Adventure Fantasy Horror

Captain Black crashed through the edge of the jungle and into the clearing, saber in hand. Four of his most loyal and skilled buccaneers followed close behind, cutlasses at the ready. The journey through the jungle had already cost the pirate captain a dozen men lost to deadly insects, venomous snakes and savage predators. His determination and obsession to find a mythical gemstone continued to drive him forward. Nothing else concerned him. A smile appeared on his face as he caught a glimpse of a large stone doorway set into the cliffside ahead. At last, he had found the Temple of Khazira.

The pirates quickly crossed the clearing and cautiously climbed the steps leading up to the temple. Ten feet into the doorway were a set of heavy stone doors, intricately carved with the glyphs of a long forgotten people. The captain ordered his men to heave at the doors and it took all four to push open even one. Slowly the doors were opened and the men stared into darkness and the unknown.

A parrot was perched on Captain Black’s shoulder. He stroked its blazing red and orange feathers with a rough and calloused hand as he called the name of one of his men, “Fritz, you are first. Strike a torch and investigate the shadows. Find what we seek and bring it back to me. Give me the gem.”

“Give me the gem!” repeated the parrot with a screech.

The pirate looked nervous as he wiped the sweat from his brow, but he did as he was told. After lighting a torch he had brought with him, he slowly entered the temple and chased away the shadows. The others watched as he cautiously traversed the first ten feet of the corridor. Suddenly, with the sound of stone scraping against stone, the floor dropped out from under Fritz and he disappeared. His screams echoed and then grew faint as he fell. The passage returned to darkness.

“Men, your torches!” the captain ordered. He watched as his remaining men lit their torches and handed him one as well. He ordered them forward to investigate the pitfall. As they peered inside they could see only black. There was no sign of Fritz or any light from his torch. They called out to him, but they heard no reply. Only the gods knew the depth of that abyss.

“The pit is too wide to jump,” stated the captain. “Fell a tree and we shall use it to bridge the gap.” His orders were carried out quickly and a tree as large as a man’s thigh was brought into the passageway. The men struggled to lift one end of the log and move it forward enough to drop it into place. The captain watched patiently before barking his next command, “Now all of you across, one by one. Make sure it is secure.”

One by one the men walked the log, one foot in front of the other, slowly to keep balance, on a timber barely wider than their feet. After successfully crossing, the men watched as their captain made his way onto the bridge. They were loyal men, but after the past couple of days, who knows what thoughts now entered their minds and if they truly would have rather seen their captain make it across or fall into oblivion.

Captain Black made it to the other side of the pit with little effort, always cautious and ever watchful. He had been a pirate a long time and he attributed his success to never ever trusting anyone. A captain never knew when the next betrayal would come or from whom, but one thing was most certain; it would come.

“Davosh, you are next,” the captain ordered. “Push forward. Find the treasure and give me the gem!”

“Give me the gem!” repeated the parrot with a screech.

Davosh nodded without fear and raised his torch before him. He continued down the corridor another ten or fifteen feet. Loud hissing sounds filled the hallway and the pirate dropped to his knees. The torch fell to the ground as he crumpled over onto the floor.

The others approached slowly. Davosh was riddled with small darts all over his body. He lay motionless with no signs of life.

“Toxins, no doubt,” explained the captain. “Hopefully that is all the darts there were. We shall see,” he paused and looked at another buccaneer, “Well, Gallen, looks like you have the lead then. Carry on. Find the loot and your reward will be great! Just give me the gem.”

“Give me the gem!” repeated the parrot with a screech.

“Aye, captain,” Gallen said reluctantly. He continued along the passage for another twenty or so feet before yelling back, “I think I see it captain! I see a room ahead!” He continued forward and a stone shifted beneath his foot with a click. From both sides of the hall, through holes unseen in the shadows, came a thrusting of dozens of wooden spears that spanned the width of the corridor. Gallen was impaled several times over from both directions and his lifeless body remained standing transfixed over a pool of blood. The spears did not retract and remained a blockade.

