A story of a captain who brings turmoil and disaster upon himself and his closest subordinates by a single act of greed.


9. Back to Vagabondage

[DISCLAIMER]: This is the final chapter for "Incendiary." Thanks to all for reading. I'm going to work some more on the sequel(s) and send them out to you soon. Enjoy!


                Giles spent the entire day in the quarters of Validus, looking at all his friend’s possessions and reading old manuscripts. His profound melancholy lasted the whole day, and many times tears fell from the grown man’s cheeks to wet the floor below. That morning and afternoon, he read through all the Boneguard’s ventures and conquests, written by Validus. Battles against Juarez, attacks on Spanish and French ports in the Caribbean, deals with other pirates, and all his other quests Validus had documented. Giles read it all very quickly with great excitement, as Validus’ tales were thrilling. But he read them also with much tenderness, mourning his friend whom he assumed would certainly be dead within a matter of days, another victim of the dreaded gallows.

Sometime late in the afternoon, Francis entered the room and bade Giles come for the evening meal. Needless to day, Giles was not in the mood to eat, but he went anyway.

As the two crossed the top deck to the staircase leading down to the galley, Giles spotted land to the starboard side.

“Aye, there lies the coast of Hispaniola,” Francis informed him. “And over yonder’s a small ship near the coast, see?”

“Indeed,” replied the quartermaster. “Probably a merchant vessel.” He pulled out his spyglass and gazed off at the coast. “I can see a town.”

“Port-au-Prince, says the captain,” answered Francis.

The word ‘captain’ sent a sharp pang through the air. Both were instantly disgusted with calling Morgan their captain, but it was a fact of life now.

“Morgan wants to go to Tortuga first, to discuss something with a group of French buccaneers or something,” Francis informed his friend. “Come, let’s go down to supper.”

Francis and Giles descended to the galley to find it packed full of rowdy pirates. Morgan was giving a proud speech, full of talk of the Boneguard’s “bright future.”

The quartermaster and first mate grabbed small plates of food, but couldn’t stand to remain in the smelly, crowded galley. They walked about the ship, noticing that, over the course of the day, no efforts had taken place to repair the damage done to the ship’s hull or decks.

What a bright tomorrow this great ship has for herself, grumbled Giles in his head. Little upkeep and a heavy consumption of rum, I figure.

Francis opened the door to his quarters where the two friends solemnly ate their small dinners.

Not a single word was said as they dined until they heard a rap at the door a short while later.

Francis said, “Come in,” and in stepped Captain Morgan.

“Gents, come, join the party!” he invited, his voice full of elation. “Or ye could make a speech or somethin’.”

“Thank ye, sir,” replied Francis, “but not all’s as lively as ye are tonight.”

Morgan calmed down and his face became more serious.

“Well, you two may want to take all of Validus’ old things ye fancy out o’ his old quarters. After midnight, everything in there belongs to me.”

“Thank ye, sir, we’ll do,” answered Giles.

The new captain left, but as Francis shut the door behind him, he heard, above the other ruckus, his heavy footsteps treading not towards the galley, but away from it.

His curiosity was piqued, but the first mate thought nothing of it. He sat back down with Giles at his table to finish the meal.

As they finished eating, Giles lifted his head towards his friend and asked, “Do you think we will ever see him again?”

“If he truly does end up at the gallows, surely not,” Francis replied sullenly. Then he cheered up slightly. “But the way I sees it, he is Validus. We never called him ‘mighty’ for nothing.”

Giles’ whole being was clouded by anguish, and he failed to understand what Francis meant. He just stared at his friend, perplexed and sad.

Francis caught on and continued. “What I’m trying to convey is that he’s Validus; he may find a way.”

“Yeah, maybe,” said Giles, brightening a little. “Come, let us summon all the captain’s closest friends and make for his quarters.”

“Aye, I concur, me friend. Let us do that.”

