Fiction Friday – 20 June 2008
This Week’s Theme: Without looking it up, use the word Intaglio in your [Fiction]Friday entry.
There’s some that will tell you that the Captain is invincible. Invulnerable. Immortal. Fearless.
They’re almost right. In all the years I sailed with the Captain, there wasn’t a ship he couldn’t outsail, a sea monster he couldn’t defeat. There wasn’t a duel to be won, a treasure to be found, a lady to be rescued or a wrong to be avenged that didn’t see the Captain in the thick of it, and on top of it.
But sail with the Captain all your life, and you get to know the man. You get to know him as vulnerable. Mortal. The Captain is fearless, not through bravery, but because he has nothing left to lose. The Captain was wounded once, as a young man. A deep, harsh wound. There’s some that say he died that day, and what walks now is a ghost. Others say that the wound is fatal, and so the Captain fears no man and fears no death, because he knows his fate.
All I know is that the Captain lost everything that mattered to him once. And in that loss he became free and fearless. He ran away to sea, travelling the world, and making his name.
We were sailing in the Southern Seas. It was during the war with the English, letters of mark and repisal had been issued against the Captain and La Gongoozler. So the King sent us off for safekeeping. South and East, to the Antipodes. Cap’n wasn’t happy, I remember that. “I fear no English ships!” he cried, indignantly. “Let them come with their letters, I’ll sign my name across their chests with my sabre!”
But no, the King sent us away. A big adventure. And El Capitán was never one to shy away from an adventure. But as we crossed the equator, he seemed subdued. Sombre. One night, when I was on watch, the Captain came and sat with me a while. Didn’t say a word. Just looked out to the horizon. Then he got up, sighed, and left for his cabin. Never seen him like that before, or since.
As we approached Van Diemen’s Land, we spotted the ship. It was anchored off the coast, as if it was expecting us. And the Captain was expecting it too. When we told him of the ship, he didn’t say a word. He just nodded, fastened his sword to his waist, and came on deck.
La Gongoozler drew up to the other ship. It was in good condition, yet no crew. Except for one man. Stood at the bow. He saluted the Captain, nodded and spoke. “Juan, it has been too long. How have you been.”
The Captain would laugh. The Captain would issue a challenge. But in a voice as quiet as a whisper, but resounding as thunder, the Captain responded. “Where is she?” His hand was on his sword, gripping the hilt tightly, knuckles white.
The other man raised an eyebrow. “She? Ooh, her. Do you still think about her Juan?”
The steel flashed in the sunlight, as the Captain pointed the sword straight at the stranger on the other ship. The blade did not waver, and nobody spoke what seemed to be forever. Finally, the Captain lowered his sword, and turned.
“Walking away again Juan? So much for the brave adventurer!”
“Captain? Who is that?”
“Intaglio.” The Captain paused. “My brother.”