cabin to rest, before something strange happens once again." "I can understand that. Well, I'm off to chart this to the navigator to-" Jarod was once again interrupted by the drunkard, who was now running around naked besides a piece of cloth tied around like a loin cloth. "Verdoemen! Forget it!" said Jarod, who then hit him with the sacof flour so hard it burst open, covering him in white powder and torn cloth. The man fell over, his face smashing into a crate of fruit. Jarod and Will/Declan were laughing hysterically. Jarod walked off to inform the navigator of their next destination, thinking about all the strange things that had occurred that day.

Chapter 7

Jarod was certain of their heading: Port-de-Paix.

What he was not certain of was what they would do upon their arrival. Jarod and the chart-man were sitting in the chart room when they were interrupted by a sailor named Chris Mcmonk, an officer aboard the Executioner and a longtime friend of Jarod's. He was an able sailor and a fearless fighter; the kind of man who wasn't afraid to go fishing in shark-infested waters, or to fire a man straight out of a cannon. "Sir," said Chris, a ship be bearin' upon us! As for class of vessel, I cannot tell," he finished in a rush, frantically loading a musket. "What colors?" "No colors, no emblem. Nothin' whatsoever to assist a man in identifying said vessel." "Let us have a look, then, ey?" said Jarod, snatching a spyglass out of the chart-man's hand. He then walked out on deck, and inserted it into the slot designed to hold it. He looked through the spyglass, and took in every detail of the vessel. She wasn't much, that was for sure. It faintly resembled The Flying Dutchman, but no... This vessel was larger, but it looked crippled. Amazingly, though, the vessel's sails had been destroyed - yet it still moved quickly gaining speed. It was gaining on them!

Jarod knew they had to act, and fast. He grabbed the helm, and jerked it as hard as he could. He cut through an inlet. The vessel followed, and began pounding the Executioner with cannon fire. One cannonball crashed through the side, and the vessel began to fill with water. Deckhands and swabbeys began patching holes and dumping water over the side with buckets like mad, but it just wasn't enough. The men were up to their ankles in water. All except Jarod, the knees of whom the water had already reached. More cannon fire rocked the damaged craft as if it were a pinnace in a hurricane. They had to think of something. Jarod suggested returning fire, but it was no use. The mysterious vessel seemed to take no damage from their fire, and most of the powder was already wet, anyway. Jarod finally gave the order to run his vessel aground and flee inland. This was done.

After they thought they had put a safe distance between they and their pursuers, they decided to set up camp for the night.

They had salvaged a surplus of food, weapons, and, most importantly (at least to them) rum from the Executioner which was decided to be abandoned. Because of this, they had no problem with finding food.

They had also salvaged many of the Executioner's cannons. Upon going exploring, a band of men had come back with great quantities of stone. With this, they constructed a small stone fort with about 20 cannons, 10 on each side, to fend off attacks. Surprisingly, this was finished in about 8 hours. It was actually quite comfortable for Jarod when sleeping inside this fort, as he had saved his bed.

After spending several days at the fort, the crew was well-prepared and ready for battle. Seeking adventure, or maybe it was just their insanity, the band of about 130 men marched through the jungle, finally reaching the edge of the vegetation, at which there was a camp.

The men they saw there frightened them.

They were zombies.