“Salvo, you are the last of my loyal men. Succeed now and your reward shall be the shares of all those who have fallen. Use your axe to cut a path through the spears, find the room and secure your riches,” the captain demanded with a mad grin. “All I ask is that you give me the gem!” 

“Give me the gem!” repeated the parrot with a screech.

Salvo nodded in agreement. “This I will do for you, my captain, but may I be so bold as to ask something additional in return?”

“You want for something more than all the shares of treasure offered? You can buy a castle in Rhylaria and retire as a nobleman. You can leave the life of an outlaw behind you. What could be so important? What can I give that your new found gold cannot buy?”

“It is with my gold that I plan to bargain. Allow me to buy the bird that sits on your shoulder. Name your price and I shall pay it.”

“What craziness is this? What would you want with Bird?”

“Captain, with due respect I have listened to that thing repeat and repeat and I am at my wits end. It hates me and it is evil. It perches above my hammock at night and shits upon me in my sleep. It steals my things and drops them in the sea. Never have I had such a hatred for an animal such as I do for that devil on your shoulder.”

“I am quite fond of Bird,” the captain explained and then paused to consider the offer. “It will cost you a heavy sack of coin, but we can work that out after. I will grant your wish. You can have what you want, just give me the gem!”

“Give me the gem!” repeated the parrot with a screech.

Salvo clenched his fist and glared at the parrot with an evil smirk, “You shall be eaten!” He grabbed the axe from his belt and began clearing the wooden barricade, laughing sadistically while planning an array of cruelties to unleash upon the bird before having it for a meal. Carving a path barely wide enough to slip through, Salvo advanced down the corridor until it opened into a wide cavern. He knew the captain followed a safe distance behind and he entertained the idea of being the only survivor to emerge from the temple. The gem was priceless and would be much easier to carry than heaps of coins and whatever else the horde may contain. 

The buccaneer entered the cavern and discovered that the ceiling was high out of sight and consumed by darkness. An iron brazier sat on either side of a small rope bridge that disappeared out of sight ahead. He touched his torch to the contents of each brazier and was surprised that they filled with flame so easily. The room, now better lit, was a circular cave and he saw that he stood along a thick ledge that surrounded the door. The rest of the room fell away into blackness except for a pillar of stone across the chasm. The pillar had a flat top and the rope bridge ended there. Upon the pillar sat a large chest.

Captain Black stood in the doorway watching the excited pirate approach the rope bridge. He alone noticed the webs above barely distinguishable in the shadows of the flickering lights. Salvo never saw his doom slowly descending out of the darkness above, hanging from a thin gossamer thread. 

The giant spider grabbed the pirate unawares and stung him repeatedly. The man went limp as the poison quickly paralyzed him. In the grip of the spider's swift moving legs, he was lifted and spun around while slowly being encased in a silky prison. The spider rose again into the darkness to devour its latest meal.

“Good riddance, brave Salvo,” the captain said with a laugh. “I guess the treasure is ours alone, Bird.”

The parrot made no reply.

“Oh, come now. Are your feelings hurt, my friend. I had no intent to sell you to that savage. I had no plans to let him leave the temple alive anyway.” The captain advanced quickly to the rope bridge, eyes searching the shadows above. “Let’s make haste, Bird, before that demon gets hungry again.” He stepped lightly and the rope creaked and the planks groaned under his weight. He had no choice. His desire to procure The Eye of Khazira was all that mattered. 

He moved quickly across the bridge and when he reached the middle, he heard the ropes snap and felt himself begin to fall. He dove for the edge of the pillar and grabbed it with one hand. He hung there watching the pieces of the rope bridge and his torch vanish below. Bird flew clear and landed on the pillar above. With all the strength he had left, he pulled himself up, little by little, finding footholds in the rock to boost himself. He rolled onto the ledge with a sigh of relief.

