The Legacy of Longblades
Black boots stepped out on the wooden bridge. The gleaming brass buckles reflected the sun's brilliance from the clear blue sky. Dark brown eyes scanned the horizon. Ebony sails spread like the night as they were caught and captured by the soft breeze pushing the carved vessel along the water's calm surface. He was pleased with the speed. They needed to find land and fast with their diminishing supplies.
The ship's crew below was working as a unit ensuring the ship used the wind to its fullest advantage. She may not have been the youngest of the ships sailing, but she was the fastest both in build and crew. The Cimmerian Lady was no match in battle or chase when challenged or pursued.
He stepped down the wooden steps to the main deck. His wild black mane was tamed in a tight braid down his back. He stood and listened as his Lady creaked speaking to him, calling for him. He felt older than his forty-plus-eight years as he looked at the younger men of his crew. All with their secrets they shared with his Lady, their reasons they were running from or seeking for but all would give him their lives if called upon.
Captain Feirgh Douglas walked the length of his ship and back. His hands held tightly behind his back as he inspected the riggings. Known as the Black Fury, a play on the enunciation of his baptized name, or the Pirate Fury of the Seven Seas, his name brought fear to those he followed in their wake. It usually meant their demise.
Feirgh found the title of Pirate insulting. He never once took a ship by force nor pillaged or plundered for gain. He regarded himself as an opportunist. When challenged by ships thinking him ripe, he would defend and then take his bounty as a fine to those Captains for the interruption.
As a child he always knew when storms approached. At first the pain was incredible, crippling the lad to his knees. Over the years he refined the pain to a mere throb. He had not only refined the talent but somehow he knew by way of the wind and its scent, where a storm would take place. Following its path, Feirgh capitalized on the opportunity of treasures rising up from the churning waters.
All nations called him an outlaw yet none could ever prosecute. He broke no laws but the laws of finders-keepers by selling to the highest bidder. His men as a result were well paid, so much so, any one of them could leave and live a well life in the New World.
All, except for him. Feirgh stopped and ran a hand along his Lady's smooth rail. She felt like fine silk underneath his roughened fingers. This had been his home for thirty-five years and it would be so for another thirty-two so long as the Sea blessed him.
Orphaned as child and running the streets of London he was found by Captain "Four Fingers" Casey. The lad had thought the drunken sea captain was a ripe target for pick-pocketing. Casey had the small hand in his before Feirgh realized he had been caught.
"Yer fingers be nimble but not enough." The voice growled. Feirgh was terrified. "Wha' shall we do? I could turn yer miserable hide in..." He eyed the young boy quaking. He looked around the weathered tavern. "Where's yer ma?" The boy shook his head sadly. "Yer da?" The same response was given.
Casey slammed his stein down on the heavy plank table and stood up. "Let's go then. Ye be owin' me service for attemptin' to steal from me persons."
The captain had all ten digits but the nickname came from his crew . "He could do with four fingers what most men did with five", they would say about Casey who was a large jowly man. He was terse, ill-tempered and cantankerous on his best days. On his worst he was a hair's width away from abusive. Those days were few and far between Feirgh recalled. It was Casey who taught him expectations.
Casey expected loyalty and a hard working crew for which they were rewarded.
"Expect a man to betray you and he will. Expect a man to give you his all, and he will. But the trick, Boy, is to give them what they expect. Each of them have a different expectation of a captain, but all expect loyalty and that must be a given."
Feirgh breathed in the salty sea air. Casey's words floated through his mind. He agreed with the former Captain. He would give his life for any of the men that sailed with him. His crew was picked from the streets in the same manner he. None knew the sea or her ways let alone set foot on a ship. But they all learned and all knew the risk. Sailing as a crew member with the Cimmerian Lady gave them notorious fame. To survive the Pirate Fury's wrath was feat in its self.
He smiled to himself. His reputation was beyond his control. Rumors abound of his whippings and confinement in the bowels of the ships still carrying her dead. One report presented to the crown wrote how he starved his men while he feasted.
"This elusive Pirate controls his men with threats of death while he lets them loose like a pack of dogs on the innocence of our citizens. He feasts upon the flesh of fowl and pig while his crew must beg and whine for a scrap of meat or crumb of bread
He preys upon disaster as he leads his kill into the mouth of a storm that sane men would avoid. On the docks from here to the New Worlds he is known as nothing more than a scoundrel and devil without mercy in the gain of his riches. And yet I am told we cannot bring this man to justice."
"Land Ho!" Came the cry from the crow's nest. "Land Ho." The small figure pointed to the west. Feirgh's reminiscing was interrupted.
Feirgh walked up to his bridge and pulled out his scope. He scanned the horizon and saw the island. He brought his sight downward and saw sails. He looked to the flag. His hands dropped down as he knit his brows together.