Draco Island a fabled kingdom of immense wealth and prosperity. It had never been looted or pillaged or attacked because unlike the islands that moved around in a pattern based upon the phases of the moon, Draco Island moved freely and was rumored to never have been in the same place twice. Ships that went in search of it often never came back, including the one carrying him. He had gone not in search of the mountains made of gold or the rivers full of sapphires or trees of emeralds. He had gone in search of his brother, David, who had gone in search of Draco Island to prove its existence.
There was a groan from the bed and I knelt next to the slowly wakening man. I considered myself the least threatening in appearance. I glanced over at the Captain, he really didn’t look threatening either, but when you learned that Deadly McCormac had no issues with slicing your throat rather than saying, ‘Excuse me,’ he was one scary bastard. I’d never met someone who cared so little for others.
“You’re safe now,” I began when his eyes fluttered open. I supposed the maternal instinct that had been dormant within me for some time was suddenly blossoming to life again. I glanced again at the Captain, well he was safer with us than with the Governor. “My name is Louella Huckabee,” I introduced myself, “People call me Honesty.”
“Sam,” he croaked. He failed to give a surname.
“You’re on the cloud ship Deceit of Trinity,” I explained to him, “This is Captain McCormac.” I indicated the Captain behind me. I decided not to introduce him as ‘Deadly,’ just yet. Sam’s eyes looked from me up to the Captain and I cast a glance between them both. The young slave might just be safe here, because I remember those looks, and they made me nostalgic and sick to my stomach. Too much was reminding me of him lately.
Since we had killed the Governor of Hopewell, it was decided we should avoid that port for a while. We made sail and steam for No Name Landing. It was smaller than Hopewell, just as seedy, but their main form of commerce was fresh water. You would get cut just for a flagon of water in the streets.
The Deceit pulled smoothly up to one of the long docks. The Deceit actually a lovely ship. Wood and metal, the figurehead was unique, instead of usually just a single maiden or beast, it was three maidens. They were slightly worn, the Deceit was not a young ship anymore, there were faster and stronger ships, but the Deceit had an agility that others did not possess. I was not an expert on ships, but I’ve noticed the Deceit was quicker to come about than any other we’d faced. Her sails were white, but at the moment secured, and long spined cloth fins paddled the clouds powered by the steam engine in her belly. She had a crew of thirty, well twenty nine, the last cabin boy had not been replaced.
Once again I tried to avoid going ashore. I did not want to see anymore ghosts in the crowds, but I reminded myself that was why I was a pirate. To find him to find any evidence of what had happened to him. I had not even known I was pregnant when I hugged and kissed him goodbye. I had tried my best to convince him to not go, that it was a foolish quest, but once he latched onto something, there was no changing it. Our child did not live long past birth and once two years had passed did I quit my little job and sneak aboard the Deceit. Something had felt right, something had beckoned me onto the ship.
No Name Landing lacked the rolling hills of Hopewell and had been like the little islands with the house we’d obliterated. It was just a flat surface that people had colonized. Like Hopewell, No Name Landing lacked a fence or barricade that would keep people and/or livestock from falling off the edge into the clouds. No Name Landing was also smaller than Hopewell. I followed the Captain, Haig, and Sam, Webb stayed on board this time. I had my fork and my cutlass, Haig tried not to cringe every time he saw me with it. We had been distracted by the young slave, Sam, at Hopewell to replace our cabin boy. Our boots clicked down the wooden boards of the dock towards the taverns where half naked women… and in some cases, men, hung from windows trying to get the eye of a sailor. A good time traded for a few coins or in No Name’s case, a bottle of water.
Sam, cleaned up, obviously sore, and wearing the Captain’s spare clothes, which were too large for him, well the Captain’s clothes were too large on the Captain too. I did not know what had transpired between them once I left the Captain’s cabin to do my duties in the galley, but it must’ve been something huge, even bordering heavily on intimate, because though Sam carried himself in that same aristocracy air, he did not leave the Captain’s shadow.
