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Emerald Ize: King of the Pirates


By Richard Neville

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2011 Richard Neville


Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


All characters and events in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


All rights reserved.



Summary


King of the Pirates, until a bloody mutiny, a badly wounded James 'Emerald' Ize retreats to the island of Pagua, allowing the murderous Blade to take his place.


Although never seen, the presence of Ize on the island makes it the safest in the region and as such, it attracts the attention of the King of England. Sending his wife and two daughters to the island for a holiday backfires, however, as the combination of a spoilt Princess and Blade, desperate to prove himself Ize’s equal, puts lives in danger.


Cut off from the rest of the world by Blade and his network of Pirates, can Emerald Ize be tempted out of retirement to rescue the Royal party?


Chapter One


The blind man stopped playing his violin.


The dancing monkey in the brightly coloured waistcoat put his paw over the cup containing the collected coins, and with it led his partner from the bar.


“What did you say?” asked Tess, the one-legged, tobacco-chewing owner of the bar. There was a painful scraping as her grip tightened, her rings cutting into the surface of the filthy glass she had been wiping with an equally filthy cloth.


“I said,” began Captain Velvanous, his head lolling backwards and forwards in a drunken manner, “that if you do not fetch me another orange ale this instant, I will thrash you with my ugly stick.” He slapped a small fat baton onto the table and curled his lip to reveal highly polished wooden teeth. “And you don’t look like you could take another beating!”


Tess stepped down from the box that allowed her to see over the bar, and for a few moments all that could be seen of her was the top of her head bobbing furiously towards the Captain.


Then she launched.


It was rumoured Tess had lost her leg wrestling with crocodiles, even so, since the loss, her record was twenty-eight and nil. Twenty-eight fights, no losses. Captain Velvanous had lost his teeth though poor dental hygiene, and had never won a fair fight in his life.


The Captain did not stand a chance. Although he gained the upper hand by snatching away her wooden leg, a vicious uppercut from Tess with her diamond encrusted knuckles knocked a splinter from his front ‘tooth’ right into his brain. The ‘ugly stick’ fell to the ground a second or so before its owner, both of them dead and useless.


While her goons dragged the Captain's body out onto the street to be collected by his crew, Tess swaggered back to her post, chin held high and bottom lip thrust out in victory. Twenty-nine and nil.


Chapter Two


James Ize had a towering physical presence. A true child of the sea, the oceans had carved a lean and strong body to take on any job aboard ship. The wind had sculpted the kind of beautiful and intelligent features that could inspire the confidence and allegiance of all who served with him. Sadly, James Ize had the personality of a ships rat!


Under Captain Velvanous, the Venelik had gone quietly about its business on the trade routes of the Caribbean. Cotton, silk, sugars and spices… and only the occasional nudge nudge, finger to the nose kind of deal. But the Venelik was a fast ship, a gift from the Royal Navy to the Captain that had (as far as official records had shown) led his crew to victory in several different campaigns. Many of the saltier and seedier sea-dogs they encountered were heard to mutter about the ‘waste’ of a good ship...


The stiffening body of Captain Velvanous barely made a splash as it hit the fast-moving water of the ocean.


Tensions aboard the Venelik were already growing. In the story James Ize told the crew, Velvanous had made him the new Captain “in his dying minutes.” Several hours into their first voyage under Ize’s command, and many of the crew wished dear old Captain Velvanous had died a few minutes earlier.


Chief among the grumblers was Blade, so named for his love of knives and the disfigurement to his mouth caused by years of carrying a knife between his lips. To Blade’s tiny mind they had been gifted a ship to do with as they pleased. They did not need a Captain (although naturally someone would have to be in charge, he told them). They especially should not be working harder under the young whipper-snapper Ize than they had done under Velvanous. For the time being however, and especially after their first successful raid, Blade realised it was not the right time for anything other than talk.


As well as his towering physical presence, James Ize had one other notable feature. Emerald eyes. Startling, mesmerizing, beautiful emerald eyes, and a mere six weeks after proclaiming himself Captain of the Venelik, James Ize had become known as Emerald Ize. Emerald Ize the Pirate. Not a very good Pirate, not yet, but a Pirate nevertheless. He had a fast ship, an incredible nautical brain, and (for the moment at least) a loyal crew.


Chapter Three


It took only six months for Emerald Ize to become the most feared pirate in the Caribbean. His orders were barked and his methods were brutal, but his plans never failed.


Every man, woman, and child, sailor and non-sailor alike, knew of Emerald Ize. However, unlike the more flamboyant pirates or the more generous pirates, not a man, woman, nor child, sailor and non-sailor alike, liked him. What would cause a greater problem, however, was that this sentiment was beginning to be shared by some of his own crew.


The crew had split into two camps. The first, led by Blade, had embraced the pirate culture with the entirety of their lazy and black hearts, and resented any activity that took place between plundering and the spending of said plunder.


The second camp, led by James’s old mentor, John, had never been comfortable with the turn to piracy. They may have realised that Ize only targeted ships of dubious reputation, and that his plans were, in fact, designed so as to avoid needless bloodshed, but piracy was piracy, and that did not rest easily with them.


Being part of Emerald Ize’s crew had made them all rich, that could not be disputed, but Blade had put in their minds' that Ize was no better a captain than, say, he would be. Blade, of course, would give them a bigger cut of the money they plundered (his grasp of fractions was non-existent), and generally treat the crew with the respect due to them.


After a particularly long period of inactivity, this festering resentment bubbled over, and Emerald Ize’s brief reign as King of the Pirates was brought to an abrupt end.


Chapter Four


Emerald Ize, King (for the moment) of the Pirates, jerked as his hands were tied behind the mast. He continued to pull at his restraints while his shirt was pulled from his body. Blows reigned down from all angles, bloodying his face and bringing his body out in angry red blotches. Blood trickled down from the edges of his mouth, and as the deafening roar died down and the mutinous crew stepped back, Ize spat out a piece of someone’s ear.


