The Harpooned Whale

'The Harpooned Whale' is set on the high seas and follows the adventures of Erin, a steely young woman with a violent streak, and Scarlet who is thrown into her world.

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2. Chapter Two: Scarlet

 

      I had never been to Lyttle Haven before. And to be honest, I was glad. Lyttle Haven was the kind of place that my father avoided. It was full of pirates and was a dive.

      Captain Basingstoke had been waiting for me at the docks. He was a legend, as were his ship, the Harpooned Whale, and his daughter. I gave him a letter from my father. He read it immediately, his gleaming blue eyes scanning the words. His dark blue hair was streaked with grey and covered by a hat that looked like it had seen better days. Basingstoke nodded when he had finished and folded the letter up, putting it into the pocket of his raggedy jacket.

      “Come on,” he said, slapping me heartily on the back. “You'd best come meet the crew.”

      Basingstoke and my father had been friends all their lives. They had been crew on a ship together until they had gone their separate ways, each becoming Captain of their own ships.

      “How is Bloody Mullet?” Basingstoke asked as we walked through the unwelcoming streets. “Is the Fallen Siren still in one piece?”

      I smiled, trying not to show my distaste at the surroundings as I watched where I stepped. “My father is in good health, though he hurt his arm a few months back. The ship has been behaving herself.”

      Nodding he replied. “That's good to hear. I haven't been so lucky. We got boarded by some pirates and the ship got blasted to pieces, but she's as good as new now.”

      My eyes were wide. The Fallen Siren had never been boarded. But from what I had heard, my father wasn't as daring as Captain Basingstoke. We rarely pirated nowadays though, instead we took jobs delivering cargo or people. It was a more honest living and the pay was better.

      We reached a drab looking pub called 'Rogue's Reward' and went inside. The strong smell of sweat stung my eyes and I coughed at the smoke. By the look of the furniture, the place needed a complete overhaul.

      Basingstoke took me to the bar. “What's your poison?” he grinned, revealing a couple of gold teeth.

      I ordered ale as did Basingstoke. Once we had our drinks, I followed him to the corner where a large group of rough looking men were seated around a table, joking and laughing.

      “Alright lads?” Basingstoke asked, accepting a seat from a man with wild ginger hair. “Is there a spare seat for Scarlet here?”

      As one the crew all turned to face me, their eyes curious. I shifted uncomfortable in their piercing gazes. They were all very intimidating, which I had expected, after all they were known as one of the roughest crews in the land. A guy wearing a beanie, who must have been boiling in the heat, stood up, gesturing for me to take his seat. He leaned against the wall with the ginger haired man. Sitting down I drank some of my ale. It tasted vile. I tried not to pull a face.

      “Scarlet here is Bloody Mullet's son. He's gonna be joinin' the crew for a while. Edgar, when we get back to the ship can ye sort him out with a bed?”

      A man with a scar running down his cheek nodded. It seemed that he was the quartermaster.        

      “Dandy,” Basingstoke beamed, gulping down his ale. “Where's Erin?”

      A cry went up from the other side of the room where four people were playing cards. I was shocked to see that one of them was a young woman. She shouldn't have been in a place like this with all these mean, dangerous men. It wasn't safe.

      One of the men slammed his fist on the table, sending cards flying. “Tha' ain’t fair! I was winnin'.”

      The woman smirked, gathering her winnings. Standing up she drained her bottle and turned to leave.

      “Ya cheated,” the man accused, his face red with anger in the dim lighting of the pub.

      The young woman froze. “What did you just say?”

      “Ya cheated,” he repeated. “I want my money back.”

      Slowly she span on her heel. “I'm no cheater.”

      The man's hand moved to the pistol at his waist, but the woman was quicker and smashed her bottle over his head. He fell to the floor unconscious, blood welling from a wound on his head. I gaped in shock as she calmly went to the bar and bought another drink before coming over and joining us. I instinctively stood up and offered her my chair. She didn't even look at me as she sat down. Pulling some notes from inside her shirt, she threw them at lanky man who looked younger than me.

