Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by Felipe

  1. I thank you for the privilege of allowing me to share this story with you. It is a condensed version, but you get the idea. The tale continues in the sequel, "The Tribe" and then again in "The New World" and coming soon "Octopus" which are available at my website on the bottom of my posts. I won't bore you any longer but will give you a peek at "The Tribe", an even deeper bond is growing between Felipe and Batu...

    The morning sun broke over a clear sky and blue waters as the Vengeance surged on toward Tortuga. Gulls wheeled overhead and followed the huge ship perching on her yardarms catching a ride and looking for scraps. A pod of dolphins raced along the wake of the bow as it cleaved the water leaving a white, foamy trail.

    As Felipe approached the galley he could smell coffee and heard the soothing sound of Carlos lovingly playing his violin. Marianna was sitting with Juan Carlos on her lap wiping his chin and blowing on a fork full of food as he ate a pile of steaming scrambled eggs. Andreas was sitting beside Carmen enjoying the music while Jean Pierre whittled a top out of soft wood to keep the child occupied on his long voyage.

    “Good morning Felipe.” Jean Pierre said. “It is good to be alive this morning.”

    “Indeed it is.” he said smiling. “Who is at the helm?”

    “Batu, he lost a roll of the dice with Ajamu.” Jean Pierre smiled.

    “That is indeed unfortunate.” Felipe said feigning a disturbed look.

    “Yes, he was unfortunate enough to go up against my loaded dice.” Jean Pierre said with a small smile.

    Felipe laughed and said “Well then, let me go and torment him.”

    Felipe grabbed a banana and a fresh steaming cup of coffee then went up on the deck. Ajamu was leaning up against the stern rail criticizing Batu’s seamanship while Batu steered the ship with a stern look on his face trying to ignore him. As Felipe walked toward Batu with the banana and coffee Batu smiled.

    “Hey Ajamu, I thought that you might be hungry.” Felipe said walking around Batu.

    “Yes, thank you Felipe.” he said taking the banana with a smile.

    “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

    “That is too kind of you, I am keeping an eye on the big buffoon to make sure that he does not get us lost at sea.”

    “That is very good of you and the entire crew appreciates it, I think I will go back to the galley for some ham and eggs, would you like to join us? Carlos is also playing some fine music.” Felipe said winking at him.

    “I think that I would like that, perhaps he can muddle his way through without my directions.” Ajamu rose and he and Felipe walked around Batu back to the stairwell. Felipe paused and scratched his ass when he got in front of Batu, then walked on.

    They entered the Galley just as Neo came running in very excited. “Juan Carlos! There are dolphins racing the ship! Come see!”

    Juan Carlos jumped off of Marianna’s lap and the two ran for the door. “You boys be careful, do not fall off of the ship.” she said as they bolted out of the door.

    When Felipe and Ajamu sat down Marianna looked at them. “I have been thinking about the dispatch that I saw in Chavez’s room. He is going to expand the search to all of the islands, I fear that we will not be safe on Tortuga much longer.”

    “We still have time, there are hundreds of islands. It is not as if we must get in a great hurry, but yes, we must start considering it.” Felipe said.

    “I agree, we need to start seeking a new home, we have plenty of gold and could settle anywhere.” Andreas replied.

    “If we are going to discuss this, I would like Batu and Tor here as well.” Felipe said. “Excuse me, I will go and get them.”

    Felipe went up on deck and had a man relieve Batu, found Tor and they returned to the galley. “We were discussing the fact that Chavez has ordered the search for us to expand to all of the outer islands. We will not be safe there much longer, we need to find a new location for our village.” Felipe told them.

    “Yes, and the fact that we were able to retrieve Juan Carlos probably enrages him even more, he will double his efforts.” Andreas said as he looked around the table.

    “Well, as has been said, we have enough gold to settle anywhere, even Europe or the great continent to the north, the French control a very large portion of it and we would be safe from the Spaniards there.” Felipe replied.

    “Other than the fact that you are Spaniards, that would indeed be a good place to go.” Jean Pierre said. “Besides, I am a wanted man with a death marker on my head in France.”

    “You never told us why you hate the French so much.” Batu said

    “My mother was a widow, we were extremely poor. She finally got a job cleaning a home for one of the wealthy Lords there. We were overjoyed that we could now eat and have clothes. He raped her so I killed him.” he looked around the table, “They arrested me, I spent five years in a French Prison eating slop that a pig would not eat before I managed to escape while being forced to work on a road crew. When I got home, my mother had died.”

    Angelica bowed her head, she alone knew this story. There was silence at the table for a moment until Carlos said “I am sorry for your loss.”

    “As we all are.” Andreas replied.

    “Well, that counts out the new French territories, the rest of the continent is occupied by the Spaniards along the coast and far into the interior. What about Africa? The land of my ancestors?” Tor asked.

    They discussed this for a few moments, then all agreed that since slaves were still being captured there it would not be safe for them there either.

    “I do not like the idea of anywhere in Europe, we need to be somewhere that we are all familiar with, somewhere near the sea, I do not intend to give up the Vengeance, we may still need her.” Felipe said.

    “Well that leaves the great continent to the south where the Inca dwell but that too is ruled by the Spaniards. We would have to sail far to the south or go deep into the interior.” Andreas said.

    “Wait, when we were slaves we always discussed where we would go if we ever escaped.” Ajamu said. “The land below Mexico and north of Honduras is called Belize. The Spaniards tried to settle there but the Maya drove them out, I heard our former master discuss it with his friends. The jungle is very dense and two mighty rivers flow through it. There are mountains, fruit, nuts and all manner of game abound there. It also has a coastline with the sea. This is where a lot of the slaves that we freed probably have fled and are living now.”

    “Yes, I have sailed the coast of Belize before, there are several sheltered coves in which we could hide the Vengeance, the fishing there is very good also.” Andreas said with a smile.

    “That sounds like a very good choice, Chavez will be busy searching the islands and there are many of them. The Bahamas alone could take him years unless he devotes hundreds of men to the search. Does anyone have any objections to Belize?” Felipe asked as he looked around the table.

    “I will miss the waterfall.” the princess said with a smile, “But it is a small price to pay to keep Juan Carlos safe.”

    “We are in agreement then. When we arrive back on Tortuga the men will go and look at Belize. The women can stay but we need to post lookouts on all four sides of the island. If a Spanish ship approaches the women can hide in the cave, they would never find them there.” Andreas said.

    “I am looking forward to it, I wonder if we can link up with the slaves that were freed and are now living there?” Batu asked.

    “I am sure that we will make contact with them.” Andreas replied.

    They sailed on until they finally came to Tortuga. Once they landed they rested for two days and then began to pack things onto the ship for their trip. Most of the hired men had already decided to return to the settlement and continue with their pirating ways. After several days everything was loaded so they went to the cave and got some of their gold. There were still many stout wooden boxes filled with gold ingots as well as coins, precious stones and pearls.

    Victoria took Felipe’s hand and walked one last time to the waterfall. They stood together watching the white water cascade down and thunder onto the rocks. “I will really miss this place.” she said.

    “As will I, I will miss this entire island. We have many good memories here.” Felipe said.

    They held each other for a long while and said nothing then walked back to the village. Most of the cabins were empty now, Everyone else was aboard the vengeance ready to sail. Felipe kissed Victoria and his mother goodbye, got into the boat and rowed out to the huge ship. The smaller fishing ship the Marianna was pulling up her anchor while Andreas took the wheel. She pulled slowly out of the harbor as the Vengeance’s anchors began to rise. The rowboat was pulled up and the Vengeance set sail following the Marianna out to sea.

    After six days the shoreline appeared on the horizon. Felipe followed the Marianna as she skirted the shoreline. The Marianna slowed and they came alongside of her. Andreas shouted to Felipe that they were approaching Belize, for him to wait while the smaller Marianna searched the inlets for a deepwater cove where the Vengeance could be hidden. Felipe nodded an agreement and the Marianna slowly surged ahead.

    The Marianna slipped into a cove and after a short while reappeared and sailed on along the coast. This was repeated three more times until finally after she went into the fourth cove she sailed to the opening and stopped. Felipe wheeled the ship toward the narrow opening and slipped through. Batu sounded the depth of the water with a weight tied onto a rope as they slowed down, then they laid anchor near the shore. The jungle was very dense here, much thicker than the island of Tortuga and mountains could be seen in the distance.

    Felipe spotted a man sitting on the shore playing a guitar with a fishing pole in front of him. The sounds of the music carried across the water. They prepared a landing party to explore the interior. Felipe, Andreas, Jean Pierre, Batu, Ajamu and Tor got into a lifeboat and paddled toward the man. As they got near the man he stopped playing and peered at them, then took a long swig from a bottle.

    He resumed playing as they made land and approached him. He was a stocky man with thick shoulders and a shaved head. He was well tanned, he had strong arms and a friendly face. He sat his guitar gently on the rocks, then stood up to meet them. They all introduced themselves and he said “My name is Jose Lopez, welcome to Belize.”

    He cocked his head, smiled and said “You are a strange looking group, I have never seen Spaniards, blacks and a Frenchman together before except in jail”

    “It is a long story.” Jean Pierre said.

    “I have all day.” he said and sat back down. He picked up his guitar and began to strum softly as he looked at them.

    “Have you caught any fish?” Batu asked.

    “There is no bait on the hook.” Jose said as he took another drink then held the bottle out. “Would you care for some tequila?”

    Batu had never tasted tequila so he took the bottle and took a sip. He coughed and choked. “For the love of God! What is that? Liquid fire?” as he handed the bottle back.

    “Si.” Jose said nodding his head with a laugh.

    “How do you know there is no bait on the hook?” Batu asked.

    “Because I did not put any on it, I fish to relax.” he said.

    “How can you fish with no bait?” Batu continued.

    “I told you, I fish to relax. If you use bait you worry about losing it and have to be ready to set the hook. I cannot play my guitar if I am worried about such things. I fish to relax.” he said and took another long drink of the gold liquid and pointed the bottle around the group. Everyone shook their heads.

    Batu looked at his friends and said “This man is either drunk or crazy.”

    “Both.” Jose said with a grin. “What are you people doing here?”

    “We intend to live here.” Felipe replied.

    “In the jungle?” Jose asked.

    “Yes, deep in the jungle preferably.” Felipe replied.

    “Well, if you intend to live in that jungle you are going to need a guide.” As he pointed with his right hand they saw a large tattoo of our Lady of Guadalupe on his inner arm.

    “We do not intend to pay you to be our guide, we do not need a guide.” Batu said.

    Jose stopped strumming his guitar and looked at them. “You are wrong on both counts. I do not want you to pay me and yes, you do need a guide. Those who were once slaves live here, hundreds of them and they do not like strangers, especially white strangers. They have set man traps everywhere in the jungle.”

    “Man traps? What kind of traps?” Andreas asked.

    “Many kinds, many devious kinds and most deadly. I will be glad to lead you through the traps, it would be good to have some company. My wife and I live here and we do not get visitors. As I said, the former slaves are not friendly.”

    “Where do you live?” Felipe asked him.

    “Just inside of the tree line, there are two rivers here and I live alongside one of them. Would you like to come to my house?”

    “Yes, please.” Andreas said.

    Jose got up, slung his guitar over his back hanging with the neck down and walked away, they followed him. They walked the shoreline until they came to a river flowing into the cove. He took a trail along the river and soon a large cabin built out of logs appeared. There was a long, low porch and a beautiful, dark skinned woman sat on a swing suspended from the porch roof. She rose as they approached and smiled.

    “This is my wife Gabriella.” Jose said. The men all introduced themselves. It was apparent that she was of Aztec blood. She had high, wide cheekbones and very deep brown eyes with long, flowing dark brown hair.

    “Would you gentlemen care for something to drink?” she asked.

    “Do you have anything besides tequila?” Batu asked looking at Jose.

    “Yes, I see that you have already been bitten by my husband’s homemade tequila, he is very proud of it.” Gabriella said with a smile. “Please, come this way.”

    “Have a seat.” Jose said pointing at the porch. “I am sorry that I do not have chairs, as I said , we do not get company out here.”

    The men sat on the porch and soon Gabriella came out with a tray and a pitcher of water and cups. She poured them all water and they sat in the shade talking. “Why do you live out here by yourself?” Andreas asked.

    “Well, let us just say that the Viceroy would really like to meet me.” Jose said with a smile.

    “As he would us.” Felipe laughed.

    “Well then it appears that we have something in common already.” Jose smiled. “How deep into the jungle do you intend to live?”

    “Not very deep, we need to be able to keep an eye on our ship and we never know when we may have to leave in a hurry.”

    “Well then I would suggest that we get an early start tomorrow, it will be dark soon and the jaguars will be prowling about. The traps are very hard to spot in broad daylight, let alone in the evening. Would you like to stay the night here?”

    “That is kind of you, but we do not intend to impose on you and your wife. We will sleep on the ship and return early in the morning.” Felipe said.

    “It is no imposition, but if you wish to sleep on your ship then we will meet again in the morning.”

    With that they all rose, said goodbye and walked back to their boat. “It will be good to have a guide if there are indeed man traps as he says.” Felipe said.

    “I can read people.” Jean Pierre said. “We can trust this man, I saw no guile or deception in him.”

  2. Marianna was the first to stand. “I am going also.”

    “No! There is no need for you to go, it is far too dangerous.” Felipe said.

    “And what of Victoria? Is there a need for her to go? She goes because it is her son. You are my son and that child is my only grandson. I will not wait here wondering what is happening. I will simply follow after you if I must, but I am going. This is my entire family and I will not just sit here. Carmen can wait and if we do not return before dawn, at least she can go back and tell what has become of us. I am going, do not try to stop me.”

    “She is right, we are family and she deserves to go also.“ Andreas said. They hugged and kissed Carmen goodbye then walked quietly through the forest toward the castle.

    Again they quickly darted across the open ground to the corner of the castle and entered the passageway. Once inside the torches were lit and they proceeded to the first door. Batu and Tor’s hands were placed behind them and one piece of rope was circled around them as if they were tied. They nodded at their friends in the light of the fire and slowly pushed the door inward.

    Andreas went first and looked around the edge of the tall drapes. The large room was empty at this late hour as it should be. He motioned to Batu and he slipped quietly out of the door followed by Tor and Jean Pierre. They all knew the plan so there was no need to speak. Batu and Tor walked in front of them as if they were prisoners as they walked to the door of the Grand Hall.

    They opened the door, stepped into the receiving room and saw the stairs. Batu and Tor climbed the stairs with Andres and Jean Pierre following them. The guards in front of the kings chambers saw the very tall black men first and drew their swords stepping away from the door blocking the hallway. They then saw Andreas and Jean Pierre walking behind them and it did appear to them that the black men’s hands were tied.

    As they approached closer one of the guards said “What is the meaning of this?”

    “We have two prisoners that were members of the crew of the pirate Felipe Montoya. They were captured and Felix Chavez wishes to question them.” Andreas replied.

    “The hour is very late, Chavez has been sleeping for hours now.” the guard replied.

    “Never the less, he gave implicit instructions that they were to be brought before him as soon as we arrived. Do you want to interfere with his orders? I will tell him in the morning that you refused us passage and caused this delay.” Andreas said.

    The man got a frightened look and then sheathed his sword as did the other. “Very well then, I certainly would not want to be the man who wakes Chavez at this hour.” he stepped aside as did the other guard.

    They took their positions on either side of the King’s door. Batu and Tor started walking forward again. When they came even with the guards they both struck with lightning speed. They each grabbed one of the guards head in their large hands and with a quick, strong twist broke their necks. In the quiet of the hallway the bones breaking sounded very loud.

    The guards bodies began to twitch as urine ran down their pants legs. Andreas quickly opened the door across from the King’s bedchamber. The bodies were drug inside and laid on the floor. Jean Pierre spotted a towel on the bedrail, he threw it onto the urine in the hall wiping it with his boot then kicking it back into the room. They closed the door and then Andreas very slowly and quietly tried the King’s door. The knob turned but the door refused to budge, he had locked it from the inside just as the princess had said that he would.

    They quickly ran back to the stairs and into the Grand Hall. Slipping behind the curtains they pushed the secret door open and joined their friends in the dark passageway. As soon as the door was closed in whispered tones they told the others that the guards were dead. Ajamu got a big smile on his face but the princess just nodded and hurried up the stairs toward the king’s bedchamber. They all followed her.

    When they arrived at the marked door they all looked at each other and then leaned the torches against the wall. Batu silently pushed the door open and then slipped into the room followed by Tor and the others. The king was snoring lightly, sleeping on his back. Little Juan Carlos was sleeping on his belly with his butt sticking up in the air. They spread out around the bed and then a very strong, large hand slapped down on the King’s mouth. Strong hands grabbed his hands and feet pinning them down. Jen Pierre gently but firmly placed his hand over the Queen’s mouth.

    They both woke suddenly and tried to cry out and struggle, it was useless. The princess also placed her hand gently over Juan Carlos’s mouth and his eyes sprang open and went wide as he recognized his mother. “Shhh” she said smiling at him. “Be very quiet, do not make a sound.” he nodded his head and she removed her hand and picked him up hugging him.

    The King’s arms were quickly tied to the bedposts as well as his ankles and a gag was tied in his mouth. Jean Pierre and Ajamu tied the Queen’s arms and legs and gagged her also. The wicks on the oil lamps were trimmed up and light filled the room. They stared at their daughter blinking unbelievably and then looked at the men in the room. The princess walked over to him and said. “Yes father, it is me. I came to get my son which you kidnapped. His father wants to kill you for this, meet Felipe Montoya.”

    Felipe leaned over and looked into his eyes. “You son of a bitch, you dare to steal my son?”

    The king cowered his head back into his pillow and fear was showing in his eyes. He was totally helpless. Felipe pulled out his dagger and held it to the King’s throat. The king just shook his head and pleaded with his eyes. “I should kill you, but I will not. Even though you are guilty of many crimes against the people and deserve it. My father was innocent when your men killed him.”

    “I know that you had no choice in this mother, you were always kind to me.“ the princess said stroking her mothers chin and then bent to kiss her.

    She turned back to the King and said. “There is someone else that I would like you to meet.” the princess said. “These are my good friends, Batu, Ajamu and Tor.” She looked at them and said “Please take off your shirts and show him your backs.”

    They removed their shirts and turned around. The King saw the many cruel scars that crisscrossed the men’s backs. Many very deep scars that had long since raised up into long lines of mounded flesh that ran all of the way across their backs.

    “They are people father, just like you and I, not the animals that you taught me that they were. They were bullwhipped often just for amusement. They are my best friends and they would willingly die for me, I love them”

    Batu spoke to him in perfect Spanish. “It is particularly painful when the wounds have not healed and they whip you again. If time and conditions permitted, I would love to give you a taste of how this feels.” The look of hatred in his eyes terrified the King.

    Marianna took Juan Carlos in her arms and spoke to the Queen. “I know that of all people, you understand. This is my grandchild, as he is yours. I love him as you do but I will not see this family torn apart. He needs to be with his parents”

    The queen nodded and Marianna knew that she understood.

    “We would love to stay and talk, but we must leave now.” Andreas said looking at the King. “Yes, it is me, Andreas. Felipe’s father was my brother.”

    “If you ever try to steal our son again, I swear that I will kill you.” Felipe said. He turned to walk away but then stopped and faced the King again. “And by the way, thank you for all of the gold from the forts at Panuco and New Granada. Your grandson will never want for anything.

    The kings eyes bulged, his face turned red, a vein began to throb on his temple.

    They all walked through the door into the passage, closed it and then hurried down the stairwell as the King struggled at his bonds trying to get the gag out of his mouth. They again quickly crossed the dark grounds, then ran to their camp.

    “We must make haste, there is no time to spare.” Felipe said to Carmen. They ran through the forest back to the lifeboat and rowed out to the Vengeance. It was still hours before the dawn but they wasted no time weighing the anchors and unfurling all of the sails. By dawn they were over the horizon sailing toward Tortuga.

    The King’s aid thought it strange that there were no guards standing at his door. He put his key in the lock and turned it and then opened the door. He was shocked to see the King tied and Queen tied and gagged, he quickly rushed to him and took his gag out. “Quickly! Call in the guards!” the King shouted. The young boy ran out of the room and soon the room was full of soldiers who untied their hands and feet.

    “Mount a full brigade and go to the harbor! My grandson was taken by the pirate Felipe Montoya and they probably headed for his ship. Sail all available ships in every direction and find them!” he sat up in bed rubbing his feet and wrists with a very angry look. “Get Chavez down here immediately!”

    A soldier ran up the stairs and pounded on Chavez’s door. He opened the door with an angry look having been awakened. “What is the meaning of this!?” he demanded.

    “The King wants you in his chambers immediately! The boy was kidnapped last night by pirates. He and the Queen were bound and gagged when they found him” the soldier said.

    As Chavez quickly dressed he wondered how they had infiltrated the castle. He ran to the King’s bedchambers and entered the room. The King had a very angry look on his face and told him “While my personal assassin snored last night right upstairs, the pirate Felipe Montoya and my own daughter entered my private bedchambers and took my grandson right out from under your nose!” He shouted.

    “How did they get past all of the guards and how is this my fault?” Chavez asked.

    Not wanting to reveal the location of the secret passage he shouted “ I do not care how they passed the guards! You were ordered to kill him many months ago! Had you done your job none of this would have happened and my grandson would still be here! I will give you just one more chance. You will leave this morning, kill Felipe Montoya and bring my daughter and grandson back here or I will make the fate of the former Viceroy look kind.”

    Chavez bowed his head and went back up to his room. He went to the window and stared out to the sea. His anger and hatred boiled inside of him, this was twice that this man had infiltrated and taken something from him right from under his nose. First his mother and now his son. He felt like a fool and now his life was also threatened by this man. Angrily, he swore to himself that he would find and kill this man.

  3. They went to the edge of the forest and met her as she approached. She excitedly told them that yes, she had seen Juan Carlos and he remained quiet but smiled at her and knew that she was there looking for him. “He has always been a very smart child.” the princess said. It was bad news that he was not occupying the princess’s old bedroom but instead Felix Chavez was. Felipe was excited to hear this news.

    “At least I know that I can get in there and kill him for what he did to you.” he told his mother.

    “No, the sound of a swordfight or shouting might bring guards.” Marianna said.

    “My old bedroom was on the third floor in a separate spire. The noise would not carry as long as the door was closed, even if they did hear they might even think that he was just practicing with someone. The sound of swords is common in the castle, as long as the castle is not under siege no one would pay attention to it as long as he does not scream out for help.” the princess said.

    “Felix Chavez will not scream out for help.” Andreas said with a serious look on his face.

    “You know this man?” Marianna asked Andreas. “Why did you not tell me before?”

    “I did not want to worry you, he is the King’s personal assassin, I trained him myself.” Andreas said looking at the group.

    “No Felipe! He is a trained assassin! This is too dangerous!” Marianna said with a very worried look at Felipe.

    “And just who trained him? Uncle Andreas did and I am certain that he did not do it from the age of five as I did. I am not worried about this man. Besides that, the secret passage comes in at his room and it is the only way that we can enter the castle undetected.” Felipe replied.

    “We could simply all enter.” Batu said. “We could dispatch him quickly and get your son. Retrieving Juan Carlos is our first priority, not your personal vengeance for the harm that he did to your mother.” he said, looking Felipe in the eye.

    Everyone agreed with what Batu said except Felipe. Felipe thought about this and then said “I agree that getting our son back is the most important thing, but it would be cowardly for all of us to attack him at once.”

    “And what he did to me was not cowardly? He hit me and put me in thumbscrews, he told me that all of the men of the garrison would take turns raping Carmen and myself after he had his way with us. Was this not also cowardly? He deserves no chance and we must retrieve Juan Carlos quickly and escape, that is what is the most important and what we came here to do.” Marianna looked into her son’s eyes.

    “I want to kill him myself!” Felipe said angrily.

    The princess spoke up. “I know that you do, but what if the entire plan to save our son goes bad just because you want revenge? He is our son, my only son. Would you risk all of that for personal revenge? Please Felipe, Marianna read the dispatch that he wrote. He still seeks you and your paths will probably cross again but for the Love of God and our only child, let us now do what we came here to do and save our child. Put your hatred aside for another day.”