Chapter 8

Disgusting, vile creatures, the zombies were. Sickly pale skin, intricate tattoos, distorted faces, piercings galore, and various scars and markings that they didn't seem to be affected by whatsoever. Even worse was the one whom the crew assumed to be the zombies' leader: He wore a long, ripped coat with many holes and various hidden weapons sticking out of pockets and hidden spots, a bright red colored turban-like hat with various ancient-looking characters and symbols, trousers so ripped, torn, faded, and dirtied that they looked brown, tall, brown and gold-enlaid sandals with a jewel in the middle of the section that goes between the big toe and second biggest toe, a torn, red sash tied into a faded, chipped, and rotting leather belt that had turned a dark, greeenish color with a golden buckle in the center, from which hung a massive, rusted scimitar with a blade estimated to be about 4 1/2 feet in length with ancient symbols running down the blade, which was accompanied by a wicked-looking jagged dagger with a golden swan inlaid into the blade, and, finally, a shirt so ripped it resembled more a tattered rag than a shirt. Taking all this in, Jarod and his crew approached the men, who began speaking to them in a strange, dead language. As none of them could understand this, they could not communicate with them. When the chief drew his sword, so did Jarod. And, in harmony with Jarod, all other 130 blades, pistols, and grenades were drawn as well. However, in perfect harmony with the crew, so did all the zombies. So, it just so happened that all blades were drawn at the exact same moment, and, being also that the terrain was flat, no one man (or zombie) had any specific advantage over another. The first man to charge was Declan (rather than picking one or the other, we shall just refer to him as such) who shot three men to no avail. The crew was fleeing now, as the zombies were not taking damage from their attacks. Just at that moment, Jarod remembered an old tale: Ye cannot kill what's already dead, unless ye spin from the needles of dread, a broken dagger depicting a swan, better break it right lest ye lives be gone. "Men! I know this sounds crazy, but... Get that dagger!" The men rushed back into battle. The men held them off while Jarod climbed up a tree. "What are ye doin'!?" shouted a crew member. "You'll see," replied Jarod with a knowing wink. He jumped down, dodging by inches a knife the would have impaled him, landing with his arms wrapped around a vine. He swung on it, and, just in time, tore the leader's dagger out of his belt, and tossed it to Declan, who smashed it repeatedly with a rock. It took no damage, though it was weakening. "Not breaking!" shouted Declan frantically. "I have a plan! Give it to me!" replied Jarod as he made his way over to the leader, who took an axe out of a sheath-like holder fit to hold it. Jarod approached the leader, who nearly beheaded him with the axe. Jarod was waiting for the right moment. After several more lows nearly impaling him, he finally found an opening. If there was any time, it was now. "NOW!" shouted Jarod. Just as he shouted this, the leader swung his hardest blow yet, and, evading it just in time, he held firmly to the handle of the dagger, and let it be snapped by the force of the blow. The power on impact knocked Jarod over, and he got up quickly, the leader's axe striking the spot where his neck had been just seconds before. It seemed that he failed to notice his men were taking damage. Dying. As the battle was heating up, the zombies pushed the crew back to their fort, where the battle seemed to intensify. Fighting on the fort, men were dropping like mad on both sides. Chris Mcmonk was battling two men at once, when one of the blows hit him. He writhed in agony. Jarod rushed over to his side. "Chris! NO!" said Jarod. "I'm fine, just get me to a bed." Jarod did so, and closed the door, keeping it shut with a heaping pile of stones. The battle continued. Jarod had an idea. "Load the 16-pounders!" Upon being ordered to do this, the men did such. Gunners were firing at zombies who had come as reinforcements. There must have been well over 1000 zombies coming to the aid of the ones already fighting. Apparently, there were more on their way, as well. The zombies were dropping quickly. Men were firing cannons at them and reloading as fast as they could, but, alas, it was not enough. The men were forced to retreat. They fled to much higher ground. There was an ancient, rickety bridge with nothing to hold onto: no handholds, railing, or anything. Jarod noticed howling winds and large clouds. They were in the midst of a hurricane! One by one, as this was all the bridge allowed without breaking, the men got on their bellies and crawled to the other side, holding on for dear life to the wooden boards. This was very time-consuming, and they could hear the zombies getting closer. Finally, they found a solution: as many as 9 men could go at a time if they held onto the ropes and moved along to the other side. About 90 men, including Jarod, Declan, and even Chris, had made it to the other side when the zombies reached them. All of them, about 40 were killed, save one. It was Scotty. He was going across the bridge as fast as he could, whe. The zombies took out blades and began to cut the ropes, which would send Scotty falling to his death. Just as he was about to reach the other side, the zombies got through the ropes, and he fell. When everyone thought he was dead, they saw Scotty holding firm to a branch. He climbed up using several rocks as handholds, and he was finally up. With a total 91 left of his original crew of 250, Jarod and his remaining men marched to the shore. Gathering tropical fruits, coconuts, and fishing often, this was certainly different from their luxurious lifestyles when in the fort. They set up camp, and lit a signal fire to get the attention of a passing ship after nearly giving up, they finally saw a large vessel coming their way. "Hey! Over here!" shouted several men. They were firing off pistols as signals. The vessel reeled its sails and sent out longboats. The vessel was a beauty: dark green cotton sails, on which there were symbols of a black hawk, fine iron cannon, of which there were many, that, as it looked, were 20-pounders with a golden inlay, a bright green flag with a grinning skull wearing a tricorne and crossed gold-inlaid cutlasses, a golden purfle pattern high up near the railing, a figurehead of a bright green dragon with gold on parts of it, and, finally, lo and behold, the bow: it faintly resembled the bow of the Queen Anne's Revenge. It had bright green metal that made it up, and melted down gold coins that were made into a serpent-like figure. Under this was a wooden plaque that read "Green Runner". Richard Goldvane, thought Jarod. Brother of Edward the Terrible Goldvane: this was the brother of Blackbeard himself! I'd imagine that's why I thought it resembled the Queen Anne's Revenge a bit, he thought to himself. When all men were aboard the Runner, Richard began speaking with Jarod. "Welcome aboard the Green Runner, mates!" "Thank you, Mr. Goldvane. And may I say this is a beautiful ship. "I'm glad you like it, Mr. Pillagebane." Richard showed Jarod and his crew to the extra crew quarters of the Runner, which was usually used for the crew. However, he explained that he had just returned from a voyage, and, after divvying up the plunder he only had about 30 men. Jarod arranged with Richard that for one voyage, he and his crew would sail with Goldvane aboard the Runner. After a discussion between Jarod and Richard in the chart room, they set off in the direction of Blacktown, a pirate haven at which they would recruit men for their next voyage.