He quickly sprang into action and returned to his feet. The chest had no lock. Apparently the spider was security enough, but the captain was not fooled easily. Using his saber, he pried the chest open while standing almost behind it. A spring trap was triggered and long blades darted forward from the chest, dripping with a thick, dark syrup. Had he opened it from the front, he was sure he would already be dead. Peering into the chest from his position, he saw that which he came for.

The Eye of Khazira sat alone in the chest. It sparkled even in the dimly lit cavern. The flickering lights danced on the multi-faceted, walnut size gemstone. Without thinking, the captain grabbed the stone. It was a stupid move, he realized, but was relieved when nothing happened. He slid the gem into a pouch and looked around the pillar. He was surprised to find nothing else of value. He laughed at the realization that all his buccaneers had died for a share of nothing. His laughter ended when he remembered the fallen bridge. An escape had to be found.

The captain surveyed the situation and one of the ropes from the bridge was still attached securely on the other side. It looked intact and long enough to stretch across the chasm. He could think of only one thing he could try and it would depend on his last loyal servant. “Bird, can you see the rope across the chasm?” The bird seemed to nod his head and the captain was elated. “You're a smart one, Bird,” he chuckled. “Now get the rope and fly it here to me. Get the rope, Bird! Good boy!”

“Give me the gem!” demanded the parrot with a screech.

“What?” asked the captain, disbelieving what he had heard. “Now is not the time to joke, Bird,” he added angrily. “Get the rope and let’s go home.”

“Give me the gem!” again demanded the parrot with a screech. “Give me the gem! Get the rope!”

The captain could not believe what he was hearing. No way could the parrot be that smart. It was a jest surely. “You are confused, Bird. Now get the damn rope and let’s be done with this!”

“Give me the gem!” repeated the parrot with a screech.

The captain swung his saber at the bird, snapping to anger, then recoiled at the horror that would befall him if the parrot was killed. “Forgive! Please, Bird, I beg you! I know not my own temper at times! I beg you, please, get the rope!”

“Give me the gem!” repeated the parrot with a screech.

Captain Black fell to his knees in surrender. He loosened the pouch strings that contained the gem and he tossed it to the ground at the Bird’s feet. The parrot grabbed the pouch in flight and glided across the chasm to land on the other side.

“Please, Bird. I beg you. Bring me the rope. We need to go before the spider returns.” His voice was that of a man defeated and devoid of hope.

“Good riddance!” the parrot called out. ““You shall be eaten!” 

Captain Black watched as the parrot flew away down the corridor. The fires in the braziers began to dim as the oil diminished. He looked up and saw something shifting in the shadows. Gripping his saber tightly, he rose to his feet and prepared to face his end.

November 12, 2020 21:14

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00:07 Jan 14, 2021

There are NOT enough good Pirate stories out there, in my opinion, and this is a GREAT one! Beautifully structured, plotted, and delivered. Above all else, it's just plain cool. Loved it! : )


Ryan Dupont
18:35 Jan 14, 2021

Thanks Jason! I appreciate you taking the time to read my work and for the kind words.


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Ray Dyer
00:28 Nov 15, 2020

I like the way the repetition builds, and with each interval creates greater suspense over what the twist will be. The way Bird repeats terms that it has heard makes him both uncanny and yet not completely unnatural. This is a fun story, with a set up like great joke and a punch line that is well-earned.


Ryan Dupont
16:39 Nov 15, 2020

Thanks Ray. I always appreciate your comments and thanks for choosing my story to read. Glad you liked it!


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Tanja Cilia
21:29 Nov 18, 2020

I loved it! I kept wanting the bird to become the protagonist of the story, but I could not imagine how this could happen. You did it cleanly and neatly.


Ryan Dupont
20:37 Dec 05, 2020

Thanks so much for reading my story! Glad you enjoyed the parrot:)


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