There is a time for everything

 

beforethemastcalendar1“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal,  a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes, the Holy Bible)

 

It seems so long ago now when I remember how, one morning I woke up to an offline on yahoo messenger, with a website address, and I saw “Before the Mast” skinned by Raven, with a banner and all empty otherwise. A few hours later, I got persuaded to become her co-administrator and to put my love for the Age of Sail and my knowledge about the era into a new RPG which should have everything we loved in others, while avoiding, at the same time, what we didn’t like.

We took pride in being not the regular, common RPG everybody sees around, but something different, more of an interactive story puzzle written coherently by several people, a puzzle matching together from various little stories and chapters. It promoted community spirit, open communication, interesting discussions, fun and friendship.

And after a strenuous work of three weeks of writing all kind of documentations, on Transfiguration Day – 6-th of August 2010 – we had the official opening. Since then, we had no offline day, not even for replacing the site’s appearance. But there is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot – so the site, which had 3 volumes in the 9 years it had been ongoing, will close at the end of 2019.

Who can forget the nine years passed since that Transfiguration holiday chosen as the official opening date of “Before the Mast”? Three years and a half spent on Invisionfree,  (sorry, it was bought by Tapatalk and all the coding went to Hell in the transformation, not to mention also the Photobucket disaster) for Before the Mast 1719 and four years and a half spent on jcink, in the second year of our story, for Before the Mast 1720, plus the time spent on our newest volume, the third one, the more colonial-focused Caribbean Dawn 1720, which has its own two year birthday celebration on New Year 2020. The moment of its closing up, too…

Nine years of pouring my love for the Age of Sail and my knowledge about the era into a coherent story to be written with others have passed. We have striven to be a writing community of likeminded people, gathered together for doing a common project –writing together a soap-opera style, collaborative and consistent swashbuckling adventure story, each thread being a chapter of it. In this spirit, we kept discussing potential turns and twists and plotting them with the others, in order to fuel our inspiration and excitement about the story, to avoid inconsistencies and to put all the partners on the same wavelength, to write together towards the same objective.

Nine years are a lot of time, so writing partners have changed, characters have changed, the story has changed too with the sinking of some ships and the advent of peace in the West Indies. Nine years with joys and disappointments too, because nobody is exempted of them. And if nothing else, even this would be a reason to consider it an accomplishment – but I think we have much more.

We have built up an epic Caribbean saga. Some of my share of the story will be rewritten differently, in Romanian, into an adventure novel series titled The price of freedom. For now, I have definite ideas for 4 novels in the series, but 1-2 more aren’t impossible.

They say that people come into our life for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime. I think all of us knew that our site wasn’t meant for a lifetime, but for a reason and a few seasons. And the final season has come. I know that my stress and lack of free time won’t change in the next future. I am less motivated – or, rather, I have less life force to keep the site running, in the conditions that I can’t hand it over to anyone, as their lives had changed too in nine years, and their motivation had dwindled. So, better wrap up our stories, leaving place for a sequel which will never be written.

It wasn’t a decision taken lightly. It’s almost a decade of my life invested in this site and story, and in the friendship with most of my members – my crew, as I used to call them. I kept receiving signs heading in this direction for the latest months, until I understood there will be nothing better waiting for me upwards… A man has to do what a man has to do. It is valid for fleet admirals and pirate captains, as well! Including for me. My roleplaying time will soon be over.

“People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met,

our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.”

Btm calendar dec

It happened BEFORE THE MAST…

…once upon a time, on a CARIBBEAN DAWN… (Or what we have been writing interactively for nine years – don’t mind that the greeting is from the 7 years’ celebration).

01

Backstory

“Behold! A cry from the crow’s nest.
A ship appears from the south west.
The years below deck that bored me,
All lead to what lies before me:
Hear the terror! Fires burn and cannons sound.
Fate awaits me, as the vessels circle round
See the slaughter – cutlass swings and pistols fire.
I hold my breath, close my eyes and hang on for
Death before the mast.”