    Felipe looked at her and then at the group, they all nodded their heads in agreement. “I agree, we must put saving Juan Carlos and making our escape as our first priority. We shall enter through the secret passage and kill him quickly and quietly. But still, the boy sleeps in the King’s own bedchamber. There are two guards posted outside of his door at all times, how will we kill them without their raising an alarm?”

    They all thought about it and Jean Pierre spoke up “Arrows?” he asked.

    “No, that too is too risky, they could still shout out a warning.” Andreas replied. “We need to get very close and slit their throats. A man cannot cry out with his throat slit. Does the secret passageway open into any other rooms?” Andreas asked.

    “Well we never actually looked. The stones were hewn so perfectly that it was only by an accident that we found the one in our closet. There very well may be another opening into another room. I would imagine that if they were going to make such a passage that there would be an escape route from each floor. It travels along a flat hallway before it leads to the outside. Perhaps there is also an opening leading from the ground floor to the escape route.” the princess said.

    “That makes good sense, as you say if they went to all of the trouble to make such a passage it should have more than one entry. We need to do some reconnaissance tonight and explore the passageway. If in fact, there is another opening on the ground floor, we could approach the guards from the ground floor as if we were going to Chavez’s room. If they have stood there all day and not seen us pass on the way up they would be alerted by men coming down that had not passed earlier.” Felipe said.

    “Agreed, we will wait until dark and explore the passageway. We will need torches and we must wait until it is very late and everyone is asleep. Then we will make our reconnaissance.” Andreas said.

    “And I will be with you.” the princess added.

    “No! It is too dangerous! You will wait here.” Felipe told her.

    The princess looked at him. “We do not even know if there are other doors, but if there are we cannot just swing them wide open. We just need to open them a small crack and I alone can tell which room it opens into. Even Angelica has never seen the inside of the King’s bedchamber. No, I must go so that we know which room the doors open into and make our plans, do not try to stop me, I am going.” the princess said with a determined look. “It is not as if I am going to roam about the halls, we will just look for the doors and I will peek inside each room if the doors exist. My father may very well have his own secret passage, it stands to reason that he would, but perhaps this one passage also has an opening in his bedchamber.”

    “Agreed.” Felipe said. “Are there any other rooms close to your father’s room? We will need a place to hide the bodies of the guards once we overcome them.”

    The princess thought for a moment and said “Yes, there are three other rooms nearby. One large bedchamber right across the hall and two more for when he entertains royalty overnight.”

    Andreas looked at Marianna and said “You did well today and I do not want to risk you again. But if you could go into the castle one more time and just verify that at least one of those rooms are unoccupied at least we would know that we have a place to hide the bodies. Then you must leave quickly.”

    “Of course, I can and will do this.” she said.

    “Batu and Tor have the strength to kill a man with their bare hands. We can act as if we are delivering them upstairs to Chavez for questioning. As we pass the guards they can snap their necks like a chicken. We can then hide the bodies, enter the royal bedchamber and free the boy.” Felipe added.

    “He usually locks the door from the inside.” the princess said.

    “Andreas could pick the lock, he is good at that.” Felipe said.

    Andreas thought about this and said “Yes, but then we would still have to secret the boy upstairs, and if the King is a light sleeper, he could still call out. It would be much safer if the passageway also leads into his room.”

    “Then we will go back to the entrance on the first floor, assuming that there is one and make our entrance by way of the secret passage into his room.” Felipe said.

    “We are assuming a lot, what if there are no other entrances from the passageway?” Andreas said.

    “Then I will break the door down to the King’s room and we will have to fight our way out.” Batu said.

    “Let us hope that there are more secret doors.” Andreas said with a grave look.

    “We will need torches for the passage, I can run very fast so as soon as it gets dark I will run to the Vengeance and retrieve what we need to make them. I will return far before it gets late.” Batu said and everyone agreed.

    They thought about and discussed the plan, fine tuning it as the sun set and darkness fell. Batu left to get the torches and returned three hours later. He sat by the small fire catching his breath. The moon climbed higher in the sky and then started it’s trip toward the other horizon. It was now late and time to go. Angelica, Marianna and Carmen hugged them

    all goodbye telling them to be careful and they slipped through the forest toward the castle.

    Coming to the edge of the forest and the castle grounds, the princess pointed out the corner where the opening to the secret passage was. One by one they ran through the night until they were all gathered at the edge of the castle wall. The princess felt the seam of the large stones of the wall and gave a push. The large stone pivoted inward easily as the other edge swung out. They slipped inside and lit the torches illuminating a long, dark hallway that stretched out in front of them.

    They spread out and each person took one stone pushing against one side and then the other. They worked their way down the hallway until they were almost to the stairway when suddenly the stone that Batu pushed crept inward. He waved his torch and they all gathered. He motioned for the princess to come over and stood to the side. She pushed the large stone very slowly peeking at it’s edge. Finally a crack of light appeared and she looked into the room. All that she saw was a deep purple color from the top of the door to the bottom. She pushed it open more and saw folds and then swung it more open and slipped through.

    Felipe tried to grab her hand, this was not in the plan, she was just supposed to peek into the room, he looked through the door. He too saw only purple with the folds running the length of the doorway and after a few seconds the princess came back and slipped through the narrow opening. They pushed the stone back in place and Felipe whispered to her “You were not supposed to go into the room! You were just to look!”

    “I could not see! The long drapes hid the room! This doorway opens into the Grand Hall next to the fireplace. I could not see unless I walked to the end of the drapes.”

    “We need to mark this door.” Batu said and he rubbed the torch on it leaving a black soot mark against the light tan stone.

    They proceeded up the stairs, pushing against each stone as they went. A little past halfway up the stone in the princess’s hand moved. Everyone watched, they moved the torches away so that the light would not shine into the room. The princess held her breath as she quietly pushed the door inward. She saw a wall and then a bed. On the bed was little Juan Carlos sleeping with the large figure of the King sleeping beside him. The Queen was sleeping next to him.

    She wanted to just run and snatch him away, she could make out his face in the soft light of the oil lamps that lit the room. She got a lump in her throat and her eyes filled with tears. She stepped back and pushed the door closed. She whispered urgently “This is it! This opens into my father’s bedchamber! I can see Juan Carlos sleeping with him and my mother in the bed!”

    All of them were filled with emotion, they all loved the boy and an overwhelming urge to just rush the King was considered and discussed in whispered tones. But logic prevailed, one sound out of the King and the entire operation would be lost. They let the princess lead the way, she knew where the opening was into her room. She cautiously pushed the stone open just a crack and saw that the closet door was closed, but she could hear loud snoring from inside of the bedroom so she pushed the stone back in. Together they made their way quietly down the stairs and once again darted across the grounds and back into the forest. They made their way back to their camp, Marianna and Carmen were excited to hear about the other two doors and they discussed their plans more, then agreed that they all needed to go to sleep.

    Early the next morning Marianna once again put on her chambermaid uniform. Felipe walked her to the road and kissed her goodbye. They watched her walk straight into the castle followed by several of the King’s soldiers. This time she did not look as she entered the gate. She went to the supply room and found fresh sheets and linens and draped them over her arm. She climbed the stairs to the second floor and approached the two guards standing at the King’s door. She smiled at them and they smiled in return. She stopped right in front of them and lightly knocked on the door opposite from the King’s chambers and turned the knob giving it a slight push, it opened slightly.

    “It is unoccupied.” one of the men said. She thanked him and went to the next door and knocked lightly again turning the knob pushing it open a bit. “They are all unoccupied.” the guard said again.

    “Good, then the sheets are clean and there is less work for me.” she said with a smile. She was a beautiful, charming woman and they both smiled back at her and admired her as she walked back down the hall and down the stairs. She made her way through the hallway and back out of the front gate of the castle.

    “And just where do you think that you are going?” a voice said from behind. Her heart leaped in her chest. She turned to see an older, stern looking woman wearing a maids outfit staring at her. “The day’s work has just begun and you are leaving? Who are you? I have never seen you before.”

    Marianna looked her right in the eye and said “I am new, today was to be my first day but I was fired for slapping the shit out of a woman who got rude with me. Would you like to be next?”

    The woman was taken aback, she had a shocked look on her face but said nothing.

    Marianna continued, “You would be well advised to mind your own business and not question strangers in that tone.”

    The woman just bowed her head, turned and walked away but glanced back over her shoulder with a worried look. Marianna walked quickly on down the road and met Felipe just inside of the forest. “The rooms are all unoccupied and the two that I tried are unlocked as well.”

    “This is good news, all that we have to do now is to wait until late tonight and we will get our son back.” Felipe said smiling at the princess. They waited as the night fell and once again tracked the moon across the night sky. When it was very late they made their preparations to go.

    Batu looked around the circle of the faces of his friends illuminated in the flickering firelight. “I have something that I want to say. What we are about to attempt is very dangerous. Some, or all of us may die tonight, but if I die I do not want to go to my grave without first having said this. I will gladly give my life for your son, but first I want to make sure that I thank you for freeing me.” He looked from Felipe to Andreas. “I would never have known the joy of freedom or of having my son if not for the two of you.”

    Andreas and Felipe just nodded at him. They all thought about what he said as they looked around the circle of faces in the firelight from one to the other. Indeed some or all of them may die tonight and it may be the last time that they sat together. But this is what they came here for and they were determined to get the boy back.

    Felipe looked at Batu and said ”I have always considered it an honor to fight by your side and to also have you as a friend.”

    Jean Pierre looked from one man to another and then said “We all made a pact long ago that we would stand together and fight to the death if it came to that. I have not forgotten this oath.”

    He drew his sword and held it up, all of the men drew their swords and clicked the blades together.

    “It is time.” Felipe said.

  4. The courtyard of the castle was a busy place. There were many booths set up and shops lined the walkways. She passed a bakery and smelled the fresh bread cooking. She passed a blacksmith shop and many booths selling leather goods and baskets. Fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts and live chickens in cages lined the road. People were bartering over items and no one gave her a second look.

    Up ahead, she saw a younger woman wearing the same uniform that she was wearing and she followed her. The castle had a wall within it’s walls separating the castle itself from the courtyard. She continued to follow the young woman toward the open gate. Two guards stood at the gate but the young woman did not break her stride as she approached. The guards nodded at her as she passed. Marianna’s heart was beating wildly in her chest but she smiled as she approached the guards. They both smiled back and nodded at her as she went inside.

    Passing through the gate she crossed the smaller yard and entered the door of the castle itself. A large foyer had an arched doorway leading into a huge room. She walked through the door and saw a stairway leading up that was wide enough for six men to walk abreast each other. Large paintings and tapestries hung on the walls and there was a plush red carpet leading toward the stairway and three other doors. The furniture was heavy, dark wood with fine carvings in it. A stone fireplace as long as a horse carriage was laid into one wall and a fire burned in it.

    The young woman walked on through the center door and Marianna followed her. She entered a hall, walked to a door, opened it and entered. Marianna pretended to be straightening a picture when a few moments later the young woman came out with a bucket, a mop and some towels folded over her arm. She smiled as she passed Marianna and Marianna smiled back. She then went into the door that the other woman had went into and found a large supply room. It was filled with cleaning supplies, buckets, brooms, mops and dusters.

    She took a duster, walked out and began to explore the castle. She followed the hallway to another large room, it appeared to be a receiving area. Several more halls and doorways led away from this room. It too was lavishly appointed with plush furniture and gold gilding, very large paintings and tapestries covered the walls. A large bowl of fresh fruit and a fine silver flask of wine sat on a table with silver challises. The King lived very well on the backs of the working class.

    She opened the center door and saw a very large room with a long table in the center. The chair at the head of the table was tall and plush. A huge fireplace was behind the head chair and a fire burned there. Suits of armor lined the walls as well as swords and weapons of every kind. The room was unoccupied so she explored it, she had heard the princess describe the castle, this was obviously the Grand Hall where the King received visitors and had feasts with visiting dignitaries. At this early hour he was obviously still bathing or being dressed.

    She left the Grand Hall and explored the ground floor. The rooms were large and servants scurried about cleaning and preparing for the day. She found the large kitchen bustling with activity and a smaller dining room to the side where the servants were eating. She walked down a long hall and two men turned the corner, one was very tall. She immediately recognized Felix Chavez and turned her back dusting a small table. Her heart pounded in her chest, he did not give her a second glance as he passed talking to the other man.

    When they passed she quickly went the other way to the stairs going up. The second floor consisted of a hall with large rooms on either side. One of the rooms had two guards stationed outside of the door, the guards did not even look at her as she passed. From the princess’s description she also knew that this was the King’s bedchamber. She was headed for the old bedroom of the princess hoping that the boy would be sleeping there. This would make it very easy as the secret passage was right there in the closet.

    She climbed the stairs up the spire, found the door and knocked lightly then waited. She knocked again, louder this time. Still receiving no answer she opened the door and entered. The room was unoccupied so she closed the door behind her and quickly looked around the room. She went to the closet and saw men’s clothes, most of the shirts were black or shades of dark. There was a desk with a sheet of paper on it. She read the paper, it was a dispatch to the Viceroy of the new colonies instructing him to expand the search for Felipe to all of the outlying islands. It was signed Felix Chaves and a cold chill spread down her back. She quickly exited the room.

    More people were beginning to move about the castle now. She was on the second floor again when the King himself stepped out of the room as she approached. He was dressed in resplendent purple with white stockings and a long, flowing cape. She bowed deeply as he passed but he gave her no notice. Trailing behind him was little Juan Carlos and a surprised look came over his face. He smiled and opened his mouth to shout a greeting. Marianna shook her head urgently and held her finger to her lips pointing at the King walking on down the hall.

    Juan Carlos nodded his head still smiling at her and followed the King. He kept looking back at her as she followed a short distance behind them to the Grand Hall where they entered and closed the door behind them. She remained outside near the Grand Hall for several hours, pretending to be dusting when anyone approached. Breakfast was brought in, then later lunch. The day wore on and many people entered the room as the evening approached. Many of them were officers of the Navy and Army until in the evening a large dinner was brought in on many trays.

    She stood off a distance at the intersection of a hallway until finally the King walked out followed by Juan Carlos. As he followed the King he looked down all of the hallways and then finally behind him and saw Marianna. He smiled and again Marianna held her finger to her lips and winked at him. He also held his finger to his lips smiling as they walked up the stairs. Both went into the King’s bedchamber and the door was closed. The boy was sleeping in the King’s own room.

    She left the castle while Felipe and Andreas watched her through their spyglasses. “Well, she made it through the first day. I wonder if she has located him?” Felipe said.

  5. You may have to enroll in "Ereaderlove" to get these, many are lame but a few are good. This one sounds promising...All Different Kinds Of Free

    Jessica McCann (Author)

    A free woman of color in the 1830s, Margaret Morgan lived a life full of promise. One frigid night in Pennsylvania, that changed forever. They tore her family apart. They put her in chains. They never expected her to fight back.In 1837, Margaret Morgan was kidnapped from her home in Pennsylvania and sold into slavery. The state of Pennsylvania charged her kidnapper with the crime, but the conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the first time a major branch of the federal government had made a pro-slavery stand, and the ruling in Prigg v. Pennsylvania sewed the bitter seeds of the states’ rights battle that eventually would lead to the Civil War.Yet, the heart of this story is not a historic Supreme Court ruling. It is the remarkable, unforgettable Margaret Morgan. Her life would never be the same. Her family had been torn apart. Uncaring forces abused her body and her heart. But she refused to give up, refused to stop fighting, refused to allow her soul to be enslaved.Jessica McCann’s work as an award-winning journalist has been published in Business Week, The Writer, and many other publications. ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF FREE is her first novel. Learn more about McCann online at www.jessicamccann.com.

    Get this eBook now

    Here's a link.. http://ereaderlove.c...le-2712-post-1/



    The Vengeance sailed back to Tortuga and anchored. The women waited anxiously on the shore as the men rowed back. When Felipe told them that Juan Carlos had been kidnapped and brought to the King they all began to cry.

    “At least we know that he is alive and now we can go and get him.” Felipe said.

    “We cannot just storm the castle.” Marianna said.

    “We can get into the castle undetected. Angelica and I found a secret passageway when we were children. It leads from the outside wall near the forest to the closet in my old bedroom.” Victoria said.

    “The problem will be locating him within the castle and then getting him out.” Added Angelica. “We cannot just wander around inside looking for him.”

    “We learned a good lesson on the road in Panama about attacking a much larger opposing force, we can get a lot further using stealth than we can by using force. We killed over six hundred men without one single loss of our own.” Felipe said.

    “Yes, we need a plan, or a plant inside of the castle. Someone who could move about without drawing attention to themselves.” Jean Pierre said. “You two are familiar with the inner workings of the castle, is there any one of us that you think could just blend in and be able to act as a member of the staff there?”

    The two women looked at the group and their eyes both locked on Marianna. They looked at each other and smiled. “Yes! Marianna looks like she could pass as a chambermaid, one who cleans the castle. There are many chambermaids and new ones are hired all of the time. No one ever pays attention to them, they can roam about the castle freely.” Victoria said.

    “We could make her a uniform and no one would give her a second look.” Angelica added. “Once she finds the boy and discovers in which room he is sleeping, it will be just a matter of slipping in late at night and taking him back.” Angelica looked at her. “Are you willing to do this Marianna?”

    “But of course! He is my grandson. I can do this.” she said, looking from Felipe to Andreas.

    “Very well then, we will begin laying provisions on the Vengeance tomorrow and sail as soon as possible.” Andreas said. “Are you certain that you can make this uniform? We do not want to compromise the safety of Marianna.”

    “Yes, we have the fabric that we need now, we will have plenty of time to make it on the voyage. It is a simple black dress with a white collar, not difficult at all.” Angelica said.

    “I will begin gathering the things we will need for the voyage.“ Andreas said, he rose and walked away. The rest of the men followed him and the women hurried off to their cabins to pack.

    By midday the following day the Vengeance was fully loaded for the long voyage. The men kissed the women goodbye but this time the princess, Angelica, Marianna and Carmen went aboard. The mighty ship weighed anchors and slipped out of the cove then deployed all of her sails. They surged across the Atlantic toward Spain.

    The trip was long but they had a burning purpose to which they were all committed. Carlos kept them well fed and entertained often playing his violin on the deck at night. The princess and Angelica described the interior of the castle in great detail to Marianna so she could seem to be familiar with it. After two and one half months they finally spotted land. They sailed past the harbor of Madrid and made shore when they were out of sight. Tents and provisions were loaded onto the lifeboat then they made the trek through the forest toward the castle.

    The forest here was not thick like the jungle of the Yucatan and the new colonies. There were hardwood trees but not as much ground cover. Still, it was sufficient to conceal them. They found a place near the castle and pitched a camp forming the tents into a circle to conceal the firelight that they would make at night.

    Early the next morning Felipe and Andreas were watching the castle through their spyglasses. The massive gate was open as it always was when the castle was not under siege and many people including the commoners went freely in and out of the castle grounds. Only at night was the gate closed. The princess explained that much commerce went on in the castle grounds as goods were brought in and sold like a general market.

    Marianna put on her chambermaid uniform and said “How do I look?”

    “You look wonderful, even as a maid.” Andreas said.

    “Please be careful mother.” Felipe said and hugged her.

    “You need not worry about me, I will be just fine. I will locate my grandson and we will get him back.” she smiled at him and kissed him. They escorted her to the road and she walked toward the castle. They ran back to watch the road with their spyglasses and after a while they saw her walking toward the gate. When she got to the gate she paused and looked at the forest. She smiled and then walked through the gate.

  7. Marianna got up with a worried look and rushed off to Felipe’s cabin. Soon Felipe and the princess began calling his name. Batu and the rest of the village joined in. It was getting late in the evening and everyone was very worried because the jaguars would soon come out at night. They searched the shoreline and the women prepared torches so that they could continue to search at night if he did not return soon. Victoria was very worried about him as was everyone. When darkness fell the men got weapons and continued searching the jungle at night. The women could hear the men calling his name deep in the jungle.

    One by one they returned, all except Felipe, Andreas, Jean Pierre, Batu, Tor and Ajamu. They returned at dawn to see if he had been found. After eating a quick meal they resumed the search, everyone feared the worst and could not imagine what had happened to the child. The jungle was not a place for a six year old boy to be lost in and they again searched all day and through the night. Again they returned at dawn exhausted and had to catch a few hours of sleep before they could go on.

    The search lasted through the night again, the men were determined that they would find him. At dawn on the third day Felipe rang the bell at the pavilion to summon everyone to formulate a plan. When everyone was assembled the princess looked around “Where is Raphael?” she asked.

    The men all looked and sure enough Raphael was gone. “That son of a bitch! He has taken him!” Felipe shouted.

    “Quickly! We must sail to the settlement, perhaps he has not booked a passage yet!” Andreas said.

    The men ran down to the shore and rowed out to the Vengeance. They weighed anchors and quickly got under way. It took three hours to get to the settlement and Felipe did not even wait for the anchors to drop. He dove into the water followed by the rest of his friends. A few men stayed aboard to anchor her. The men ran from tavern to tavern asking about Raphael.

    Finally at the third tavern a man nodded his head when asked. “A man such as you describe with a young boy were here three days ago inquiring about booking passage to Veracruz.” he said. “I understand that a local fisherman got a very good price for the passage, as he seemed to be in a great hurry.”

    “He has a three day lead on us, but at least now we know that Juan Carlos is alive and where he is headed.” Felipe said. “We must hurry and lay on provisions, we can do that here. I will send one man overland back to our village to tell the women and we will be on our way.”

    They sent one man back to the village, hurriedly purchased provisions and sailed for Veracruz. After five days they saw the harbor of Veracruz and docked around the point to conceal the ship. “You must remain on board Felipe, you are a wanted man.” Andreas said.

    “No! I do not care! This is my only son and I will go to look for him! Do not try to stop me!”

    The men all tried reasoning with him, assuring him that they would search but he held fast and demanded that he go. They finally relented knowing that they would do the same thing. They entered the city of Veracruz and began searching the taverns and bawdy houses knowing Raphael’s habits. Finally in the fifth tavern they saw him through a window. Felipe agreed to wait outside in case he shouted an alarm.

    Andreas and Jean Pierre approached him and his eyes went wide in fear. How could they have found him so soon? “You will come with us.” Jean Pierre said.

    “Why? Why must I come with you? I am a free man and just decided to visit the women here.”

    Jean Pierre looked at Raphael and said “If you do not get up right now and come with us, I promise you that I will skin you alive and bind you in rock salt. Now, get up!”

    Raphael was shaking as he rose and walked out of the door. As soon as he walked out Felipe grabbed him and drug him into an alley. He shoved him against the wall and hit him in the mouth knocking out both of his front teeth. “Where is my son you son of a bitch?”

    Raphael spit out the teeth and blood and looked at Felipe with fear in his eyes. “I do not know, I swear before God.” he said, Felipe hit him again.

    “Please Felipe, I do not know where he is.” he said knowing that Felipe would kill him if he told him. His only chance was to lie.

    Jean Pierre said “Save your fists, I will get the truth out of him.” He took off his belt and secured it around the man’s neck and yanked him roughly behind him. They led him back to the rowboat and pushed him in. Jean Pierre tied his hands behind his back, then cut all of his clothes off. They cast off and rowed out until Jean Pierre was satisfied with the depth of the water, then they stopped. Jean Pierre wrapped a length of chain around his ankles as Raphael began to beg him not to drown him.

    Jean Pierre made him stand and then sliced the top of both of his feet with his razor as the man screamed. He then pushed him into the water. His feet sank quickly with the chains on them and he struggled to reach the surface. He was finally able to stand as his head rose barely above the water coughing and gasping for breath.

    “Please, I beg you, I know nothing.” Raphael said.

    “Shut up!” Jean Pierre said as he watched the water around Raphael. The trails of blood were carried along with the tide. Soon a large crab came walking sideways along the bottom. It pinched off a small piece of flesh from Raphael’s wound and began eating it. Raphael screamed in agony, the salt water entered the wound as the crab tore off another piece. He was screaming loudly as the blood began to make more of a large red trail that dissipated along the current.

    Very soon more crabs began following the scent of the blood and his feet were surrounded with them. Still he screamed as more came and they began to climb up on top of each other, up his legs tearing at his flesh and eating him alive piece by small piece.

    “Please! I will tell you! I sold him to the man who had the wanted posters! Felix Chavez, he has taken him back to Spain! Please free me!”