Chapter 9

Upon their arrival in Blacktown, Jarod and Richard went into town, finally entering the tavern, which was called The Fat Chicken. They set up a table for recruiting, and, before they knew it, they'd recruited 70 men in under an hour. They figured this was enough, and were about to leave, when they saw a strong-looking EITC official with his sword drawn. "If you're coming to arrest us, our crew will sack Kingshead again," Jarod stated. "I do not wish to arrest you. I have heard of you. They say you are a master fencer, and I wish to duel you." "Well, suit yourself, then." Jarod drew his blade. They sparred, deflecting and evading slash after thrust. After a while, the man threw a dagger at Jarod, and he just barely dodged it. "Oi! This is sword-only duel." "Ok, then." They continued to spar, until Jarod threw his blade on a balcony, kicked a barrel of rum at the EITC man, did a backflip, swung upside down on a rope, and landed on the balcony, suspended high above the building. Bystanders had tethered to watch. "I thought your said it was only sword," the man said bitterly. "Never said anything about nearby objects." "Suit yourself, then," the man replied. He kicked a barrel at Jarod, who fell off the high platform. However, he had grabbed ahold of a rung and swung himself back up, giving the man a little wink. He grabbed ahold of a rope, swung on it, and kicked the man off the platform, though he executed the same move Jarod did. Jarod chuckled. The man executed a flip, and disarmed Jarod. Jarod did a flip off the ground and kicked the man's swordoutof his hand. They both went down to get their blades. They continued to duel. It was an intense duel, sparky flying, bystanders watching in awe. Jarod did a backflip ending in a downward slash, but the man parried. The man slashed, but Jarod jumped, dodging it. They went back up onto the balcony. They moved as they dueled, and, after a bit, they were on the roof. Jarod hacked, and the man parried. Jarod just barely dodged a blow that would have took off his head. "Oi! This is a practice match." "Just testing you." "What if I failed the test!?" "Well, you didn't." "True." The man disarmed Jarod yet again, and kicked him near the mouth. His sword fell to the ground below. Jarod then flipped the man over with his legs, knocking him off the roof. "I must say, mate, you are an excellent fighter." "Thank you." They both retrieved their swords. They slashed and hacked and cleaved every which way. Jarod knocked the man's sword into a fountain, and the man knocked Jarod's into a barrel of rum. They both retrieved their now-wet blades. They dueled for a bit more, sparring, every blow blocked. Finally, the man found an opening, and knocked Jarod's sword far enough that he couldn't retrieve it. Jarod got on his knees, rolled over and barely dodged a blow. Jarod then kicked the sword out of his hand flipped him off the ledge they were on, and jumped down to where he was. "Draw," Jarod said with a smile. "Indeed." They talked for a while. Jarod told him of their encounter with the zombies. He told him of how the war on piracy must be stopped, as they had to come together to stop the zombies. The man was shocked at the mere existence of the creatures. "My name is Caddius Archibald Bane, by the way." "Pleasure." A random bystander apparently overheard them speaking of zombies. And stood by the table at which they sat. "Zombies!?" "Aye," responded Jarod. "Ye have seen the leader, have ye not?" "Aye, he was leading a group of over a thousand-" "Nay! That was but one one group of hundreds. The undead men must be stopped. They've been sacking ports everywhere, massacring towns, and the word is they're preparing for an all-out attack on England." "Well, that certainly cannot be good," said Bane. "Aye." "Word is they're looking to rule the Caribbean. But, before that, England. The whole of Europe, really." "How many men do you think they have?" "Hundreds of units made up of thousands each have been seen. Jarod and Bane were shocked. "I have to alert my officials immediately!" "Might already be too late," the man replied as he walked away. "Do you know what this means, Jarod?" "Aye. And it doesn't look good." "Well, if you want to help, and for your previous services fighting off that unit of zombies, how would you like to become licensed privateers under the employ of England. "Eh..." Jarod joked. Richard and Jarod accepted the offer. Well, first, we'll need to get you a Letter of Marque signed by the King. "Sounds good, then." "Very well. I will need to accompany you to London, England to obtain two licensed Letters of Marque: one made out to Jarod Pillagebane, and one to Richard Goldvane. I will be on an escort ship following you to England, as you will need my approval in order to be accepted by His Majesty." "Very well then," began Jarod, "let's be off, then!" Gathering the men they has recruited, Jarod and Richard boarded the Runner. With a small EITC Sloop belonging to Bane in tow, the crew of the Green Runner set off for the open horizon in the direction of England.