Ize used the mast to straighten himself. Blade stepped out of the door of Ize’s cabin, dressed in Ize’s clothes, drinking Ize’s wine. In his hand, he held something else belonging to Ize – the cat o’ nine tails. The "cat" was a small-handled whip with nine long strands of thin leather, and when cracked in a certain way, could flay the skin from a man’s back with nine times more efficiency than a normal whip.


It was usual to be tied to the mast face first, but as Emerald Ize was no usual pirate, and Blade was no usual mutineer, this was no usual punishment.


“I want you to see how much I’m enjoying myself,” sneered Blade as he took off the ill-fitting jacket belonging to Ize, and began to run the cat o' nine's tails through his stubby fingers.


Emerald Ize steadied himself, his face devoid of emotion but for a penetrating stare of pure emerald in the direction of Blade.


Blade cracked the whip in the air, cackling as he did so. This was really going to happen. Emerald Ize was going to die at the hands of his own crew.


With each strike, the colour seemed to drain off the ship, save from one spot, two stark emerald eyes.


The first several strokes came and went without incident. Emerald Ize did not flinch or blink, indeed several of the crew members thought his eyes opened wider and burned with even more intensity than before.


By the twentieth stroke, the cheering had all but stopped. This wasn’t right. What was Blade doing? Mutiny, yes, but murder?


Amid the growing confusion, what little support James (the man rather than the pirate) Ize had, rallied itself and broke through the mob.


Alas, at just the wrong time.


Chapter Five


Blade was already halfway through a particularly harsh stroke when John and the others broke through the front rank of mutineers. Before anyone had a chance to cut James free, one of the emerald eyes ran red as the cat found a new mark.


With pistols pointed at the surprised and confused mutineers, the rescue party cut down their stricken Captain and hurried to the boat they had made ready.


As they rowed for shore, James Ize, formerly Emerald Ize, formerly King of the Pirates, sat at the front of the small boat and refused to speak or look at anyone. The four other men in the boat exchanged worried glances, but nothing more.


Their boat had barely nudged the dry land of Pagua when the pirate formerly known as Emerald Ize threw off the blanket around his shoulders and walked purposefully into the nearest bar. John and the others waited, not sure what to do. And they waited. It was not long before they tired of waiting. There was, after all, no telling how long their Captain's sulk would last. As they did not have a ship, they chose the only option available to them: Land work, honest work. And they were glad of it.


Chapter Six


Since the mutiny aboard the Venelik and subsequent disappearance of Emerald Ize, a short but brutal power struggle had taken place among the pirates. The last man standing (literally) was Blade, who immediately declared himself ‘King of the Pirates,’ and outlawed the very mention of the name Emerald Ize…


Although they no longer went around plundering (in fact no-one heard much about Emerald Ize and his crew at all), pirates stayed away from Pagua for fear of Ize's presence. They imagined Ize was sitting there, plotting his elaborate revenge on them all for what Blade had done. Blade was meant to have killed Ize, not let him escape to come after them, one by one.


Without the threat of pirates, Pagua became a nice, safe place to live. In fact, Pagua had become one of the only safe islands in the whole of the region, and as such, began to grow and prosper. All kinds of businesses, too scared to trade elsewhere, came to Pagua. All kinds of genteel folk, too scared to holiday elsewhere, came to Pagua. With this in mind, the King of England thought there could be no better place to send his wife and two young daughters for a holiday.


Pagua was such a safe place to go, in fact, that the King of England made no secret of his family's voyage. Upon hearing this, Blade saw his chance to prove, once and for all, that he was a better pirate than ‘that other one’ had been. In a trick learned from ‘that other one,’ Blade recruited (by fair means and foul) all kinds of people to help him with the biggest plunder of all time. A mapmaker was kidnapped to make Blade a map of the exact route the Queen's ship would take. A navigator from the Royal Navy was kidnapped to predict weather conditions for the coming days. Extra crew were 'conscripted' (or foully plundered, depending upon whom was asked) from other ships, until Blade was sure the Venelik outnumbered the crew of the Christine Marie three to one.


Nothing could go wrong.


Nothing did go wrong.




Chapter Seven


Not wanting to take any chances, Blade chose to hijack the Christine Marie on a nice quiet patch of ocean, well away from Pagua's shores.


Her Highness, Princess Dawn, Her Majesty the Queen's eldest daughter, didn’t like the sea very much, so the Queen made the captain sail very slowly, despite his protests that pirates roamed the area. This made it almost too easy for Blade to sail right up beside the Christine Marie.


Her Highness, Princess Appleby, Her Majesty the Queen's youngest daughter, didn’t like the sea OR loud noises, so the Queen did not allow the Captain to fire a single cannonball from the Christine Marie's ostentatiously large cannons, at the pirates’ ship. This made it ridiculously simple for Blade and his pirates to board the Christine Marie and overpower her crew.


Blade was naturally upset he had not been able to use any of the elaborate plans he had bought, beaten and killed for. He did think, however, — and not unreasonably — that the hard part was over with.


“This ship is too dusty, too smelly,” began the Queen, pinch-faced as she examined the Venelik and its crew. “If you intended to kidnap young ladies, you should have arranged private quarters away from the scum.” Blade was somewhat dumbstruck at the harsh words, but the Queen was a formidable woman, so he just nodded and looked down at his feet.


It was Dawn, however, that complained about everything, it seemed to Blade, if only to make his life a misery. Finally, he decided to send her back to her own ship and let her deliver his ransom demand of 100,000 gold coins — a King's, or rather a Queen's ransom, and then some!