    The large crabs were up to his genitals now and were tearing at the tender flesh there. The men looked at him with contempt. Jean Pierre took the oars and rowed away as Raphael screamed and begged them to return. By dawn there was only a white skeleton left of Raphael ,waving back and forth in the waves. A skull with one empty socket and one blue glass eye stared out to sea. The Vengeance sailed back toward Tortuga.

  8. Hi John,

    You wrote: "I don't write for any specific audience, I write about what fascinates me and have never written in the same gender twice."

    For some reason...I think I like that.

    Hey have you ever read any of the Slave Narratives? I read one of the volumes recently and was surprised to "hear" the stories of some of the ex-slaves...how they viewed the time period and how they viewed themselves. I think the dialogue needs to open up more in the schools about this very real part of all of our history. Glad to hear that you're involved w/seminars and reading to the children. Nice to meet you.

    Writergirl, I led John here from another writer's forum. I asked if anyone wrote for an African American audience and was immediately attacked. The person went so far as to say, and I quote through cut, copy and paste his words in blue. I'll bold the really offensive parts...

    anyway, i don't much like what i've read of authors 'targeting' ethnic markets. i'm pretty 'whatever' about it because i'm white and as such their existence is pretty irrelevant to me. but i like to think even if i was black i wouldn't go near those sections of bookstores. why not? well, because i don't like thinking of people in groups (i actually consider that quite racist, regardless of the good intentions behind it). also i don't think that in 21st century america with a black president, we should be in the business of encouraging the kind of patronizing, post-colonialist, affirmative-action crap that so often is counter-productive and divisive.

    also, and call me cynical, but i think such 'genres' can actually be pretty bad for fiction in general. they manipulate publishing houses into diverting precious resources into markets that are baseless and artificial (what racist crap goes into deciding what makes an AFRICAN-AMERICAN book anyway? does it have to be set in the ghetto? does it have to star lil'kim? does everyone eat fried chicken? give me a break, its such a fundamentally racist concept), thereby encouraging negative stereotypes and giving less-talented writers preference on the basis of their subject matter. write a good book about slavery and i'll buy it. write a mediocre book and i won't, no matter how you market it.

    Set in the ghetto and eating fried chicken? and this guy is accusing me of stereotyping and being a racist? This person then went on to say...

    Originally Posted by Ditchviewpost-right.png

    Racist? Is targeting the young audience with an endless parade of vampires not the same thing? You write what a certain group of people may want to read. Romance appeals mainly to women, technical writing appeals more to men. History buffs will seek out relevant parts of our past, divers like reading about diving, it is just another genre.

    nope, because none of those other audiences are defined by race. a 'black person' is not the same as a 'diver'. divers are all united by a specific common interests and passion...diving. is the suggestion that black people have specific common interests? that really sounds quite racist to me. like i say, i give it a pass because it doesn't infringe upon my existence, largely because i am white, but i know if i was black i'd probably find it pretty patronizing.

    And...most black folks i know couldn't care less about slavery.

    So, for openers, he denied that there was any such thing as black literature or any use or appeal for it. He then said he was white so blacks existence was "pretty much irrelevant to me", than asked what crap went into deciding what makes an African American book anyway, all the while, shouting that I was a racist. It's amazing to me just how clueless some people can be. I left the link to this website so that he could indeed see that many people are interested and write for this genre, but I seriously doubt that such a shallow mind can grasp the fact that African Americans are interested in their contribution to our history and their particular struggles with slavery and prejudice that still exists. Funny, those who scream "racist" are usually the biggest racists themselves, or at the least, insecure about their own true feelings of those of other races. I'm not white, I'm a Spaniard and I'm so much darker than my wife I consider us an interracial couple and have told her so.

  9. Raphael went to his cabin and got a large amount of reales. He left the village and walked through the jungle to the settlement on the far side of the island. The sun was setting when he finally arrived tired and thirsty. He went to a tavern and began to drink heavily. He was still very angry but he was afraid of Felipe.

    Several men were sitting at a nearby table looking at a document. It caught his eye and he went to the table to look at it. It was a wanted poster with a likeness of Felipe offering 50,000 reales. He began to think about the offer, he had plenty of gold but he wanted another glass eye and that could only come from England. He read the poster and saw the name of Felix Chavez in Veracruz asking for any information.

    He got a room and went to sleep. In the morning when he was sober, he formulated a plan. Raphael was not a stupid man, he figured that Felix Chavez was probably a ruthless and treacherous man as he was hunting Felipe. He worked through it in his mind all day and in the evening he began to inquire about purchasing passage to Veracruz.

    A small fishing boat was willing to take him for a price so they loaded provisions and sailed for Veracruz. Several days later they landed, Raphael paid the man and asked him to wait for him. He went to the Viceroy’s compound and asked to see Chavez. A soldier escorted him to a building and to an office. The soldier knocked on the door and opened it. Chavez was sitting at a desk writing a document and he looked up at Raphael.

    “What do you want?” he asked.

    “A man approached me with an offer. He was afraid to come directly to you so he asked me to be his messenger. He claims to know the location of the princess.” Raphael said.

    Chavez got up quickly and walked toward him. “Where is this man now?”

    “I do not know, as I said he is afraid to approach you himself, he said that you might torture him for the information in order not to pay the huge ransom. He was a stranger to me when I met him in Merida. He offered to split the reward with me if I acted as his messenger but that is not what I want. I want a glass eye so that I will no longer have to wear this patch. He also told me that Felipe was killed in a battle, he claims to have witnessed this himself.”

    “Then why would you come here seeking the reward if Felipe is in fact dead?” Chavez asked.

    “Because Felipe and the princess had a son, the heir to the throne that the King wants so badly. He says that the princess is very well guarded but he could get the boy and deliver him to you.”

    Chavez looked at him while he thought about this. “How would I know that the boy was actually the Kings grandchild? He could simply deliver any child to me. Do you also take me for a fool?”

    “He claims that the boy has a birthmark identical to the one that the King has. He says it looks somewhat like a red fish, it is on the boy’s stomach. He claims that the King would recognize it immediately and there would be no doubt in his mind.”

    Chavez’s heart began to beat fast. He had seen the mark on the King’s stomach and very few people knew that it was there. He now believed Raphael. “You will take me to this man now!” he said stepping forward.

    “I do not know where he is, he is a very cautious man and frightened of you. He says for me to return to Merida if you and I can strike a bargain and he will find me.”

    “Then we both shall go to Merida and you will point him out to me.” Chavez said. “I will give you the entire reward.”

    “ He will never approach me if he see’s soldiers or a stranger in town. He knows everyone there and would spot a stranger immediately. As I said, he is a very cautious man and very shrewd. I do not want the reward, I want a glass eye. Can you obtain one?” Raphael asked.

    “Yes, of course, I know several people who have a glass eye, I can get one.” he said with an evil smile.

    “Blue, like this one?” Raphael asked pointing at his eye.

    “Yes, I can get it quickly, the man will of course not want to part with it but he will. I have the full authority from the King to do whatever I want on this mission.” Chavez said.

    “So, if I deliver the child to you will give me the eye?”

    “Yes, it will be on my desk tomorrow. When can you get the child?” Chavez asked.

    “It will take some time for the arrangements to be made. I must first travel to Merida and then he must take the boy. I will return within the month with him but this man will also want his reward.”

    “Deliver the child, he shall have the reward and you will have your eye.” Chavez stuck his hand out and Raphael shook it, turned and walked out of the door.

    He went back to the fishing boat where the man had laid on fresh supplies and they left for Tortuga. A week later they arrived on Tortuga, Raphael paid him and returned to the village. He found Felipe and the princess at the pavilion and approached them. “I am sorry that I got so angry with you.” He bowed to the princess. “And I apologize to you also Felipe for speaking angrily to your bride, please forgive me.”

    Both the princess and Felipe accepted his apology, he had been with them for years. He went on “I tried living in the settlement but it is far too noisy there. And it is full of thieves, here, everyone respects each other’s property. No one would steal from another here, we all have all of the gold that we could ever want. In the settlement there are people who would slit your throat for the price of a drink. Can I please come back here and live among you?”

    “We never told you that you could not.” Felipe said. “We just thought that you were angry and left of your own accord. Of course you can come back and live here.”

    “Thank you and again, forgive me.” Raphael said. “Now I will go to my cabin and get some clean clothes so that I can bathe at the waterfall.” He looked around. “I missed this place, it is good to be home.” He smiled at them and walked to his cabin.

    The princess looked at Felipe and said “I do not trust him.”

    He let several days pass and saw that they were not watching him. He acted friendly but one morning he rose early and went to the pavilion. He saw Juan Carlos walk down the trail into the jungle. He waited a few minutes and then he followed, once on the trail he hurried up to catch the boy. After a few minutes he caught up with him and told him “Hey Juan Carlos, guess what I found in the jungle yesterday?”

    “What did you find?” the boy asked.

    “I found a huge skeleton of a crocodile! The head alone is this long!” He held his hands wide apart. “You should see the teeth!”

    “I want to see it!” he said excitedly jumping up and down.

    “Well, I do not know, it is a very long walk for your short little legs.” he said smiling.

    “I can keep up with you, I am very fast. Please take me to see it!”

    “Very well then, but as I said, it is a very long walk and then we will have to take a boat so we had better hurry along. Come with me.” He walked off and the boy followed behind him.

    Later that evening Neo came walking to the pavilion. Marianna said “Where is Juan Carlos?”

    “I do not know, I thought perhaps he was hiding from me. We do this a lot, it is our favorite game.” Neo answered.

    “We thought that he was with you!” Marianna said. “You have not seen him all day?”

    “No, I have not seen him, as I said, I thought that he was hiding from me.

  10. Time passed and Victoria’s time was soon approaching. One day they were all sitting in the pavilion when Carmen walked up with a basket. She approached Andreas and said “I have prepared a meal of fried chicken, potatoes and fresh greens. I also have a bottle of fine wine that Jean Pierre gave me. Would you like to join me for a picnic at the waterfall?”

    “Of course.” Andreas said smiling at her, that sounds wonderful.”

    He rose, said goodbye to everyone and they walked toward the trail then into the jungle. Not a word was spoken until they went into the jungle. Marianna looked at Felipe and smiled. Felipe looked at Jean Pierre who said with a smile “It is a good match”

    Andreas and Carmen began spending a lot of time together. Victoria’s time was drawing very near and they had plenty of gold. Their thirst for revenge had been quenched and they all agreed there was no need to roam the seas. Felipe anxiously awaited the birth of his child. The rainy season began and the skies darkened. Most of the men left for the safety of the stone buildings in the settlement on the other side of the island. Of them, only Carlos and Jean Pierre remained with the original group of the former slaves, Felipe, Andreas, Victoria, Angelica, Marianna and Carmen. One day the skies got much darker than usual and the lightning increased in intensity. The wind began to howl and even the sheltered cove began to whip into large waves.

    “A tempest is approaching.” Andreas told them. “Quickly, gather some more food and water and we shall move to the safety of the cave.”

    They quickly gathered up food, water, rum and brandy then went to the cave. Andreas led the horse while the princess carried Puco in his small cage. The men lit the lanterns and then built a large fire in the center so they could stand near it and dry their clothes. The thunder reverberated in a deafening sound inside of the cave as the wind began to howl and shriek outside. They were safe and happy to have the refuge of the cave. An evening meal was prepared and as they ate the princess grabbed at her belly and winced. Everyone stopped eating and looked at her.

    A few minutes passed and a pain hit her again, this time she doubled over. Marianna and Carmen helped her into one of the private rooms that had been constructed and asked for more lanterns. Trees began to crash to the ground outside as the flashes of lightning illuminated the opening and floor of the cave in a bright blue light as the bolts flashed in rapid succession. The thunder and wind began to drown out Victoria’s cries of pain as Felipe paced with a worried look on his face. Little Neo sat close to his father clutching his leg with his eyes very large and frightened. Batu comforted him and let him know that everything was alright.

    The tempest was at it’s peak when they heard a baby crying from behind the partition. Andreas looked at Felipe and smiled. After what seemed like a lifetime Marianna opened the partition and waved them back “Come and meet your son.” she said with a big smile.

    Felipe ran into the room and saw his baby being cradled by Victoria. She was smiling at him and said “Here, hold your son.”

    Felipe took the boy in his arms, he was much more comfortable holding a baby now that he had held Neo a lot. He knelt down and let Neo approach and look at the child. Neo had a big smile and stroked the baby’s head. Felipe unfolded the blanket and looked at his child. “What is this?” he asked as he examined a red mark that somewhat resembled a fish on the boy’s stomach.

    “It is a birthmark. My father has one just like it in the same place. Such things are not unusual, my mother and I both have a mole on our inner thigh in the same place.” Victoria told him.

    Felipe touched it lightly and seeing that it did not hurt the child was not concerned about it. He folded the soft blanket back around him and smiled at the child. He looked at Batu and then held the child in his palms, high over his head to meet God and to receive his blessing as Batu had done Neo. In a loud voice he said, “Behold, the only thing greater than thyself! I name you Juan Carlos!”

    Marianna smiled at him and said “Well, are you going to let me hold my grandson?”

    Felipe smiled and gently passed the child to her. She was smiling down at the baby and said “He is a very special child.”

    “Indeed he is.” Victoria replied. “He is the heir to the throne of Spain.”

    They all looked at each other as the weight of the words hit them. This boy was the King’s grandson and the heir to the throne. They were all lost in their thoughts about what the future might hold for the child. If the King found out that he had a grandson, he would devote all of his energy to finding the boy but there was no need to tell him, not now anyway.

    Late in the next day the tempest had passed and it was now just a light rain and a few gusts of wind. The men told the women to stay in the cave while they surveyed the damage. They had to climb over the fallen trees back to the village. Most of the cabins had survived but all had lost their thatched roofs. Rain and leaves had blown in when the roofs were lost. Two of them were totally destroyed by trees that fell on them. The hog pen was also destroyed, a tree had fallen on the fence and the hogs had escaped. Somehow the chicken coop survived, the chickens must have taken shelter in the henhouse, they were now pecking in the mud.

    The large pavilion was a total wreck. The support poles remained but the entire structure of the roof was gone as it was constructed of poles gathered from the jungle. They walked to the cove and were relieved to see that the Vengeance had weathered the storm. She had been moved slightly but her large anchors had held. She was riding low as water had seeped into the hold through the hatches even though they had been battened down. The water would have to be bailed out and the hatches opened, she would dry quickly in the sun and wind. The Marianna was blown onto the shore and sand was piled along the sides of her hull. She also would have to be dried out and rolled on poles back into the water.

    They agreed that the damage was not too bad considering the strength of the storm and were lucky that it had passed quickly. Had it stalled out over them, the Vengeance might have been put on the rocks. Slowly the men returned from the town to check on their cabins and they all began working together on repairs. The women gathered thatch for the new roofs and had the leaves drying in the sun as the men constructed the roof supports.

    The Vengeance had it’s hold bailed out and the hatches opened so the heat and wind would dry it. The Marianna was cleaned and rolled back into the water. The last thing they worked on was the pavilion. The large roof was repaired and after a while the village was back to normal. Pigs were brought in from the town after the fence was repaired and life finally settled back down to normal. Neo was walking now and little Juan Carlos was crawling around the pavilion under the watchful eye of the women.

    Andreas and Carmen were spending a lot of time together and everyone was pleased that they were happy together. Carmen had been a widow for many years and Andreas had never been married having spent ten years at sea from a young man. Time passed and everyone was happy on the island, they had everything that they needed here but there was much discussion about moving to a remote part of the mainland where it was uninhabited but gave better shelter from the tempests. The core group still kept the cave a secret from the rest of the men so they would always have a safe refuge. They could not shelter everyone there and it made a very good hiding place for their shares of the gold.



    Six years passed and Neo had grown very tall for his age. Juan Carlos and he were the best of friends and spent their days playing in the jungle, mainly near the waterfall. A favorite game was hide and seek. The island with the surrounding jungle and it’s waterfall was a magnificent place for the boys to explore. It was like a huge playground. They often played in the clear waters of the cove and especially enjoyed going fishing with Felipe and Andreas. The only place off limits to them was the settlement on the other side of the island but they did not care to go there. They preferred the jungle and would often stay gone all day, at times just returning for a quick bite to eat. The island was safe, the jaguars only roamed at night and they were always back well before dark.

    One morning Batu woke up early and went to the side of the pavilion with a shovel. He dug a small trench and then a smaller trench crossing it in the center. He found a stout stick and placed it in the cross section. He then got a rock and put it in one end of the trench. He placed a board on the rock suspended by the stick going across the trench. It took a little more digging but soon everything was flush with the ground. He sprinkled dirt and leaves over the board concealing it.

    Whistling, he walked with the shovel to the pig pen and scooped up a big pile of fresh pig shit. He scooped the stinking pile onto the end of the board and then took a gold coin out of his pocket and pressed it down into the pile. He then hid the shovel and sat at the pavilion waited for Felipe. When Felipe walked out of his cabin Batu got up and then pretended to have just found the pig shit.

    “Hey Felipe! Come and look at this!” he shouted looking down.

    When Felipe walked up Batu said “Look.” pointing with his finger. “It looks like a pig ate a reale and then shit it out.”

    Felipe bent over and put his hands on his knees to study the pile and when he did, Batu stomped hard on the other end of the board sending the pile right into Felipe’s face. Batu howled with laughter as he ran toward the jungle. Felipe had to clean his eyes and face so Batu got a good lead on him.

    Felipe gave chase, when he finally reached the waterfall Batu was in the middle of the pool smiling. “Do not be mad at me my friend. I only pick on you because I like you.”

    Felipe washed his face and then saw Batu’s clothes on a rock. He began to dry his face on Batu’s shirt. “Oh I am not mad at you my friend, it was a good prank.”

    “Hey! Do not dry your face on my shirt! That shirt is clean and dry!” Batu protested.

    “Well then, I will go and hang it on your clothesline so it will dry.” Felipe took Batu’s clothes and ran toward the jungle.

    “My clothes! Bring back my clothes!” Batu shouted.

    Felipe opened Batu’s cabin door and threw his clothes inside. As he approached the pavilion he heard angry shouting and he quickened his pace. He saw Raphael holding his hand over his eye and shouting at Andreas. It appeared as if Andreas had hit him in the eye and he was doing a lot of finger pointing. He stepped into the pavilion and asked “What is going on here?”

    Andreas and Raphael looked at him, Raphael was still holding his hand over his eye and was very angry. “Raphael was bathing at the waterfall and he laid his glass eye on his shirt. When he got out it was missing. Puco the monkey had taken it but I found it.”

    “Look at it!” Raphael shouted “It is broken!”

    Raphael was a handsome man and he was very vain. He prized the glass eye so that he did not have to wear a patch. The princess was sitting with the women and held Puco tightly in her arms.

    “You have enough gold to buy a hundred glass eyes thanks to us. I will pay for the eye.” Felipe said.

    “You cannot buy a glass eye anywhere in the new colonies or even Spain for that matter!” he said angrily. “This eye came from England and I can never return there, I am a wanted man with a death marker on my head there! That is the only place that they make them! I will now have to wear a patch on my face.” He looked at the monkey with hate.

    “This is all your fault!” he pointed at the princess. “That little bastard has been stealing things ever since he came here and you do nothing about it! You seem to think that it is funny!” He took a step toward her and she held Puco closer.

    Felipe drew his blade and said “If you take one more step toward her I will kill you here and now. You will also lower your voice and speak with respect to my bride.”

    Raphael looked at Felipe angrily but he wanted none of him and that was obvious. He turned and stormed away toward his cabin. “Perhaps you should keep him close for a few days until Raphael calms down.” Felipe told the princess. She nodded her head and pet the monkey.

    “Hey, look at this.” Andreas said as he pointed toward the jungle. Batu was naked, running as fast as he could with two banana leaves held in front and behind him. He made it to his cabin and darted inside slamming the door.

    “I wonder what that was all about?” The princess asked.

    “I have no idea.” Felipe said with a smile.

  11. Early the next day the princess chose a ring from her jewelry box and instructed Angelica to secretly give it to Felipe without his mother seeing it. ‘We would not want for him to get in any more trouble with his mother.” Angelica giggled. She went to find Felipe.

    Marianna and Carmen came in with some small white flowers and a bouquet of slightly larger ones of a soft yellow. They fussed over brushing the princess’s hair and helping her with her makeup.

    Angelica found Felipe in his cabin with Andreas. He was wearing his finest clothes, clothes that he had not worn since arriving on the island. His hair was brushed and tied back and he was clean shaven. “My, are you not handsome this morning.” she said. She handed him the ring and said “Act like you bought this, you can purchase another one soon. It is bad luck for you to see the bride before the wedding. You must remain in your cabin until she is aboard the Vengeance.”

    Felipe agreed and she went back to the princess’s cabin. When she walked in the princess had the small white flowers laced into her hair, she looked absolutely radiant. Batu and Shayla were there also dressed very nice. “Batu and Shayla are going to give me away and you will be my bridesmaid.” the princess said.

    They all walked out together and got into the rowboat. Once aboard, Marianna got very busy planning where everyone would stand and instructing Batu and Shayla how to escort her and give her hand in marriage. The men and other wives started arriving in the rowboat as they made trip after trip to the shore. The women were very happy and were all very colorfully dressed.

    Finally the rowboat approached with Felipe and Andreas and the princess was hurried down the stairwell to wait for him. Felipe and Andreas boarded and Marianna told them where to stand. Two lines were formed leading up to the stairwell while the rest of the people encircled them. When everyone was in place Marianna nodded at Carlos and he stepped forward nestling his violin under his ample chin. Marianna and Carmen hurried down the stairwell.

    Carlos waited a few moments, then began to play the wedding song. Marianna and Carmen climbed up the steps smiling as they approached Felipe and Andreas, then stepped to either side. Next came the princess holding her flowers, smiling with Angelica right beside her. Batu and Shayla were standing on either side of them. They stopped and Andreas asked “Who gives this woman to be wed?”

    Batu turned his only ear toward Andreas and wrinkled his brow, pretending to have difficulty hearing him. The princess elbowed him hard in the ribs and everyone laughed.

    “Shayla and I give her hand in marriage.” he said with a smile and placed the princess’s hand in Felipe’s then he and Shayla stepped aside.

    They turned to face Andreas. He began to speak. “We are gathered here today to witness the exchange of vows between Victoria and Felipe.” he began. He then opened a Bible and read. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

    He looked at Felipe and said “Repeat after me.” Andreas paused after each phrase letting Felipe say the words. “ I Felipe take you Victoria for my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

    Felipe repeated the words as he smiled at her.

    “Now you Victoria. I Victoria take you Felipe for my lawful wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

    Victoria recited the words as the women watching began to sniffle and wipe at their noses. Felipe was surprised to see Batu also wiping his eyes and smiled at him. Andreas continued asking them both to repeat the following words together.

    “Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you, For where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. And where you die, I will die and there I will be buried. May the Lord do with me and more if anything but death parts you from me.”

    Andreas looked at Felipe “Place the ring on her finger and repeat after me. I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness. As I place it on your finger, I commit my heart and soul to you. I ask you to wear this ring as a reminder of the vows we have spoken today, our wedding day.”

    Felipe repeated the words and Andreas continued. “By the powers vested in me by God, as your Uncle and the Captain of this ship, I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss your bride.”

    Felipe took her in his arms and kissed her, the crowd all clapped and cheered. She turned her head and threw the bouquet, it went straight to Angelica who caught it and looked at Jean Pierre. The crowd again cheered and the men all came to shake Felipe’s hand while the women hugged Victoria.

    “Now we must feast and celebrate! Launch all of the lifeboats!” Andreas said. They made their way to the shore and a huge meal was prepared. They celebrated, drinking fine brandy and ate a big meal. The evening wore on and the fires were lit. The moon climbed into the sky and the drums played as the women danced and celebrated. Finally the night ended and one by one they all went to their cabins.



    Andreas found Felipe alone on the deck and approached him. “I did not want to frighten your mother by saying this in front of her. The man who captured her, Felix Chavez is the King’s personal assassin. I trained him myself and he is a deadly man. He is relentless.“

    “I will find and kill him for doing this to my mother.” Felipe said staring at Andreas.

    “He is a very dangerous man Felipe.” Andreas said.

