*) - Desiderata
The Corsair and The Clairvoyant
The man with hazel eyes, ruddy complexion, and a harsh face threw a pouch of gold coins on the floor. He was ‘Captain’ Longinus Lawless, the infamous corsair who operated off the Frankish coast, a seasoned naval mercenary and, the terror of the seas.
“Where is it, the fabled treasure of Desiderata*, O clairvoyant?”, he asked the woman in front of him.
The woman was Philomena, the fortune teller. Some called her reincarnation of the oracle of Delphi, while some considered her a witch, not only because she was thought to be practising occult, but also because of her bewitching beauty. No one knew her age. One would think she had been around forever.
She gazed deeply into the magical glistening crystal on the ornate table in front of her, and announced: “to the east for the island of Avalon you must go but beware the misty deep waters hold your worst nightmares.”
*Latin for ‘things to be desired’.
The Flying Dutchman!
Along with a ragtag crew of fifty, united solely by greed, Captain Longinus set sail in Lumière, a magnificent ship he captured years ago. “Eastward, ho!”, Longinus commanded. The ship, propelled by the crew comprising of oriental Lascars and Gaelic Celts, begin to glide. With clear blue skies, meandering frothy waves rolling off on the emerald ocean, and mild breeze, everything seemed to go off on a good start.
For the next seven days and seven nights they sailed and sailed. On the eighth day, an enormous tsunami arose, bringing with the Kraken- the sea monster. The nautical myths of yore were true. The seamen directed all their ammunition towards fending off the monster. Firepower failed to subdue it in the slightest, and it begun to approach the Lumière. Everyone felt their end was near. Few ever escaped post-encounter with a Kraken.
Just then, they heard the loud rumbling sounds of a propeller. A giant ship, of vintage design emerged out of the thin mists. It looked very unreal, flickering like a projection. The monster was extremely terrified of it and dived quickly into the waters, and did not emerge back. The crewmen of Lumière looked at the ship with a deep sense of gratitude in their eyes. The ship had on its hull written: ‘THE FLYING DUTCHMAN’. In nautical folklore it was said to have been lost to the sea while on an expedition to recover the Desiderata several centuries ago.
Captain Longinus ordered his men to fire eleven rounds of cannon to thank and salute their saviour. After the ceremony was over, the phantom ship flickered on for a few more minutes, and then slowly disappeared back into the void it came from.
The sea is fickle. One fine morning, the weather suddenly turned inclement. The skies turned dark with a terrible tempest raging on, with bucketfuls of rain. The ship rolled on the giant waves like a paper boat in a murky stream. Soon, the situation seemed despairing for the rovers, who were busy emptying the ship off of water lest it flood it. By noon when the rains stopped and the storm passed away, the damage was done. The crewmembers were forced to throw away plenty of goods on board into the sea to lighten the ship, and this included their already reduced rations.
Longinus tried to bravely keep the spirits of his men up, who were clearly discontented with his leadership. The entire expedition had begun to seem very pointless to them, with the prospect of starvation looming over their collective heads. On being demanded to turn back, Longinus, however insisted they keep on sailing forward. The crew then hatched a nefariously desperate scheme. A burden had to be offloaded.
Captain Longinus Lawless was made to walk the plank by coercion. He soon found himself gasping for breath in the sea, and his pleas for rescue were met with laughter and jeers. His men have had enough of him.
Lumière turned back in the direction of the nearest port, which was hundreds of nautical miles away.
He did not know for how long he tried to swim. At some point, he must have closed his eyes and surrendered to the water which eagerly plunged into his lungs. Yet his eyes were now open and he saw a darkly lit room in which there were mounds of gold bullions and coins, precious gems, and assorted jewels. Was he conscious or was he dreaming? Just then a familiar feminine voice entered his ears.
“Ah, so you have awakened!”, said Philomena, the clairvoyant. Longinus looked at her with disbelief. “You are where you wanted to be, in the presence of what you desired for. You are in Avalon, with riches lying in front of you”, she replied. He had begun to find her very mysterious.
“You washed ashore, as if it were meant to be. I need to show you something.” She asked him to see outside the window where there were hundreds of graves. “These are the resting places of the ones who came in search of Desiderata. No one returned alive”, she paused, and looked at him. “The real Desiderata is not gold, or diamond. It is what is inside you. What you seek is within.” Saying this, Philomena disappeared like she was never there.
Longinus pinched himself in the cheek, looked at the treasure lying around him, and the burial mounds. He stepped outside and sat down on the sands. The unending expanse of the sea, and the vast crimson skies seemed to smile at him. There was not a ship in sight. Perhaps there will appear one on the horizon to take him back, or not. It didn’t matter. The waters had washed his soul clean.
He was home.
I liked how well divided up this is...Nice job with the vernacular and character development within 1000 words but there were few loose ends and after 3 exciting chapters, all that building, the climax is kind of anti-climactic. Mesmerizing artwork!
Rating - 139/200
Total points after 2 Rounds - 283/400 Points
Judge - Mohit Trendster