Chapter Eight


The Queen's welcoming party began to worry when darkness fell. A crowd gathered, waiting for any word on the Queen and the Princesses. By the time Princess Dawn arrived in the small port two days later, everyone was either still in bed or going about his or her own business.


The Princess, who was already in a bad mood, sank into a worse one. There was no-one to carry the train of her dress, no-one to carry her luggage (not that it mattered, as she had none to carry anyway!) and the port STANK of fish! After a day and night’s sleep, the Princess was still in a foul mood.


“Something must be done,” she demanded of the governor.


But what could he do? Pagua no longer had any soldiers. He had sent word of what had happened, but it would be another week before the message reached its destination (if indeed Blade let it reach its destination), and who knows how much longer to get a reply? Pagua was too safe!


“What about this Ize character?” asked the Princess, who had read of the dashing pirate’s exploits in the London papers.


“Emerald Ize?” quivered the governor. “The pirate? No-one has seen him in months."


“Do I have to do everything myself?” fumed Princess Dawn, storming out of the governor’s office.


The stains on the train of her dress and her dishevelled black curls attested to the fact that yes, she did, in fact, need to do everything herself.


Usually Princess Dawn was the epitome of regal splendour; a beauty who had turned the heads of crown princes. With hair the colour of Whitby jet, and every garment of clothing slaved over by not one, but two, stylists, Princess Dawn was considered attractive regardless of her somewhat unique style and demeanour.


At a time when delicate and fragile were in vogue, Princess Dawn favoured the outdoors. She considered pale to be anything but interesting, and her 'healthy glow' had started a bizarre trend in some counties of England to be 'made-up' to look less pale and anaemic. While her younger sister was the delicate blond flower, Princess Dawn was very much her own woman. Admirers were often dispatched as 'weak' or 'weedy', while her peers shunned her for her audacity in presenting a 'naked' face to the world.


Lack of interaction with people she considered equal (or even close to equal), had given Princess Dawn a certain harshness when dealing with others, although she preferred to think of it as a directness. For now at least, this was coming in useful.


Chapter Nine


The Stones Bar, the Princess quickly discovered, had once been the favourite drinking spot for pirates whenever they were in port. She decided this was as good a place as any to start her search.


After ‘tutting’ at the general state of the place, she tiptoed her way over to the bar, afraid of what may be living on the disgusting floor.


“I’m looking for Emerald Ize,” she told the barman.


“You mean Red Ize,” chuckled a man sitting next to her at the bar, nudging her in the ribs.


“You mean Red EYE,” quipped his friend, snorting with laughter.


The Princess gave them a look that must have suggested she was in no mood for humour, because they stopped laughing and pointed solemnly into a dark corner.


She smelt him before she saw him, a horrible mixture of sweat and orange ale. Dawn looked back to the men at the bar, who nodded and urged her on. She could hear them cackling again as she turned back.


“Ahem,” she coughed, politely.


Nothing.


“Ahem, ahem,” she coughed again, moving a little closer.


Still nothing.


Finally, she moved around the table so she was standing directly in front of him and grabbed his collar, pulling him towards her.


The smell, as she caught a whiff of his breath, was so bad she had to let go to cover her nose. He rocked a little in his seat, but fell still (and silent) again.


A crack of sunlight came through the window and Dawn could not help but gawp at the face that was revealed. In amongst the tangled mass of hair, which seemed to cover half of his face, she could barely see one bleary eye gazing out from the fat. Far from being emerald, she could barely see any white in it! She was about to ask him if he was the ‘famous’ Emerald Ize she had heard about back in England, when he let out a terrific belch. Princess Dawn looked close to tears as she covered her mouth and ran from the bar.


Outside, Dawn gulped in clean air in huge lungful’s, and was so pleased just to be outside, she did not see the man who had been sitting carving a pipe in front of the bar rise from his seat and approach her.


Chapter Ten


John waited until Dawn had sunk to the ground and her breathing had returned to normal before he spoke.


“I hear you’re looking for Captain Ize,” he said, crouching down beside her and offering a clean piece of cloth.


“I thought I had found him,” replied Dawn, inspecting the cloth before wiping her mouth.


“You caught him on a bad…day,” assured John, casting a weary glance in the direction of the bar. “He’s lost his way, so to speak.”


“How long do you think it will take him to find it again?” Her patience had already been tested to the limit, and this threw John a little. Dawn explained her situation.


“Um…6 weeks?” John unsure whether he should give a figure this high; he could see the Princess wanted action, and now!


“You have four weeks!” she said, matter of factly, “and if I find someone else in the meantime, that’s too bad.”


With that, and for once letting her dress trail hopelessly in the mud, Princess Dawn’s business at the port-side was done.


John scratched his head and took a deep breath of clean air before entering the bar.


“I’m not going to work for some stuck-up twelve-year-old,” slurred James.


“For one thing, she’s closer to twenty than twelve,” John countered, “and for another, do you even know who that was?!”


For a second, it looked like James was going to answer; in fact, his cheeks had simply filled with more foul vapours from his gut. He let it out in one long burst.


That did it for John. Grabbing one of James’s legs, John dragged the rank mess that the great Emerald Ize had become out into the unforgiving light of day.


“Don’t you do it,” screamed James, trying to keep his last meal inside his stomach, and scrabbling helplessly at the dirt. “Don’t you…”


With an almighty splash James hit the water. The water certainly felt the blow!


If he had not found it so difficult to move about in the water (much more difficult than he remembered), the fight may have stayed with James for longer. But as he gasped and coughed and spluttered, it was despair and pain that took over. Looking down in the water was an abomination. A fat abomination with a puffy eye, matted hair. Add to that the terrible body odour and he was Blade – Mark II.


It took John's help, and several long minutes, to get James back onto dry land, and a lot longer to recover, as he had to lie like a beached whale until he did.


“Help me, John,” he said finally. “Get me a job.”