    “I will send him to meet God and his judgment.” Felipe replied with a confidant look.

    “Very well.” Andreas said.

    As they sailed into the cove at Tortuga Marianna and Carmen stood at the rail and watched the wives waving from the shore. As the ship swung around to drop anchor Felipe said “I see Angelica but not Victoria.” to Jean Pierre.

    “Perhaps she does not feel well.” Jean Pierre said.

    “I certainly hope that she is not ill, I really am looking forward to meeting her.” Marianna said.

    They lowered the lifeboat and Felipe rowed his mother and Carmen to the shore with Andreas. The rest of the men swam and some were already on the shore. As they made the beach Angelica came walking up holding Jean Pierre’s hand. Felipe asked her where the princess was. “At the pavilion, come.” was all that she said.

    Felipe led his mother and Carmen down the trail, he saw the princess sitting with her back to him. He walked up behind her and said “Victoria, I have a big surprise for you.”

    She turned her head slightly and said. “And I too have a big surprise for you.” He saw the corner of a smile.

    She rose and turned around smiling, she was very pregnant. Felipe’s eyes bulged out and the princess rushed to him and hugged him. Felipe was speechless. “Is this your mother? She is beautiful!” the princess said. Marianna hugged her and introduced her sister Carmen.

    “Felipe! You did not tell me that she was pregnant! What a nice surprise! I am going to be a grandmother!” She hugged the princess again as Batu and Shayla walked up. Batu was also very happy.

    “Neo will have a playmate.” he said.

    “So, how long have the two of you been married?” Marianna asked.

    The princess looked at Felipe and he looked at his mother, he said nothing.

    “You mean to tell me that you have not married her?” Marianna asked with a astonished look. “I raised you better than that.”

    “But I proposed and she accepted!” Felipe said. “There are no priests on this island!”

    “Felipe!” Marianna said angrily. “You have not married this lovely woman even though she carries your child?” She put her hands on her hips as Batu stood there with a huge grin on his face. He just loved seeing Felipe being chastised by his mother.

    “I did not know that she was pregnant until just now! We have been gone for four months!” he stammered.

    “You must marry her immediately! You must make an honest woman out of her! Shame on you Felipe! Come here child.” She again took the princess in her arms and gave Felipe a stern look.

    “Where shall we find a priest?” he asked.

    “Is not the Captain of a ship allowed to marry couples at sea? Who Captains the ship when you do not?”

    “Uncle Andreas does.” he said.

    Marianna looked at Andreas. “Very well, the wedding will take place in the morning!” She beamed at Victoria, holding both of her hands in hers. “You must now propose to her.”

    “I told you that I already did and she has already accepted.” he said while Batu smiled largely at him. He wrinkled his brow at Batu’s amusement.

    “That has passed, you must propose again.” Marianna said.

    “Will you marry me?” he asked.


    Felipe dropped to one knee and removed his hat. He looked at his mother and then looked into the princess’s eyes. “I love you more than life itself. Will you marry me?”

    She smiled and said “Of course I will marry you.”

    “That is better.” Marianna said smiling.

    Felipe rose and looked at Batu. “I see that things are going to be very different on the island now that your mother is here.” Batu said.

    “Shut up you big buffoon.” Felipe said smiling.

    “Momma’s Boy.” Batu replied with a smile. He took Shayla’s hand and they walked to his cabin and closed the door.

  13. Batu quickly put his palm over the man’s mouth and nose and grabbed him by the back of his head with his other hand. He lifted the man off of his feet and stepped back behind the building as the man kicked at him and struggled trying to break Batu’s iron grip with both of his hands. Batu pinned him against the wall with his knees and with a quick, powerful twist broke the man’s neck and eased him to the ground.

    Again he watched the guard walk and turn, this time he peeked around the building before he darted across. Together they eased to the back wall of the small jail. A yellow square of light with bars across it shined on the ground and they crept toward it.

    Batu was tall enough to see into the window so he slowly eased his head and looked inside with one eye. He saw a woman sitting in the cell crying and another woman seated at a table with her back to him. Her arms were on the table in front of her and she had her head down on the table crying. A man sat on a wooden chair watching her.

    Batu crouched down and looked at his friends. He nodded his head and held up two fingers. He then spread his fingers on the top of his head and made waving motions as he drew them down to his shoulders. He then held up one finger and drew both of his index fingers along the top of his lip like a moustache. The men all nodded their heads.

    Inside of the jail the man had been studying Marianna for hours. She was beautiful and very helpless with her thumbs in the thumbscrews. He thought about what Chavez had said about them all taking turns on them after the questioning was over. He decided that he would be first, Chavez was not coming back until the morning and he would not care. When he got up Marianna looked up at him with tears streaming down her face. He walked behind her, encircled her waist with his arm and roughly yanked her up to a standing position as he threw the chair to the side. Marianna screamed out in pain and begged him to stop.

    Outside Felipe heard his mother’s cry and ran to the door. The guard unbuckled his belt and undid his trousers pulling them down to his knees. He was reaching for the bottom of her skirt when the door burst open. He tried to pull his pants up but Felipe was on him in an instant. He stabbed the man through the center of his throat slicing through his windpipe. The blade exited the back of the man’s neck with the cutting edge facing out toward his ear. He used the man’s spine as a fulcrum and sliced the entire side of his neck open. The man’s head fell to the right with no muscles to hold it up on one side.

    He tried to cover the huge gash with both hands and Felipe delivered a vicious kick to his crotch before he fell to the floor. Andreas quickly released the thumbscrews while Jean Pierre cut the ropes underneath the table. Ajamu and Tor guarded the door. His mother was free and she got up and embraced Felipe tightly crying “I knew that you would come for me.”

    Felipe hugged his mother while Andreas searched the dead guard for the key. Finding the key he unlocked the cell and Carmen came rushing out. Carmen hugged him and thanked him. Andreas held his finger to his lips and whispered “We must make our escape, quietly!”

    Andreas eased the door open while Felipe took his mother by her wrist so that he would not hurt her hands. Andreas motioned with his hand and they quietly slipped out of the door and ran behind the building. They eased silently to the edge of the building again seeing the guard walk his post.

    “This is too risky.” Jean Pierre whispered. “Let me just kill him and be done with it.”

    “Do it silently my friend.” Felipe said.

    Jean Pierre reached into the sheath on his belt and flipped open his straight razor, it gleamed in the moonlight. The woman’s eyes got large but they had no sympathy for the soldier. Jean Pierre nodded his head, smiled and tapped the brim of his hat with two fingers. He then slipped into the shadows.

    The guard reached the end of his patrol and turned to leisurely walk back in the other direction, his rifle held loosely on his shoulder. The rest of the group watched as Jean Pierre slipped up quickly behind him. He cupped his hand over the man’s mouth pulling his head back and slit his throat from ear to ear, then silently drug him back into the shadows.

    He quickly rejoined them and whispered “I am sorry that you ladies had to witness that.”

    “I have no qualms about it.” Marianna whispered, rubbing her thumbs.

    “We must leave quickly now.” Felipe said.

    He led his mother and the group. They kept to the shadows and crept with their backs against the wall. Finally they came to the dark spot on the wall. Batu reached up and pulled himself up, straddling the wall. He reached down and grabbed Marianna’s wrists and easily pulled her up so she could sit on the wall. She pivoted her legs over and he eased her down. Tor did the same with Carmen as the men all scaled the wall. They crouched in the bushes as a group of drunken soldiers passed noisily by. Then they quickly crosses the street and kept to the alleys until they got to the edge of town and slipped into the dark safety of the jungle.

    Reaching a small clearing they stopped so that the women could catch their breath. The light from a full moon streamed down and illuminated them with a soft light. Felipe introduced everyone and asked about their capture. When she mentioned the name of Felix Chaves, Andreas’s face darkened, but he said nothing not wanting to frighten the women.

    Rested, they made their way to the shore and followed it to their small boat. “That is our ship.” Felipe said pointing proudly at the massive Vengeance riding on her anchors.

    “But that is one of the King’s warships, and a huge one at that. What became of the Marianna?” his mother asked.

    “We still have the Marianna.” Felipe replied.

    “Well, where did you get that ship?” she asked.

    Felipe looked at Andreas for help but Andreas said nothing. He just began smiling at Felipe. Felipe looked back at his mother.

    “Well? Where did you get that ship?” she pointed, demanding an answer.

    Felipe looked again at Andreas for some help but Andreas just kept smiling. Batu was also smiling, seeing Felipe squirm under the accusing eye of his mother. He was enjoying this and Felipe gave him an angry look.

    “I am talking to you! “ she shouted. “Where did you get that ship?”

    “Well… we borrowed it.” Felipe said looking at the ground and shuffling his feet like a little boy caught in the act of doing something wrong. Batu put his palm over his mouth and laughed silently.

    “You have STOLEN a warship?” she screamed.

    Felipe again looked frantically at Andreas for some help but just got a smile in return.

    “And why pray tell, do you need a warship? You cannot fish from a warship. You are still a fisherman, are you not?” she looked at him accusingly.

    “Well.. Yes, I still fish.” he said looking at Batu. Batu could not hold it in and began to laugh softly in his deep voice, he was thoroughly enjoying this.

    “That is not what I asked you! Are you still a fisherman or not? Answer me with the truth!”

    Felipe looked at the ground and said “I am a pirate.”

    “A PIRATE?” she screamed looking very sternly at him.

    Felipe again looked at Andreas for some help and still just got a smile. He was desperate to escape the wrath of his mother’s eye so he pointed accusingly at Andreas and blurted out. “What about Uncle Andreas? He is a pirate too!”

    The women both looked at Andreas with a stunned look on their faces. Andreas pointed at Batu and mimicked Felipe’s voice. “What about Batu? He is also a pirate!”

    The women looked at Batu and he pointed at Jean Pierre. “It was all Jean Pierre’s idea! I was working on a plantation when he found me and tempted me with riches!”

    The women looked at Jean Pierre and he just smiled at them. “I cannot believe that my entire family has become pirates.” Marianna said looking back at Felipe.

    Felipe looked at his mother. “The day they killed my father and we had to flee, I saw you standing at the window watching us leave. I saw my entire life slipping away. They took everything from me, my parents, my home, my very way of life. I swore revenge on the King so we recruited some men, stole a ship and are now pirates to avenge my father’s death.”

    Marianna just looked at him but her face softened. Andreas said “Very successful pirates, I might add. That ship now holds all of the gold from the forts at New Granada and Panuco.” He pointed at the ship.

    Marianna looked stunned as she thought about it. “All of the gold from Panuco and New Granada? That is all of the gold that was stored in the new colonies, how did you do such a thing?”

    “It is a long story and we have a long voyage ahead of us. We must leave now and be over the horizon before dawn. We will tell you everything along the way.” Felipe said, smiling at his mother.

    They boarded the lifeboat and rowed back to the Vengeance. Felipe put Marianna and Carmen in his cabin and they sailed toward Tortuga. Early the next morning he woke up and went to the galley. He heard hysterical women’s laughter coming from inside. As he walked in his mother and Carmen were wiping tears from their cheeks as Carlos stood by with a mirthful look on his face.

    “Felipe, where ever did you find this charming man?” Marianna asked.

    “I have been entertaining them with my collection of off colored jokes.” Carlos said with a smile.

    “And his Chicken Dance is hilarious.” Carmen added.

    “Jean Pierre gets the credit for finding Carlos.” Felipe said. Andreas joined them and Carlos began serving a hot breakfast. It was the first time Felipe had eaten with his mother in many months,

    Felix Chavez walked into the jail and found the women gone and the guard dead. He examined the huge wound on the side of his neck. The entire side of his throat was sliced open. He looked for blood of the opponent and found none. Whoever did this was an expert swordsman and who else would do this except for Felipe himself?

    He was filled with rage at his only source of information being stolen right out from under his nose. He ran from the jail and commanded the entire garrison to quickly assemble. He sent ten men down either direction of the road to search for them and commanded the rest to close off all escape routes and to search every home in the town.

    By nightfall his anger burned inside of him and he swore to himself that he would capture and kill Felipe.



    Felix Chavez surveyed the harbor on Veracruz as the ship approached. It was a very busy port with ships of all descriptions. Frigates, Corsairs, fishing sloops and a few Galleons rode on their anchors. After his ship dropped anchor he got into a rowboat and went ashore. Stepping ashore he went straight to the Viceroy’s compound and showed the Commander of the garrison his letter of decree from the King giving him full authority over his mission.

    He was escorted to the room where the records of arrest, deeds and census were kept. “You may leave now.“ he told the soldier.

    He started with the records of arrest and began going through them. Eventually he found the record of arrest for Felipe Antonio Montoya and began to read it. The arrest took place offshore of Catocha on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Felipe and his father Juan Carlos had been caught in an act of piracy. His father had been killed in the ensuing battle. Felipe was taken into custody and placed in the jail in Catocha after which he murdered a guard and escaped. A search of his property had not found him. There was a crude drawn likeness of Felipe which he studied and then placed the document to the side.

    He went to the property deeds of the area of Catocha and searched for the name of Montoya. Finding no listings he went to the property deeds held by the former Viceroy and was amazed at the number of them. Any property seized by the Viceroy for the commission of crimes was supposed to be sold at auction with the proceeds going back to the King, However, all of the deeds showed that the property was legally sold to the Viceroy, not confiscated. He removed all of the deeds and began going through them.

    Finally he found the deed of land that had belonged to Juan Carlos Montoya. He noted the grid area then went to the maps. Finding the proper map he removed it, laid it on the table and drew a circle around the property. He then took the likeness of Felipe, the map and all of the former Viceroy’s land deeds. He had just became a very rich man, the King would have no trace of all of the land that the Viceroy had confiscated and would assume that he had hidden the deeds.

    He took the documents with him and found a boarding house. After a hot bath and a good meal he went to a tavern to drink and partake of a woman. The next day he had his ship loaded with provisions for the trip to Catocha. He paid a months rent in advance and concealed the deeds in the closet folded in some clothes. He took the map and the likeness of Felipe with him and sailed for Catocha.

    Four days later he dropped anchor in the small port of Catocha and went straight to the smaller garrison there. He examined the cell where Felipe had killed the guard and then had made his escape. He then took a horse and using the map rode to Felipe’s former home. Having been abandoned for many months the property had fallen into disrepair. Where once there had been well cared for land and a pasture, weeds had now sprouted up. The door of the house hung open. He dismounted and tied his horse to the rail.

    Stepping through the door he saw many dried muddy bare footprints and a large room devoid of any furniture. It was totally barren having been looted by the local Mestizos after it had sat vacant. Everything was gone, he stepped into the kitchen and cabinet doors hung open as well as the pantry. They had stolen everything down to the last dish. A large mark on the floor revealed where the wood burning stove had once stood. It was the same in every room as he walked through the house. All clothing and furniture were gone as well as some of the interior doors along with their hinges.

    There were no clues to be had here so he walked out to the barn. It was the same, stripped bare. Even a lot of the wooden planking had been removed. He walked down to the deserted dock and stared out to sea for a moment thinking. He took out the map and examined the property line. A house stood in the distance with a chicken coop behind it, a cow grazed in the pasture. He mounted his horse and rode to the house. As he approached the house a small dog came out yapping at him.

    A portly, middle aged woman came to the door and was surprised to see a man riding toward her porch, they never got visitors. He noticed that she was smoothing her hair and apron as he approached. He dismounted and smiled at her. “Hello, my name is Felix Chavez and I would like to inquire about the property next to yours. It is vacant and I would like to see if it is for sale.”

    “I am Maria Padilla, I am pleased to meet you. The property is indeed vacant but no one knows where the owners are. I assume that they were all arrested and are in jail.” she said.

    “In jail?” he asked feigning a surprised look.

    “Yes, it was quite the scandal. They were our neighbors for many years and we thought that they were honest, hardworking people. It turned out that they were pirates!”

    “Pirates, living here?” he asked.

    “Yes, we thought that they were fishermen. His wife Marianna and I often spoke at the fence. We shared dinners together many times with them. Juan Carlos would supply us with fish and we provided them with corn. His brother Andreas seemed like such a nice man also. Who would have ever guessed the truth?”

    “He had a brother living there also?”

    “Yes, Andreas Montoya, they came from Spain together with his wife Marianna, he lived there also.” she replied glad to have someone to talk to.

    At the mention of Andreas Montoya’s name his heart skipped a beat. He knew the name of Andreas Montoya very well indeed. But he concealed his emotions from the woman.

    “We do not receive visitors very often, so I heard it that morning when many horses approached, a full compliment of the Viceroy’s men! They searched the house, barn, boats and all around the property. Then they came and questioned us as to when was the last time that we saw them.” she added.

    “So, you actually did not see them get arrested? Perhaps they are still hiding with friends or relatives.” he said as he looked back at the house.

    “Perhaps, but we were their only friends, they never spoke of others. They tended to their work, or so we thought. We are rather remote from the town so people do not visit out here. The only relative that Marianna ever spoke of was her sister Carmen. She made the Atlantic crossing prior to them. She lives in Catocha, Marianna would visit her every once in a while. She was a widow as I remember. The rest of her relatives remained in Spain as did Juan Carlos’s family.

    “Well I am sure that the Viceroy’s men have searched there.” he said.

    “I would assume that they have, they did not ask me about relatives but they have all of the records of census.”

    He pretended not to notice the information that she had just divulged and turned back toward the house. “The house and barn will need substantial repairs if I were to purchase it, it looks as if it has been looted.”

    “Yes, we have seen many Mestizos stealing from there. They have probably taken everything, we even saw them taking doors! But we keep to our own business. The Viceroy’s patrols never come out here and it would not be wise to anger the locals lest we wake up with our throats slit.”

    “Yes, an attractive woman such as yourself must be very careful out here alone while your husband is at work.“ he said with a smile.

    She blushed and said “Yes, my husband is busy fishing all day but he can protect me when he is home.”

    “Well then I shall ride into town and see how much they want for the property. It would be nice to have a pleasant neighbor such as yourself. If you will pardon me, I will take my leave of you now.” He removed his hat and bowed his head.

    “It was nice meeting you.” she said with a smile. “What was your name?”

    “Felix Chavez.” he replied swinging into his saddle. He turned and left at a slow trot but as soon as he rounded the curve in the road he kicked the horse and ran it as fast as he could. He did not slow down until he reached the cobblestone road.

    Felipe had been sleeping so when he woke up he went to the galley to get some coffee and then went up on deck. He was surprised to see land. They should be far out to sea by now so he hurried to the stern and saw Andreas at the wheel. “Where are we? We should not be able to see land, I thought that we were sailing for Tortuga.“

    Andreas smiled at him and said “We are close, I thought we would go and get your mother.“

    The men of the Vengeance were all in high spirits with their vast cargo of gold but now Felipe in particular was very happy because they were going to retrieve his mother Marianna. He had missed her badly and knew that she would be delighted to meet the princess. He imagined the homecoming and their meeting on Tortuga. The Vengeance sailed slightly past Catocha then dropped anchor near the shore.

    It was agreed that only Andreas would go ashore to retrieve her, so he once again dressed as a peasant so he could blend in with the other poor town folk. He got into a lifeboat and it was lowered into the water. “I will return shortly with your mother.” he smiled up at Felipe as he cast off the ropes.

    “God be with you Uncle.” Felipe said.

    Felix Chavez rode straight to the compound and to the room where the records of census were kept. He searched through the records for any woman named Carmen. A search of the records revealed only two women by the name of Carmen. One was a very old married woman and one was middle aged and single. He got six soldiers to accompany him and they rode to Carmen’s house. The men kicked in the door and rushed into the house with their guns drawn.

    Two women who had been sitting at a table drinking coffee got up and held each other in fear, startled at the sudden intrusion. The men spread out and quickly searched the rest of the house but discovered no one else there. The tall man approached and looked at them. They looked almost identical, petite with delicate features and large brown doe-like eyes. Both had raven hair that fell past their shoulders, but the older one had wisps of gray sweeping back at the temples behind her ears.

    “ I am Felix Chavez, I am on a special mission for the King. Which one of you is Marianna Montoya?” he demanded. Neither woman spoke so he said “Very well, arrest both of them.”

    “No, I am Marianna, leave my sister out of this.” she stepped forward.

    “You are a wanted criminal and your sister is harboring a known fugitive. Take them into custody!” he commanded the men. They roughly grabbed the women by the arms and pulled them out of the house leaving the door open. People stopped on the street and watched with defiant looks of hatred and open anger at the soldiers. People were routinely arrested for no cause and Carmen was a very well liked and respected member of the community.

    They were taken to the walled compound, to the same small cell that Felipe had once been imprisoned in. Carmen was locked in the cell and Marianna was roughly pushed down into a wooden chair in the center of the room.

    “Where are your son and Andreas hiding?” Chavez asked.

    “I do not know.” she said.

    Chavez slapped her with a hard backhand that snapped her head around. She tasted blood and put her hand to her mouth and then looked at it.

    “Leave her alone!” Carmen shouted.

    Chavez wheeled angrily toward her and said “Perhaps she told you something. I will get the truth out of you or I will have my way with both of you. Then I will let all of the soldiers in this garrison take turns with the two of you. We will keep you here for whores if you do not give the information that I seek.”

    Marianna looked at him as he openly stared at her breasts and licked his lips. He looked her in the eyes and said “We can do this pleasantly, without pain, if you cooperate. But I assure you, I will get the truth out of you. I will ask you once more nicely, where are Andreas and your son?”

    “I swear before God, the last time that I saw them they sailed a fishing boat away from our home. It all happened so suddenly there was no time for them to plan or anywhere to go, they just had to flee. I swear that this is the truth, I do not know where they are.”

    She looked pleadingly into his eyes, searching for any small measure of sympathy but saw none. The man had cold, dark eyes that reminded her of a snake. “I know how to loosen your tongue.” he turned to one guard and said “Watch her. The rest of you come with me.”

    Andreas rowed the boat to the shore then secured it against the rocks. He followed the shoreline the short distance to the town. He walked to the street where Carmen lived and was surprised to see the door to her house hanging wide open. He went to the door and knocked and a couple stopped. The man said “Excuse me senor, are you looking for Carmen?”

    Andreas turned and looked at the old, well dressed couple. “Yes, I am her brother in law.”

    “They took her earlier.” the man said with an angry look on his face.

    “Who took her, and where?” Andreas asked.

    “A tall man with black hair had six of the Viceroy’s soldiers with him. They took her and her houseguest away. They were treating them very roughly. Many are arrested on false charges but Carmen? She was a fine, upstanding woman who gave to our local charities. The bastards have no decency.” the old man said as his wife shook her head.

    “When did they take them?” Andreas asked.

    “Earlier, before midday, they rode toward the Viceroy’s compound.”

    “Thank you.” Andreas said and he hurried away. He got to the boat, shoved it into the water and rowed as fast as he could toward the Vengeance. Felipe saw that he was alone in the boat and rowing very fast. He knew that something was wrong and soon Batu, Jean Pierre, Ajamu and Tor stood beside him. Andreas was winded when he caught the rope that was tossed to him and he shouted out “Soldiers arrested your mother and Carmen just this morning! They took them to the jail in the compound! We must hurry!”

    They all quickly got into the boat and Batu asked for the oars. As he put his full strength into rowing the boat surged quickly forward. When Andreas caught his breath he retold the story. “This is the same jail that you escaped from so you know the area. We will slip in and break her out tonight.”

    Anger burned in Felipe’s face, he wanted to kill them.

    Andreas saw it. “We must be very quiet and not raise any alarm if we are to free them, we must be very silent. We stole an entire warship right from under the noses of the King’s men. You escaped from there alone, the six of us can do this.”

    Felipe nodded his head and stared toward the shore as Batu rowed with all of his might. The sun was beginning to set on the water and it would be dark soon. The men asked Felipe about the layout of the compound and they made their plans.

    After a while the door opened up and the tall man entered looking at Marianna. One of the soldiers was backing in the door carrying one side of a stout wooden table. The soldiers carried the table into the room and sat it in front of Marianna. It had four loops of rope coming up through holes drilled in the table. A set of thumbscrews were mounted in front of them in the center. Dark stains of dried blood surrounded the vise like instrument and Marianna’s eyes went wide in terror.

    The men grabbed her arms and forced them through the loops of rope. Another man tied them tightly from underneath the table, one at her elbows and the other at her wrists. Her thumbs were placed into the device and the top was attached.