Not long after, Giles and Francis went back to the captain’s cabin with Lombardi, Humphrey, and Rogers. The sun was now setting over the sea, and two night-guards were posted on deck. Both appeared to be chatting high on the poop deck as the five companions walked below them to the cabins.

They entered Validus’ quarters to find it strangely empty. Paintings that were once hanging on the walls had since been removed, many stacks of parchment were gone from Validus’ desks, as well as all of his maps and charts. He used to have a golden sword mounted on the back side of his quarters’ door. Giles looked, to find it still in its place. Apart from the sword, it seemed many of Validus’ trinkets, books and dozens of expensive items were gone. The only thing that still sat on either of his two desks was the giant book containing all his memoirs.

The five of them, Giles in particular, were outraged. Someone, either Morgan or some men sent by him, came in and took everything of value. Cursing and fits of rage filled the room, and the friends began kicking at the walls and tearing the bed-sheets, all of which would belong to Morgan in a few hours. Their loud words towards their captain weren’t worth repeating, and their stomping, punching, and kicking was loud enough to have trouble discerning what each one was saying to the other anyway.

Hot, sweaty, his flesh scarlet red in rage, Giles pulled both his flintlock and his cutlass and held them to the ceiling.

“Let’s kill that bloody son of a…”

His words trailed off as he ran for the door. Francis, though equally irate, jumped in his friend’s way.

“Not so fast, Giles!” he warned. “You’d be slaughtered the moment you accomplished your deed.”

“So be it!” cried Giles madly, struggling for the door handle.

Strong Rogers stepped in and removed Giles’ weapons by force. He held the quartermaster firmly and refused to let go.

Eventually, Giles did calm down, and his fury subsided.

“I swear to heaven and hell, I will kill that ogre, if it takes me my whole life!” were Giles’ last words of anguish before his adrenaline waned and he collapsed in Rogers’ arms.

Giles woke up a half-hour later to find his friends sprawled across the cabin floor reading different diaries of Validus. Their breath was heavy, and sobs echoed in the now silent room.

Reality flooded back to the quartermaster, and he was overwhelmed with sorrow. He bowed his face down to the floor and wept briefly, but bitterly.

The men’s grief lessened after a while and they could talk to one another again. They sat in a circle on the wooden floor, sharing stories of their wonderful time together with Validus. At times they even laughed when one remembered a good joke of their old captain’s.

As a peal of laughter among the men faded away, a forlorn silence reigned over the room. Giles soon broke it with a powerful declaration: “That’s it; I will not serve this reeling drunkard who… deserted his captain’s life to the gallows and took everything else he owned. I won’t!”

Francis shot to his feet. “Nay, neither will I!”

Giles leaped to his feet with Francis. The other three stood up more slowly, Lombardi especially.

“And what would ye do?” the cook asked doubtfully. “Where would ye go?”

Giles had no answer, but Francis was determined. “Navarro!” he exclaimed. “Aye, Navarro!”

“To that den of cutthroats, fugitives, and the like?” gawked the cook.

Giles’ eyebrows lifted. “Cutthroats, fugitives? I beg your pardon, Lombardi, but that’s how we all began.”

“Well I sure didn’t,” Lombardi snorted in reply.

“Maybe ye didn’t,” said Francis, “but we did. Why, before Validus, we were just vagabonds wandering in a world that didn’t care for us. Europe had no opportunities for us, and the New World didn’t want us. Until Validus, we had no purpose.”

“Aye!” Giles carried on. “So we must go. This ship is a place not for us, me friends. Back to vagabondage we must go, to find ourselves a purpose again in this world. What say ye?”

Francis was the only other in agreement, it seemed. Lombardi scoffed at them.

Humphrey was next to speak. “Rogers and I, I’m certain about me, would like to join ye, but we have hope on this ship. This ship has long been our home, and will ever be.”

Rogers seemed to be in accordance with his companion’s words, but offered his own. “Master Giles, Mate Francis, we belong here. Someone needs to turn Morgan’s leadership upside-down. Someone also needs to help ye get out o’ here.”