Chapter Eleven


If the people of Pagua were in the least bit grateful to Emerald Ize for their current prosperity, they did not show it.


The only job Mr Roberts, the horse trader, would offer James was shovelling never-ending piles of manure. James didn’t mind. Two weeks of shovelling manure made his muscles strong and taut again. The only job Mr Perriam, the boatman, would offer James was diving for possessions people had dropped overboard. James didn’t mind. Two weeks of diving for necklaces and pocket watches got him used to the water again. It cleaned him up a bit too.


John stayed with James, through the sweats, and then through the shakes as the ale left him, but it was a hellish time – for both men.


After four weeks, no one had even come close to finding Her Majesty, Dawn's mother, and Her Highness, Dawn's sister, let alone saving them. There was also no way of knowing if the governor's message had been received by His Majesty her father. So it was, after a month's time, that Princess Dawn found herself preparing to go and meet John.


“But Your Highness, you can’t!” protested the governor.


“And why not?” she countered, fastening her shawl around her shoulders. “He couldn’t possibly do a worse job than you.”


“He could be lying; he could be working for Blade.”


The governor was a suspicious man (in actions, that is, not in character), and once it became clear he could not stop the Princess from going, he suspiciously edged out of the back door...


Nevertheless, the governor had made a valid point, and one the Princess could not ignore. After all, she supposed, the horrid man she met in the bar may not even be Emerald Ize. He certainly had not smelled the way she'd expected the former King of the Pirates to smell. She decided to take two bodyguards with her, just for insurance.


Chapter Twelve


At The Stones bar, Princess Dawn and her two bodyguards waited. And waited. Then waited some more. They played marbles; the princess was rather good at marbles and it wasn't long before her bodyguards lost their marbles. Next, they played a hand or two of cards until, that is, the princess became upset at the sight of her mother, the Queen.


At long last, John arrived, looking very smug, his hands holding the lapels of his coat.


“Well,” asked the Princess, not waiting for John to speak. “Where is he?”


John gave a polite little cough and in his best announcer’s voice (though very quietly, as he didn’t want everyone to hear), “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…”


“Get on with it, can’t you?”


John merely raised an eyebrow in Dawn's direction and carried on – albeit a little quicker. “I give you Captain James ‘Emerald’ Ize.”


A hooded figure emerged from a doorway. He seemed taller than before, Dawn thought.


As the figure walked towards her, Princess Dawn could not help but stare, a dreamy smile on her face.


“Are you Princess Dawn?” he asked, almost nicely.


“Yes,” she simpered, and then snapped out of her daze to snap at him, “Yes I am!”


Lifting the hood from his head, a greatly reformed, former King of the Pirates introduced himself, “I am James Ize, known to some as Emerald Ize... at your service” he added, after a nudge from behind. He gave a little bow.


His hair was thick and glossy, neatly tied back but styled at the front so as to cover part of his face. His skin looked silky and…


“I don’t have all day.” Ize interrupted Dawn's daydreaming and it took her a moment to gather her thoughts and relay the story of the last month to him.


“Father…Holiday…Seasick…Noise…Blade… one hundred thousand gold coins.”


“One hundred thousand gold coins doesn’t seem very much,” began Ize. “I was expecting close to that to mount this rescue mission.”


“You’re working for your ship,” replied Dawn, her colour rising at this famous pirate's indifference to her plight. “So don’t you try and extort money from me as well!”


Both Ize and the Princess looked to John, who appeared to be closely examining his feet. Muttering something about a ‘deal,’ Ize strode off, dragging John by the scruff of the neck.


Chapter Thirteen


It had been six months since Blade had attempted to murder him, and James finally found himself humble enough to apologise to every one of his former crewmen that had come to his rescue that day, before asking for their help and offering them a place on this most perilous of missions. To a man they agreed, and for the first time in a long time, James Ize felt pride in himself, pride in what he was doing, and pride in those around him.


“Right you are lads,” said Ize, addressing the assembled crew. “We have a ship, and a crew. Now all we need is some good luck.”


As it happens, it was to be Blade that was to give them their lucky break.


Chapter Fourteen


Just over a month is a long time to be somewhere you don’t want to be. If you happen to be stuck on a boat, and if you happen to get seasick, it will be a particularly nasty experience.


Blade had even tried not feeding Princess Appleby in the hope she would have nothing in her stomach to bring up, but the Queen had soon put stop to that.


Blade felt these two Royal women (or right Royal pains as he referred to them) had been on his ship for a year not just a month. Plenty of people had come looking for them, but Blades spies had told him none of them had the ransom, so he merely slipped away into quieter waters. But now he decided he had to do something.


‘Your time is up!’ The scribe wrote, as Blade dictated. ‘If you do not give the money to my messenger I will make the Princess walk the plank. If my messenger is not back in two days – SPLASH!’ Blade let out a big Pirate laugh, and made all of his crew laugh as well. The Queen gave her youngest daughters hand a little squeeze.


Chapter Fifteen


After rowing the very opposite of the most obvious way to Pagua, as ordered, RatFace the messenger was understandably tired. And thirsty. It was his thirst that won out over the threat of what Blade had promised to do to him if he did not deliver the message straight away. It was the Stones Bar that won out as the choice of establishment to quench said thirst.


“Orange ale, an’ be quick about it!” RatFace slammed a couple of filthy coins onto the bar, and then turned his back on the barkeep to sneer at the general population of the tavern. Under the mistaken belief that Blades protection extended to this particular corner of Pagua, for that briefest of moments RatFace felt like he was untouchable. He was not.


A Pirate bar is full of shadows, because; a) Pirates do not want everybody knowing their business, and b) They might not want anyone knowing they are there at all. Only when RatFace heard his drink set down on the bar behind him did he see who was serving him. There was his old Captain, Captain Emerald Ize, emerging from the darkness. Other figures emerged from the darkness, surrounding him and blocking his escape. Figures he recognised. Figures he feared.