    “For the love of God, do not do this!” Marianna said.

    “I do not believe in your God!” the man hissed.

    He began to slowly tighten the thumbscrews as Marianna screamed out in pain. He had pinned the knuckles of both of her thumbs, it was excruciating. He tightened it again and she again screamed and began to cry, sobbing loudly. He stood up straight and said “I will leave you like this to consider telling me the truth. I will not break your thumbs tonight, but in the morning you had better tell me the truth.” He left one man to guard her and walked out of the room.

    When the boat nosed into the shore they got out and secured it. Darkness was falling rapidly as they made their way through the jungle along the shoreline until they came to the edge of town. They walked along inside the jungle until they were very close to the compound, then waited until it was completely dark. They then stole out into the town and made their way through the night.

    They approached the walled compound staying in the shadows until they came to the spot that Felipe had scaled when he escaped. They scaled the wall and crouched in the darkness. Felipe pointed out the way and led them as they darted across the grounds to a nearby building.

    Pressing their backs against the wall, they eased along it until they came to a window with light streaming out of it. They crouched low and passed under it as they heard laughter coming out of the window. When they got to the front of the building they had to cross an opening to the small jail cell. Felipe pointed at it and a guard that was patrolling back and forth along the wall.

    In whispered tones they agreed that they would run across the opening one at a time as the guard turned around to walk the other way. Felipe went first and made it into the shadows. One by one they darted silently across the opening every time the guard turned his back. Batu was the last man remaining. When the guard reached the end of his patrol and turned around Batu stepped out and bumped right into a soldier who had just exited the barracks. The surprised man looked up at him, opened his mouth and drew in a breath to shout an alarm.

  15. Finally an answer, honestly, I was holding my breath as I knew people were reading it, but didn't know how it would be received here. This first novel of mine actually made the 50 semifinalists out of over 2,000 submissions in the amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2010. I have never seen another put chapter after chapter up for people to read, but I was raised very poor and know that some can't afford a Kindle or even see a book as a luxury, so I like doing this, sharing it for free, as long as no one minds. There is a lot more of this story to come, but to me, it gets interesting in the second book, "The Tribe."

    As you will soon see, they really enrage the king and he scours the Caribbean looking for them. They need a new home as theirs is discovered and what better place to go than Belize where all of the slaves that they freed fled to? They have many large tribes and prove to be powerful allies.

  16. The column once again approached and as the twentieth pair of riders passed once again the arrows flew and forty more men fell dead from the back of the column forward. A round object sailed out of the jungle and splattered in the mud in the center of the road. The soldiers again quickly dismounted and got between their horses. Commander Hidalgo walked to the front and looked at his dead men. The head of his scout with an arrow still sticking out of the forehead laid in the road with it’s eyes open.

    He had now lost eighty of his men and had not even seen the enemy. He sent two more men back to the fort for reinforcements and wondered if the first man had ever gotten through. He looked at the road and realized that he could not turn the wagons around. He could not leave the gold and go back for more men, he had no choice but to bury his men and go forward.

    Again the men struggled digging through the mud to bury their dead. The Commander shouted “We will walk between the horses and use them as a shield.”

    The men were relieved at first but after just one half hour they were slipping and bogging down as their boots sunk almost to the tops and they had to struggle just to get them out. Commander Hidalgo looked back and saw that even the wagons had to wait for them to progress and his men were rapidly getting exhausted, this was not going to work either.

    He ordered the men to get back on their mounts but to keep a watchful eye on the jungle. Within the hour they were struck again. Most of them saw the archers but it was at the last second as the men stepped out from behind trees with their bows at full draw. They did not have time to react as they fell screaming.

    “We cannot stop! That is how they are getting ahead of us while we stop to bury our dead! Leave them and Go!” Hidalgo shouted. Wounded and dying men held up their arms and pleaded with their companions as they passed. The men on the horses had to turn their heads as they left their friends bleeding on the road. Finally they got out of hearing as the men slowly died. The men of the Vengeance had a trail cut deep in the jungle that ran along the road and they easily outpaced the wagons once more. Commander Hidalgo was hoping that by leaving his dead he could outpace this unseen enemy when once again the arrows flew and his men fell screaming. The column came to a stop.

    He had lost one hundred and twenty men, he did not know that the ones he sent back for reinforcements were also dead and hoped that help was on the way. He rode along the line counting his troops and saw that he was down to one hundred and sixty men, counting the ones driving the wagons. The rain poured down in a merciless torrential downpour as he stared down the road ahead. He contemplated just leaving the gold and riding back to the fort with his remaining troops but he knew that the King would have all of their heads for cowardice and such a great loss.

    He had no choice but to go forward. And so it went for the next two days. The wagons with their mules struggling to pull the heavy wagons through the muddy ruts and his remaining men falling in groups of forty. Three days later at dawn he had eighty six men left and the morale of his men was getting low. He could hear them murmuring that they were all going to get killed and they were talking openly about deserting.

    He had to rally his men, “We have no choice but to keep going forward! We cannot turn the wagons around in this mud, the road is too narrow. If we abandon the gold we will all be executed.” he told them in a loud voice.

    One man stood up and shouted “I would rather desert the King’s army and flee far into the interior than to just keep marching to our deaths! We are all going to be killed and we have not dropped one of them! Our guns are useless in this rain, we cannot even load them! I say we leave the gold and just disappear into the new colonies, I have a wife and children!” A loud shout of approval went up from the crowd of men and Commander Hidalgo looked around at them.

    “Any man who chooses to not show cowardice and stand with the Kings army, come now and stand beside me. The penalty for desertion is death.!” He stood in the pouring rain looking at the men, not a one of them came to his side. He could not drive all of the wagons alone and he finally resolved himself that he too would have to abandon the gold and go into hiding. Perhaps the King would think them all killed, people would eventually find all of the bodies of his dead troops scattered along the road.

    He hung his head for a moment and then looked at them. “Very well then, I cannot take all of the wagons by myself. You leave me no choice. We will abandon the gold and flee back to the fort.” A loud cheer went up and the men’s spirits were lifted. They ate dried beef and rain soaked tortillas and mounted their horses. They would at least be able to travel at a gallop without waiting for the wagons. They freed the mules so the wagons could not be pulled, mounted up and rode off toward the fort.

    Just as Batu had predicted that they would. The men of the Vengeance had expected this and had split their forces in two groups covering both exits. As Hidalgo and his men approached at a run they stepped out of the jungle and cut them down with arrows. The horses panicked and all of the practice with the bows paid off, each man got off two shots very quickly. After a few seconds all of the Spanish soldiers were dying on the road.

    Andreas walked up to the men and found Commander Hidalgo lying on his back with two arrows sticking out of his chest. He was coughing up blood and when he looked at Andreas he recognized him. “You,” he said and then his eyes rolled back in his head.

    “Remove the arrows so that we can use them again.” Felipe said. They walked among the men pulling the arrows out of them.

    “Take the horses and we will unload the gold.” Felipe said. They mounted the horses and left the Spaniards on the road in the pouring rain. As they passed more dead Spaniards they again retrieved their arrows. Arriving at the wagons they dismounted and pulled back the canvas covering the rear wagon. Inside there were stout wooden boxes with rope loops for handles on the end. Two men struggled to pull the heavy box to the back of the wagon.

    Felipe pried the top off with his knife and opened the box. The gold ingots shined as the rain fell on them. The men were speechless at first and then began to cheer. Felipe took one out and examined it. It was as long as his palm and as wide as his finger. It bore the markings of Spain and it was very heavy for such a small piece of metal. He looked back at the box full of the stacked ingots and tried to imagine how many were in the box.

    He then counted the boxes, there were ten boxes and then he counted the wagons, there were twelve of them. The men were all getting very excited now and everyone was eagerly pulling the boxes out of the wagons and stacking them beside the road. “We can use the horses to drag them through the jungle. We cannot ride them but we can weave our way through the jungle to the Vengeance.

    They tied two boxes on ropes and to the saddle horns and began dragging the boxes to the shore. The rowboat was loaded with as many boxes as it would hold and four extra men. They rowed out to the Vengeance and began pulling up the boxes on ropes and storing them in the hold. Two more lifeboats were lowered and the process was repeated until late that evening all of the gold was loaded. They weighed anchor and sailed along the coast toward Panuco.

    The plan was repeated at Panuco and Andreas approached the fort in the pouring rain. The gate was opened and he was escorted to the Commander’s office. The Commander of the fort was a short man with a pinched face, he resembled a weasel with his pointy nose and brown hair. He rose but did not extend his hand. “I am Commander Ortiz, what is your business?”

    Andreas pulled the dispatch out of the leather pouch and handed it to him without speaking. He untied the string and unwrapped the oil cloth. He then took the document out and studied the seal. “A dispatch from the King?”

    “Yes, I have delivered four others.” Andreas said looking him in the eye.

    He quickly opened and read the letter and looked at Andreas. “This is outlandish! Why would he order such a thing?” he demanded.

    “I do not know.” Andreas shrugged his shoulders. “I am merely the messenger and it has been a very long and tiring trip.”

    “I cannot do this without verification! I will write the King and ask him why he sent this.” the man said.

    “Do as you wish, the other Commanders obeyed him. The King does not like to be questioned and he wants these orders carried out with all haste. You will be the only one who has not done as he commanded.” Andres said.

    The look of fear crept into his eyes and again he read the dispatch, his bony fingers trembled as he read. “Why? Why do you think he is doing this?”

    Andreas repeated the story of the treaty with France that the other Commanders surmised. The man thought about it and said “That does fit.”

    “It is the only logical explanation, as I said, he does not give us his reason but there can be no other explanation.”

    The Commander turned to his Lieutenant and said “I need one regiment to stay here and all of the rest of the men to leave immediately for San Luis. There is a Mestizo uprising there. Have the other regiment begin loading the entire shipment onto wagons and pack enough provisions to make it to New Granada.”

    The man’s eyes went wide but he snapped a salute and said “Yes Sir!” and left the room.

    Commander Ortiz rose and began to pace the room nervously. “It will take months to reach New Granada, especially in the rainy season.”

    “None of the other Commanders liked the orders either, but we are soldiers and we serve the king. I myself have ridden many days and nights through this miserable weather. I am glad that yours is the last dispatch that I have to deliver. Now, I must be on my way.”

    Andreas rose and Commander Ortiz nodded his head slightly and resumed pacing the room nervously.

    Finally Andreas arrived back at the Vengeance and they sailed toward Tabasco where the next raid would take place. It made no sense to wait for the men to make it all of the way to Panama. The jungle near Tabasco was just as dense and the road was just as narrow and bad. Several days past Tabasco the area was unpopulated and was well suited for an attack.

    The attack went as planned, just as the first one did, but the cowardly Commander Ortiz stayed well in the rear. He also abandoned the gold and fled when he was down to a few less that a hundred men but the men of the Vengeance anticipated this because of his obvious fear. Again they were all cut down and this time the line of wagons was huge. Commander Ortiz had his pockets bulging with gold ingots when he was found dead with his men. This time there were twenty seven wagons of not only gold ingots but also coins and silver that was melted and poured into disks that weighed a kilogram each. There were also precious stones and pearls. They managed to get all of it loaded onto the Vengeance but she was riding very low in the water.

    They sailed for Tortuga while the slaves back in the new colonies fled. They had often spoken of it and the word had been passed as to where they would go if ever they escaped. Many of them had been marched overland through a land in the south named Belize. Belize was unpopulated and the thick, mountainous jungle was almost impenetrable. They formed tribes deep in the jungle there and in the mountains. Game was abundant as well as fruit and nuts. They enjoyed their new freedom and soon lived just as their ancestors had for thousands of years.



    They sailed between Hispanolia and Cuba and then took a bearing to southeast. After six days land appeared and they followed the coastline to avoid the shipping lanes. Following along Panama they surveyed the land where the ambush would take place. “We need to be far enough away from the garrison so they cannot send back for reinforcements quickly, several days ride.” Andreas said.

    A location many days from the fort was chosen and they made land. The rainy season was rapidly approaching and every morning there was a hard rain, then the sun would shine again after noon. They constructed some lean to shelters and began stocking wood under them to keep it dry. They planned the attack points and rally points along the road leading back toward their base camps.

    “We will set out men at ten foot intervals. If they ride in standard formation the horsemen will ride in twos side by side. We can count as twenty horses pass before we fire our arrows. With good marksmanship we can drop forty of them at a time and then retreat. In eight separate attacks we will kill all of them.” Andreas said.

    Batu thought about it. “The road is too narrow and will be too muddy for the carriages to turn around. But I think that the first pair of archers should count as twenty pass and be the first to fire their arrows. This would be the signal for the next pair and so on. That way they will not see the men ahead of them being fired on, they will fall from the back of the column forward.”

    They all agreed that was a very good plan. The rainy season was now upon them and torrential rain fell for most of the day. The road was reduced to very deep mud and the ruts filled with brown water. The time had come. Andreas put on his altered Captain’s uniform and loaded the saddlebags so that it would appear that he had ridden a very long way. He rolled up a blanket and tied it behind the saddle. The document had been wrapped in oil cloth to protect it and it was in a pouch of leather that hung from his shoulder.

    “I will make much better time riding alone than the wagons can make, but still it will take me several days before I reach the fort. I will also return far in advance of the column.” Andreas said as he swung into the saddle.

    “God be with you.” Felipe said.

    “And all of you as well. Andreas replied. He pulled his hat low and rode off into the pouring rain. The edge of the road where the vegetation started to grow was still firm and he could make good time but he kept Fiero at a gallop so as not to tire the horse. After three days of riding the fort came into sight, the guard at the gate recognized the uniform and opened the gate.

    A Lieutenant approached him smiling. “It is very foul weather to be out riding.”

    “That it is, but I have an urgent dispatch for the Commander.” Andreas replied.

    “Come this way.” He led Andreas to a hitching post, he dismounted, stepped below the roof and removed his hat slinging the water off of it. He rubbed the rain from his face and shook his coat.

    “Follow me please.” He opened a door and led Felipe through a large room to a door and knocked.

    “Come.” they heard.

    The Lieutenant Announced “This Captain has an urgent dispatch for you.” as he stepped through the door. Andreas waited outside.

    “Well come in.” the Commander said.

    “I am soaking wet, I will drip all over your floor.” Andreas said.

    “Come, come.” the man said motioning with his fingers.

    Andreas entered the room and the man rose to shake his hand. He was a large man with a weather bitten face and craggy features. His beard was unkempt as was his uniform. The man stuck his hand out and said “I am Commander Thomas Hidalgo. Please have a seat.”

    Andreas shook his hand and sat in the wooden chair. “I have an urgent dispatch for you.” He opened the leather pouch and took out the oil cloth wrapped document and placed it on the desk. The commander took it and laid it on the desk and untied the string. He examined the seal and his eyes got large.

    “This is not from the Viceroy, but from the King himself.” he said with awe.

    Andreas nodded his head and said nothing. The man opened it and read the document and then looked back at Andreas. “This could not have come at a worse time.” He looked at the Lieutenant and said “Begin loading the entire shipment on wagons immediately. We must leave for Panuco tomorrow at dawn.”

    “All of it? On wagons during the rainy season?” the man said incredulously.

    “You have your orders! This is a dispatch from the King!” the man shouted waving the dispatch at the man.

    The lieutenant snapped him a salute and hurried out of the room. He looked back at the letter and said “This is going to be a very arduous journey, the roads are nothing but mud. Why would he do this? Why would he free all of the slaves and ship all of the gold to Panuco?” the Commander asked as he looked at Andreas.

    “I have delivered four such dispatches, the most reasonable explanation that everyone has come to is that a treaty has been struck with France. The King is pulling out of the new colonies entirely and handing it over to the French in exchange for other territories.” Andreas said.

    “What other territories could the French possibly have that would be worth all of the new colonies?”

    Andres shrugged his shoulders and said “I do not know what new territories the French have gained, I have been in the new colonies for many years now. The King has to have a reason for doing this. Most, if not all of the gold from the natives here has been gathered already.”

    “But to also free all of the slaves? The landowners paid well for those slaves, they will not want to just release them, they will want to sell them.” the Commander said.

    “To whom? The French? The King is shrewd, if he is in fact handing over the new colonies to the French he probably does not want to give them fully functional farms on a silver platter. They probably did not include the slaves in the treaty so the King wishes them to have to buy their own slaves. If a mass exodus takes place back to Spain, there will not be room for slaves on the ships, only Spaniards and it will be a mad scramble with no time to sell the slaves. Once the ownership of the land is transferred to France we all will have to leave. This is the only logical explanation for his moving all of the gold, he is also in the process of moving the gold from Panuco and all of the other forts back to Spain as we speak.”

    “This is unthinkable.” the man said as he shook his head.

    Andreas nodded his head. “We are soldiers and do as we are told. This is all theory because the King does not tell us why he is doing this but it is the conclusion that was reached by the Commanders at the other forts, it is the only logical explanation.”

    The commander looked back at the dispatch and shook his head. “The trip will take months in the rainy season. And I must also dispatch many of my men throughout our territories to inform the landowners that they must free their slaves.”

    “As I well know. “ Andreas replied. “I have delivered four other such dispatches, something very large is afoot.”

    “I am sorry, where are my manners? May I offer you some brandy and a cigar?”

    “That would be wonderful, I have been on the road for days and it has been too wet to smoke.” Andreas replied with a smile.

    The commander passed him a cigar box, rose and poured two brandies and gave Andreas one. He lit both of their cigars and asked Andreas “Would you like to join us for supper?”

    “I wish that I could, I have not had a hot meal in days but the Viceroy demands that I return immediately to verify that all of the dispatches were delivered successfully. This is very important.”

    “I understand.” the man said.

    Andreas looked around “This must be a good post, you are very far from the Viceroy.” he smiled.

    The man laughed “Yes, that is good but we are also very far from the senoritas as well.”

    Andreas puffed on his cigar and said “Well, at least now you have a reason to go back to Panuco, the women there are beautiful. The Viceroy will expect your men and yourself to rest for several days after your long journey. You can taste the women while you are there.”

    The man laughed and said “Well, yes. As long and difficult as this trip will be that will make it worth it.” he smiled.

    “Well, I must be on my way, I have many miles to ride before the day is done.” He finished his brandy, rose and shook the man’s hand.

    “God be with you.” the Commander said.

    “And with you, I fear that you will need Gods help before I do.” Andreas said as he looked him in the eye.

    “I am afraid that I agree.”

    Andreas turned and walked out of the door, a small smile crept across his face.

    Andreas rode back through the torrential downpour for three days until he reached the marker, two stones on the side of the road and had to dismount to walk the horse under the low hanging branches. After entering the jungle and walking deep into the jungle he came to the path they had cut and was able to ride again. Finally he came upon the base camp and they were glad to see him.

    “He accepted the dispatch without question?” Jean Pierre asked.

    “He is at this moment loading his wagons and freeing the slaves.” Andreas smiled.

    A loud cheer went up from the men, especially Batu and the other former slaves. “It will probably take him a week to reach our first attack point. We should start moving there immediately, it will take us several days to get there.” Andreas said.

    The men packed their food and weapons and began the long trek through the jungle. The rain fell hard but the dense trees overhead caught it and there was a constant dripping of rain through the canopy of trees. On noon of the third day they arrived at the first attack point. Four archers were selected and sent on ahead to guard against any man going back for reinforcements.

    The men selected their spots and cleared some of the small branches so they would have a clear firing line at the road at ten foot intervals. They went back to the first rally point at night and took shelter under the lean to shelters that they had constructed deep in the jungle. Time seemed to crawl by, but at dawn on the sixth day they began their silent vigil. The column did not appear that day nor the next. They all agreed that the deep mud was indeed slowing down progress even more than they had anticipated.

    On the morning of the eighth day Batu was in the pair of first archers stationed across the road from Ajamu. He heard a horse whinny far down the road and looked at Ajamu who shook and nodded his head. They both watched as the column of horsemen slowly appeared approaching them through the pounding rain. Just as anticipated, they were riding in pairs. Batu and Ajamu receded back into the jungle slightly to their firing points and concealed themselves, watching through the leaves.

    The first pair of horsemen went by and Batu counted as they passed. When the nineteenth pair started to pass he brought his bow to full draw. As the next set of riders came into view he released his arrow and struck the man right in the center of his ear. His head whipped to the side and he fell out of the saddle. He saw the other rider fall as well and then he heard screaming as the column of men fell from the rear forward.

    The entire column of men began to shout and he ran as fast as he could, following the small stones back to the next rally point where he met up with the rest of the men. It had gone just as they planned.

    The Spanish Troops did as they were trained and dismounted quickly and hid behind their horses in the center of the road expecting another attack. Commander Hidalgo rode forward and surveyed forty of his soldiers dead in the road. “Lieutenant! Take fifty men and pursue them!”

    “Yes sir!” he ordered the next fifty men in the column to enter the jungle and they crept forward silently and slowly, looking for the unseen enemy. By now, the men of the Vengeance were far into the jungle and heading down the road to the next rally point.

    “Send a man back for reinforcements! I want all of the men that are left at the fort here as soon as possible!” he shouted.

    The Lieutenant sent a man back and he took off at a gallop. However, as he made two bends in the road he looked over his shoulder and slowed to a walk. He was none too anxious to return to the column being attacked by the invisible archers in the jungle. Suddenly four arrows struck him and he fell heavily to the ground. He was drug off into the jungle and the rain washed his blood away quickly. His horse was turned around and slapped on the rump. It took off at a gallop toward the advancing column but soon stopped to nibble on the vegetation.

    The line of Spanish soldiers came out of the jungle a while later and reported to the Commander that there was no trace of the enemy. Commander Hidalgo walked up to one of his dead and placed his boot on the dead man’s chest and pulled the arrow out examining the tip. “This is not a Mestizo arrow, we are being attacked by bandits.” He peered down the road through the pouring rain and saw nothing. “Bury these men quickly! We must move on.!”

    The soldiers struggled digging through the mud alongside of the road until all forty of the men were buried. Commander Hidalgo ordered two men to enter the jungle as scouts in advance of the column as they moved forward. Night fell without incident and they camped for the night. It was a miserable night with no fire in the drenching rain. Felipe’s men realized that the soldiers could not start a fire and decided not to try and attack them at night as the plan was working well.

    Early the next morning Batu was again stationed in his firing position. The rain fell in a steady downpour as he watched down the road. The drops falling on the large leaves was a constant sound but then he heard a different noise, a twig snapping coming from behind him. Even though he had lived his entire life on a plantation, thousands of years of warrior blood coursed through his veins. He was very at home in the jungle, his vision and hearing was very acute.

    He slowly turned toward the sound and looked. All of the leaves were moving from the raindrops hitting them as he scanned the jungle around him. His father had always told him that the spirits of his ancestors dwelled in the jungle and would guide and protect him. Slowly he saw a bush start to part and open up, he saw the hands and then the face of a Spanish soldier appear. He was only twenty paces away but the man was looking in the wrong direction. Batu drew his bow and as the man turned toward him his eyes went wide and Batu released.

    The arrow struck him in the center of the forehead and he fell heavily, twitching on the ground. Batu got another arrow ready quickly and waited but there were no more men. He cautiously approached the soldier and looked through the jungle. Seeing no others he took his knife out. He quickly went back to his position and waved at Ajamu. When Ajamu looked at him he held up the head of the dead soldier and pointed behind Ajamu’s back and scanned his head back and forth. Ajamu nodded and slipped back into the jungle.



    Upon arriving on Tortuga they began to study a map and make plans. They had never done a ground attack and it would require different tactics. The Garrison at the fort in New Granada probably held a regular regiment, over three hundred men. The Spaniards had been conquering the local natives there on the large continent to the south for many years and had accumulated very much gold and silver in the fort that held the garrison. The garrison at Panuco held many more soldiers and much more gold.

    Andreas pointed his finger at the narrow bridge of land that connected the two much larger areas known as Panama.. “This land mass my look small on the map but it is actually very large. Still, there is only one road that leads through it to the new colonies. The rainy season will be upon us very soon and the wagons that they will need to haul the gold and silver will be moving very slowly as the road turns to mud and gets deep ruts in it, they will bog down.

    We do not have enough men to win in an outright battle with them but we can use the jungle for concealment and pick them off slowly with bows and arrows and then retreat back into the jungle. Little by little, we can reduce their forces thirty or so men at a time until we have them outnumbered.”

