The writing contest topic for Red Hand Adventures in July was to write a story set on the Irish Sea. Here’s Nate’s wonderful story!
The Irish Sea
“The mist had been getting hard to see through, clouding up everybody’s vision. It was a menacing fog, it’s white tendrils sneaking out to the Irish Flagship, The Merriment.”
“The crew wasn’t scared though, as they were a tough lot, not afraid of nothin’, they just took it as an opportunity to have a few cups of ale while waiting for the sky to clear up. It was just a routine trading trip, mind you lads, but the cargo was precious. They were carrying huge amounts of gold, weapons and armor, trying to get it to the Castle Mckain.”
“Well, soon as they were all drunk as I on me birthday, singing and laughing in merry ways, it happened. A ship, bigger than any in port here in Dundalk, emerged from the mist, coming at them flying the skull and crossbones flag. Pirates. The ship, the men, and the gold was never heard from again.”
The man speaking, Carrick, lifted his mug to his lips and drank, throwing back his head and letting clear golden droplets of ale run down his pale, slightly chubby face. He stayed that way for a few seconds before slamming the empty mug down onto the old wooden table.
Three pairs of wide eyes stared back at him, excitement and fear coursing through their bodies. The candle at the center of the table flickered unexpectedly, causing all three boys to flinch. Outside, rain pounded the ground, creating an even more eerie setting for the three lads. The boy on the far left, Seamus, shuddered. His thoughts reached out to the next day, when he and his two friends seated next to him, Finnick and Brandon, would most likely be drafted onto the next ship heading to Castle McKain. Finnick was Seamus’ brother, but they always joked that he was adopted. Seamus had long straight brown hair, while his brother Finnick’s hair was a tangle of red curls, reaching down almost to his shoulders. The last boy in line had brown hair not quite as straight as Seamus’ but not quite as curly as Finnick’s. His name was Brandon.
“Wait just a wee second, Carrick!” Brandon exclaimed before the large man could go on talking, “If none of them were ever heard from again, how did you hear of em?”
This got Carrick’s attention. He tapped his fingers on the table and said,
“You’re a smart lad, you are Brandon.”
“So none of it was true?” Finnick put in. He sounded disappointed.
“I didn’t say that!” Carrick boomed, “The ship went missing, that’s a fact, and we know there are pirates out there these days, so naturally if you put two and two together, it’s the only reasonable explanation.” Seamus noticed Carrick’s words were slurred and he was starting to go slightly cross-eyed.
Just then, an apple flew across the tavern room and struck Carrick in the back of the head. The man’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and he fell to the ground.
Seamus’ head snapped up to the direction that the apple had come from, and he could hear Finnick stand up in anger, his chair clattering down onto the floor. The tavern had gone completely silent now, so that the only sound was the rain outside and the snickers of the four boys across the tavern, where the apple had come from.
Seamus could feel his temper rising and he stood to stand next to his brother. Next to get up was Brandon. All three boys stood next to each other now, staring at the four seemingly drunk young men that were about Seamus’ age.
“Oy! What’d you do that for?” Finnick challenged the four boys. Seamus stayed quiet, stooped down and picked up the apple that had rolled over to him.
“Hand me that,” Brandon whispered to Seamus, not taking his eyes off the four men.
“Your fat friend was getting on our nerves with all his yellin’ about pirates and all that,” The boy that had thrown the apple, who looked to be the leader of the group, replied.
Brandon bit into the apple, then tossed it back to the bullies.
Brandon chewed for a few seconds, then spit it out onto the polished wooden floor.
Seamus couldn’t figure out what that was supposed to mean, but he figured it scared the bullies enough.
“Lets get out of here you guys,” Seamus whispered to his brother and friend. They nodded and turned to leave. Just as they were getting to the door something hit Finnick on his shoulder.
“Just keep walking,” Seamus muttered. Finnick’s face was beat red, but he kept going.
“Bet your father wouldn’t have run away like that, but he’s dead now, isn’t that right Seamus, Finnick?”