Finding a cabin boy wasn’t that hard. Many were always searching for work above the sky vessels, be it pirate or legitimate legal merchant mariner. We entered a tavern called the Shaking Fish, we’d been here before. It was one of the Captain’s favorites, they lacked an adjoining brothel, and the ale didn’t quite taste as recycled as some other places. The four of us sat down at a table, the Captain removed his tricorn hat from his head and dropped it on the table top, and he ran his fingers through his short cropped brunette hair. A busty barmaid placed tankards of ale in front of us. Haig and the Captain gave new meaning to quaff. I took a sip, it was bitter, and though I kept a straight face, Sam was not able to. He didn’t ask what pig swill we were drinking but he put down the tankard and didn’t pick it back up.
Once the Captain had emptied his tankard, he removed a rolled map from his coat and unrolled it on the table in front of it. It was a hand drawn, yellowed thing, with every known island listed and their patterns of movement. Other art was added to the map, dragons, sky monsters, and in one corner were the tentacles of the Sky Kraken. The edges of the map were the edge of the clouds, our vessels could not fly without the clouds and those who had tried to sail beyond them fell to the void that was the darkness under the clouds.
“Where is The Island,” the Captain asked Sam in a voice so low I only understood because I had read his lips. Sam gave the Captain and incredulous look.
“What? What island?” Sam stated. Deadly McCormac stared hard at Sam a moment and finally pointed at Sam’s wrist, the cuff of his sleeve had fallen back to reveal the wounds from the manacles, only beginning to heal, but I saw what the Captain was pointing at. Three scars, thin, healed properly, old, but had been deep, traced around his wrist, and they were hardly noticeable under the manacle wounds.
“Ye can’t lie ta me,” when the Captain got angry, it only showed in the way he spoke. He would run you through with a smile on his face. I had no idea what purpose the scars showed, legends were not my forte, I taught reading, writing, and arithmetic to children. I doubt I could ask the Captain for a book about Draco Island. I tried to remember my husband’s brother’s obsession with it. I only knew the island moved under some propulsion, and that it was wealthy. Sam, who carried himself as if he was better than us, that he looked down upon us, wavered under the Captain’s intense gaze. He turned the map, and examined it, but before he could point out a location there was a scream from outside.
“Someone getting knifed,” Haig commented, look at me, “Or forked.” I didn’t respond. It was the sudden multitude of screams and the people running into the tavern that made us stand, the Captain clapped his hat back onto his head, quickly rerolled the map and we went to the door to see what was happening.
Dark tentacles, some blackened like burned flesh, massive, large enough to easily wrap around a cloud ship and drag it into the abyss were attacking the island. The Sky Kraken! One smashed into the dock, planks of wood splintered and were flung into the air. The tentacles were searching, feeling along the edge, grabbing at poor sailors or whores who hadn’t gotten out of the way in time. They were dragged down below the clouds, screaming and the horrid bellowing wail of the Kraken wafted up.
“The Deceit!” I shouted to the Captain as I saw Webb already disconnecting from the dock as quickly as he could. The ship was pulling away, not the only one trying to avoid the destruction wrought by the Sky Kraken. Two ships collided, and exploded, we ducked as flaming wood and metal flew past us. A burning mast began to fall towards us. A young man just stood there, watching the flaming mast fall.
“Run!” I shouted to the young man. A tentacle shot up, caught the mast and snapped it before it could land on us. He bolted in the direction we were headed, towards the Deceit.
“Faster!” The Captain shouted to Sam as we ran, and took a leap of faith from the broken dock. The Captain and I grabbed the ropes that had moored the Deceit to the dock, it had been freed by the Sky Kraken when it splintered the dock. Sam missed the rope, but the Captain managed to grab his arm. Haig jumped but a tentacle appeared from the clouds and snatched him in mid leap, he was dragged down into the clouds. A weight slammed into me from behind and I thought it was another tentacle of the Sky Kraken. I was to be its next meal, but it was the young man who was now scrambling over me, past me, up the rope, using me as a ladder. I was this close to forking him.
The Captain and I climbed on board, and dragged Sam quickly over the rail onto the deck of the ship. The Deceit was already gaining speed, but I watched in horror as the Sky Kraken, angrily, as if throwing a tantrum was breaking chunks of the island off into the clouds. Suddenly what looked like a dozen tentacles wrapped around the island, a massive bellow, a shriek, and I watched as the island was slowly pulled down below the clouds. If the Sky Kraken could do that, what was one little cloud ship to defend against it. That was possibly the fate of him, a meal for the Sky Kraken.