    He looked around at the eager faces on the men. Jean Pierre said “The amount of gold stored in Panuco is the stuff of legends. Everyone knows that they have been conquering the natives for years and stockpiling the gold and silver. They usually move it out in ships with a large escort but the fort is where it is all accumulated.”

    Batu studied the map and said “Attacking as you say, we could very possibly take all of this gold without losing one of our men. Once their forces are sufficiently reduced, they will probably flee and just leave it.”

    “I like the sound of that.” Shayla said and smiled at Batu.

    “Yes.” Felipe said. “We can send in a hundred arrows at a time, reduce their troops and also attack at night when they are asleep with few guards. We can hit them quickly and then retreat back into the jungle only to attack again.”

    “We cannot allow any one of them to flee. No doubt after the first attack they will send a man back to the fort for reinforcements. We need to station four of our best archers behind the advancing column to stop these men. Also, it will take quite some time to load all of this gold onto the Vengeance, we do not need any alarm raised. It will take weeks before they are missed, the contents of this dispatch are unknown to anyone else. As far as they know, they will simply think that the gold was either stolen by bandits or that the Commander of the fort and his men stole it and disappeared into the new colonies or got on ship for other places. The mystery will never be solved but we cannot let one man escape to tell of the attack. After their forces are decimated to a fraction we will divide our men and cover both escape routes. Not one Spaniard must make it back to the fort and live to tell of this.”

    Andreas stared at the map. “We will need rally points marked deep in the jungle all along the road so that when we flee, we can regroup at a place further up the road to attack again. We could simply place stones for markers to follow and attack them from both sides of the road. If they follow standard battle procedures, they will rally together when attacked to bring their forces into one group. By the time they are ready to launch a counter attack, we will be gone to the next ambush point. The jungle is much too dense to ride a horse through it, they would have to follow on foot and the Commander will not leave the gold unguarded. We can very easily outrun them and get ahead of them with their wagons mired in the mud. They will never notice the stones that lead us back together.”

    “This is an excellent plan.” Batu said. “We can begin gathering the shafts for many hundreds of arrows and you can make all of the points in your blacksmith shop. The women are good at attaching the fletchings of feather. We need plenty of practice, I would like every arrow to count. We all need to fan out and start gathering the shafts, the women can start stripping the fletchings from the chicken feathers.”

    Andreas was still studying the map putting the plan together. He looked at the princess. “I will need your horse Fiero. With a little alteration I can make the Navy uniform that I have to represent that of a Captain of the Kings Army. I will deliver the letter to the garrison.”

    The princess nodded her head in agreement. “Take good care of Fiero please.” she replied.

    “I also need you to reseal the letter with your ring so it will look as if it has not been opened.” Andreas said.

    He went and got a red candle, lit it and handed it to her. She let the candle melt some and then poured several drops of wax on the seal. She blew on it until it was almost hard and then pressed her ring bearing the royal seal into the wax. As Jean Pierre saw this he got an idea. “Why stop there?”

    “What do you mean?” Andreas asked.

    “I can forge another document to the smaller fort at New Granada ordering the Commander there to move his gold by land to Veracruz. We can ambush them where you planned and if it goes well we will be prepared for the larger garrison coming from Panuco.“ Jean Pierre said with a smile.

    “Yes!” Felipe responded. “Still the number of soldiers at the fort in Panuco is huge.”

    “Yes, the fort at Panuco is where the gold from the entire western territories is stored.” Andreas said. “They stopped sending two or more ships loaded with gold several years ago, they are too heavily laden to maneuver well and are easily overcome. Now they only send one at a time loaded with treasure and provide escorts. The gold has built up over the years. That is the largest gold depository in the entire new colonies”

    Felipe let out a whistle, “That would be the largest amount of gold ever stolen at once. I doubt the Vengeance could even load it all.”

    “We could simply bury the rest and return for it.” Jean Pierre said.

    “There are three times the number of soldiers stationed at Panuco, they would send at least two regiments to guard it all.” Andreas said.

    Jean Pierre studied the map “We will put in the dispatch that he is to send one regiment to guard the shipment and to send the rest of the troops to quell a Mestizo uprising in San Luis with all haste.”

    “That is brilliant, I say that we see how the first raid goes. If it goes well, yes, we also will take Panuco’s gold.” Andreas smiled.

    “This is really going to sting the King.” Felipe said. “After the news of this gets out, the King will realize that he did not send the second dispatch and will realize that you are using the royal seal on your ring to seal the dispatches. We will not be able to use it any longer after that.” Felipe looked at the princess.

    “They will not be missed for weeks and it takes over two months to make the Atlantic crossing. We can use the ring for that time to forge more documents.” Andreas said.

    The princess looked at the scars on Batu’s back as he bent over studying the map. “Then we will make good use of it. Jean Pierre has the hand of a scribe as he says. He can forge the letters to also include a royal decree from the King that all of the slaves in the new colonies are to be freed and provided with free passage back to Africa if they wish.”

    Batu looked up at her and a large smile crossed his face. “That too is brilliant. Most will just flee far into the interior and form new tribes, they will not trust getting on another Spanish ship.”

    Shayla hugged her. “Will they actually do this?”

    “They will do anything that is a royal decree and sealed with the ring.” she said with a smile.

    “This will arise suspicion.” Jean Pierre said. “The King would never free the slaves as they work all of his plantations there.”

    Andreas thought for a moment and then asked “Why would the King move all of his gold and free the slaves?”

    “He does not have to explain that in the dispatches.” Jean Pierre said. He thought about it for a moment and said “ When you deliver the dispatches you can say that you have delivered several of them, all saying the same thing and the only conclusion that the other Commanders could deduce is that a treaty has been struck with the French trading the New Colonies for other lands and a truce.”

    “Yes!” Andreas said. “He would not want to hand the French working plantations so he is obviously making them buy their own slaves. If all of the Spaniards are handing the land over to the French they will have to leave and there will be no room on the ships for slaves.” Andreas smiled at Batu.

    “Do you think they will buy into this and believe the dispatches?” Felipe asked.

    “A dispatch sealed with the royal crest is obeyed without question, no Commander would dare not to follow a direct order from the King.” Andreas said.

    “The King is going to shit in his pants when he hears what he has done.” Batu said with a smile.

    “Well, we need to start gathering the shafts for the arrows and practicing.” Andreas said. “This haul of gold is going to be enormous.” and he smiled as did all of the men.

    They all rose and went into the jungle with machetes to chop the arrows. For weeks they chopped and dried the shafts in the sun while Andreas pounded out arrow heads of iron and sharpened them to a razor’s edge. He attached the arrowheads and passed them on to the women who attached the fletchings with glue and notched them. The arrows were stored on racks so they would not warp and after two months they had eight hundred arrows prepared.

    The rainy season was approaching so Felipe and Andreas began to secretly gather wood and lanterns and place them in the cave. They wanted the women to have a safe place in which to take shelter in case a tempest struck while they were gone. They showed the women the cave and told them to keep it a secret. They also constructed partitions of laced together reeds mounted on bamboo frames for privacy and divided the cave into rooms should a tempest come. They moved blankets and bedding in, made hammocks and stored dried beans as well as dried and smoked meat in wooden barrels.

    The women continued to assemble more arrows while the men constructed targets of bundled straw. They quickly got very accurate and fast at firing their arrows. They could get off two shots in three seconds. They began laying on provisions at the first of June as the rainy season was rapidly approaching. Finally the day came to set sail and once again the mighty ship sailed out of the lagoon while the women waved from the shore.

  19. Chapter Sixteen

    Night Moves

    The adjustment on Felipe’s sextant was coming loose so he took it to shore so he could repair it. He got his tools and went to the pavilion for the better light. He placed the sextant on the table and looked into his tool kit for some pliers. When he looked back the little monkey Puco had stolen his sextant and was running toward the jungle. He had lost many items to the monkey over the months but he really needed this sextant so he gave chase.

    The monkey was running toward the trail with his tail whipping out behind him and Felipe feared that once he made it to the trees he would never see his sextant again but to his surprise the monkey stayed on the ground. As the trail began to rise the monkey darted off of the trail on the left side into some thick bushes. Felipe ran through the bushes and discovered the opening to a cave.

    The opening was slightly taller than a man but narrow. He peered inside but saw only blackness. He considered sliding his feet along the floor but realized that was useless because he would not be able to see once he was inside. Right then the monkey darted out between his legs and ran back toward the village without his sextant. At least he knew where it was now and he went back to the village for a lantern.

    He saw Andreas and told him about the cave, Andres wanted to come along so they got two lanterns and Felipe led the way. They lit the lanterns and stepped inside. Felipe saw something shiny on the floor but something on the wall caught his eye. He raised his lantern and saw a very old gate made of poles lashed together with vines, two stout poles were also leaning against the wall.

    The walls had paintings on them and he and Andreas raised their lanterns to examine them. They had a strange quality about them, primitive but also done with a good hand. The colors had faded but some dull red and blue could still be seen. One depicted several men with lances surrounding a wild boar, another was a battle between two tribes. There were fish, birds, a jaguar and a shark. “These look very old.” Felipe said.

    “Yes, I have heard of caves with old paintings in them in other places around the world. These people have probably been dead for a long time now.” Andreas replied.

    They turned back toward the center of the cave and saw shiny things in a pile. They approached the pile and Felipe’s sextant was on top of it. He knelt and picked it up and examined the pile of stolen goods. There was his belt with the shiny brass buckle, several reales, a cup, a pair of dice, three pieces from Andreas’s chess board, a hat, buttons, a gold snuff box and many other assorted shiny items.

    “Raphael will be glad to get this back.” Andreas said holding up a glass eye.

    “He has been a busy little bastard.” Felipe said.

    “I say that we do not take all of it, he may find a new hiding place. We should leave most of it, at least we know where to come and get our things now.” Andres said picking out his chess pieces. Felipe agreed and took only his sextant and belt. They rose to explore the rest of the cave.

    They began at the door and walked in opposite directions following the wall. There were more paintings and the remains of several cooking fires. A pile of small animal bones were heaped against one wall and there was some broken pottery. Felipe felt a draft and discovered a small shaft angling upward with fresh air coming in but it was too small for a man to fit through. They met back up and agreed that there was only one entrance.

    “We should keep this to ourselves for now. We never know when we may need a safe place to hide and this would be a good shelter from a tempest.” Andreas said and Felipe agreed. They walked back to the pavilion, Andreas got a cup of coffee and sat at the table. There was something about that cave that was tugging at his mind, he was sure that there was a message there, a lesson to be learned.

    He imagined what life must have been like for those primitive people living in the cave. The gate was no doubt propped up against the opening at night to protect them from animals. They obviously cooked in there as was evidenced by the fire but probably only at night. He thought about the large storms, the tempests that came with the summer heat. At times they would stall out for days sending trees crashing down with their violent winds and pouring tons of rain.

    Yes, they would be safe in the cave but trapped inside for days and nights, they would soon run out of wood as the tempests often came up very suddenly. He tried to imagine living in that world of darkness for days on end. They must have known the cave very well just to move about to drink water and go to the bathroom in total darkness. A smile spread across his lips, that was it.

    He called Felipe and discussed it with him. Felipe quickly agreed and they rang the bell summoning everyone to the pavilion. When everyone was gathered, Andreas began to speak.

    “Our time at sea is equally divided between the night and the day. At night all ships sail with their lanterns burning so they can see to move about and sail the ship. But even the smallest amount of light carries very far across the water at night giving away their position as well as ours. If we can learn our ship well enough to sail at night with no lights, we can get very close to other ships and catch them in total surprise. We will only use a few candles in the passages below the waterline so that no light shines from our ship. Tomorrow we will begin the training, does anyone have any questions?”

    With the generous amount that they were being paid there was no quarrel so the next day they all went to the ship. All of the men had specific stations and duties so they worked on them one at a time. The number of steps were counted from the mast to the rail, turn left for ten steps to the stairwell. They tied small ropes from the rail to the stairwell to act as a guideline. The men below on the cannon decks had the most difficult job, at least on deck there was some light from the moon and stars. They had to learn to load the cannons in total darkness. Sticking the fuses into the small holes was extremely difficult but with time they mastered it. They placed the measured bags of gunpowder and cannon balls very close in racks.

    Once the ship was paced off they took blindfolds and tied them around the men’s eyes and practiced moving about the decks in daylight. Batu wanted to be the first. Tor was the only one tall enough to put the blindfold on Batu without him stooping .When he stuck his arms out in front of him and began to awkwardly walk forward a huge amount of laughter spread across the ship. He looked like a large ghoul that had risen from the grave.

    Within a few weeks they could move about quickly and even run. Even when blindfolded at night they could perform their duties. They were ready to sail again so they loaded the ship and were eager to try their new night tactics. They sailed to the shipping lanes and began the back and forth patrolling that had brought them success before. At night they sailed with no lights as the moon waned they became more accustomed to it.

    On the sixth night they spotted the lights of an approaching ship so they sailed head on toward it. As they got closer they went into a wide sweeping turn and came up from behind it. The men aboard the Esmerelda had seen no lights so they were not suspecting anything and casually sailed along their course. Slowly the Vengeance pulled alongside of her at a very close range. The cannon doors were open and aimed at the other ships cannon decks.

    When they were in position they fired all of their guns at once. Most of the Esmerelda’s men were sleeping on the cannon decks and there were many casualties. Men began pouring onto the decks as the men aboard the Vengeance fired flaming arrows soaked in pitch at her sails. As the arrows pierced the sails the pitch stuck on them and they rapidly began to catch fire.

    Men were throwing buckets tied with ropes overboard and trying to put out the large pieces of burning canvas as they fell onto the decks. They did not want their decks to catch fire and they were so busy trying to contain the fire they never saw the Vengeance slide into position on the other side of the ship and fire another volley into the other cannon deck. Most of the cannons carriages were destroyed and the cannon decks were rendered all but useless.

    The Vengeance sailed off a short distance and watched the men fight the fire. With the strong wind all of her sails were quickly burned away and she came to a slow stop, dead in the water and began to drift helplessly. The Vengeance sailed large, lazy circles around her until dawn and then took up a position behind her. Once the sun was up it was plain that she was a smaller galleon.

    Aboard the Esmerelda Captain Munoz eyed the large ship off of her stern with what was left of her crew. The Vengeance sent up the red no quarter flag demanding a surrender.

    “That is the Vengeance.” The first mate said. “They are known not to kill men who willingly surrender.”

    Captain Munoz turned his head to look at him and said sharply “We will not surrender! And you know why.” He looked back at the Vengeance.

    “Captain! What choice do we have? We have no sails, we can not maneuver! Even if we could our guns are all but destroyed. We have no choice!”

    The Captain continued to look at the Vengeance demanding an answer with her crimson flag. “We will not surrender!” he repeated.

    Felipe and Andreas were watching through their spyglasses and could clearly see the Captain standing defiantly at her stern rail. The Captain drew his sword and waved it in the air. “It appears that they choose to fight, a really foolish decision.” Andreas said.

    “Brave men.” Batu added.

    The first mate again pleaded “Captain, please!”

    “Silence you coward!” Munoz shouted.

    The first mate looked at the men standing behind him, several of them slid their index finger across their throats. The first mate nodded and pulled his pistol. He shot the Captain point blank in the back of the head and he fell over the rail into the sea.

    “It appears that the crew does not agree with his decision.” Felipe said.

    “A wise choice.” Batu said with a smile.

    A white surrender flag was quickly raised aboard the Esmerelda and the Vengeance slowly sailed alongside. Grappling hooks were thrown and the two ships were tied together. The men of the Vengeance boarded quickly and approached the first mate who was standing in front of his men with their arms raised.

    “What is your cargo and destination?” Felipe asked.

    “We are bound for Vera Cruz and we carry no cargo, only provisions.” the man replied.

    “He is lying, he is hiding something.” Jean Pierre said.

    The man looked nervously at Jean Pierre, Andreas lowered his eyelids and cocked his head. “Why would the King waste valuable cargo space and send a Galleon all of the way to Vera Cruz unloaded?”

    The man said “I am only following orders, the Captain alone knew the purpose of our voyage.”

    Again Jean Pierre said “He is lying! Give me a few moments with him and I will get the truth.” He reached into a sheath on his belt, produced a gleaming straight razor and flicked it open. The man’s eyes went wide open in fear.

    “It may come to that in a moment.” Andreas said. “Batu, take your men and search the hold for cargo.” He looked back at the first mate “Take me to the Captains quarters. The man walked to the stern with Andreas, Felipe and Jean Pierre following him. The rest of the men guarded what was left of the crew on the deck.

    The Captains Quarters rose higher than the cannon decks and had sustained no damage, compared to the ruined upper decks this room looked as if nothing had happened. Felipe went to the desk and opened the drawers while Andreas slid a large sea chest away from the wall. He produced his picks and picked the lock. Jean Pierre moved to the bar and poured himself a glass of brandy then stood in the corner keeping his eyes on the first mates eyes.

    “There is nothing of value in the desk.” he said.

    Andreas opened the chest and there were the usual items, reales, a gold snuff box, a fine hand compass and a parcel wrapped in paper and tied with a string. Andreas removed the parcel and opened it revealing a stack of documents all the same with Felipe’s likeness and announcing a reward of 50,000 reales for his capture dead or alive. “It appears that the King knows your name now.” Andreas said.

    “Good, I want him to know my name.” Felipe replied.

    While they were studying the document the first mate shot a quick glance at the desk and then looked back at Andreas and Felipe. He had forgotten Jean Pierre at the bar in the corner and then looked into the blue eyes of Jean Pierre and saw a small smile spread across his lips. Jean Pierre looked at the desk, there was only a cigar box and a bottle of brandy on top of it. He walked to the cigar box and opened it, it was filled with fine cigars and he took one out, smelled it and then lit it.

    He looked back at the first mate and even though there was a good breeze blowing through the windows, a small trickle of sweat ran down the side of the man’s face. Jean Pierre smiled again and moved the cigars to the side. He took the box and emptied it on the desk and flipped it over examining the bottom. He again turned it up and looked inside of it. He took his dagger and touched the tip against the bottom of the box. He measured and marked the distance with his finger and then held it along the side of the box.

    There was an extra inch of depth between the tip of the blade and the bottom. He flipped it back over and placed it on the desk. He then pried at the bottom of the box, it came off revealing a hidden compartment. Two documents were folded and sealed with a spot of red wax. He examined the wax seal then said to Andreas and Felipe “Look, this bears the royal seal of the King. I told you that he was hiding something.”

    “I knew nothing about it!” the man protested.

    “Silence!” Jean Pierre hissed at him.

    Felipe took the document and carefully peeled the wax away and opened it. All three of them read it silently.

    “To the Commander of the Garrison,

    You are to move overland with great haste all of the gold and silver that is stored in the garrison of Panuco. You are to deliver it overland to the Commander of the fort at New Granada. This gold must not fall into pirate hands so I therefore dictate that you transport it immediately by wagon.

    King Phillip III.

    They read the next document as well.

    To the Commander of the Garrison at New Granada,

    Prepare to receive the shipment of all stores of gold and silver from Panuco coming by land. You are to ship all of this gold, as well as all that is stored in your fort through the passage of Trinidad, not the Caribbean back to Spain as soon as you receive it. It is to be escorted by all available galleons.

    King Phillip III

    The three men smiled at each other and carefully folded the document back up and placed it back into the compartment and then tapped the false bottom back in place.

    “I now see why the King sent an entire galleon unloaded to the new colonies, this is a very important dispatch.” Andreas said to the first mate. The man just looked at the floor. We will spare your lives as you surrendered. Go up and have your men abandon ship.”

    “But we are hundreds of miles from any land! We will all perish!” the man said.

    “Not by our hands.” Andreas said. “We are going to scuttle this ship, I would advise you to get in your lifeboats.” The three men walked out of the room and he followed quickly behind them.

    “Start unloading what cannons were not damaged as well as the powder and shot.” Felipe announced and his men went below decks as the crew of the Esmerelda loaded the lifeboats with food and water and lowered them over the side. When the goods were loaded two kegs of powder were laid against the hull amidships and a trail of powder was poured. They untied the lines and touched off the powder as they shoved off.

    Their sails caught the wind and they pulled clear. After a few moments a large explosion blew the decks out in the center and the ship broke in two and quickly sank. The sky was getting dark and flashes of lightning could be seen to the east. The wind was picking up and the waves were rapidly building. The Vengeance turned away and fled before the storm.

    “I fear that the men in the lifeboats will not fare well.” Andreas said.

    “Such is the way of the sea.” Felipe replied and they set a course for Tortuga.



    Time passed quickly on the island and life there was good. Shayla was now nine months pregnant. Angelica and the princess were sitting with Shayla when she suddenly grabbed at her lower abdomen and winced. “I just got a pain.“ she said. A few minutes later she had another and she stood up holding onto a post that held up the roof of the pavilion. A sudden gush of water came from under her skirt and ran down her legs to the ground.

    “We need to get you to your cabin where you will be comfortable.” the princess said. They held her hands as they walked to the cabin but shortly before she got there she stopped and doubled over in pain. They anxiously waited for the pain to pass, got her inside and laid her on her bed.

    “What do we do?” Angelica asked, “I have never birthed a baby before.”

    “Go get Mia, Ajamu’s wife. At least she has seen a few children born in the past.” Shayla said.

    Angelica nodded her head and ran out of the room. Victoria poured some cool water on a piece of cloth and began to wipe the sweat from Shayla’s forehead. Shayla began to moan and then hold back screams regularly as the contractions came and went. Soon Mia came hurrying into the room with Angelica and raised Shayla’s skirt to look.

    “The baby will be coming soon, look.” she said. Angelica and the princess looked and there was a small patch of hair showing as Shayla dilated. “We will need clean water, go and boil a pot of water and get some clean linens, I will need a sharp knife and string also.”

    Angelica and the princess ran out to get what was needed and saw Batu returning from the river with some fish on a rope. “The baby is coming!” Victoria shouted at him. His eyes went wide and Victoria pointed toward his cabin. He dropped the fish and ran toward his cabin.

    Batu ran inside and took his wife’s hand. She tried to smile at him when a sharp pain hit her and she screamed out and rolled onto her side. “Do something!” he shouted at Mia.

    “The baby will come when it is ready, you need to get out of here and let me do this without your screaming distracting me!” Mia said.

    “Please go, wait outside Batu, I will be fine.” Shayla said.

    Batu did not like leaving his wife but he hated even more seeing her in pain. He went outside and the word had spread. Andreas, Felipe, Jean Pierre, Ajamu and Tor were standing outside of the cabin. “Come, join us.” Andreas said and they all sat on the ground. Angelica came back with the steaming water and shortly after that the princess came back carrying the rest of the supplies.

    Shayla screamed loudly causing Batu to get up and began to pace back and forth looking anxiously at the cabin. Time drug by and now it had been several hours, Shayla’s screams got louder. Batu went up and knocked at the door.

    Angelica opened the door and looked at him. “She is having a very hard time, the baby seems like it is stuck and cannot come out.” she said gravely.

    “What will we do? Batu asked.

    “We could use some more hot water, would you please boil another pot?” she asked.

    Batu ran back to the pavilion and began to boil water. He could still hear Shayla screaming from there. The water began to boil and he walked the pot back to the door. Mia came to the door and stepped outside. Her hands were bloody and Batu looked into her eyes.

    “Dip this cloth into the water and clean my hands quickly, I do not care if it burns.” she said.

    She winced as Batu dipped the cloth into the steaming water, rung it out and then wiped her hands. Andreas approached them and asked how Shayla was doing.

    “She is not doing well, the baby should have been born by now, it is as if it is stuck inside of her. She is getting exhausted” Mia said.

    Batu looked at Andreas and said “Have you ever delivered a baby?”

    “Yes, several on the Atlantic crossing when I was a Captian.” Andreas replied.

    “Would you please help my wife?” he asked.

    “Of course Batu, I will do what I can. Go back and wait with the men.” Andreas walked into the cabin with Mia.

    Shayla was lying on her back and Andreas stroked her head, she smiled up at him “I must look if I’m going to help.” he said. Shayla just nodded her head and winced as another contraction gripped her and she screamed out in pain.