Just then something clicked in Seamus’ brain. He leaned over to a table where another apple lay in front of someone’s plate. He picked it up and threw it directly towards the bully who had spoken about his father. The boy ducked just in time. The apple flew over his head and bounced off the wall to his left. The apple flew to the left and struck a man on the cheek. He turned in anger towards the wall and saw the closest man to it. Thinking that man had thrown the apple, he stood up and punched him in the face.
Meanwhile, the man who Seamus had stolen the apple from stood up growling. Seamus shrunk back slightly, preparing himself for the blow when his brother, Finnick, jumped in front of him yelling,
“That’s my brother you over-drunk oaf you!” and caught the man’s fist in his hand, then uppercut him in the chin. The man fell to the ground hard, and Finnick nodded in satisfaction. Then the man’s wife stood up. She was even bigger than her husband and Finnick shrunk back in fear.
“And that’s my husband, you reckless ruffian you!” She screamed and began slapping his face back and forth with her meaty hands.
Suddenly, her husband stood up once more and charged at Seamus. Seamus stepped out of the way easily and the man flew onto a table. The young boys sitting there poured their ale onto his head and then threw them across the room where they hit another couple of men. Soon almost everyone in the room was fighting.
“Finnick! Brandon! Lets get out!” Seamus yelled. The two boys nodded, but were busy dodging flying bowls of stew and mashed potatoes. The bartender came out from behind the bar. He was a spindly man, skinny as sticks and he was pushed around as soon as he left the shelter of the bar. He tried to calm two men who were both punching each other randomly. The bartender ended up with a potato in his face.
Seamus managed to make it to the door and shooed Finnick and Brandon out into the cold night air and rain. They only made it a few feet before a huge man, carrying a scroll and holding himself with authority, stopped them.
The three boys recognized him. The man was known all throughout the town. His name was Captain Brekker. He looked down at the boys.
“Get inside,” He growled. Seamus followed his brother back into the tavern, where not much had changed from before, except that Carrick had woken up and was busy jumping on the bartender.
As Captain Brekker entered the room, Seamus slowly saw people one by one stop fighting and look at the captain. Soon everyone was staring at him except for Carrick, who was still bouncing on the bartender.
Brekker cleared his throat and Carrick looked up. He stopped jumping, helped the wheezing bartender to his feet and brushed some dust off of his shoulder.
Seamus finally got a good look at the Captain. He had long black hair to match the dark brown eyes that glared around at the drunk men and women who were now looking down at their shoes and shuffling their feet. He was muscular and wore a long broadsword at his belt.
Overall, Seamus thought that Captain Brekker was scary.
“So sorry to interrupt your playtime, lads, but I’m here for the draft. We need able sailors to carry this month’s cargo shipment to Castle McKain. For some reason nobody signed on to be sailors voluntarily, so before I get started, would any of you sad lot like to volunteer?” The room was silent for a moment, before one voice could be heard from a far corner of the room.
It was the bully.
“I will… Father,” He said.
“Very good Sterrin, anyone else?”
The room was silent this time.
“Very well, let’s get onto the drafting then,” the Captain took out a large scroll from his belt and unrolled it.
“Is there a Brennan Storrer here?”
A boy who looked to be about nineteen stood up and said quietly, “That’s me, sir,” Then sat back down.
“Good, is there a Brandon Merriman?”
Brandon was silent. Seamus didn’t blame him after what they had heard about all the ships disappearing.
“Sir Merriman, if you are here and I find that you are not speaking up, you will be punished.” The Captain let that sink in.
Finally, Brandon closed his eyes and said, “Here…, Sir,” then walked out of the tavern, slamming the door behind him.
“Well, we’ll give him some time to cry,” The Captain said, “Next is”- but he was cut off by Finnick, who said, “Oy! If Brandon’s going, so are we!”
Finnick pulled Seamus closer to him and stood up straighter.
“What?” Seamus exclaimed to his brother.
“Very well, and what are your names?” Captain Brekker asked.
“Finnick and Seamus Carrison, Sir,” Finnick replied.