– Alestorm

    Since the beginning of 1719, the alliances and hostilities between the European nations extend all the way to their distant colonies, causing the Caribbean Sea to boil with conflict as the War of the Quadruple Alliance begins to unfold. The English, French and Dutch have allied their forces against the Spanish, and from Aruba to the Bahamas and beyond, there is no quiet spot ashore or at sea.
    Besides the political turmoil that leads the colonies to the point of tearing at each other’s throats, the pirates and privateers are also on the prowl. Terror rules the trade routes, and both Spanish and English authorities have sworn to try and end piracy in seas.
    While the ships are fighting storms and enemies, on the islands life attempts to go on as normally as possible in the face of the war; people work, pray, drink, brawl, party, fall in love and break up. In a world where nobody is what they seem to be, everyone has their own secrets: the tavern owners and barmaids are spying for the pirates, the tanned merchant sailor with a charming smile is a mercenary following his mark, the youngest English Navy sailor is a girl in disguise, the French Governor is involved in shady deals with the pirates, including granting them hidden protections… Who knows what other secrets people could be hiding?
    During a working dinner with the English governor of the Bahamas – Sir Woodes Rogers – a strategic alliance was formed, with the English privateers agreeing to assist the English and French Navies in the ever present battle against piracy, as well as against the common enemy in the Caribbean: Spain. The daring plan agreed upon was to disguise their man-of-wars as defenseless merchant ships and pretend to be a trading convoy, a juicy piece of bait for both pirates and Spaniards alike who certainly would not be able to resist sailing into the allied firepower of the strong vessels, blinded by their greed… or will they be able to see the trap?

Meanwhile, the privateers and the Navies aren’t the only tricky ones in the Caribbean. The pirate ship, the ”Caribbean Siren”,  has been spying on the English Navy’s moves in Kingston, as well as watching for the arrival of a rich Manila Fleet in Havana. Nobody ever knows where their informants will be hiding, and their cunning makes them just as formidable a foe as the Spanish. Information continues to change hands as the weeks go by, and no one can ever be certain who has the advantage in this war…

Adventures of all kind

      Early in the spring of 1719, the French Navy ship

”Le Phenix” got lucky and managed to board, plunder, and sink the Spanish vessel ”La Princesa”, taking the Admiral’s daughter hostage. The French capitaine Raoul Duval looked forward to a sure promotion for his successful venture, as well as his valuable booty, but his luck was quick to change. His already damaged ship was boarded by the notorious pirate crew of the ”Caribbean Siren”, and not only was Duval taken prisoner, but his proud French flagship was stripped of anything with worth, including the high-born Admiral’s daughter. Yet surprising to everyone, Captain Duval, as well as the rest of his ship, were set free again, leaving his crew to wonder at what price they had been granted their liberty… 

      Back in Tortuga, the pirates partied the night away, celebrating the victory while the newcomers who jumped ship from

”Le Phenix” and ”La Princesa”  tried to fit in with the new crowd. But somewhere in the midst of the festivities, the pirate captain made a bad bet in a game of cards, and was nearly fooled into losing his sailing master. Fortunately, the bartered man managed to get himself out of the trade with a little bit of intimate service, and returned to the captain who had mistakenly bet him away. 

      In Cuba, when it was discovered that the Spanish Admiral’s daughter was missing, a mercenary known by the name of

El Moreno  was sent to retrieve her. Though he soon brought her home to her father safe and sound, he kept to himself the information that she had been all too willing to go with the pirates in the first place, and had been reluctant to be rescued… 

      Through March and April 1719, the French seamen were forced to spend a couple of long months ashore before their ship,

”Le Phenix”, was finally repaired from the damage the pirates had inflicted. But once the imposing vessel was back out on the high seas, the alliance of the English privateers, the English Navy, and the French Navy wasted no time in putting their plans of attack in motion. The three vessels assumed disguises as merchant ships, and by doing so managed to ensnare two pirate ships, when they then towed to Port-de-Paix. But much to the allies’ dismay, the ”Caribbean Siren”  was otherwise occupied, and didn’t take the bait… 

      However, the

”Siren” crew was not able to hold onto their streak of luck much longer. After an unfortunate succession of events, the pirate ship’s sailing master suffered an intense flogging after infringing upon the pirates’ code, and then was further tormented by the boatswain’s mate, who abused the already weak man while no one else was around. Feverish and frightened, the sailing master fled to Port-de-Paix, where some friends secretly helped him recover his help. But in an attempt to find the sick and runaway sailing master, the pirate captain, Sol Galvez, ended up being captured and imprisoned on the French island along with two other pirate men taken as “trophies.” 

    It didn’t take long for the pirates to formulate a plan to rescue their captain, though, and after sneaking their way into the fort where the men were imprisoned, they managed to free Galvez and return him to Tortuga.
      Not long before the pirates’ escape plan was put into effect, a mutiny ensued aboard the privateer ship,

”The Fate’s Hand”. The mutineers killed the acting captain and then took the ship they had captured from the pirates as a prize, renaming it as the ”Twilight Shark” and sailing under a newly elected captain. With a letter of marque from Nassau and a ragtag crew of men, the new privateer ship set off in search of prey, ready and willing to take on Spanish and pirates alike. 

