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Adventure Fiction

The sagging sails of The Broken Jewel whipped in the wind, slapping against the air with a loud crack as the ship sailed through the waters of Crown Crater. The sharp sound rung in Captain Braveheart’s ears, vibrating through his skull until it made his teeth chatter, but it wouldn’t distract him – he wouldn’t let it. Despite the more than generous breeze, the waters were oddly calm, with barely a ripple in sight. It was the perfect opportunity - he was sure of it - to complete his quest, to find the crown of everlasting life that the old sea witch had prophesised to be hiding there.

“Aye, laddies,” he called out to his crewmates. “This’ll be easy-peasy, if not a little breezy!” he laughed at his pun before yelling, “Hold on to yer hats!”

Braveheart’s second in command, Peggy, wasn’t so convinced. To him, it seemed that the waters were a little too calm. It was far too easy for what had been described by the witch as “the most dangerous and scary adventure of your life”. He was starting to wonder if thoughts of the crown were blurring Braveheart’s better judgement, if only slightly. He wasn’t the only one with such doubts, either; he’d heard whispers amongst the crewmates on the ship. Some were starting to find him reckless, obsessed even. Others doubted whether this mythical crown even existed, if it wasn’t just the nonsense ramblings off an old hag desperate for attention. Obviously, none of them had the guts to mention this to Braveheart for fear of his reaction.

“I don’t like this, Captain,” Peggy called out. “Somit ‘bout this feels off. I’ve got the heebies.”

“When ‘aven’t you got the heebies, Peg?” Captain Braveheart responded with a throaty laugh, clapping a hand down on his friend’s shoulder. “There’s nothin’ but clear waters in sight, what’s the worst that could happen?”

What’s the worst that could happen?

Peggy flinched at the question. They were words that he, too, had spoken once. Oh, how he’d learned.

His left leg suddenly felt heavy, the knotted wooden stump that stood in place of his own flesh and bone being the reason he was ever awarded the nickname ‘Peggy’ in the first place. Years back, what felt like a lifetime ago, he’d simply been known as Ivan Smith.

It was a different time back then: a different Captain, a different crew, and a different quest – his very first quest, in fact. Maybe that was why he’d been so reckless - reckless and so very stupid. He’d thought he could go on ahead without the others, complete the quest whilst the others slept and return a hero. He’d thought it would move him up the ranks faster, so he wouldn’t have to spend the next forty years scrubbing decks. Long story short, his plan didn’t work. Without his crew by his side to help, there was no one around to save him from the giant bird-like creature that had bitten his leg clean off with its razor sharp teeth. It was a miracle he even survived; he still had nightmares about it.

Not noticing the sickly shade of green his friend’s face was turning, Captain Braveheart returned his attention to the water ahead, his hands on the ship’s wheel to ensure they remained on course. He was positive they were getting close now, not much longer left to journey before the crown would be in his hands. He could almost feel the cool metal atop his head, the immense power that would accompany it.

Peggy sighed at the determined glint in his Captain’s eyes. He knew it was too late to try and change his mind; the only thing left to do now was pray to the Sea Gods that Braveheart was right.

“Easy-peasy, if not a little breezy,” Peggy grumbled, the sarcastic remark luckily carried away by the wind before it got the chance to reach Braveheart’s ears. The Captain didn’t take too kindly to rudeness, not even from Peggy.

In an attempt to calm his nerves, Peggy inhaled a deep breath of crisp fresh air. Unfortunately, the unusual scent of mint that carried through the air only served to increase his uneasiness. The smell was so strong it made his tongue tingle and, once again, Peggy found himself questioning the sanity of his Captain. How could Braveheart not see that there was something very odd about this place? Or did he see it, too, and just not care?

Crown Crater was, in fact, just that – a crater. A large expanse of water enclosed on all sides by giant rocks that glinted like stardust when the sunlight hit them. Smaller rocks peppered the water they sailed through, although these ones not as shiny. No, instead these rocks floated.

Rocks that float, Peggy shook his head at the thought. “Should be impossible,” he mumbled.

Although it was exactly how the sea witch had described it would be: floating rocks and, at the very end of the crater, a snow-covered mountain that towered above them, seeming to grow higher by the minute with every inch of water The Broken Jewel conquered.

The mountain: that was where they were headed; that was where they would find the crown. As prophesised by the sea witch, the crown was hidden in the heart of the mountain.

As he stared out at the still water around them, Peggy began to notice the tendrils of fog that rose up from the water. The fog grew denser as they neared the mountain and, by the time the ship was anchored, the poor pirates were almost choking on the stuff. It was an odd sensation, as if they were drowning and suffocating at the same time… but both whilst still breathing oxygen. The scent of mint was stronger in the fog, making it all the more unbearable.