“You will overthrow Morgan?” asked Giles with a glow in his heart. Such words were bliss to him.

“Someday, I swear to ye, Morgan will fall at my hands,” Rogers promised.

“Agreed. We won’t rest until he is dead,” added Humphrey.

Lombardi, with new vigour, declared, “Excellent! Now let’s waste not a minute and get ye two pirates outta here.”

Midnight was drawing near, and the five sprung instantly into action. Giles and Francis rushed to pack themselves for their departure, and Rogers got up onto the quarterdeck, then ascended higher to the poop deck, where the watchmen were happily enjoying their rum.

“Drinks on the job,” Rogers frowned as he approached them, shaking his head. He had a pair of empty bottles in his hands.

The guards stood, wobbling a little, to greet their visitor. One was of average height, and the other was quite short. “Ye looks like ye’s had a bottle or two ye-self,” the taller one chuckled.

Rogers gave the talker a quick kick in the groin. The man spun around, groaning in pain and clutching his pants. Rogers clubbed him over the back of the head with one of his bottles. It smashed over the pirate’s head and he fell unconscious to the deck.

At the sound of the breaking glass, Humphrey and Lombardi rushed out from the captain’s captain to one of the portside dinghies, and began lowering it down it into the water. Giles and Francis joined them, all their necessities packed.

Rogers swung the other bottle at the remaining guard, but the bottle arced right above the man’s head, the two fighters were so different in height.

“Why are you so damned short?” hissed Rogers in frustration.

“Why are you so damned black, filthy nigger!” cried the other in return. As he pulled a knife from his belt, Rogers seized the pistol from his belt faster than a strike of lightning and in sudden rage shot the short man perfectly between the eyes.

The whole world suddenly froze. Rogers hand started trembling and the weapon dropped from his hand and onto the deck. Sweat began to pour from his body. He would be killed for this. He turned back to his friends who were not lowering the boat anymore, but were staring at Rogers in awe and terror.

“Well, get ‘em in the boat!” Rogers squeaked through his panting voice. “I got this.”

The boat was rapidly lowered and Francis and Giles climbed down the hull of the Boneguard and into the dinghy with their few possessions. Immediately, they grabbed the oars and, without a second thought, sped away as fast as they could towards the South.

They brought not even a lantern, for they wanted no one to see them when Morgan and a hoard of crew members came charging up to see what the gunshot was about. A small splash could be heard in the water; Rogers had dropped the body of his victim to the depths below.

As soon as the splash was heard, Morgan and a suspicious crowd of buccaneers could be seen piling onto the main deck.

Francis stopped rowing, and both of them watched in the darkness. Rogers and Morgan seemed to talk a long while. No words could audibly be heard from the distance the two deserters were at, but at the end of the dialogue, Morgan shouted, “Lock him in the brig!”

Giles’ heart sank even further; Rogers’ alibi had failed, whatever it had been. The pirates took Rogers and disappeared below deck.

Only Lombardi was left on deck. With a lantern in hand, he gazed out at his friends, somewhere out there, rowing in the dark, knowing he would probably never see them again.

But Giles and Francis wasted no time. They took turns rowing, and rowed like they never had before. They had only enough food for one meal, and their trip to Puerto Navarro would take about two days. They had only one bottle of rum, and even less water. Their hearts were stricken with grief, their minds racing over all they’d just left behind.

But their will for a new life spurred them on. They needed out; the Boneguard would offer them nothing under the cruel hands of William Morgan. Yesterday, they were rich men with a steady job, and a good one, at that. Now, all that was left were their bags and each other. And that was all they needed.

In utter silence, they rowed through the night. Their strength didn’t last long, but their hearts endured and drove them on, for they had hope again. Two days ahead lay a new life of endless opportunities and a new home, a home full of cutthroats and outcasts, new ventures, savvy pirates, a constant influx of gold, and an abundance of rum: Puerto Navarro. 

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