RatFace, coward that he was, was giving up Blades secrets with his very next breath (afraid that otherwise it might be his last!). James listened to what RatFace had to say, leaning back to whisper in John’s ear occasionally.


As he ran out of things to say, RatFace began to panic and sob, pulling against the strong arms holding him. James stood up, silently motioning RatFaces captors to a side door. Without going in to too much detail about what happened next, I’ll just say RatFace did not leave with the rest of the crew! (They had tied him up in the cellar.)


Chapter Sixteen


James had not had to come with a plan – any sort of plan - in a long time. This made the others admire him even more when he came up with a real cracker so quickly.


They travelled by night to make it easier to hide the larger boat that followed RatFace’s, smaller, row-boat. The large lantern that RatFace, or perhaps someone wearing RatFace’s hat and jacket, carried in the boat illuminated the smaller row-boat, but had the effect of plunging everything around it into even deeper darkness.


Blade had waited impatiently all day. Now, with only 20 minutes until midnight on the second day, Blade was relieved to see his messenger returning. One way or another, he would have peace on his ship.


The Queen was surprised her eldest daughter had given in so easily, but said nothing. Blade on the other hand was too greedy, and tired, to even consider anything might be wrong.


Most of the crew were asleep. The Queens snoring had kept them awake for a month now and they were completely whacked!


By the time Blade had opened the chest and realised it was full of sand, the Queen and the Princess were safely huddled behind Emerald Ize and his crew. Not a shot fired, not a drop of blood spilt.


“No,” began Blade, staying on his hands and knees. “No no no nO NOOOOOO!!”


Ize ignored Johns call for haste, instead launching into a loud hate-filled speech about loyalty and treachery. Even had he been of a mind to listen, Blade would have only understood about one word in ten of Ize's assault on him, but that didn’t stop James. All James could feel was the hate in his heart and the pain in his face. All he could see was Blade on his hands and knees in front of him at last, finally beaten into submission. While the pain and the hate were real however, Blades surrender was not.


It was obvious to everyone except James that the crew would wake up sooner rather than later. Blade pounding on the deck with his huge fists as if throwing a tantrum, and James's wild shouting finally woke up the crew members below.


Blade stopped crying. James stopped shouting. The Venelik’s dishevelled crew stumbled out into the moonlight and stopped at the sight of Emerald Ize and his crew. “Bloody ‘ell,” said one, and until the battle was over those were the only coherent words that were heard.


Luckily at least John had kept his wits about him, and was ready to slam the cabin door shut before little more than a dozen of the Pirates had piled though. James was swinging wildly with his sword. Not yet fully adjusted to limited vision, he was fighting on instinct alone. Nevertheless, he was fighting with more ferocity than anyone had ever seen, and it was all Blade could do to fend off the blows let alone counter them.


“Captain!” yelled John at last. James took a few steps back from Blade, breathing heavily. Blade stayed cowering on the deck, his defeat completely genuine this time. “Captain, we have to go,” said John, gesturing to the Queen and the Princess in the row-boat. The door to the cabin was about to give way judging by the sound of splintering wood. James re-joined his group and they backed away from the Pirates, before throwing themselves overboard and rowing for their lives.


Chapter Seventeen


The voyage home was a quiet one. Once again, James Ize sat at the front of a small boat rescuing him from his own ship, resisting all attempts to talk to him.


Chapter Eighteen


Word of the rescue mission soon reached Princess Dawn.

Almost as happy to hear that Captain Ize would be returning as she was about hearing her mother and sister were safe, Princess Dawn (with the aid of her maid), literally squeezed herself into the best dress available on Pagua and skipped down to the port, without even waiting for her coach and horses.


Princess Dawn tried to hide her disappointment when she saw Captain Ize was not with her mother and sister. After as much hugging and kissing as ‘polite’ society would allow, Princess Dawn could not help but ask, “where is James…I mean Captain Ize,” she said, trying to keep her voice steady. “So we can thank him properly,” she added quickly.


“He won’t speak to anybody!” Blurted out Princess Appleby. “Blade got away and…”


“Hush child,” said the Queen taking her youngest daughters hand. “While I am of course grateful to be rescued by whatever means, the man is a Pirate, and from what I have seen tonight people had good reason to fear him. Now that your sister and I are safe, I think our dealings with ‘Captain’ Ize are concluded.”


As far as Princess Dawn was concerned however, there were still a great many more ‘dealings’ she wanted to have with Captain James Ize, and it was a poorly painted smile indeed that Princess Dawn wore on her return to the mansion.


Chapter Nineteen


As John prepared for the long row back to the ship, one of Princess Dawn’s footmen pressed something into his hand. Not the most literate of men, indeed he could only recognise a handful of words, John nevertheless recognised one word in particular and stuffing it into his jacket, made for the Christine Marie at double speed.


On the deck of the Christine Marie, Captain Ize was addressing the crew;


“...so those of you that want to stay can stay, but the boat is there if you want to take it and I won’t think any the less of you for it. I want Blade for personal reasons now, and when I find him, it’s likely to mean death or murder.”


When he had captained the Venelik, Ize had given orders, never speeches. But as those final words died on his lips, not a single crew member stirred. Ize was not sure what to do, and welcomed the interruption of John, who handed him the piece of paper. He scanned the document, and then began reading;


‘For the honest person or persons who shall deliver the Pirate known as Blade AKA Blade the Vicious and Blade the Bloody, a reward of 1000 gold coins shall be paid on order of His Majesty the King of England.’


Jeers and hollers had greeted the phrase ‘honest person.’ Ize continued, smiling;


‘For the dishonest person or persons who shall deliver the Pirate known as Blade…such person or persons shall be granted a pardon for their misdemeanours, provided they are not wanted for murder, or conspiracy to overthrow the Royal family.’


