He Was the Greatest
Special thanks to Em with Aribual for inspiration.
A tired figure sneaked through the narrow street. This mere figure was a grey Usul. This mere figure was called Aribual. He! who used to be the terror of the warm, turquoise seas! He! the raider of the golden shores, the adventurer from the exotic! He, the pirate...! The fortunate... Oh, what bitterness. He was indeed so fortunate. But not everything has to always go straight.
The wind was blowing softly. The captain of The Waves Canto was in his cabin. He was standing above a huge map, planning a new trass. There was a route where galleons sailed. But there was a rich city. He touched the map and moved his finger here and there considering what to choose, until he felt some irregularity. He raised the parchment to the sun, and, to his amazement, discovered that there was a line imprinted, with a picture of a crown next to it. A sudden thought struck him, and a strange sensation filled his heart. The royal galleon's secret route. It must have been it. He was sure. What else could it be? His eyes widened almost seeing the enormous treasure. Jewelry, calico, sugar, maps, and who knows what more... All in his reach.
He jumped out to announce the sudden departure, yet the deck was empty; only a youngster was pretending to do something, while rather giving the impression he was dancing with the swabber.
The crew was filled with laziness and grog the past few days. They were resting after the last raid, and making use of the dubloons, until all the gold would disappear. Aribual entered the first tavern he spotted. The inside was sultry and dark. There he found the boatswain and some other fellow sailors. He approached them and made sure nobody strange was near enough to hear anything. Then he muttered quietly to gather all the crew on the flagship, for there was some important news waiting. Seeing a serious look on his face, they made no comment and went outside to do what he said.
Within an hour everyone was on board. Aribual spoke to them about his grand discovery and commanded them to get ready for the journey. They rushed to fulfill their duties. The sails had to be repaired, the rigging checked... They were working hard 'til night, singing shanties.
On the morrow The Waves Canto and three other ships under Aribual's command set the sails and set on the journey. The people were overexcited, for this adventure's result could be their best loot ever. They trusted their captain entirely, for he had never failed. Who would ever dare to refuse to submit the orders of the fortunate, the bravest and most daring of all buccaneers?
After a week, a ship appeared on the horizon. And another, and another... Aribual was getting slightly nervous. He was walking here and there on the bow. Some fear started to embrace him. It seldom happened, only before the biggest attacks. The weakness angered him, but he couldn't fight it. Three big ships were coming that possibly carried many cannons. But on the other hand, Aribual's schooners were faster, and there were four of them. He didn't show his nervousness to anybody. He didn't need to be accused of cowardice. He didn't need a mutiny now. He was the commander and he should show the greatest courage.
At the same time, on the royal galleon, a mate, sitting on the highest yard of the foremast, discovered the pirate armada. He feared the captain and hated disturbing him, so he went down the shrouds to find the quartermaster. He found him soon and announced his discovery. The quartermaster thought it was information of great importance, and there was a need to tell the captain. The captain, an elderly white Yurble, raised his eyebrow hearing the news. He took out his lunette to have a look, and realized they were pirates. A tattered black bandera waved on the mainmast. He didn't like pirates. He had had some unpleasant experiences with them. His ambition was to catch them and transport to the court. He was a bit afraid, but tough and determined. He commanded the sailors to fight.
Aribual gave the same command to his people. After about three hours the two sides met. The cannons fired. The battle started.
The buccaneers linked their ships to the royal ones and boarded them. They were screaming in their fearful, mad attack and waving their swords. The decks were covered in smoke; hardly anything was visible. The sight would give any regular opponent a fright, but not the captain of the royal fleet. The forces were quite congenial. But it happened that the pirates started losing. It became clear that defeat was near. At the end of the battle Aribual was hit with something heavy and lost his senses. Only minutes later his crew was forced to surrender. They lost the battle.
Aribual found himself two days later in a small cabin. It was wet, grating, smelly, probably somewhere near the bilge. Some time later door opened, a hand passed two bowls, and quickly shut the door behind. Aribual looked at the content of the first dish. It was some unrecognizable food, awful and almost rotten. Inside the other was some water. He suddenly felt extremely hungry. Having no particular choice, he started eating.
The journey carried on. He was alone, almost foodless, angry, rebellious. Some days before reaching the destination he was given a foretaste of what was waiting him. He was taken outside, and, in public, painted grey, to reduce the possibility of his escape, for this was such a hopeless color.
How little did they know him! He had a nature that longed for freedom; he was intelligent enough to avoid dungeons. He was placed in a steel carriage, alone, the rest of his fellows locked in another. But he managed to open the door with a small dagger he had in his pocket, and escape on a shield of a small tavern, then behind the building. The caravan stopped momentarily. Oh, they searched for him. But they didn't find him. He was well hidden in dark shadows of a nook somewhere. He sat there for about two hours, uncertain of his situation.
When the guardians left him in peace, he stood up, desperate. He looked fearful in his tattered, weathered clothes, pale, with silent madness in his gaze. He went slowly and cautiously through an old street. He was heading to a tower. Along the way he saw a guitar in a window. There was nobody near, so he took it. As he reached the clock tower, he broke in and went up. Who would ever find him among all those mechanisms and niches? He sat on a board. His heart was full of nostalgia. He was one of the greatest pirates of the southern seas of his time! Now he was somewhere far away, playing a stolen guitar and singing a song full of sadness. Suddenly he smiled slightly, like if he was reconciled with his fate. But inside he was bursting with sorrow. He kept singing about the beautiful islands, homesick and unconscious of anything around. He, the proud pirate.