    Andreas parted her legs and looked, she was fully dilated and a patch of hair the size of a small grapefruit was showing. He waited for the contraction to pass and then had Mia and Angelica grasp her knees and pull them up slightly. “When the next contraction occurs, pin her knees tightly in your elbows and pull them up wide beside her shoulders” he told them.

    The next contraction began and they pressed her knees up high beside her shoulders. This posture put more pressure pushing down on the baby and finally, slowly, the top of a forehead emerged, the baby was facing down. The contraction passed and Shayla struggled to catch her breath. Another one seized her and again the women pressed her knees up hard by her shoulders.

    More of the forehead emerged and the baby’s head rotated to the side, a set of eyebrows appeared facing Shayla’ right leg. “It is coming, once again Shayla.” Andreas said. Another contraction hit her and now the baby’s head was sliding out having passed the largest part. Andreas cradled the head gently in his hands. The head was fully out now and the eyes opened up and looked.

    “Oh my God, the eyes just opened!” The princess said and Shayla struggled forward to try to look.

    “Lean back, it is almost over.” Andreas said. He quickly cleaned the babies mouth out with a clean cloth. Another contraction came and Andreas gently pulled down on the head bending the neck and suddenly the top shoulder popped out. Shayla screamed out in pain. Andreas did not wait for the next contraction, he now gently pulled upward on the baby’s head and the bottom shoulder popped out as well.

    The baby slid smoothly out, Angelica told her “It is a boy! He is huge! No wonder he was stuck!”

    Andreas quickly cleaned the babies nose and mouth again with a clean cloth and dried it off. He tied the cord in two places with the string and cut it. The baby let out a small cry and Andreas said “You are bleeding badly, suckle your baby, it will make the bleeding stop. She took her baby to her breast and tears of joy ran down her cheeks. Andreas held a clean cloth against her while he waited then delivered the placenta.

    The princess and Angelica went to the door and opened it. Batu was standing there with Felipe and Jean Pierre holding his arms by the elbows, his eyes were huge. The three of them looked like frightened boys instead of the fierce fighting men that they were.

    “It is a boy!” they both shouted.

    “A boy! A boy! My son!” Batu shouted and hugged his friends.

    The women approached him and the princess said “He is huge, like you. That is why she was having such a hard time but they are fine, go and meet your son.”

    “Come! Come!” Batu said and the three of them walked into the cabin. Shayla took the baby from her breast and handed it to him. Batu gently cradled the child in his huge arms and smiled at him, against his chest was the only time that this child looked small. “He is huge.” Batu said.

    “Like his father.” Shayla smiled.

    Batu unfolded the cloth and peeked at the babies genitals, “Yes” he said smiling “He is surely my son.” the men all laughed. Batu held the child above his head in his palms as his father had taught him to meet God and for God to bless the child. In a loud voice he said “Behold! The only thing greater than thyself! I name you Neo.” He looked at Felipe and Jean Pierre, smiled and said “That means Gift.”

    He passed the child to Felipe who held it awkwardly in his arms. Jean Pierre stroked the boys cheek gently. The girls began to giggle at them, the sight of them with a small child just looked funny to them. Felipe just smiled at them and after a few minutes handed the child back to Batu. Batu gently kissed the boy and then handed it back to his mother.

    “Go now and give me some privacy so I can feed my baby.” Shayla said.

    Andreas stood up and smiled at her and stroked the boys head. Together the men walked out of the cabin and to the pavilion. “We will feast and celebrate the birth of your son tonight” Felipe said. “Come, let us slaughter some hogs and prepare them to be cooked.” He slapped Batu on the back and the men went to the hog pen.

    They brought a bucket of slop and poured it over the side of the pen. The hogs rushed up to eat and when they did, nooses were slipped around their necks and they were lanced. Once they bled out they were drug to the gate and removed. Hauled up a pulley by the hind legs they were quickly cleaned and skinned. The meat was washed and then rubbed down with salt. Fires were built and the hogs were tied to poles and suspended above the fires and slowly turned.

    The women gathered fruits, nuts and vegetables and began to cook. After a while Shayla and the girls came to the pavilion and sat down. Neo was wrapped up in a soft blanket and Shayla cradled him, rocking and humming softly. Soon the food was ready and everyone ate heartily and then began to drink brandy and rum.

    Night was setting and the stars began to shine. Sparks from the fire rose into the sky as the night birds began to sing. Jean Pierre said, “The men are getting restless, they thirst for some adventure, they are not accustomed to sitting on dry land for very long.”

    “I agree, it is time to strike out against the King again just to let him know that we have not forgotten.” Felipe added.

    “I will drink to that.” Batu said, raising his mug to his lips.

    “You will drink to anything, it seems.” Andreas said with a smile.

  21. One by one the boxes were opened and the gold bullion was stacked and counted as well as the coins and precious stones. Andreas distributed the gold and silver evenly among the overjoyed men, they had never seen such wealth. The precious stones were also divided, they cared not for the earrings so Andreas gave a pair to Shayla, the princess, Angelica, Ajamu’s wife and Tor’s.

    The men all ran off into the jungle in different directions to hide and bury their share of the bounty. One at a time they returned and were ready to go to the town, celebrate and get drunk. They walked off laughing through the jungle together.

    The sun was sinking over the water and fires were started. Andreas sat with Felipe, Batu, Jean Pierre and the women. They recounted the events to them as Andreas cleaned and dressed Felipe’s injury. “I owe you my life, he almost had me.” Felipe told Jean Pierre.

    Jean Pierre said “You owe me nothing.” and poured them all a drink. “Here’s to our good fortune.” he said and they all toasted and drank.

    Chapter Fifteen

    The King

    Felipe and the princess were sleeping in their cabin when a noise woke them up. Felipe looked at the foot of the bed just in time to see the monkey Puco removing his belt with the shiny brass buckle from his pants. He tried to catch him but Puco ran out of the door with his belt, his tail whipping out behind him.

    “That little bastard!” Felipe said and laid back down. The princess giggled and covered her head under the sheet.

    It took two and one half months for the Viceroy to make the voyage from Veracruz to Madrid. Upon his arrival he went to the harbor master and demanded immediate transportation to the castle. When he arrived he summoned the Master of the Guards and told him that he had an urgent message for the King. He was detained in the outer chamber while the Master of the Guards went to the King.

    The King was in the great hall sitting on his throne and eating while a jester juggled balls to entertain him. The Master of the Guards approached the King and whispered in his ear. The King waved his hand at the jester who left the hall.

    He told the guard “He claims to be the Viceroy of the new colonies? I did not summon him, he should not have left his post.”

    “He states that he has a most urgent message sire.” the guard said.

    “Bring him in.” the King said.

    The guard bowed and walked down the long carpet and out of the door. The King wondered if it was news of his daughter, he had almost given up hope of ever finding her alive and this caused his expectations to rise.

    After a brief period the door opened up and an immense, fat man waddled toward the king flanked by two guards. It had been four years since the King had appointed him and he had grown obese. He slowly walked toward the king then struggled to kneel on one knee before him and bowed his head.

    “Your majesty, I have a most urgent message for you. It was far too important to trust to anyone else so I chose to hand deliver it myself.” he said.

    “Well give it to me.” the King said anxiously.

    The Viceroy reached inside of his vest and pulled out the folded piece of paper. “It bears the royal crest of the princess herself your majesty, she is alive and being held hostage.” he held the paper out and the King rose and took it quickly.

    He looked at the wax and it was indeed the mark of the royal crest. “Where did you get this?” he asked.

    “A pauper was accosted by bandits just outside of Veracruz, they had him deliver it under the threat of harm to his family.” he said. He smiled as the King examined the seal.

    The King hurriedly slid his finger between the folds and broke the seal then sat down on his throne. The Viceroy watched as his eyes quickly slid across the lines. The King’s brows knitted together and his eyes took on a furious look. When he finished reading it he looked back at the Viceroy and said “This is all your fault!”

    The Viceroy was shocked “What? What is my fault?” he stammered.

    “My daughter has been taken captive by pirates because of your corruption! This never would have happened if not for your actions!” the King trembled with rage.

    “How can I be to blame for this?” he asked.

    The king looked back at the letter and read it aloud.


    Our ship was attacked by pirates and Angelica and I were taken captive. We have been treated very well and are in good health. These are not ordinary men father, they are noble men who all hate you and for good reason. They know that you would pay a very large ransom for me but they do not seek wealth, only revenge for the wrongs that you and your men have perpetrated against the common man.

    I have learned much from them. I am now friends with those who were once slaves and I now know that you make money from their sorrow. They are people, just like you and I, not animals to be bought and sold. You condone this and I cannot forgive you for this.

    The man who leads these pirates was falsely accused of piracy when it was obvious that he was innocent. His father murdered by the Viceroy’s own men. His father was an honest man, a fisherman yet they killed him for money. The Viceroy encourages arrests of men for false charges just so he can seize their land and all of their assts. He is becoming a very rich man by oppressing the honest people there. This is your corrupt government in the new colonies.

    My man has sworn to avenge his father’s death. I understand his hatred of you and your men and I have become to respect and to love him and will give him my hand in marriage if he asks for it. I do not intend to come home. I will stay here with him. May God forgive you for your crimes against humanity, I never shall.

    Your Daughter,


    The king looked at the Viceroy with angry eyes. “This is all your fault! I trusted you to manage my affairs in the new colonies and you arrest men for false charges so that you can seize their land and assets? This man’s father was killed for money and now he hates me and swears revenge! He would never have become a pirate and my daughter would never have been captured and turned against me if not for your greed.”

    The Viceroy was speechless, his moment of glory and great reward had been snatched away from him and now he feared for his life.

    The King looked back at the letter and read a few lines to himself again while the Viceroy trembled at his feet. The king looked up and said. “Assemble the people in the square, I want all to see what happens when you steal from the King and betray his trust. I want him drawn and quartered, call me when he is prepared.”

    “Your Highness! I know nothing of this, I am innocent, I am your faithful servant.”

    The King’s anger increased and he shouted “Now you call my daughter a liar? You will sit on the Jacobs chair before you die. Take him away!” The king pointed his finger toward the door and two guards roughly pulled the Viceroy away while he begged the King to spare him. The door slammed shut and he again looked at the letter.

    The Cardinal stood silently beside him. “What is your council on this?” the King asked.

    The Cardinal was a shrewd man and told the King what he knew he wanted to hear. “Obviously they have deceived your daughter into thinking that she does not want to return. It is not unusual for people to begin to form a bond with their captors, they have no choice and fear for their life. We must get your daughter back from these evil men.”

    The King summoned his Admiral of the navy. When he appeared he read the letter to the Admiral and said “I want my daughter found and quickly, send all available ships to scourge the Caribbean and find her.”

    “Your Highness, the war does not go well, we cannot spare ships, all are being utilized just to defend us and to bring needed commerce. There are hundreds of islands in the Caribbean and they may also be anywhere ashore.”

    “You are telling me that we cannot spare one ship?” the King asked angrily.

    “Sire, even a hundred ships could search for years and not cover one tenth of the territory in which they could be hiding. But of course we can spare a ship”

    The King looked down and thought. “ I want notices printed, hundreds of them. They are to be posted at every port and settlement of the new colonies. We shall offer a very large reward to this man and amnesty for his crimes if he brings my daughter home. He will be forgiven for his crimes and be a very wealthy man. Also send for my assassin”

    “As you wish” the Admiral said “I will have a scribe and the assassin sent to you immediately.” he turned and walked away.

    Bells began to ring summoning people to the square in front of the King’s royal hall.

    After an hour the door opened and a guard marched up to the King and said “Everything is assembled Sire.”

    The King rose, walked out to the square and climbed the steps to his seat. A large crowd had assembled and in the center of the square was a long, stout table and a large pile of firewood . The Jacob’s Chair sat nearby. A long, sharp pyramid capped with steel, it’s corners sharpened to a fine edge. A platform had been erected with an arm sticking over the point of the Jacob’s Chair. A pulley had a rope going through it that ran back to the Viceroy’s arms which were tied together. His feet were tied separately and these ropes hung to the ground with men holding them. He was stripped naked and his huge, white belly hung loosely over his groin.

    The King said in a loud voice “This is the former Viceroy of the new colonies. I have learned that he has been falsely arresting people and seizing their land and assets for his own gain. I want everyone to see what becomes of a man who betrays the trust of his office and steals from the King.”

    The King nodded his head and the rope was pulled by three men lifting the Viceroy off of the platform swinging him out over the sharp point of the chair. The men on the ground pulled the ropes spreading his legs while the men on the platform slowly lowered him down. He tried to struggle and move but it was futile, they guided him so that the sharp point pressed into his ass. The men lowered him and he screamed as it penetrated him. Blood flowed down his legs and began to drip off of his feet and they stopped and tied the rope off and let him hang screaming for a few minutes.

    Again they lowered him more and he was screaming in agony as he was being penetrated and cut. They held him again and let him struggle, cutting himself even more. Again he was lowered. This went on for a half hour until the point was a half of a meter inside of him. The King gave a signal and he was pulled off of the point and swung to the side, then lowered to the ground.

    Four men approached him and drug him away from the platform as the platform was wheeled away. He was placed on the table and his hands and feet were bound while the large fire was lit. They waited for the fire to get burning and then the executioner approached him wearing a black hood. He took a very long, sharp knife and cut the man’s genitals off while he screamed and struggled. He held them up for the Viceroy to see and then threw them into the fire.

    Slowly he drew the blade down from the man’s chest to below his naval. Intestines bulged from his immense belly. The man then drew the knife across his hips, then his chest at the top and bottom of the first incision as the man screamed. He grabbed the sides of the incision and roughly pulled the skin away exposing his intestines. He began pulling out sections, cutting them off and throwing them in the fire.

    His bladder was cut out, his kidneys and his liver. String was tied around the arteries to keep him from bleeding too fast and all were thrown into the fire. The Viceroy was bleeding badly now and would die very soon, the man cut out his gall bladder and threw it also. He quickly sliced open the man’s diaphragm and reached up and grabbed his still beating heart. There was one last, painful scream as the executioner ripped his heart out and threw it into the fire. His eyes rolled back in his head and he died. The King rose and walked away as they untied him and threw his body into the fire throwing more wood upon him.

    The King returned to the Grand Hall to find a scribe and the assassin Felix Chavez waiting for him. Chavez was a very tall, muscular man with a reputation for cruelty. His black hair was cropped short and combed straight back. He had a moustache and goatee trimmed to a point. His small eyes had a feral look about them, he was a formidable looking man. They both bowed as he approached and sat on his throne and then they were seated.

    The King looked at the scribe and told him “I want hundreds of documents printed with all haste. There is to be a reward of 50,000 reales for any man who captures or kills Felipe Antonio Montoya. Should Montoya choose to surrender to the Viceroy he will be spared and receive the reward himself. He will return my daughter and will be given a large estate here in Spain. He will receive amnesty for any and all charges held against him. You may go now.”

    “Yes Sire.” The man rose, bowed and left the hall.

    The King waited for him to close the door and then looked at Chavez. “You are to find and kill Felipe Montoya and return my daughter.”

    “As you wish Sire, and what if he chooses to surrender as your documents state?”

    “Then he will be killed as soon as he gets here if he is foolish enough to do so.” the king said. “Go to the Admiral and have one of our new, large warships assigned to you and begin laying on provisions immediately. I want you to sail as soon as possible. Do not return without my daughter and do not fail me. You will be greatly rewarded when you succeed.”

    The man rose, bowed and walked out of the hall. The King looked back at the letter from his daughter and read it again. He wondered about what kind of man Felipe was to have won his daughter over. He also was very disturbed that she had befriended slaves. Even if she were to be returned, he feared that she would never love him again but he still wanted her back.

    He also realized that Felipe had a ship or ships large enough to have overtaken the double compliment of soldiers that he had sent to escort his daughter. The fact that his father was murdered made him a vengeful man as it would any man but with such a new force of men roaming the Caribbean he also worried about moving his gold through the area. Piracy had plagued him and had been getting worse, but now with such a hate filled man seeking revenge he feared that he would lose even more treasure if he sailed it through the Caribbean.

    He took a map from a drawer and unrolled it on the table and studied the area. Instead of sailing the gold through the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico, he could have all of it shipped overland to the fort at New Granada and then taken by the shipping lanes that followed the coast past Aruba and Trinidad on to the Atlantic. It would take longer hauling it by land but he had enough soldiers to guard it well, he had never lost any on land.

    He took out a quill and drafted a dispatch to the Commander of the Fort at New Granada instructing him to prepare to receive all of the gold coming from Panuco overland. He was to load this gold as well as the gold stored in his fort in New Granada and ship it immediately through the Atlantic passing. He then wrote another dispatch to the Commander of the fort at Panuco ordering the entire stock of gold to be shipped overland to the fort at New Granada. He folded the documents and lit a candle and let the drops fall on the seam and then blew gently on it. When the wax was almost hard he pressed his ring into the wax leaving the royal crest.

    He called for a courier and instructed him to go to the dock and summon the Captain of any Galleon that was preparing to sail. The courier left and after several hours he returned with Captain Munoz. They bowed and he excused the scribe. “What ship is under your command?” the King asked.

    “The Esmeralda, we arrived from the new colonies just this Tuesday.” Captain Munoz said.

    “I want you to take these documents, see that they get delivered into the hands of the Commanders at the forts in New Granada and Panuco, deliver them yourself. See to it that they do not fall into enemy hands, if attacked by pirates you must fight or flee, you are not to surrender, is that clear?”

    “Yes Sire, my ship is slated to sail on Friday as soon as we load the provisions bound for the new colonies.”

    “You will sail today! I do not care about the provisions! These documents are of the utmost importance and I want you to leave immediately!” the king said furiously.

    “Yes Sire.” the man said, bowed deeply and left the room.

    The King turned to the Cardinal and said “I am appointing you as the new Viceroy of the new colonies. I want you to sail with Chavez. I trust that you will serve me better than my last one.” he said looking at the man.

    “As you wish Sire, I will serve you faithfully.” He turned and walked away to make preparations to leave.



    The next morning they loaded the ship with food and fresh water. When it was fully loaded they all bid goodbye to their wives, weighed anchor and sailed out of the lagoon. As they made the turn toward the open sea Felipe, Jean Pierre, Batu, Ajamu and Tor stood at the back rail and watched the women standing on the shore.

    Angelica, Shayla and the princess were standing together, the princess said “I fear for their safety, I worry that I will never see him again.”

    Shayla told her. “Those are some of the most fierce fighting men that have ever roamed the seas. Andreas has spent many hours teaching them the art of the sword and I have watched them. No Spaniard is their equal and they are fearless. Do not worry, our men will come home.” The Vengeance rounded the point and slipped out of sight and the women walked back to the village.

    They followed the northern coast of Cuba then turned toward the Bahamas. They sailed past the northernmost island along the shipping lanes. Andreas was at the wheel and he called Felipe and Batu to him. “We will round the northern point of the island and drop the two of you off close to the shore. You can swim there and watch from within the tree line. We will anchor on the south side of the island so the ship will be concealed behind the trees. When they pass you can cross the island and swim to the ship, it is a very narrow island. We will then fall in behind them and catch them easily.”

    Felipe and Batu nodded their heads. They steered northeast until the largest of the Bahamas came into sight and then skirted the northern side. They swung close to the island and slowed. Felipe and Batu were standing at the rail preparing to jump when Jean Pierre walked up to them.

    “Bring us back some fresh crabs.” he smiled.

    “I will keep that in mind.” Batu said with a smile.

    “Take care my friends.” Jean Pierre told them. The two men nodded, looked at Andreas and Jean Pierre and vaulted over the side. As they swam toward the bank Andreas had the sails trimmed, they sailed northeast then turned around the tip of the island.

    Once ashore Felipe and Batu concealed themselves in the trees and watched the water to the west. The day slowly passed and in the mid afternoon Batu said “There.” he pointed to the west. Two small dots were on the horizon. As they slowly approached they could make out the two ships. One was slightly ahead and the other followed off of her port side. As they got closer it was clear that the trailing vessel was indeed riding very low in the water.

    “That would be the Sanchia.” Felipe said. “We will wait and be sure.”

    Finally the ships passed by their vantage point and it was plain to see that this was the vessel described by Andreas. They ran south across the island, when they broke through the tree line onto the beach the Vengeance was anchored just to their west. Trotting down the beach they waded out into the water and swam toward her. A rope ladder was lowered over her side. Andres was watching them approach with Jean Pierre. They climbed the ladder and sat down on the deck trying to catch their breath.

    “They just passed not a half hour ago.” Felipe said.

    “There is no need to hurry. I want them to be several hours ahead of us. They saw no ship trailing them and I do not suddenly want to appear and arouse their suspicion.” Andreas said.

    They spent the evening on decks with the ship gently rocking on it’s anchors and ate. As the sun began to get low in the sky they weighed anchor and sailed to the northeast. Clearing the island they entered the shipping lane and steered to the northeast, the two ships were out of sight.

    For two days and nights they held their course and speed and on the morning of the third day unfurled all of their sails. The big ship surged forward with her bow cleaving the waves. At midday the ships appeared off of their bow. They had the advantage of speed as the Sanchia was so heavily loaded she was moving very sluggishly.

    On board the escort ship the Amparo, Captain Torres saw the vessel approaching and the Admiral Cantu approached him. Torres said “She is one of ours, one of the new class of large galleons. There is nothing to be concerned about.”

    Admiral Cantu said “Yes, I would suppose so, no pirates are capable of taking such a large ship and there is no report of one missing. Still, position yourself between them and the Sanchia.”

    “As you wish.” he replied and tacked his sails slowing so that the cumbersome Sanchia could slowly forge ahead. She sailed past the escort ship and Torres once again turned his sails into the wind and swept her to the port side and slightly behind the Sanchia.

    “She is approaching fast, she must have urgent business back in Spain.” Torres said.

    “As she passes, slowly increase your speed and keep us between her and the Sanchia.” Admiral Cantu told him.

    The Vengeance was pulling up quickly, below decks Jean Pierre watched the progress. The men were ready at their cannons and when they came evenly alongside of her he shouted “Fire!”

    A thunderous roar filled the air and white smoke belched from her starboard side. Captain Torres could not believe his eyes as he saw the fire and then the smoke come from the ship followed by the roar of her cannons rolling across the water. A whistling sound approached as the shots blasted into his ship and rocked the ship to starboard. Her mizzenmast was snapped one meter from the deck and fell in a tangle of rigging. Wood splinters from her hull flew into the air and the wind blew them onto the deck.

    “Battle stations! Battle stations!” Cantu shouted out. “Return fire!” Men ran down the stairwell and began to scurry up the ratlines to the platforms and crow’s nests with bows.

    “Take the wheel!” Torres shouted to the first mate. He ran to the port side and looked over to survey the damage, he counted four holes at the waterline and three slightly above it. Water was pouring in the lower holes and as waves washed against her hull it was also coming into the three upper holes. He ran back and took the wheel.

    “Go below and get me a damage report! Have the carpenters start emergency repairs!” he told the first mate.

    “Aye Captain!” the man shouted and ran down the stairs. He looked at the ship that had fired on them, they had tacked their sails parallel to the wind and were slipping back. Even before his damage report got back Torres could see his masts leaning ominously to the port side. He knew that he was taking on water so he turned her hard to starboard to raise the holes out of the water.

    The ship keeled over and she went into a tight turn as the water shifted in her hull. He looked nervously at the other ship, she was furling her sails and beginning to match his turn. He saw what they were doing but had no choice other than to continue his turn. Again she came alongside of his ship with her superior number of sails, he heard Admiral Cantu shout from below “Fire!”

    Her cannons blasted and he anxiously watched the other ship for signs of a hit. At the same time he again saw fire and smoke belch from his pursuer, again the thunder rolled across the water. A small section of the other ships foremast was blown off as all of his other shots sailed over her. Again, the Amparo was rocked as more cannons found their mark on her now exposed hull.

    He could not leave the wheel, he tried to force her into a tighter turn to raise more of her port side out of the water but the wheel was at the stops. He felt the ship begin to slow and then slowly tilt back up straight. The speed of her tilt increased as she came onto an even keel and then she began to heel over to port. He heard water rushing in from below decks as smoke began to gush up through the hatches.

    As her rail began to touch the water he again saw the other ship fire all of her guns. He heard the whistling sound again and the decks were blown into splinters as the shots came in. The foremast was shorn off at the deck and fell off of the port side dragging her down even faster as the rigging pulled upward on the starboard side. She settled lower into the water and then slid beneath the surface as men tried to find something to cling to so they could stay afloat.