      “Buy yourself some new boots, Ryall,” she told him, leaning back and crossing her legs.

      He grabbed the notes and stuffed them in his pockets, thanking her.

      “Scarlet, this is my daughter, Erin,” Basingstoke said introducing us. “Erin, this is Bloody Mullet's son Scarlet.”

      Erin glanced over her shoulder at me. She was everything that I had expected. Her long, rare, purple hair was pulled back into a pristine ponytail, and there was boredom in her steely, sapphire blue eyes. She had high cheekbones and wore a shirt with the sleeves rolled up, navy trousers and black boots. The belt around her slim waist held all manner of weapons, which from her reputation, I knew she could wield expertly. She was beautiful and deadly. I knew that if she wanted, she could kill me in the blink of an eye. I couldn't believe that I was going to be on the same ship as her. I had followed Erin’s glittering career since the beginning. I had even dreamed of going on adventures with her, of being her friend.

      Completely in awe of her, it took a while for the ability to speak to return to me. “The infamous Keelhaul Erin. It's a pleasure to meet you,” I smiled, holding out a tanned hand.

      Ignoring me, she looked away and sipped her drink. “What's he doing here?”

      Basingstoke sighed at her abruptness. “I apologise for my daughter,” then to Erin he said. “Bloody Mullet thought that it would be good for Scarlet to spend some time on the Harpooned Whale.”

      I saw her rest a hand on the metal hilt of her cutlass as if out of habit, like its touch was comforting. “He’s not having my cabin.”

      Captain Basingstoke replied calmly. “He’s sharing with the others. I want you to keep an eye out for him and show him around.”

      Erin didn't say anything. Instead she got up and went to the bar for another drink.

      “It's nothing personal,” Basingstoke told me. “She doesn't like strangers. If you'll excuse me I have somewhere to be.”

      I shook his hand. “Thank you very much for this opportunity, Cap’n.”

      When Basingstoke was out of earshot, the man with the beanie sat down saying. “She doesn't like anybody.”

      “It's a shame,” a man with an eye-patch muttered. “She was such a sweet child.”

      Ryall elbowed him, hissing. “Shut up, she'll hear ya.”

      Gazing over at the bar I found Erin staring at me. After a while I turned away feeling scared. She was intense, but I was eager for the opportunity for us to be alone so that I could ask her about her adventures.

      A barmaid floated over to us to see if we wanted more drinks. Her cheap perfume tickled my nose and made me gag. I looked away, my cheeks reddening, when I saw how revealing her dress was.

      After she left I said. “I've heard all the stories of course.”

      The crew seemed amused.

      “Oh aye?” the ginger haired man laughed. “Which ones would those be then?”

      “Your daring escape from a fleet of Navy ships... How you defeated the dreaded pirate Grundel. My favourite though is the one about the Ice Prince Kalhu. Did you really storm the Ice Castle?”

      Edgar chuckled and lit himself a cigarette. Exhaling smoke he said. “Ya shouldn't believe what ya read in the papers, boy.”

      Disappointed I replied. “So they're not true?”

      “Oh they happened, just not how the papers tell it,” he told me, pointing his cigarette at me.

      Erin returned then, taking Ryall's seat. “Where's the Cap'n?”

      “Had some business to take care of,” a blonde haired man answered offering her a cigarette.

      She accepted and he lit it for her. Erin inhaled deeply, the tip of the cigarette burning red in the dull light.

      “How much did you win?” the man with the eye-patch asked.

      Breathing out, she replied. “Three hundred and forty dollar-pounds,”

      The ginger haired man gave a low whistle.

      My eyes went to Erin's slender neck. She was wearing a chain with several objects on it. One of which was a ring. It looked like it was made of ice, or something similar, and it had the seal of the Ice Prince on it.

      “You really did kill Ice Prince Kalhu, didn't you?” I grinned.

      Ryall shook his head at me in warning and the man with the beanie smirked. Erin's eyes flickered to me. She took another drag on her cigarette.

      I couldn't stop myself from asking. “How did you kill him?”

      She blew smoke in my face and stubbed out her cigarette before standing up. “I decapitated him.”

 

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