Chapter 10

The crossing to England was harsh and cold. The bitter, frigid waves pounded against the side of the vessel like cannonballs. The anchors were swinging wildly with the ferocious tide, and the men feared one of the vessels would be billed on its anchor. In fact, their prediction came true hours later: Bane's sloop had nearly sunk, and it had to run aground so as they could board the Runner via the longboats. When they had finally gotten moving again, a storm was brewing. "Dreadful weather here," began a cold and soaking Declan, "We may have to head for land." "Aye." Jarod started up the rigging to get a better look at the storm, but a massive wave knocked him off and onto the deck. Irritated and soaking wet, Jarod walked into the chart room to find the nearest port. It happened to be a strange, unmarked island with an illustration of a zombie on it. "This won't end well," started the chart-man, "I feels it in me bones." "There's a zombie on it, of course it won't go well! We're only staying there for one night, anyway." Jarod set a course for the ominous isle. It took about two hours to get there. When they arrived, they dropped anchor and tied the ship to a tree near the coast. It was a fertile land, with many green trees and plants. They ended up making camp near a large overgrowth of trees and plants that would shelter them. Late at night, the crew heard a scream. They followed the sound and checked it out. They found the source of it. There was a massive, deep pit a bit further inland. A man who looked down saw a man who had who had somehow fallen in, lying near a pile of skeletons. They decided it was time to go. They gathered everything, weighed anchor, cut the rope holding the ship to the tree, and set off. The voracious waves continued to pound the Runner. "Storm should blow over in a few days," predicted Richard. "I hope you're right," Jarod replied. After many hours, they finally reached a port. "Land! Sweet, sweet land!" shouted Jarod. The chart-man approached Jarod. "It just so happens that some fool put the zombie there as decoration." "What kind of idiot would-" Jarod was interrupted by Bane. "It should be about two more weeks before we reach London." "Hopefully less," Jarod responded, hoping more than anything just to reach England. The crew went to the local tavern while Jarod and Richard discussed the next course they would take with the chart-man. A boy of about 15 who was sketching, he had on a Santa Claus Hat and old tattered clothing with a bright red sash with a bit of a tattered end. He came up to them and asked to join the crew. "I see no reason why not," said Richard. The boy looked at Jarod. "I swear I recognize you from somewhere..." he said. "Well, I am a notorious captain after all," he said with a laugh. "What's your name?" He hesitated a moment before saying "Jason." "Well, welcome aboard, son," said Richard. "Now then," began the chart-man, "where were we?" The men continued to talk. They decided to go through safer waters which would only take half the time. "So, we'll reach England in about a week's time?" "Indeed," replied the chart-man. "Drinks are on me," said Jarod, taking out a sack of gold. He bought his favorite: rum with molasses and cinnamon. "Ah, just like the old days. The days when I wasn't on the run." Several men chuckled at this. Jarod looked at the boy. He resembles my sister a bit, Jarod thought to himself. He made his way over to the shipwright to check how he was doing on the repairs. "How's it coming?" Jarod asked. "Well." "When can ye have it done by?" "Three days." Jarod tossed him the sack of gold coins. "How about now?" Jarod asked with a wink. "It'll be done by tomorrow morning." "Excellent," said Jarod with a smile. He then walked back into the tavern and had another round of rum. He approached Jason. "What's your surname?" "Clubheart," he replied simply. As in... Sadie Clubheart?" "Yes, she was my mother. Did you know her?" "Well, it's hard to not know your sister." "Uncle Jarod? I knew I recognized you from somewhere!" "To think that, all these years...." said Jarod. They talked for a while, and both learned a great amount about the other. They talked about family and friends and many other topics. With the rising sun went the Green Runner, sailing out of the port fully prepared and ready to battle the voracious waters.