“You know boys, only one able bodied man from the family has to go, does your father have any interest in taking your place?” The Captain asked.
“No, their father is dead,” Sterrin replied for them. Seamus glared at him.
“Very well, Finnick and Seamus, report to the docks tomorrow morning just after 8:00.”
Seamus pushed Finnick out of the door and yelled at him.
“Why did you do that?”
The rain wettened their heads and flattened Finnick’s usually large red curls.
“Because Brandon is going… And those might as well be the pirates that killed father, don’t you want some revenge?”
Seamus stayed silent.
Great, I’m going to die out on the ocean like my father before me.
The Irish Sea
Seamus woke to a loud banging from outside his room. He shot straight up in bed and waited. It was still dark outside, but the sun was starting to rise casting small light rays into his room. But it wasn’t his room. He looked around and saw that he was in a bunk, to his right there was a wooden wall, to his left were more bunks. Seamus stood up and stretched, yawning.
“Where is everybody?” He asked.
“Seamus,” a voice whispered from the slightly open door directly ahead of him.
“What? Who are you?” Seamus could feel the fear entering his bones. His father used to say that being brave isn’t about not being afraid of anything, but rather facing what you are afraid of. So Seamus let the fear set in, and opened the door. A huge burst of fog seeped in and Seamus was walking blindly. Then it all cleared and he saw a man, his hat black, his beard and leather vest was black. In his left hand was a sword, long and curved, in his right was a piece of gold.
“Wake up, boy,” The pirate spat, “Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up!”
Seamus opened his eyes to see Finnick standing over him, shaking him back and forth. He was dreaming.
“Oy, Seamus! Wake up, we gotta go,” Finnick then left the room leaving Seamus.
After Seamus had gotten ready, he left his room. The same fear from his dream was now entering his body. He walked into the kitchen and saw his mother crying, her hands at her side, letting her tears roll down her face freely. Finnick had already left.
“Mother, please don’t cry,” Seamus said, and walked over to her and placed his hands on hers.
“Don’t go, my poor child, don’t go,” She pleaded, taking her hands and placing them on my cheeks.
“I’ve got to mother. Don’t worry though, I’ll be fine, we’ve got Captain Brekker” Seamus insisted.
“Your father was better than Captain Brekker, he was Captain Carrison, the finest Captain of the Irish Sea,” She replied.
Seamus thought about his father. He had been the Captain that everyone looked up to, respected and loved. Then he disappeared.
Seamus masked his agreement with his mother and said, “I’ve got to go, I’ll see you soon,” he kissed her on the head, and left for the docks.
The docks were filled with bustling people, about fifty focused on the two ships that floated waiting to be boarded by the mostly unwilling sailors. The sun was shining and the heat was frying everyone, but it was a great day for sailing. Seamus pushed through a couple kissing, breaking them up. He saw Finnick and Brandon in the line, waiting to board the bigger of the two ships called The Accomplished. Seamus was almost to them when Carrick appeared in front of him.
“You can’t go, the pirates will kill you!” Carrick exclaimed.
“I’m going,” Seamus said.
“Aren’t ye afraid, lad?”
“Yes,” Seamus pushed past the surprised Carrick and was about to reach his brother when another sailor, who looked like he was one of Drekker’s men, got in front of him.
“You Seamus Carrison?” The sailor asked.
“Aye, that’s me,” Seamus replied, annoyed now.
“You, laddie, are over in that line, right behind young Sterrin Drekker,” The sailor then moved on to another person, raising his hand to stop him from walking any further.
Seamus swallowed, then turned from his brother to walk over to the line leading up to the smaller ship, the Hopeful Glider.
He walked up to where Sterrin was watching the small waves splashing up to the deck. He looked sad, though Seamus couldn’t figure out why.
Maybe he’s tired of being a jerk
It was hopeful thinking, and Seamus sighed as he thought of the bar fight the night before.
Soon the line began moving. Seamus was bustled up onto the ship and what he saw blew his mind like a hurricane. The deck was much bigger than it looked like from the outside, three masts reached up to the sky with billowing white flags on the top.