    Aboard the Vengeance the men were cheering wildly and Jean Pierre had run up on deck to watch her sink. “Now that is a fine sight.” he said with a smile.

    “A fine sight indeed.” said Felipe. “We sent her to the bottom and did not lose one man. We have minimal damage to one upper mast.”

    Andreas wheeled the ship around and made a course behind the fleeing Sanchia. He was gaining on her very fast so he told Felipe to man the bow guns and fire a warning shot over her. Felipe and Jean Pierre ran forward.

    The Captain of the Sanchia, Captain Gomez was arguing with the Admiral Zapata.

    “We cannot outrun her! She just sank our escort and has very little damage. Look at the size of her, she has twice as many guns as we do and three times the speed. We must surrender.”

    “We cannot surrender! I am in charge of the cargo and we must not let them take this gold. The King would have all of our heads!” Zapata said.

    “The sea and the sharks will claim us all very quickly if we do not surrender. One shot from her and we will flounder. We are too overloaded to fight or even flee. I told you that this cargo was twice what we should be carrying. We have no choice but to surrender.”

    A shot rang out from behind and they turned to look at the vengeance. Wisps of white smoke were sweeping past her bow and along the sides from her forward cannons. They heard the whistling sound of the approaching cannon balls and heard a popping sound as the upper sail on her mainmast punched forward and then snapped back with a hole in it.”

    “That was just a warning shot. They will now lower their guns and our stern is the weakest part of this ship. I beg you Zapata, do not let all of my men die, surrender this ship, let them have the gold.”

    Zapata thought and looked at the Captain. “We cannot trade cannon shots with them, they will surely sink us. But we can fight them man to man when they try to board us. I will not give up without a fight.”

    “Do not expect my men to help, they are sailors, not soldiers.” Gomez said. “I am going to furl my sails now before they blow us out of the water.” Zapata said nothing so Gomez shouted for the sails to be furled. Zapata ran forward shouting orders.

    “They are stopping.” Felipe said.

    “Yes but they have not raised a surrender flag. They know it is futile to flee or exchange cannon fire with us. They intend to fight man to man.” Andreas said. “Assemble your lieutenants and stage them along the ship. Prepare to board her and do battle.”

    Felipe and Jean Pierre ran forward shouting orders. Men climbed up the ratlines and pulled their bows up. Small arms were staged along the decks and every available man was brought on board. As Andreas closed the distance small guns began firing from the Sanchia’s deck. They were still out of range so the men of the Vengeance held their fire.

    Closer they came and Jean Pierre cupped his hands as he lit a thin cigar. He puffed it to life and handed it to Felipe. “For luck my friend.” Felipe stuck it in his mouth and smiled as his teeth clenched it. Jean Pierre lit another for himself.

    “We are coming into range, fire the small arms!” Felipe shouted. All along the deck guns fired and a few men aboard the Sanchia fell. The soldiers aboard the Sanchia returned fire and he heard cries along his deck. The difference between the two ships was that all of the men aboard the vengeance were fighting men. Half of the men aboard the Sanchia were soldiers, the rest were just sailors.

    They were coming alongside of her and arrows flew from both ships. A few men screamed and fell from the platforms of both ships as arrows rained onto the deck of both. But the men aboard the Sanchia were outnumbered by the number of archers and fighters. Soon the captain Gomez tied the wheel off and shouted for all of his men to retreat to the starboard rail.

    A full half of the men aboard the Sanchia had just ran and a cry went up from the men of the Vengeance. Small arms were still taking their toll on both ships when six grappling hooks on ropes sailed through the air from the Vengeance. The men pulled the ships together and soon they were close enough to jump from ship to ship.

    The men aboard the Sanchia dropped their slow loading guns and drew their swords. Men from the Vengeance scrambled over the railing and poured onto the decks of the Sanchia. The tide of fighting men forced the Spaniards backwards. They were outnumbered two to one. It was hopeless, still Zapata shouted out encouragement to his men. Felipe heard him and saw his Admirals uniform.

    He fought his way to the Admiral as a few of the Spaniards tried to form a shield around their officer. Felipe stepped into them and a blade came from his right stabbing him deep in his shoulder. The blade slid along his ribs under the skin along his back. It pinned his arm and he could not raise it. A soldier stepped in front of him and raised his sword. Felipe raised his left arm as a shield, he would sacrifice the arm to stop the blow. Suddenly a blade appeared thrusting out of the mans chest. The man screamed and fell to the deck as Jean Pierre pulled his blade out quickly.

    Felipe turned back toward the Admiral and his men, together he and the Frenchman drove them forward. Zapata was good and he fought bravely but he was no match for either of them. When the last of his men fell both Felipe and Jean Pierre stabbed him in his chest. His sword fell to the deck with a rattle and Felipe told him. “You fought well but died for the King’s gold.”

    Zapata’s eyes rolled up and he fell backwards onto the deck. They turned and the only men standing were the sailors crowded along the starboard rail with their hands up. They were filled with fear, that was apparent. Captain Gomez came forward and stood before them.

    “We surrender, we are sailors not soldiers. My men only want to return home to their wives and children. The ship is yours.”

    Felipe approached him and said “We have no intention of killing sailors, you are just men trying to make an honest living. Instruct your men to unload the gold and silver and load it aboard our ship. After the gold and silver they are to unload all cannons, powder and shot. Keep your food and water. We have plenty.”

    The men of the Vengeance began throwing the dead Spaniards overboard as the men of the Sanchia expressed thanks and went below. Soon they were struggling to pass the heavy, sturdy crates aboard the Vengeance. When the first one was passed over Andreas picked the lock and held up a bar of shining gold. The men cheered loudly and he put the ingot back into the chest and sent it below.

    It took a full five hours to bring up the last of the gold. The Sanchia was riding high in the water now, the bulk barely affected the much larger Vengeance. Felipe jumped back over the rail onto the Sanchia and found Captain Gomez. “You have some explaining to do.” he said.

    “That I do.” he replied. “But we are not expected to fight, just to sail the ship. If the King forced us to fight there would be a severe shortage of sailors. I do thank you for sparing the lives of my men, most sailors do not survive an attack by pirates”

    Felipe said “Well when you make your report, say that the pirate Felipe Antonio Montoya and his men sunk your escort, killed all of the soldiers aboard the Sanchia and took the King’s gold, all of it. This is in revenge for the killing of my father, Juan Carlos Montoya, an innocent fisherman murdered by the King‘s men. Can you remember that?”

    Gomez said “I will write it down immediately.”

    Felipe turned to walk away then stopped, he looked back at Gomez and said “And tell him that his daughter the princess Victoria is doing well and is very happy in her new home.”

    Gomez’s eyes went wide. The news of the princess missing was widely spread and this was indeed news. Felipe vaulted over the rail and they released the ship and cast off. They pulled away from the Sanchia and made their way back to the west southwest to throw off captain Gomez and not give away their home base. After they lost sight of the Sanchia they headed back to the southeast toward Tortuga.

    Captain Gomez felt fortunate to have survived an attack by pirates and not lost any of his men, this was very unusual. He sailed back into Veracruz and went straight to the Harbor Masters office. He told of what happened and filed his written report. The Harbor Master looked at the manifest of the Sanchia when she left.

    This detailed the cargo as including 456 kilograms of gold bullion, 16,470gold coins, 120 gold snuff boxes, 52 kilograms of virgin silver, 11 kilograms of silver ore, five pair of diamond earrings, a diamond ring and several chests of precious stones and pearls.

    This was a huge loss for the King, he would be furious. When Gomez was finished with his report he went to the tavern for a drink to settle his nerves. His men had already arrived and the word had spread about the attack and loss of the treasure. The fact that the crew had been spared and the princess was still alive but not a captive was also being discussed by everyone in the tavern.

    The name of Felipe Montoya was on everyone’s lips but the men saw him as a fair man who did not kill merchantmen. The news of his fathers murder by the Viceroy’s men was also being discussed. Many had been wronged by the Viceroy and they were actually happy and excited that someone was striking back in a way that really hurt the King. Drinks were toasted in his name, he was beginning to be somewhat of a folk hero among the common man.

    Aboard the Vengeance Felipe knew nothing of this nor did he care. They made the island of Tortuga on the morning of the fourth day, pulled into the secluded lagoon and dropped their anchors. It took many trips with the lifeboats to transport all of the strongboxes to the pavilion but they were done by mid evening.



    The next morning the ship was loaded and sailed for Veracruz. They had a good wind and made good time. Approaching the mainland they followed the shoreline at an average distance that a fishing vessel would normally do. The port at Veracruz was very busy so rather than dock they made the decision to swing into the pier and just drop Andreas off. They would anchor a short distance down the shoreline and pick him up at dusk.

    Andreas put on the sun bleached clothes and an old hat. He had not shaved for a few days and a grey stubble covered his face. He had fashioned a cane out of wood and practiced walking slow with his back stooped over. He appeared a lot older and would blend in well with the many poor people of this large city.

    As they approached the pier he bid Felipe and the crew goodbye as he stood beside the rail. “God be with you Uncle, please be careful.” Felipe told him.

    “You must help me onto the pier, remember, I am an old man.” he said with a wink. “You go below now, you are a wanted man.”

    The small sloop eased to the dock and two men held it while two others helped Andreas onto the pier and then shoved off. Andreas did not get a second look as he slowly walked down the pier on his cane. As soon as he got off of the pier he sat down as if he were exhausted from the effort. He rubbed his hands in the dirt and then on his face and clothes. He looked like just one of the hundreds of peasants walking by.

    Notices of a large reward for any information concerning the whereabouts of the princess were posted everywhere. He made his way down the dirt street a short distance to the compound of the Viceroy. Two guards in uniform stood at either side of a strong wooden door. As he slowly approached them they noticed him. He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and acted like he was winded and then looked up at them.

    “Be gone peon! Stand clear of the compound and be on your way.”

    Andreas looked nervously over his shoulder in both directions at the crowd of people milling about the street. “Senor, I have an urgent message for the Viceroy.” he said.

    They both laughed, one said “What could you possibly have to tell the Viceroy? He has no time for you, now move along!”

    Andreas again shot a worried look around the crowd and said “Please, senor, bandits accosted me along the road just outside of town. They gave me two letters and said that if I did not hand deliver them to the Viceroy himself that they would kill my family. They also said that they have spies watching me right now to be sure that I deliver these letters.” He again looked around the street.

    “What do these letters say?” one asked.

    “I do not know, I cannot read, I am just a poor farmer who was coming into town to purchase a little flour so my wife can make tortillas. The letters are sealed.” He reached inside of his tattered vest and took out the two letters to show them.

    One guard walked down the steps and took the letters. He examined the seal and turned to the other guard quickly and said “This is the seal of the King himself, the royal crest!”

    He turned back to Andreas and asked “Where did you get these letters?”

    “I told you senor, bandits stopped me and told me that if they do not see me hand these to the Viceroy they will kill my family. They say they are watching us right now. Please ask him to take these letters from me and spare my family.”

    The guard looked hard at Andreas and handed him back the letters. “You stay right here, do not move.” He climbed the steps and hurried inside. The other guard came down the steps and stood beside Andreas who looked worried at the crowd around him.

    After a few minutes a dozen guards come out of the door and made a perimeter around the front of the building. A very fat man in fine clothes came out of the door and eased his girth down the steps. His nose stuck up like a pig and his small, squinty eyes made that image even more complete. “I am the Viceroy, where are these letters?” he demanded.

    Andreas bowed his head as if in fear and handed the letters to the man. The Viceroy examined the seals and his eyes got very wide. One was addressed to him and the other was addressed to the King. “Where did you get these letters?” he asked.

    “Please your Excellency, As I told your men, I was just coming to town to purchase a small amount of flour when bandits accosted me. They told me that if I did not deliver them to your hand that they would kill my family. They said spies would be watching.”

    The Viceroy looked around at all of the people many of which had stopped to see what was going on. “It could be any of them, what did these men look like?”

    “They had scarves around their face, I could only see their eyes.” Andreas held his palms up and shook his head.

    The Viceroy opened the letter to him and quickly read it. He then read it again and looked at his Captain. “This is from the Princess herself, written in her own hand! She is still alive and is being held for ransom.” He thought for a moment and said “I will deliver this letter to the King himself, this is too important to trust to anyone else. How many Galleons are in port?”

    “Two, but they are slated to escort the Sanchia when she sails.” an officer said.

    “The Sanchia can do with one escort. I want one ready to sail in the morning so I can deliver this to Spain immediately.”

    “Yes sir.” the man said.

    He turned to walk away but then Andreas played the part to the hilt. He said “Your Excellence?“ he held out a trembling hand with a pleading look on his face.

    “Oh, of course.“ The Viceroy said. He turned back and took twenty reales out of his pocket and handed them to Andreas.

    “Oh thank you your Excellency! Muchas gracias.” He took his hat off and took the reales.

    The viceroy walked up the steps and into the door. Once inside the men all filed in after him and the first guard told Andreas to move along. He slowly walked away toward the tavern with a smile on his face, he had just sent the bastard to his death and the fool paid him twenty reales for it..

    Andreas spent the evening in the tavern sipping brandy with the reales that the Viceroy had given him. A tavern this close to the port was a good place to pick up information and soon he overheard some sailors discussing the upcoming voyage. He caught the word gold being discussed and moved just a little closer so he could hear.

    “I have seen at least 15 mule loads of strong chests being loaded on board myself.” one said.

    “More like twenty, they have been loading her for two days now.” said another.

    “I do not like sailing gold, we get no share of it and the danger of pirates gets worse all of the time.” said the first man.

    They all agreed and continued to talk and drink. Andreas waited until they had changed the subject and then approached their table. “Fortune has smiled on me today, the Viceroy himself gave me some reales, can I buy you a drink?” he looked at them and they pulled up another chair anxious to get a free drink and to hear his story.

    Andreas told them of the bandits and the letters and they got very excited to hear that the princess was still alive and being held for ransom. Any news was exciting in the new colonies but the kidnapping of the princess herself was a real scandal, the men hung on his every word.

    After time went by Andreas shifted the conversation to their upcoming voyage. “When do you leave port?” he asked casually.

    “We are scheduled to depart in three days if they do not sink her by overloading her first. I do not like sailing with a large load this time of year, tempests can come out of nowhere and sink us.” one man said and they all agreed.

    “Yes, it is the season for strong storms but hopefully you are on a stout ship.” Andreas said.

    “We are manning the galleon “Sanchia” and yes she is a stout ship, but the storms that rage this time of year can swallow any ship, regardless of how stout that she is, especially when she is as heavily loaded as this one is.” All of the men agreed and looked worried.

    “At least we have an escort of two galleons.” another added.

    “No, the Viceroy said that he was taking one in the morning to deliver the letter, you will only have one escort.” Andreas told them.

    The men all began to complain about the lack of protection and Andreas said “Well may you have a safe and pleasant journey, I must be getting home now or my wife will lock me out.” he smiled.

    The men laughed and thanked him for the drink. He rose and slowly walked out of the tavern down the dusty street to the port. The Sanchia was indeed riding very low in the water. Still another two strong wagons manned and escorted by guards pulled up to her dock. Again Andreas acted like he was tired and sat on the ground. He wiped his forehead and watched the soldiers wrestling the heavy trunks out of the wagon and down the dock. They struggled to get them into a small rowboat and then lifted onto the ship.

    Andreas rose and walked down to the pier where he was to be picked up and watched as the sun dipped and the air cooled off. The fishing sloop approached the pier and he was helped aboard and sat down. As soon as they pushed off of the pier he went below and found Felipe anxiously awaiting him.

    Felipe embraced him, glad that he was safe. He then asked Andreas about the letters and Andreas smiled. “I was right, the greedy bastard is going to deliver it himself to the King, he sails tomorrow morning on a galleon.”

    Felipe and Jean Pierre smiled at this news. “I would love to see his face when the King reads that letter.” Felipe said with a smile.

    “And I.” Andreas replied “Have you some brandy?”

    Felipe poured them a drink and Andreas said “There is a heavily laden galleon due to leave port in three days. I spoke with the crew, it is a gold shipment going back to Spain. She is a medium size galleon named the Sanchia.”

    “A gold shipment? You are sure?” Jean Pierre asked.

    “The crew were talking, they had too much to drink. I myself witnessed two mule loads being delivered to her under heavy guards. Being as heavily loaded as she is, she will be sluggish and not handle well. I also only counted two other galleons in port and one will be taking the Viceroy to Spain tomorrow.”

    “That only leaves one for an escort.” Felipe said and Andreas nodded his head.

    “What say you Jean Pierre?” Felipe asked.

    “I say that we had better make haste back home and prepare the Vengeance.”

    “Agreed.” said Andreas.

    They went to the deck and trimmed all of the sails plotting a straight course home.

    When they landed on Tortuga Victoria and Angelica were riding Fiero on the beach waving to them. They dropped anchor and swam to shore and hugged their women. As they walked back to the pavilion Felipe told them of Andreas delivering the letters and that the Viceroy himself was in fact, hand delivering it to the King.

    “I would love to see my father’s face when he reads that letter.” she said.

    “I would love to see the Viceroy’s face after he reads it.” Felipe replied and they both laughed.

    “It serves him right for all of the misery that he has caused. I do not feel at all sorry for him.” she said.

    “Remind me never to make you angry, you can be quite treacherous.” Felipe said with a smile.

    “I am so glad that you are home.” she smiled and hugged him.

    “Not for long I fear, while Andreas was ashore he found out that a galleon loaded with gold will depart for Spain in three days. We intend to take her.” Felipe looked at her.

    “But you just got back, another sea battle is dangerous, I do not want to lose you.” she said.

    “This shipment represents years of work in the mines and the further looting in the south. Of all of the things that the King desires his gold is his main concern. Meticulous records are kept and he will be well aware of this sting. This entire ship is heavily loaded with gold so she will be sluggish and not maneuver well. More likely, she will not even put up a fight because one cannonball will send her quickly to the bottom.

    There were only two other galleons in port and one leaves tomorrow to take the Viceroy, the other is a medium size galleon and we have her well outgunned. The King’s army is stretched thin with the war now, she will be ours.” Felipe said..

    She listened to him and did not want to push him so she just nodded her head and said “You will be careful and return to me”

    “Of course my Lady.” and he kissed her hand.

    Andreas rung the bell and everyone came to the pavilion. When they all were seated in a circle he took a long stick and drew in the dirt.

    “In three days a galleon loaded with gold will leave Veracruz. She only has one escort. They will take the northern trade route through the Gulf of Mexico and lay over in Havana to take on extra water for the voyage as they always do.”

    He traced the route in the dirt as they all looked. He then drew the line north past the tip of Florida and north of the Bahamas.

    “We will wait on the northernmost island until they pass and then fall in behind her.” He drew two small ovals being followed by another. “We will let her get two days out to sea so that no other ships can come to her aid and then we will make our run. The Sanchia is heavily laden and we can easily catch and pass her. We will be flying a Spanish flag and are in a Spanish vessel, still as we approach, her escort will slow and come between us as escorts are required to do.” he drew the positions of the ships.

    “When we come alongside her escort we will fire a broadside into her. Out of thirty cannons, with some marksmanship and luck, at least four or five should strike her at or just above the waterline. The prevailing winds blow from the northwest and the waves will be breaking on her side bringing water in. She will be forced into a tight starboard turn, this will keel her over and bring the holes up out of the water.” he drew an arc as the ship turned and then another right beside it.

    “We will shadow her turn and as more of her keel tilts up we will reload and fire another salvo even lower into her hull than the first. She will not be able to straighten out because these holes will go beneath the waterline as she straightens and she will sink quickly. She will be forced into a spiral. At that angle she cannot bring her guns to bear on us, they will be tilted much too high and we will close the range, all of her shots will clear our masts.

    Eventually she will not be able to lean any further, any hole that we then can punch in her then will begin the sinking process. Once she starts taking on water she will not be able to maintain the turn and as she rights herself, all of the holes in her hull will take on water. She will then sink very quickly.” he stopped and looked at the men.

    “And what of the other Galleon? Will she not come to her defense? Batu asked.

    “She is too heavily laden to keep up with our maneuvers, let alone fight. Her first priority is the preservation of the gold and she knows that as heavily as she is loaded, one well placed cannonball will sink her. She will turn and run for the mainland. We can easily catch her.” Andreas said.

    “An excellent plan messier, as always.” Jean Pierre said.

    “I am glad that you approve Jean Pierre, you shall direct the cannon fire.” Andreas said and Jean Pierre nodded his head.

    “I spent time talking to a few of the sailors in a tavern. They do not want to make this voyage, the ship is seriously overloaded. They fear pirates and this is the high season for tempests that come from the west. If they do come into bad weather they will sink. They do not get a share of this gold, they are just simple working men who want to return safely to their families.” Andreas paused and looked at the men.

    “We shall, of course, kill any and all of the king’s soldiers who fight when we take her, but if any of the sailors surrender I think that we should spare their lives and just let them return to their families. Are there any objections?” He looked at the men and then Felipe. Felipe just nodded his head.

    Andreas looked around at the men and there were no other questions. The men were smiling and talking quietly among themselves and were obviously anxious to claim their share of gold. “Very well then, we sail in the morning.”

    The princess looked at Felipe and said “Come, let us go to the cove.”

    They rose and walked through the village to the trail holding hands. The trees still astonished her, they seemed to rise up forever and their branches were filled with singing birds. They were obviously very old, the trunks were gigantic.

    “I love this place, it is so beautiful, does it ever get cold here?” she asked.

    Felipe laughed and said “No, it just gets more hot. There is a rainy season that will soon be upon us but it only lasts for several months. It will rain hard every day and then clear.”

    The rounded the curve in the trail and looked up at the waterfall. “I never tire of this place, why can we not build a cabin here?” she asked.

    “Well that would be superb, but everyone bathes here and they do want their privacy.” he smiled at her.

    She stood with her back to him and reached behind her and untied the string of her blouse letting it fall around her ankles. She reached down and removed it placing it on a rock and unbuckled her belt. Her breasts were large enough so that Felipe could see the white globes of them on either side of her ribs. Her waist was slim and flared out into shapely hips. She let her skirt fall to her feet and picked it up also placing it on the rocks.

    She then turned around and looked at him. She was absolutely beautiful. Felipe looked her up and down slowly smiling.

    “Well? Are you going to just stand there or are you getting in the water with me?” She turned and waded into the pool up to her neck and then turned and looked at him.

    He was already undressed and quickly waded into the water and embraced her. Her skin was soft and cool against his and they kissed. “I love this place and I love you.” she said.

    “And I love you my lady.” he replied.

    The next morning the princess and Angelica walked to the pavilion. Shayla was smiling at them “I have news.” she said.

    “What, did a courier arrive?” Angelica said jokingly as she looked around.

    “I am with child!” Shayla was literally beaming at them.

    “Are you sure?” The princess asked smiling?

    “Yes. I have not bled now for three months and my belly swells.” she said holding up her blouse to reveal a slightly swollen tummy.

    The girls squealed with delight and hugged her. “Have you told Batu?” the princess asked.

    “Have I told him?” Shayla said rolling her eyes. “He is strutting around like the rooster in the chicken coop, here he comes now.” she pointed.

    Batu was striding through the village with his chest stuck out screaming loudly. “ I am going to be a father! No man will take this child from me! He will be a mighty warrior, men will drop their weapons and flee when he draws near! Ships will raise the white flag of surrender when they see him at the rail!”

    “Batu!” Shayla shouted at him playfully. “Stop that nonsense and come here!”

    Batu knelt beside her smiling and took her hand. “Yes my Queen?”

    “What if we have a girl?”

    “Then she will be just as beautiful as her mother and I will love her just the same.” he replied.

    “That is all that I wanted to know, carry on.” she said smiling at him.

    He rose and in a loud voice said “I am going to be a father! I am going to have a son or a daughter.” he looked at Shayla and smiled and then walked off shouting “If it is a boy, he will be a mighty warrior! Entire villages will flee at his approach! If it is a girl, she will be so beautiful that men will come from all over the world to try to woo her and win her hand!” His voiced trailed off as he walked through the village still shouting.

    “Well, he is happy.” Angelica said smiling.

  • Create New...