Chapter 11

The crew of the Green Runner caught favorable winds, and would reach England in three days' time. The skies had turned a strange auburn color. Declan approached Jarod on deck. "How did that ol' sayin' go? Red skies at day, sailors' fright, red skies at night, sailors' delight?" "It was a bit different," began Jarod, "but it most likely just means that either there's a storm brewin', or... I don't know, but it's nothing to worry about." "Whatever you say." The waters were becoming noticeably uncalm. One man claimed to have seen a large, green object moving through the water. A few hours later, they saw a large, scaly tentacle rise through the water. "It's the Kraken!" "Make full sail! Lower the jib! Time to flee now like we've never fled before!" "Sir, why exactly are we fleein'?" said a crewman who had a keg of gunpowder on his arm. "Well, for one thing, if that hell-spawned beast catches us, we'll be dragged to bottom, drowned, and, well, I would think that situation is rather self explanatory." The man practically ran up the rigging to the crow's nest, joining the other men in lowering the mainsail. Jarod chuckled. Richard was practically having a meltdown at the proposition that his vessel could be sinking, so Jarod was giving orders. Richard had an illness, and was somehow sleeping through everything. Jarod heard him snoring. The Runner finally caught a wind current again, and were evading the Kraken further. Some of the men had set up several cannons on the bow so that they could fire on the Kraken. They found the correct angle and had already torn off two of its tentacles. It let out a long, high-pitch shreak that pounded their ears and echoed in them long after it had stopped. One of the wicked leviathan's teeth had actually come shooting out, and nearly hit the ship. The winds became faster. Another massive, jagged tooth shot out, and tore a hole in their sails. "What the bloody...!?" was Bane's reaction. The tooth tore a small hole on the sails. "Reel all sails! The wind can carry us alone," commanded Jarod. This was done, though slowly, as nearly nobody wanted to risk being impaled by a tooth the size of a large cannon. The monster was gaining speed. "On second thought... Make full sail!" Jarod said, followed by grunts from the men. More teeth came whizzing by, one tearing a hole in the mainsail. "Men, load harpoons into those cannons!" ordered Jarod. The beast's teeth were as jagged and sharp as a blade. Ultimately, being hit by one would instantly kill you. The man who had previously asked Jarod the reason for fleeing had learned that the hard way. The monster let out an enraged shreak. The men's harpoons were hitting it. One hit it in eye, and it was furious. It shot out about six teeth at once, one of them ending a man standing on the crow's nest. "Aim for the mouth so it can't shoot out those things that are supposed to be teeth!" This was done. No more teeth hit or flew towards the Runner. The great beast was slowing down now. Jason tried something new. He tied a massive blade to a chain-shot, set the blade aflame, and fired. This struck an effective blow, and other men began to try the same. Finally, Jason struck and wounded it fatally, as it seemed. The huge leviathan flipped over, floated for a minute or so, and then sunk beneath the waves, dead. All men cheered, and through the boy into the air. They had singlehandedly defeated the Kraken. That was something to boast about in the taverns. Jarod walked up to Jason. "I gotta say, if you hadn't thought of that, we would've been pulled to bottom! Good thinking." "Thank you, Uncle. I have to say I didn't think that would work," he replied with a grin. The two laughed. They kept the winds they'd caught, and made good time. They were a day's time away from England, however, the battle had been long and wearing, so the men decided to stay at a large settlement 'til dawn. The ship was moored at the docks, and, you guessed it: the men went to the tavern. Jarod and Jason, however, went to explore the settlement. The settlement was, apparently, French, and had wonderful architecture. When they neared a large building, they saw a French official dueling a Spaniard who had come to cause chaos. They drew their blades to assist the Frenchman, as they were staying at his settlement. Jarod disarmed the man, and dumped a barrel of rum on him, which