Seamus followed the group as they looked over the edge of the ship, waving goodbye to friends and family. His mother was not among them. There were about fifteen men on the deck of his ship, Seamus also noticed a man who wore an apron walk down the stairs below deck.
Just then, a horn blew from the bigger ship, The Accomplished. A jolt went through the ship and they were off. The Hopeful Glider wobbled on the water for a moment then started slowly moving foreward as the wind caught the sails.
Next, a voice yelled from above, at the wheel was Captain Brekker.
“Full sail ahead! Lets get this gold to McKain, Lads! Arrg! Adventure!” He yelled and several of his men, in green vests over white sailor’s shirts began scrambling up the masts, until they reached the half sails. They then worked to unfurl the sails, tie them down, and then scramble down again. Within a minute they were done. The ship gained speed until they were at a steady pace just behind the bigger ship, where Seamus’ brother stood watching the same predicament with different workers.
Seamus leaned over to Sterrin and said, “Why is your father on The Hopeful Glider?”
“I don’t really know, he should be on the lead ship with the treasure, but when I asked him about it, he just told me not to worry about it,” Sterrin replied.
They both thought about it for a moment before Sterrin started,
“Hey, Seamus, about last night… I’m sorry about what I said, about your father, I didn’t mean it,” He said humbly.
“Oh, sure yeah, it’s fine,” Seamus replied.
“Well you threw an apple at me that started a bar fight, so I figured it wasn’t exactly fine, but I was drunk and…”
“It’s fine,” Seamus cut him off.
“Great, thanks,” He said, then one of the green vested men walked up to the group of new sailors-in-training. He had long blond hair that nearly covered his eyes.
“Are you lot even alive, shiver me timbers you’re a lazy bunch, but if you’ll follow me, I’ll show you where you can be lazy all you want when your not working yer buts off ,” He yelled out to them and gestured for the group to follow him.
One night passed with no dinner, and morning came with a meager breakfast, but it was still clear, with no sign of eerie mist or pirates. But it was only the first day. They spent the day learning about how to navigate, how to fight, and how to climb up to the crow’s nest. By the time the day had ended, everyone was exhausted.
That night, most of the men had gone to bed, but some had stayed up to talk either about pirates or girls. Seamus had seen the inside of the bunk room and his eyes had widened. It was just as it was in his dream. He sat now, in the same bunk, listening to the conversation.
“I ‘erd the Captain’s here because the tresure’s ‘ere,” One man whispered.
“That’s impossible, we saw the gold being loaded onto The Accomplished,” Another man started, but he stopped as Sterrin stood up and said,
“How about we find out.”
Five minutes later, Seamus followed Sterrin and three other men out onto the deck. It was eerie, quiet, and dark. The only sound came from the small splash of waves against the ship.
“Are you sure we should be doing this?” Seamus asked.
“Course, now follow me,” Sterrin replied. The boys tiptoed over to where the Captain’s quarters were and crouched low.
Sterrin put a finger up to his mouth telling the boys to be quiet.
They could hear the Captains voice, and another, talking in hushed tones.
“The gold must be protected,” The other man said.
“That’s why I put it on this ship, Derris,” The Captain’s voice spoke.
“So the other ship, it’s a decoy?”
“Course ye half wit, if Captain Carrison lost to the pirates, we can’t go down the same way, we need to become creative,” Dekker said it like he was some kind of a genius.
Just then, a shiver ran down Seamus’ spine. He felt cold and… in danger. Just then a bell rang from The Accomplished. The other boys heard it too.
Sterrin’s face went pale.
“The distress bell!” He hissed.
“Ship spotted! Unidentified, sir… Wait… Sir, their waving a black flag!” Panic welled up inside of the man who had spoken. He had been at the crows nest, looking over the calm seas when he had spotted the ship. It was possibly the biggest ship he had ever seen, with six sails on three tall masts and a hull the size of both The Hopeful Glider and The Accomplished.
