A retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Stolen, shipped and sold into slavery, Gelila escapes to the sea. As a feared captain of a pirate ship, she's continuously looking for a port to call home. She never expected to find it in the arms of an ancient powerful shaman.
Mist of Remembrance
Beauty stood on the quarterdeck feet braced against the bucking of the waves. Her loose fitting black pants and red shirt gently flapped in the wind. The ends of the scarf wrapped around her head slapped against the back of her neck. She held a hand up to shade her eyes from the midday sun as Hugos, her helmsman, kept the ship on a steady course.
They had just weathered a summer storm and she could see another brewing on the western horizon. A sigh passed her lips as she tried to think of a port close by that they could find shelter in. Her crew may be devoted but they just might mutiny if they had to power through another storm while still making repairs from the last.
Beauty's hand dropped as she glanced to her right and watched as Amina, her quartermaster and best friend, climbed the stairs from the lower deck. Amina was a formidable woman with nappy hair she kept shaved close to her head, pitch-black skin, and a scowl that could flay a person alive. Her ability to laugh at everything had kept Beauty sane on more than one occasion.
"My bones are aching and my head is spinning. Another storm is on the way." Amina slapped her on the back hard enough to jar her teeth. "A good time to be alive."
“Wipe that smile off your face.” Beauty scowled and tried to rub the sore spot Amina's show of affection had left behind. “A storm is no laughing matter.”
“Nay, but to feel the spray on ones’ face, makes you remember you’re alive.” Amina braced her feet and clasped her hands behind her back. “A day without a whip on my back is a good day, aye.”
"Aye." Beauty agreed as the scowl slowly slid from her face. She gripped the rail as she stared down at the men and women of her crew. Each one had been a slave at one point in their lives. Even the one pale skin among them had been an indentured servant whose master had not allowed him to leave when his time was done. The oldest was a man of sixty, and because of his bent fingers, he couldn’t help on deck but he could make anything taste amazing. She had asked him once how he did it and he just smiled. Her eyes swung toward a young girl of ten who was playing with a cornhusk doll. Because everyone had to work, Beauty had given the young lady the job of cabin girl. Every morning she would make sure the captain's quarters were cleaned. Many of the crew were working in scant amounts of clothing and their scars stood out in stark contrast to their ebony skin. "And they call us savages."
"At least we are free from the physical chains they put on us."
“Dolphins.” The cry went up from the crew as many rushed to the side of the ship to watch the majestic animals play in the water. The high-pitched giggle of the cabin girl reached Beauty's ears and a grin threatened to form.
"Captain, there's a ship moving fast on our starboard." Amina's voiced pulled her from her musing.
“What colors are they flying?” Beauty asked. The crew seemed unaware that a ship approached as they continued to watch the dolphins play. "A merchant?"
"Nay," Amina rubbed her hands together. "They are flying black."
A jolt of excitement shot through Beauty and she laughed. A merchant would have been flying the colors of their country, instead they were out for blood and today they would find their prey hunted back. "Hoist Jolly Roger! No mercy." Beauty stepped back from the railing and clasped her hands behind her back. Maybe today would bring some much-needed excitement.
"Stop your lolly gagging, you wankers, to arms," Amina yelled. “No mercy.”
An excited murmur started between the crew as they rushed to their battle stations. Beauty watched with pride as a black flag with skull and crossbones was raised. Beauty itched for a good fight and hoped the captain wouldn’t turn tail when he figured out he wasn't up against normal pirates. Beauty could just make out the captain standing on his quarterdeck staring at them through his spyglass. He was not one they had run into before and if he knew what was good for him he would turn around and not look back. With the price on her head and the heads of her crew, many captains had lost sight of the fact that they were going up against a very ruthless crew. As the ship continued to approach Beauty knew this captain needed a reminder.
A quick glance showed her crew already in place. Six manned the cannons ready to fire on her command; others leaned against the railing, guns cocked. When her eyes came to rest back on the captain she knew the exact moment he realized he was in trouble. He dropped his spyglass and started shouting orders to his crew but it was too late.
“Steady, steady.” Beauty held her sword in the air, excitement making it quiver. “Fire.”
Boom after boom rocked the air, as each cannon was unloaded on the approaching ship. Each cannon ball found a home and wood splinters shot into the air.
“Next round. Ready.”
“Aye captain.” The cry rang in the air.
The satisfying sound of cracking wood and the screams of the crew as they were thrown into the ocean brought a cheer from her crew.
As a white flag was slowly hoisted, Beauty turned to Amina with a smile.
"Do we trust it?"
"They cannot put up much more of a fight." Amina jumped to the lower deck and made her way to the first jolly boat, which was lowered immediately.
Fingers tapping a tone on the railing, Beauty watched the boarding crew pull up alongside the sinking ship and board. They had to move fast if they were going to salvage anything before the ship sank to its watery grave. She only counted five crewmembers left on deck and they were all on their knees with their hands in the air. She watched, impatiently, as her quartermaster spoke with the five crew members before pointed back at The Freedom. They swung aboard and were immediately surrounded and liberated of any weapons they had. With a glance at Hugos, she jumped to the lower deck and headed over to the kneeling men.
“We request to be taken on as crew.” The tallest spoke for the group.
“Where is the rest of the crew?” Beauty asked.
“They ran.” The speaker pointed north where she could make out two jolly boats making a hasty retreat.
“The captain left his crew?” She asked in disbelief.
“We are slaves.” The speaker said. “The captain left us to go down with his ship. Said we were better off dead.”
Beauty scowled and glared after the retreating boats, they wouldn’t live another day. “You will agree to the contract as crew. We all share in any booty found and if you want to be dropped off anywhere you need to pay your way.”
Beauty left the men to the care of her crew and climbed back onto the quarterdeck. Impatiently she waited for Amina to return so they could chase after the captain that thought leaving any of his crew behind was a good idea.
“Captain.” Amina called as she swung back on board. “Can we go after the crew now?”
“You have to ask? They left part of their crew to die.” A grumbling rose from her crew. “Do not fear, they will regret the day their mothers birthed them. See to it the five new crew men have a duty and a place to sleep.” She nodded at Hugos who turned the ship in chase of the two fast escaping jolly boats.
The men in the boats heard them coming, Beauty could see the fear tighten their shoulders. The voice of the captain, who was standing in the foremost of the closet boat, drifted over the waves.
“Row men. Row for your lives depend on it.”
Beauty smiled. No matter how fast they rowed they had an appointment with death and she was going to make sure they kept it.
As soon as they were close enough, six of her crew tossed ropes over the side of the ship and swung down, dropping into the smaller boats. As was their custom, her crew overpowered the British and used their knives to leave small cuts on their legs, arms and chest before tossing them into the sea. Let them try to out swim the large predators in the sea. Beauty laughed.
“Captain.” One of her crew called from where she stood in one of the jolly boats. “There be a box on board. What are we to do with it?”
“Bring it to me you simpleton.” Beauty yelled.
As the crew members climbed back onto the ship Beauty watched as a few of the bodies of her enemy sank below the waves.