Blood Is Thicker…

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Silence echoed throughout the creaking groans of the Bloody Mary, as her presence intruded across the flaccid, still night. I dared not fall asleep. Not now, things were too quiet. Claric had successfully managed to destroy my bliss, my serenity, maybe I had started to turn soft?
Rome was but a memory now, maybe nothing more than a dream I once had. And all anger I had once harboured, deep within, like toothy snakes pumped with poison spitting and biting at anything to kill…well that, that was not even the ghost of a memory, not any longer. But now I could not rest…
I remembered a time before all of this…misery. Mucking out and herding sheep across the mountainous terrain of my childhood, or what awkward version of a childhood I experienced. It was simple and pleasant. Hard work favoured the needy and the needy did not go without. Father Game taught me that much before his, ahhhh. I blinked away that feeling again. Shit. I could feel it uncoiling within me like a filthy fucking robe of overcast skies. Except, the heavy clouds wore ominous but not with rain like you know it. I know what hung heavy inside them dark, dark skies.
Blood looks black at night.
I strained my ears and held my breathing, something approached. It sounded like, like, my first mate. Maybe he does not have the courage to betray me and comes looking to plea for his pathetic life?. I was right as there was a rapid succession of raps on the door quickly followed by his voice.
‘Captain, we have a problem, a b, b, big problem.’ Skelton stuttered as I pulled open my cabin door.
He lowered his gaze and I remember thinking that he had never looked so haggard and scruffy and…Skeltonish, why did I choose him as a first mate?
Skelton’s eyes quickly found the splintered deck beneath his feet. At least now he has some semblance of respect for me, unless, of course he doesn’t and he’s leading me into a trap? This was it, I had made my mind up, Skelton was about to commit his last mistake. I paused upon the threshold of leaving my chambers and quickly returned back inside to retrieve my blade, the one I pried from the Guardsman’s fucking dead grip on that hallowed hill, on the day all this started for me, for them, for everyone.
The tip and cut were far sharper than I had ever seen on any other’s blade. I kept it that way. I knew what killing a man entailed. Blades needed to be sharp, so it was.
‘After you then!’ I called as I tucked my sword into my scabbard. Claric had, at some point, disappeared from my quarters as I did not see him as I gave my room a quick scan, and gave chase to staying on the heels of Skelton, the snake.
The deck was deathly quiet and still, something unpleasant hung in the air. I realised the moment I stepped out onto the lower deck that this was not the ploy of mutiny. The looks on their faces were not of discontent, they were of fear. I followed there distant stares and saw what was keeping them all so quiet. It was a ship, a battle ship, to be exact, one of the Royal Navy’s. But surely that meant…finally I got it, but not before I saw the second battleship flanking us from the opposite direction. The green lawns of Ireland reached out to me from just beyond the limiting veil of darkness. No one spoke for a reason, they hoped the ships would pass us by, so did I, but they didn’t and guess who fucking came out from below deck singing and swearing on the top note? Yeah you got it, the same on who warned of a betrayal. I just didn’t see a betrayal from her is all, the one who’s my ship is namesake: Mary Tudor. Bitch had sent her ships to kill me!
I felt more than betrayed I felt insulted. If she wanted to kill me and I mean really kill me, why did she only send two ships?
Claric continued to sing as the shouts of orders could be heard across the water.
Skelton leaned close before whispering low enough for none to hear us, ‘what be your orders, Captain? Or shall I assume command, sir?’ Skelton looked me straight in the eye, he still had no idea who I was, am. I smiled and looked over to Claric, he smiled back and I knew he wasn’t drunk, not at all, he was very much like me, he liked to kill.
I spoke loud enough for all to hear me. ‘ You shall wave the white flag and let them board. I do not want my ship being torn apart by them!’ I said as a stabbed a finger across the water. Their silence was challenging, again it was Skelton to speak to me but this time he did not make an attempt to lower his voice. ‘You will have us surrender? They will take our ship and make us slaves, if we’re lucky. Have you lost your fucking mind, captain?’
I rounded on him and he quickly retreated a step or two. ‘Lost it, fucking lost it?’ I shouted back at him, ‘what the fuck makes you think I ever fucking had it in the first place? And no, I will not let them or anybody else take this ship from me. When they board they will fall and I will feed them back to the sea, their blood will settle on the seabed floor and nourish the sand. This new day you will meet the real Henry Game. Those who will fight with me have a place on my ship when this is over and they have met with death!’ I never intended to make a dramatic speech, but I guess I did anyway, because they were fucking loving it. All of them, even Skelton had brandished a weapon and cheered. Claric watched me with level eyes that spoke of readiness. I let my storm quieten for a moment as I began to relay my simple plans for Skelton and the rest of the men to follow.


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