The ship was heading straight for The Accomplished, as if to board it.
Now the Captain barged out of the door as it slammed onto the wall next to it. The five boys and Seamus were too shocked to realize that Captain Drekker had emerged. Fortunately for them, Captain Drekker was too shocked to notice them.
“Oh my sweet mother Mary’s Lamb Stew, they can’t be here already!” Drekker exclaimed.
A gasping look-out man replied,
“They are, sir.”
Seamus thought of Finnick and Brandon and sprinted to the mast where the ladders were lined up all the way to the crows nest. Glancing around, he saw that everyone was up now, running about and yelling. He could hear the Captain screaming to the men,
“Get below to the cannons! Lower the sails! Prepare to kick these pirates in their wee”- The Captain was drowned out as an unexpected roll of thunder roared from above and all of a sudden, rain began to fall.
Seamus began to climb. One hand, then one foot, one hand, then one foot, one hand, then one foot, and on like that until he had reached the top. He found if he focused not on how high up he was while climbing, but instead on the climbing itself, that he could completely repel his slight fear of heights.
Seamus pulled himself up into the crow’s nest. On the floor of the nest, the folded spyglass lay unused. Seamus reached down and picked it up, and just before he put it to his eye, he heard a voice from right behind him.
“Seamus! Tell me what you see and I’ll report it down to the others!” Sterrin yelled. He was sitting on the edge of the nest and waiting for a report.
“Got it!” Seamus replied over the now pounding rain. He pointed the spyglass first towards The Accomplished. He searched the deck, where men were getting ready to man the battle stations, for Finnick. Finally he spotted the red curls of his older brother. Finnick was racing up the ladder to the crow’s nest of his ship. But before he could make it to the top, A cannon fired from the oncoming pirate ship. Then another, and another and soon fifteen shots had fired at The Accomplished. Explosions erupted all around the ship and men went flying off the ship. Finnick lost his balance and for a moment was only holding onto the ladder with his feet as his arms struggled for balance. Then Finnick fell. He landed in the black water and Seamus lost sight of him in the storm waves. Then he saw something even worse. Sharks. Tons of them were circling the men.
Seamus stopped looking. He was about to put down the glass and jump into the water after his brother, when he saw something else. On the pirate’s ship was a man, preparing to board, who looked familiar to Seamus. He adjusted the spyglass and gasped. His father stood with a long gleaming sword in his left hand and a small glinting piece of gold in the other. He was dressed in all black and by his side was another man, who had a cane and a blindfold around his eyes. Seamus dropped the spyglass and ran to where Sterrin was waiting for him.
“Well, what did you see?” Sterrin asked.
“Its my father, he’s the captain of the pirates. The reason he was the first to disappear was because he is the pirate! He’s been robbing the royal treasure!”
“Are you sure? He’s not just a captive?” He asked once more.
“Yes, we have to save The Accomplished.” Seamus said firmly.
Sterrin nodded and began heading down the ladder.
Seamus was getting scared, and he was beyond mad. His father had just killed his own son. Seamus was getting scared, so it was time to be brave.
They reached the deck and bolted to Captain Drekker.
“Sir, we have to help The Accomplished,” Seamus blurted.
“No, they are just a wee little distraction so that we can get past and get the gold to the castle safely,” He replied, without looking down at them.
“Father, people are dying on that ship,” Sterrin put in.
“They were all willing to when they signed on,” the captain went on.
“I wont let you kill those people.” Seamus stated.
“Is that a threat, boy,” Drekker spat, now looking down at Seamus.
“A threat I intend to carry out,” Seamus spat back, then wheeled around and kicked the Captain between the legs. Drekker went cross eyed and before he could do anything else, Seamus punched him in the face three times and watched as he fell to the ground.
Sterrin nodded and said, “What’s the plan?”
“Listen,” Seamus replied.
Seamus then told Sterrin the plan and ran up towards the wheel. He altered the ships course directly to his father’s ship. The crew waited as they pulled up next to the pirates.
“All hands, prepare to fire!” Seamus yelled.