came as such a shock that he was knocked out cold. The man thanked them, and they went on their way. They came across a man of about 22 named Hector Pillagehawk who asked to join their crew. He was gladly accepted, and went on down to the tavern. On his way there, he saw a barrel of rum, and picked it up, carrying it all the way there. The two laughed. After an evening consisting mostly of rum consumption and generally being rowdy, the men went back to the ship for the night. At first light, they untied the mooring line and weighed anchor. After about 9 hours of vigorous sailing, the men reached London. They tied up at the harbor and sent a party of 50 men ashore, led by Jason and Jarod. "Londontown," said Jarod. "Where any man should dream of going." London was crowded, with massive buildings everywhere, carriages heading every which way, prisoners being transported in iron carriages, posters depicting hangings and wanted men, children play-dueling with wooden blades, and venders selling toys that showed a pirate being hanged (which was a bit disturbing, as they were being played with by many a child). Jarod sighted the palace from where they were, and it was truly a sight to see: a massive building that resembled a castle from fairy tales. "I was actually born here," said Chris, who seemed just about the happiest of all the party. "A splendid city to hail from, indeed," replied Bane. People were stopping to stare at the crew. "Perhaps we should hurry, yes?" said Jarod. "Aye," said Bane, eying a British soldier in a red-and-white waistcoat, white breeches tucked intonlong, black leather boots, and a black tricorne. Richard had gotten much better, and was included in the group. Minutes later, they had reached the entrance of the palace, which was guarded by two soldiers brandishing axes and bayonets. Bane informed them of the situation, and they permitted Jarod, Richard, Bane, and Jason to enter, whilst the remainder of the party had to stay outside. Bane had prepared the Letters of Marque while at the settlement, and all they needed was the approval and signature of His Majesty. The palace's floor was polished, marble tile, with many silken rugs from Arabia scattered throughout it. There were many golden chandeliers, paintings, and murals painted on the wall, that practically sparkled. They were taken to a massive room throughout which there were many massive tables of delicacies many men could only dream of: Danishes, muffins of the various sort, chocolates, a rich-looking pasta covered in white sauce, and, in the center of it all, a large, roasted pig, on either side of which there salt and pepper shakers made from crystal and adorning fine silver. Many paintings of previous rulers lined the walls, which shone from how clean they were kept. Sitting on a massive, golden throne with satin cushioning can silk fabric on the armrests was a man who had grey hair and looked to be somewhere in his early 60s: the King himself. They were in his throne room. All present men knelt before him. "Sire," began Bane, "we come before you today to ask for your acceptance of these two men, Jarod Pillagebane and Richard Goldvane-" here he stopped and motioned towards the two, "as licensed privateers under the authority of the Crown of England. Previous services to the crown do include, but are not limited to: fighting off a unit of undead zombies, fighting off a Spaniard with the most unclean intentions, and not only subduing an attack by, but permanently killing the hellish leviathan referred to as the Kraken." "These men were previously pirates. Who are we to say that they won't resort to the act yet again?" "Sire, they've both sworn to serve the Crown and fend off attacks by the aforementioned undead creatures, of which there are thousands." Bane and King George chatted quietly, and, about 10 minutes later, His Majesty began to speak again. "You've won me over. I hereby dub thee as licensed privateers under the authority of England." As he said this, he signed both Letters of Marque. The group exited the throne room, but not without getting a few Danishes from the highly-decorated silver platter on which many of said pastry sat. They exited the palace, and threw the documents up into the air, celebrating. "Congratulations, gentlemen," began an overjoyed Bane, "you are now official privateers sailing under the colors of England."