Many of the crew had settled in quite nicely to life on Pagua, some even had families, but had always had to live like fugitives; wanted men barely scraping a living. Here was a chance to wipe out what had gone before and start afresh. To a man, they all agreed to stay aboard the Christine Marie. Now all they had to do was find Blade.


Chapter Twenty


For a whole week Emerald Ize navigated the oceans looking for Blade. For a whole week Blade skilfully (particularly for him) avoided Emerald Ize. His spies had told him about the reward, and he knew all kinds of people would be out to get rich quick by telling the authorities about his whereabouts…


Princess Dawn and Princess Appleby wondered who the spy could be. They had gone to see the governor to try and figure it out. Try as they might though they just couldn’t work it out. Until that is, the governor excused himself to the bathroom. The Princesses were happily engaging in wild speculation when they heard a tap on the window. They looked around for the governor, but he was still nowhere to be seen, so naturally they went over to the window. As they peeked around the curtain, they were just in time to see a pirate running away into the shrubbery…but he had left a note:


‘Pick you up at dawn, do NOT be late! Written on behalf of Blade. Thank heavens this man is illiterate, please help me!! I’m just a schoolteacher who’s been kidnapped!!!!’


Princess Dawn and Princess Appleby looked at one another, and then Dawn whispered something into Appleby’s ear, and put the note back where they had found it. When the governor returned he noticed the slip of paper at once, but to his relief he could see the two spoilt brat Princesses still simpering and sipping their cups of tea in the other room.


The Princesses gave one another a knowing glance as the overstuffed pig of a governor came and resumed his tedious conversation.


Dawn and Appleby realised they had a problem. Not only did they not know how many other spies there were in Pagua, but they had no idea of who to trust and who to tell. Their mother the Queen would have been the obvious choice, but Princess Dawn rather got the impression her mother had banded all pirates together under the heading of ‘dangerous trouble,’ and Princess Dawn still harboured a notion she would like to see Emerald Ize again.


Chapter Twenty One


Princess Dawn got ready to leave the house dressed in her all black riding outfit.


“Why can’t I come?” moaned Princess Appleby.


“Someone has to stay here and look after mother,” said Princess Dawn matter of factly. In truth, what Princess Dawn had decided to do was really very dangerous and she was a bit unsure if she even wanted to try it herself, let alone have her little sister tag along.


Princess Dawn’s idea was to row out to the Christine Marie and tell James that Blade was coming to pick up the Governor. That it itself was dangerous enough, but the danger was magnified tenfold when you consider she had no idea where the Christine Marie was! Twenty years of schooling that she was an English Princess, therefore capable of superhuman feats however, had made Princess Dawn a very determined young woman.


Princess Appleby could only look on as her sister rowed off into the darkness, then had her own safety to consider as she realised where she was.


Chapter Twenty Two


Princess Appleby was not very good at keeping secrets, but she really did mean to keep this one. The port was busy, despite the hour, and Princess Appleby walked as quickly as she could, all the while whispering to herself – I will not tell, I will not tell…


Rushing straight up to her room Princess Appleby could finally close the door satisfyingly behind her. She was safe at last. Safe from people asking her questions she found it so hard not to answer. Imagine her intake of breath then, when she turned up her lamp and saw her mother, the Queen, sitting on her bed. She knew in an instant that she would not be able to keep any of that evenings activity secret – after all, she and Princess Dawn had sneaked out after dark. Alone! Princess Dawn had gone off in a rowing boat - by herself - looking for a ship she didn’t know the whereabouts of, not to mention the fact she, Princess Appleby, had just walked all the way back from the port unaccompanied (phew!).


Piece by piece it all came out, and in truth Princess Appleby felt quite relieved when she finished telling the story. The relief was mixed with anxiousness however as she looked alternately between her mother and the floor, awaiting the inevitable explosion. Yet one did not seem to be coming.


The Queen was smiling to herself. “I’m sure your sister can take care of herself,” she said soothingly to her youngest daughter.


“But what if she can’t find Captain Ize’s ship?” Sobbed Princess Appleby. “What if Blade catches her again? What if…”


“Hush child,” said the Queen, you have my personal guarantee, both as your mother and your Queen, that your sister will be quite safe.”


“How can you know that?” Asked Appleby.


“There’s been quite enough talking, and other things, for one night. Now go to sleep please, and I will tell you everything you need to know in the morning.”


As Princess Dawn did not particularly want her part in the evenings proceedings examined with any greater closeness, she did as she was asked. Sleep however, was a long time coming.


Chapter Twenty Three


Princess Dawn had been rowing for what seemed like hours. Her arms were tired, her lamp was fading, and she told herself for the hundredth time that this had been a bad idea. To compound her troubles a thick grey fog was starting to curl around her tiny little boat. Now the Princess really did like feel like giving up. Everything was going wrong for her at the moment. Kidnapped, and now lost at sea, what would happen next?


Chapter Twenty Four


It happened with a THUD! Princess Dawn’s little row boat hit something very large, and very like the hull of a ship. At that moment relief and panic came all at once. Relief that she had hit something large and ship-like, therefore stood a chance of being rescued from her current predicament. Panic that it may have been Blades ship she had hit and the whole sorry saga would begin again!


As the wooden ladder bounced its way down the side of the ship, stopping just over Princess Dawns head, she squinted her eyes and tried to see a face in the dim distance. It was a voice however that drifted down.


“Ahoy there missy… I mean Princess. Care to come aboard?”


It was John. Princess Dawn heaved a huge sigh of relief. If that was John, then the ship was the Christine Marie. If the ship was the Christine Marie then James would be there. If James was there, she could give him her news. Hearing her news, he would be very grateful. Being very grateful he would ask her to marry him…


“Oh,” she thought to herself, “where did that come from?”