      Fortunately for them, the privateers didn’t have to wait long before an opportunity for triumph arose. On the 23rd of June at St. John’s Festival, the Duchess of St. Albans made a startling arrangement with the pirates. She asked them to attack her husband’s ship, and kill him in the process, which the crew of the

”Siren” readily agreed to. After confronting the ship in battle, the pirates took the Duchess as a “prisoner,” killing her husband as requested. 

      But before the noblewoman could even be brought to solid land, the pirates found themselves in an encounter of a very different kind. On their way back to Tortuga under the cover of night, they were attacked by the

”Twilight Shark”. Although the details of the battle aren’t known to many outside of the two crews, the fact of the matter is that the pirates invoked the right of parley, and a truce was reached between the ships. The privateers took the Duchess with them and returned to Kingston, where they were received as heroes, and the pirates went home to fight another day…

      After the

”Twilight Shark” captured a Spanish galleon as a prize, they weighed anchor only to realize that Captain Sharky, as well as his trusted man, Kemba, were missing. Investigations made them understand that their captain and fellow crewmate won’t return anymore, since they had been sold to a slaver. So, they had to elect a new captain, who started gaining new prizes for them due to an original way of gathering intelligence. 

      Following a string of victories in battle, the

”Caribbean Siren” set out yet again on an expedition at the beginning of August of 1719, not knowing that it would be their last aboard the ship. They encountered the vengeful allied English and French Navies all too quickly once at sea, and the resulting clash came with disastrous results. How many of the crew survived this battle, which ended finally in the sinking of the ”Caribbean Siren”? It’s up to you to count them… But like the legendary bird getting reborn from its ashes, the remaining crew got regrouped again around their captain, gaining a new ship, the “Rising Sun”, new members and new victories… Will they win also against the forces of nature, as hurricane season is ongoing?

      The Navy forces are regrouping too after the taxing battle. There is a new British ship,

HMS “Sovereign”, with a new captain, ready to fight pirates, and the known French flagship, ”Le Phenix”, has a new captain, since the former one has been promoted to rear-admiral.

    A new governor arrived to Saint Domingue, the former one being recalled to France after having married away his daughter to the new flag captain. This means the complete end of the “closing eyes” policy against pirates selling their loot to the local merchants, and enhancing the war against piracy.
    Times are changing, and weather too. A strong hurricane hit all the islands and all the ships in the open sea at the beginning of October 1719.
    It took a great toll, both at sea and on land. At sea, our four ships had found themselves stranded on the same desert island in the Bahamas, where they had sought shelter from the storm. The pirates and the privateers had been forced to conclude a truce and cooperate for the time of their stay on the island, otherwise none of the two ships could get repaired and sail off. The Navy ships cooperated too, but they were allies anyway. And an alliance comes with a price – including the one of sharing the treasure discovered on the island… Only if the island of Inagua could tell us about the secrets it had witnessed during those days! Friendships forged between people who might find themselves, next month, exchanging broadsides in a battle, brothers found on opposite sides, and many more…
    Both on land and at sea, the survivors are facing reconstruction problems, mourning their dead and working to repair their possessions.
      Hispaniola was hit by an epidemic and it was in quarantine for most of the month of October. The rear-admiral and the captain of ”

Le Phenix” had risked on several plans when entering the harbour despite the yellow flag. 

    In Kingston, there was famine until the next convoy of ships with supplies arrived from the Windward Islands, as the previous ones had been not only hit by the hurricane, but also destroyed by a Spanish armada, against which the Vice-Admiral had sworn revenge. Said and done! A blockade against Cuba happened in November and December, with the help of the French allies and of the privateers.
      In Tortuga, the inn

“Elixir d’Armagnac” was attacked and looted by pirates remained shipless after the hurricane. Will the owner and the tavern maids succeed to regain the inn’s good reputation after having got the revenge, but not recovered the lost valuables?