Chapter 12

When the party exited, the crew was overjoyed. With a laugh Declan took out his sword. "I wonder if he wants this," at which everyone laughed. He went up to a guard. "Give this to the King, savvy?" he said, slipping him a few pounds. The man nodded and ran off into the palace. Jarod could tell Declan was feeling uneasy. After all, he was the most wanted man in England. As the men walked around London, they saw many wanted posters pasted on to the rough cobblestone walls. Upon seeing one with his face, Declan absentmindedly tore it off and stuffed it in his back pocket. The men wandering the streets of England didn't exactly blend in, and they were often stared at. One man even glared at them, and Declan had to be restrained so he didn't shoot him. After a while, Bane began to speak. "Well... Shouldn't we be heading back to the Runner?" "Aye. It's anchored over this way," replied Richard. He led them to a large shipyard at which many men were working. It was a massive shipyard, unlike any they had ever seen. New vessels being worked on, preparing to come out of dry-dock. Shipwrights repairing many ships, merchants trying to trick an honest man out of his life savings, and a long, wide pier, at which scores of vessels were tied up. The shipyard was very unique: It was all set up on the docks, which were huge and stretched the length of the shipyard. It was very interesting to watch: The ships would come into a massive gap between two parts of the dock. There was a unique system. The logs nailed into the sand that held up the boards had chains tied to them which could be pulled causing a large wooden platform to both keep vessels from drifting away and allow the workers to scurry along them from one ship to the next. There were also ropes tied to posts that went up high, and the men working swung from one to the next like monkeys with lightning speed, and it looked as if they had been doing it their entire lives. The most astounding thing was the speed at which they repaired ships. If there were a hole in the side, they'd tear the board out and throw it onto the docks, and have another board nailed in in less than a minute. After finishing, they'd put their tools in a special pouch tied to their belts, grab a rope, and swing to the next vessel. The men watched in awe as one of them repaired a merchantman that has been billed on her anchor. With great speed, he tore it out of the hull, tossed it away, and began replacing it. He'd finished it in two minutes, when he put away his tools and swung to the next one, screaming "YEE-HAW!" while smiling. The workers seemed to greatly enjoy their job. After a lot of convincing, they finally got two of them, John Grimm and Bartholomew Thorne, to join the crew. Three hours later, they were sailing through a large channel, when they sighted a Spanish Treasure Galleon. "Captain! It's a Treasure Galleon!" said Jarod to Richard. "We're at war with the Spanish, meaning this be a legal prize!" said Jarod with a grin. Richard gave the order to come about and load all guns. 30 men, including Jason and Chris, hooked grapplings hooks onto the side. "Fire!!!" shouted Richard. Chain shots took out all of its sails, and grape shots nearly cleared the deck. There was an escort ship, however. It was a fully-armed Flag Galleon. It was bearing down upon them. "Take cover!" shouted Jarod, just before the massive vessel broadsided them. It tore many holes in the sails, and one cannonball nearly took Jason's head off, but Jarod pushed him down. The men returned fire. Grape shots whizzed through the air. Chain shots struck the masts. Finally, the captain of the flag galleon was struck and killed by a cannonball, and the men scrambled in chaos. The crew of the Runner fired explosives at and finally sunk the escort ship, which was called the Núestora Señora de la Popa. The crew continued to fire on the Treasure Galleon. Finally, all of the crew, except for several men, boarded the treasure ship, called the Pueblo Nuevo. Jarod watched, overjoyed. After taking this rich a prize, we should have a celebration, thought Jarod to himself.

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