Captain Braveheart didn’t appear bothered at all as Peggy and the rest of the crew coughed and spluttered around him. His attention was entirely focussed on the frosty mountain that now sat directly in front of them. Although even he had to admit – silently to himself, he would never speak it aloud – that it was a little strange for the fog to be so warm, despite the icy landscape that sat ahead.

“What now, Cap-Captain?” Peggy spluttered.

What now, indeed.

The sea witch had been very clear in her instructions. “Many pirates have tried this quest,” she had said. “And all have failed, by both trying to climb up or swim under. If you want to survive, you must find another way.”

If they were doomed to perish by either climbing to the top or swimming underneath, how would they ever be able to find the heart of the mountain?

Fortunately, Braveheart had the answer.

“Now,” he replied. “We go through.”

 “Th-Through?” Peggy asked, although this time his stutter had nothing to do with the fog. He was, along with all the crewmates, staring at the Captain as if he really had lost his mind. Was he really proposing that they could somehow travel through that large wall of ice-covered rock in front of them?

“Yes. Through,” Braveheart replied, his words clipped and voice curt as he noticed the stares he was receiving. He didn’t like being doubted, especially not by his own men.

“How?” Peggy asked.

Braveheart rolled his eyes in exasperation, as if the answer was obvious and he couldn’t believe he had to explain it. To him, the answer was obvious, but only because he’d known it all along. He’d forgotten to mention it, of course, in his haste to find the place.

“With this,” he said, and from the scabbard around his waist he produced a gold-hilted sword.

A collective gasp rose up throughout the crewmates, each one of them recognising the weapon he held immediately.

The enchanded sword of a thousand men – the sea witch herself had promised him it was “really really strong” upon purchase. He was sure it would slice through the rocky exterior of the mountain and lead him to the crown. He was more sure of it than he had ever been about anything in his life.

Without another word, Braveheart hopped down from the ship and started the short walk to the base of the mountain. The stony ground crunched under his boots as he walked, his long leather coat flapping with each stride. The warm fog engulfed him but he waved it away with an impatient flick of his wrist.

Then, finally, stood at the very base of the mountain he raised the sword and swung it down and…


The sword sliced through the rock as if it were no stronger than butter.

Braveheart had been right.

His gleeful cheers were drowned out, however, by the enraged screech that escaped the mountain. The sound ricocheted of the crater’s walls, nearly deafening him and his crew.

Braveheart’s grin was replaced with a look of pure horror as he watched the mountain in front of him warp and change, splitting open to reveal the most terrifying creature he had ever laid eyes upon.

The witch hadn’t warned him about this.

A giant bird-like creature, yellow in colour with beady black eyes, emerged from the rock to stand in front of him. It let out another terrifying screech, those beady black eyes moving to rest on Captain Braveheart and the sword that he now held limply at his side.

“Not again!” Peggy cried out from where he stood on the ships deck, his eyes bulging as he stared at the monster. “Not you, not again!”

That’s when Braveheart noticed it. In the creature’s mouth, clasped in its beak between its razor sharp teeth sat it. The crown – the crown of everlasting life – it was so close.

“Captain, get back to the ship!” Peggy yelled out, his voice filled with terror. “Get back to the ship!”

Captain Braveheart looked back and forth between his ship and the sword, before returning his eyes to the monstrous creature that was already staring him down, a snarl now rippling from its chest like a feral dog. Then, Braveheart raised the sword and-

“Okay, Sweetheart, bath time’s over.”

The woman stands in the open doorway of the bathroom, letting out a light chuckle at the sight of her daughter. With a plastic pirate ship in one hand, a yellow rubber duck in the other, and a pointy crown of bubbles atop her head, the young girl looks ridiculous.

“But mummy,” the girl pouts, dragging the words out with a whine as she looks back at the mess of bubbles in front of her. “Captain Braveheart was just about to fight the monster for the crown of eternal life with the enchanded sword of a thousand men!”

“Enchanted,” the woman corrects, laughing again. “And I like your crown.”

“It’s not a crown,” the girl says, swiping the mess of bubbles off her head. “It’s a witch’s hat. It gives me magical powers.”

“Well I hope those magical powers help with sleeping, too. It’s time for bed,” the woman informs.

“Can’t I just have five more minutes?” the young girl insists.

“Not tonight, Sweetheart,” the woman sighs, smiling fondly at her daughter as the girls pout grows. “I’m sorry. Captain Braveheart is just going to have to wait until next time to get his crown.”

November 14, 2020 03:04

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1 comment

Matthew Eubanks
04:01 Nov 19, 2020

I liked the story and the twist. I do feel like the language of the “pirate” at the beginning, with all the “aye”s and “yer”s, nearly pushed me away. I get the ending that this was how kids would talk. But when you’re reading this and you don’t know that it can seem cliched.


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