“Who made you in charge?” Yelled one man. Seamus took a small flintlock pistol out of his pocket and shot directly at the man’s feet. The man just barely got out of the way.
“I’m not in the mood to be dealt with right now,” Seamus threatened.
The man swallowed and said, “Aye… sir.”
` “Good, now fire all cannons!” Seamus yelled.
Ten cannon blasts fired out at the pirate’s ship. The pirates, who had boarded The Accomplished and came back empty handed already, knew the trick. They knew it was on the smaller of the ships.
“Someone ready the white flag of truce,” Seamus ordered.
“Aye sir,” Sterrin said and bolted to get the white flag.
“Prepare to be fired upon!” Seamus screamed, just as fifteen balls were fired from the pirates. Seamus caught a glimpse of his father at the helm, ordering his men just as Seamus was doing. Captain Carrison vs. Captain Carrison. Then the balls hit The Hopeful Glider. Chaos instantly erupted as explosions wracked the deck. Men were thrown overboard and Seamus skidded over the wheel and fell onto the deck. But then it was all over. Lightning flashed, illuminating the black hull of the pirate’s ship.
Seamus groaned and pushed himself up to his feet. He found his voice and ordered, “Raise the white flag!”
Sterrin got to his feet and began to raise the flag.
“Prepare to be boarded!” Seamus alerted the crew, “but do not fight!”
“How do we know they won’t kill us?” one man questioned.
“Because my father is the captain of that ship,” Seamus replied. Before the sailor could question further, they heard woops and hollers as the pirates swung from ropes onto the ship and began boarding.
“Seamus’ Father landed with a heavy thud, then a dozen pirates all landed afterwards. Captain Finn Carrison was broad shouldered, had brown eyes and curly brown hair. He held the sword in his hand and it glinted as lightning illuminated the sky. Rain poured down on them.
“Who is the Captain of this ship, tell me now or I will kill every member of your crew,” Finn Carrison the Pirate spat.
“I’d like to see you try,” Seamus muttered.
Finn turned to him and said, “Who are you then, pipsqueek?” Finn asked.
“The current captain of this ship, The Hopeful Glider, my name is Seamus Carrison.”
Everything was quiet. Even the thunder stopped. The rain slowly stilled. Whatever Finn Carrison was about to say was lost. He gaped and his arm looked weak.
“Seamus?” He squeaked.
Seamus nodded solemnly, and then went on, “The ship you just fired upon before us was The Accomplished, and aboard her was your oldest and first born son, who is even your namesake, Finnick Carrison. He was killed upon the first volley of cannon shots.”
Finn Carrison dropped his sword. It clattered to the ground. Everyone had made a circle around the father and son and were watching silently.
“No… It cannot be…” Seamus’ father cried.
“So now you may either fight us and perish, or take the gold peacefully and leave. Just don’t kill the crew, that’s all I ask.” Seamus stated.
“I will let you go, just don’t ever come out to sea again or I won’t have mercy,” Finn replied, then ordered his men to stand down and retrieve the treasure. Seamus nodded to Sterrin. It was time to put the plan into action. The pirates whooped back to their ship with the treasure in hand. For a moment, all was silent. Suddenly, an explosion rocketed the pirate’s ship.
Seamus grinned at all the confused faces of his crew.
“Sterrin hid explosives in with the gold,” He explained. One by one, realization dawned on the passengers. Next they started smiling, and then laughing and soon all the men were whooping and crying out in joy and laughing in relief that they had defeated the pirates, and that they weren’t dead.
They could hear the remaining crew of The Accomplished cheering as well.
Theywere all laughing even more when the gold started raining down onto the deck of the ship. The explosion had blown the gold right back to The Hopeful Glider.
Seamus was only half excited. His plan had worked, but he had lost two family members, one by his own hand, yet he was still happy. He was ready for the trip safely to Castle McKain. The Irish Sea was safe from pirates, although some will claim that the ghost ship of the Pirates still roams those waters, looking for the ones who tricked them, waiting for their revenge.