Chapter Twenty Five


The Christine Marie seemed tidier than she remembered it, and as she entered the dining area, she couldn’t remember ever seeing such a fine array of food, even at the palace.


The crew got to their feet as John led the Princess in, even Ize who was seated at the head of the huge table. John led her to an empty place at the table.


“I am not sure I will be able to eat any of your fine foods,” she said quickly as she sensed the crew were preparing to eat.


“You may be pleasantly surprised,” smiled James, who seemed in a strangely jovial mood.


“It’s just that I don’t eat animal meat,” she murmured, not wanted to offend any of these grizzled pirates.


“You won’t find any meat on our table,” Ize countered mysteriously.


“Nor alcohol,” squeaked the Princess as John attempted to fill her glass with the contents of a huge jug.


As mysteriously as before, Ize informed her that there was no alcohol present on the table either. Just as she was about to ask what kind of pirate ship this was, Princess Dawn caught some of the crew sniggering behind their hand.


“So, you find me funny do you?” fumed Princess Dawn and was all set to storm off, until Ize caught her arm.


“Don’t go, please.” He sat her down in his chair. “You must think that we’re terribly bad pirates. Neat ship, no alcohol, no raw animal meat…and notice how s-l-o-w-l-y we’re travelling.”


Princess Dawn was in too much of a temper to put the Captains clues together and sat quite expressionless with her arms tightly folded.


“Perhaps you would like to go to your room?” offered Ize helpfully.


“Yes I would!” snapped Princess Dawn, “I don’t want to stay here a moment longer…” Even before she had finished her sentence, Princess Dawn realised something hadn’t sounded right. “How could you possibly have a room ready for me already?”


Ize and the crew had already sat down again to eat. Ize was busy sucking the insides out of large yellow melon.


Without looking at Princess Dawn, Ize remarked causally; “Well, as soon as we got the message from your mother telling us you were coming, and your very specific requirements, we thought we would do our best to accommodate you.”


Princess Dawn blushed terribly. Ize gave a signal and the crew once again parted to make a space for her at the table. Giving in to her terrible hunger, Princess Dawn marched proudly to the table.


Princess Dawn enjoyed the meal very much, but could not find the courage to look James in the eye for the rest of the evening.


Lying in her bed that night, Princess Dawn was glad for once that her mother had interfered, but she agonised over what she would say to James the next day. At last, albeit uneasily, she drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Twenty Six


Elsewhere on the Christine Marie, plans were being made for the next day. In Captain Ize’s cabin, the senior crew members were going over some charts and letters. Ize was speaking in a low but certain voice.


“With the information the Queen has given us we should be able to predict where Blade is going next.”


“But how can we be sure she found all of the spies?” Asked Mr Cheetham.


“That’s the Queen of England you’re talking about!” scolded John, slapping Cheetham up the back of the head, thus ending the argument.


“If we mark the location of the spies on this map,” continued Ize, “we should be able to pinpoint the best place for Blade to hide, but at the same time get his messages easily.”


All through the night the men guessed and second-guessed Blades every move until they were sure they knew where he was going to be. By this time many of them were so tired, they slept where they sat.


Chapter Twenty Seven


The next day it was Princess Dawn who was by far and away the widest awake and in the best mood on the whole of the Christine Marie. There was a distinctly frosty reception waiting for her on deck.


“I can’t understand it,” said John, “Blade SHOULD be here!”


“But he ISN’T is he!” Spat Ize, wheeling around so that Princess Dawn saw his face for the first time.


While it was undeniable there had been immeasurable changes to the personality, and appearance, of James Ize in the last few months, the power that lay deep within him continued to shine though the emerald eye.


“Is something wrong?” Asked Princess Dawn, somewhat timidly


On seeing the Princess, the fire left Ize and he told her of their ‘foolproof’ plan to capture Blade.


Princess Dawn started to laugh uncontrollably, as Ize and John looked at one another puzzled.


“Just what is so funny?” asked Ize eventually.


“Maybe you don’t know everything after all, Captain,” smiled Dawn.


“Just tell us,” sighed James, never much of a one for guessing games.


“Well,” began Dawn, jumping up to sit atop a cannon, “you were so busy making me feel silly last night that you never actually asked me why I had come in the first place.”


“That’s because we knew why you had come Princess,” said James, through slightly gritted teeth. Princess Dawn’s chirpiness for this time of the morning was becoming irksome.


“You mean you know about Blade going to the island at dawn to pick up the governor?” Dawn was swinging her legs idly, and couldn’t help but smile knowing fine well that they did not know. She stopped swinging her legs and the smile fell from her lips however when she realised this news had not had the effect she was expecting.


“Do you know what time dawn is Princess?” asked James, through fully clenched teeth this time.


“Morning time,” she confidently replied.


“Let me give you a clue,” James continued, “where is the sun?”


Princess Dawn did not like the tone of the Captains voice. “Now what’s your problem?” She asked in an equally angry tone, “it’s up there!” and pointed.


James tried to talk calmly. “At dawn, Princess, the sun is down there!”


The look on Princess Dawns face was confusion, not comprehension, and James found it impossible to stay angry.


“For the sun to get from there, where it is at dawn,” he sighed, “to there, where it is now, takes 2 hours!” He looked at Dawn again.


Princess Dawn finally realised - the Governor, and Blade, would be long gone. “Oh,” she said.


For a long moment they simply looked at one another. Princess Dawn broke the silence in the end.


“I still think I’m doing rather well for a Princess!”


John laughed out loud, and Dawn was sure James turned to head so she wouldn’t see him smile. The air had been cleared.


“So, what are we going to do now then?” Asked Princess Dawn.


“Myself and the crew are going after Blade,” began James. “You are going home!”


“You can’t,” squeaked Princess Dawn, “you wouldn’t!! I won’t allow it,” she said finally, crossing her arms. She felt sure the firmness in her voice would have the same effect that it did at home.


