He used the worst one he knew, the one reserved for the most severe and life-threatening situations. For instance, if you have been sold out to hoard of bloodthirsty pirates who are a few paces away from you, this word is the appropriate curse word.
He said it again, as quietly as he could.
No one heard him. They were all too busy counting the booty. He backed off slowly as he heard Captain Bloodhound shout, “let’s pack up the treasure and head back to the surface. We’ve got a boy to hunt.”
As the pirates roared in excitement he reached the edge of the waters. It was going to be an even more dangerous journey than the first time. But he had no choice. There was no other way out. He tried to prepare himself when he heard Captain Bloodhound bellow, “you three, check back there in case there be any treasure lurking.”
His heart began to pound in his chest. He needed to leave and fast. Just then, as he drew in a deep breath, he spotted something. Another red flower.
Footsteps echoed louder. He took a chance and waded through the water. As he reached for the flower he heard a voice behind him. “It’s the kid. The one the captain is looking for. Let’s get him.”
Gruel pulled the flower. No walls crumbled into dust this time. Instead, the ceiling tumbled down and collapsed onto the pirates. As the boulders settled he could see a tunnel had been revealed above.
It was an easy decision on whether to risk his life on the underwater journey or the mystery tunnel. He climbed up and started crawling through. He could hear the pirates below, wondering what had just happened. He spared a thought for Pete, and that thought was what a slimy good-for-nothing half-weasel half-toad.
He was soon able to stand up as the tunnel widen and then joined to another cave passage. Gruel decided to go upwards and so started to run as fast as he could. He was furious. He used that energy to run ever faster.
Natural light soon began to pierce his eyes. Fresh air drifted towards him. He could see the exist now, it seemed the be clear, but he took every precaution. Gruel crept out using as much of the foliage and plant life around him as cover.
Gruel collected his thoughts. He needed to get off this island and fast. He should head for the beach and work out a plan as he moved through the natural cover.
Perhaps I could steal Captain Bloodhounds pirate ship? he thought. But I could barely stir Lily, so he had no chance of manning a ship that size on his own.
Of course, Lily, he thought as he spotted a seagull flying above and started to follow it to the ocean. If I can find her, plug her leaks and make her seaworthy I could attempt to drift away at the dead of night. But the last time I saw her she was in hundreds of pieces. I don’t have the time or the skills to repair her.
How about a rowboat on the pirate ship, he thought with a new sense of hope. If I could steal one of them without anyone noticing I could row my way back to Tortuga. But I’d be no match for the pirate ship. It would easily catch me up even with a days head start.
The fire ship. Gruel stopped and smiled. He had suddenly remembered one of Pete’s crazy stories. All I need to do is get to Captain Bloodhounds pirate ship first. Then I can set it on fire, escape on a rowboat and leave everyone stranded on this island.
He reached the coastline full of hope and determination. There was no sign of the pirate ship, but he could see Lily in the distance. He decided to go and inspect the wreckage to rule out that option.
When he got closer it was clear it would take at least three days to get her back on the sea. Split clean in two and missing everything essential: rudder, mainsail, oars, even the anchor was gone. Have you ever heard the expression rats will flee a sinking ship? Well, they were the only things to still be there. Loyal to Pete to the very end.
Gruel sat down for a quick breather. It was then that he felt something poke him in the leg. It was the letter.
How could he have forgotten?
He quickly opened it. Inside was the key. He took it out carefully to inspect it. It looked like a normal key, just rustier. He didn’t see how it could have the power to control a sea monster when it probably couldn’t even open a lock. He took out the letter and began to read it.
Congratulations. I’m glad you found my treasure and started your adventure.
It might surprise you to hear this, but no one man should ever have some much to himself. My fortune is yours. Spend it, invest it, save it, maybe even buy a ship and carry on my legacy. But promise me you will NEVER use the key.
The world is a better place without monsters. And now it’s your job to keep it that way. Don’t allow them to return. Hide the key, tell no one about it. You can try to destroy it, but I can tell from experience it can’t be done.
By now you are probably wondering who I am. My name is Bootstrap Bill and I was the first mate to the legendary Pirate Captain Henry Morgan. We ruled the Caribbean Sea’s and made the Spanish fear our names. We plundered towns and made a vast amount of money in the Buccaneers business. We stole the keys from the Old Witch of the Sea locked the monsters at the bottom of the ocean. And I loved every minute.
Henry became greedy and drunk on power. He wanted to use the keys to conquer Spanish territories, so I stole this key and buried it with my treasure. For you to one day find it and keep it hidden from the world. The key doesn’t belong to mortals, you must make sure it stays forgotten.
My greatest regret is that we cannot go on this adventure together. This is now your burden to bare. Remember me whenever you see a red flower.