With a nod that she didn’t see, James ordered Princess Dawn be taken below decks, but she did not go quietly and even as she disappeared from sight her yells and protestations could be heard on deck.


James gave a volley of orders and as the ship lurched around, Ize took on a faraway yet satisfied expression.


“You know where he’s going don’t you?” Said John.


“I do indeed,” replied James. “I do indeed.”


Chapter Twenty Eight


Ize and John were on deck when the ship sailed into Pagua to dispose of their ‘cargo’ Princess Dawn.


“She did give us the information,” protested John.


“What do you want me to do? Make her first mate??”


“Just thank her, that can’t hurt, can it? Let her know she was useful.”


James thought it over for a moment. “Okay okay, I’ll go and see her,” and left John smiling broadly to himself.


James had fully intended going to see Princess Dawn anyway, but there was no reason for everyone to know that (or anyone at all for that matter).


After a few deep breaths, James gave a sharp knock on the door. No answer. He knocked again. Still no answer. Trying the door, he found it to be locked. “Daw…Princess Dawn!” He yelled, before felling the door with a powerful boot kick. The room was empty, and the window open.


James had not thought twice about giving Princess Dawn his quarters at the back of the ship. The large curved windows however were more than big enough for a small Princess to squeeze herself through should the mind take her. Leaning out of the window, James cursed as he withdrew the rope that had secured the row-boat. As he went to leave the room, James noticed a slip of paper stuck to the desk by means of a very sharp letter opener;


‘Seeing as you do not want me, I have made Jason row me home. Goodbye. Princess Dawn’


James may have screwed up the note and tossed it out of the window, but he also smiled, and made a mental note to maybe return to Pagua should he ever finish his business with Blade.


Chapter Twenty Nine


Captain James ‘Emerald’ Ize stood majestically on the top deck of the Christine Marie as his loyal crew busied themselves below. The painful reason behind the missing side of their Captains face was never discussed, at least not openly, by the crew. As Ize turned to speak to John however, a momentary gust of wind revealed what Ize had so painstakingly sought to hide.


Cutting his right eyebrow into 2 and reaching halfway down his cheek, a deep scar ran through his closed eye. To any other Pirate (Blade in particular) such a mark would have been a source of pride, but to James it was a mark of shame and defeat. He waited for the crew to speak. He waited for the crew to stop what they were doing and stare. He waited for someone to do something, anything.


“What do you want us to do Captain?” Asked John, as the other crew members continued working.


Ize snapped out of his thoughts long enough to give the order to turn into the Croft Canal. This caused more commotion than his scar had done, but Ize was not there to hear it, having already removed himself to his cabin.


The Croft Canal was uncharted waters – pirate waters. Ize knew this would be the place Blade would run to. It would be the only place he would feel safe, among other pirates who were afraid of him.


After sailing through the calm, clear waters, the Christine Marie had come to a complete stop. Under Ize’s instruction, the pirates had thrown huge boulders into the sea ready to tear the bottom out of any unsuspecting or unwelcome ships that tried to enter the narrow Canal. Only the pirate Captains that had been present at the time (luckily for him, Blade was one of the crew throwing the boulders into the sea) knew the route all of the way to the Bay at the end of the canal. The crew of the Christine Marie needed their Captain.


Just as the crew began mumbling to themselves, a door slammed deep within the bowels of the ship. Heavy boots could be heard stamping up the stairs, until they came to an echoing stop on deck. The entire crew looked on aghast as the shadows fell from their Captains face.


Any pirate in full battledress was a fearsome sight, but Emerald Ize had always looked particularly striking. He was wearing his knee high thick leather boots with the razor-edged silver buckles, and a suit of deep green over his cool white linen shirt. Criss crossing over his chest were bands of knives and straps holding swords and pistols. The crew however had seen this uniform before and it was a little higher they were looking.


Ize had tied his hair back, and while his left eye still shone with emerald, the right remained firmly shut, and terribly scarred. He was reminding himself, and the crew, who it was he had come for… and why. The crew readied themselves for the mother of all fights.


Chapter Thirty


Delicately, the Christine Marie inched its way into the canal. Rounding the final corner, several of the most wanted vessels afloat came into sight, all moored side by side. Back from the water’s edge stood a magnificent mansion, run down now as through depressed by what went on within. Inside was where the pirates would trade their stolen wares and tell their tall tales. For some it was merely a chance to sleep on dry land – with one eye open of course.


Ize snarled slightly as he saw that Blade had taken his mooring space. This time however he managed to keep his mind on the job at hand. More and more Ize had taken it into his head to capture Blade alive and take him back for trial (admittedly he hoped the King would then hang Blade, but at least his hands would be clean). In a lot of ways however, this approach would be a lot more difficult.


“Are we going in Captain?” Asked John, himself bedecked in all manner of armoury.


“And have your nearest and dearest come looking for me when I bring you back with a missing arm or leg – no, I don’t think so.” Ize smiled. “Bring us in closer and fix all cannons on the mansion, we should be able to get this over and done within ten minutes!”


Chapter Thirty One


Being in the position he was in, Blade was hiding well inside of the mansion. All of the other pirates were also inside, not to protect Blade, but you would be surprised how many pirates could not wait to get back onto dry land after several months afloat.


Inside, stolen instruments were being played, looted alcohol was being consumed and general merriment was being had. They still heard the cannonball crashing outside however, directly hitting its target of the outside toilet.


Merriment was immediately forgotten as they grabbed their weapons and ran outside, desperate to get to their ships. As they collected on the once manicured lawn however they were dumbfounded by the sight that befell them.


“It’s Ize!” One of the Pirates shouted.


Several of the female pirates nevertheless looked pleased to see him, and a few of the others could not help but smile at the return of the legend.


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