    Once the ships returned to their home ports and their repairs finished, people attempt, more or less successfully, to pick up their lives and go on. The treasures found by seamen while stranded on Inagua will definitely help some of them cope with the aftermath of the hurricane. Others need something else than gold to soothe their grief… Some people are making plans for the future.
      The British Navy ship

HMS “Sovereign” arrived, in November 1719, to Port de Paix with a delicate mission for which it needed the help of the privateers and of the French Navy… They left, all allied ships, to blockade Cuba, as retaliation for the cutting out of the supplies for Jamaica by the remains of the Spanish convoy – which, if the hurricane didn’t side with the British, would have attacked Jamaica too…

    They got some blockade runners, some escaped them, but deep in the night, the French Rear-Admiral was hit by a crossbow bolt, the assassin succeeding to disappear in the waters. According to the message he left, he had been sent by the Spanish Admiral, not only with the intent to stop the blockade the hard way, but also as a revenge for the way he had taken prisoner the Spanish Admiral’s daughter, back in February…
    The pirates left on a new expedition too, as the freshly repaired and strengthened ship has swallowed a lot of money. And most expeditions come with a blood price…
    The privateers were cheated by the French authorities of their deserved shares, paid with their own blood, so they decided to take their vengeance and planned the sinking of the Spanish prize ship in the harbour, after being stripped of anything valuable, in a way which didn’t make them suspects. The looted goods got sold in Tortuga, where no questions were asked.
      The New Year Masquerade, celebrating in style the arrival of the year 1720, had its own mysteries – not only the usual flirting behind the masks, forging new relationships, and confusions of all kind… Anything can happen behind the masks! From negotiating secret exchanges of prisoners, far from the ears of the present allies, too busy flirting, to attempting to seduce a mark in order to apply the

coup de grace ! It turned out that the one attempted to be killed wasn’t the actual mark, Rear-Admiral Raoul Duval, but a victim of the masquerade disguising, the commander of Fort Charles in Kingston. Two other officers, one French, one British, were hurt severely in the assassins’ escape.

Relationships and Intrigues

    Love and romance abound in the Caribbean, and it is a well known fact that sometimes, the relationships, the scandals, and the gossip – both true and fabricated – can become as complicated as the bloody battles themselves.
      The tavern keeper from Tortuga, Maribel Vargas, fell in love with the most unlikely suitor, a young and innocent French pirate, without knowing that he wasn’t the only one pining after her. But a few months later, when learning the whole truth of the other man’s love, she made a painful decision, and broke the heart of her French courter to follow truer love with the pirate master gunner. (Said Frenchman got soon comforted by a lovely naïve Mulatto, whom he not only swept away to Tortuga, but he married her officially, circumventing the

Code Noir interdictions.) Would the lovers of the Tortuga women be so strong and understanding to help them get over the attack on the inn, happened in their absence?

    The French Navy Rear-Admiral Raoul Duval continues to stir up the Caribbean with his highly secretive and intriguing love life, which rumor has it consists of an ex-pirate male lover as well as a pretty mistress who is carrying his baby – or so he thinks… To keep the affair out of the way of gossip and scandal, the captain has arranged a marriage for his mistress, with no intention of letting her, or his child, out of his life anytime soon. Will the birth of his first son, in October 1719, influence him in any way? (Not too much, since at the New Year Masquerade he is finding a new mistress, of higher status than the mother of his child).
    Over the time, the French Governor’s daughter, Marie Josephine de la Bastide, has managed to raise the interest of not only two French Navy lieutenants, but of an English one’s as well. In the end, however, only one of them had the courage to ask her father to give them his blessing, and he obtained it. The wedding of Marie de la Bastide and Giles Laurent took place in early September, much to her father’s happiness, as he had to return to France soon, and Laurent has been promoted in recent months to a captain’s position.
    The noble ladies of Saint Domingue raise the interest of many men, not all possessing the blue blood and family fortune needed to court them. Helene de Croismare had found herself prey of nasty rumours affecting her reputation, following unchaperoned discussions with a few Navy men. Fortunately, her fiancé believed in her innocence and did not break the engagement. A few friends supported her too.
    And the intrigues were never ending…
It happened Before the Mast in 1720,…

Adventures of all kind

    The French Navy flagship, temporarily commanded by young lieutenants, had been the target of a mutiny attempt. The sailors’ discontentment with some of their petty and warrant officers and with a cruel lieutenant had errupted into a revolt after two of these officers killed two sailors. Blood had been spilled, but also a decent petition had been written. The Court Martial indicted and hanged the mutineers, re-assigned the crew, but the Rear-Admiral took into account most of the grievances in the petition, in order to avoid further mutinies spreading within the French fleet.
    The best men in the British Navy ship’s crew were sent on a special quest, in total secret and health… where only seagulls dared… Their task was to sink the biggest ship ever built without involving the allied Navies officially in this, but trying to seem a band of pirates. This was achieved with the help of the French allies and with some mercenaries hired on the spot, but also with losses on all sides.
    The pirate ship has achieved some successful expeditions – a British schooner full of gold, a French gabarre with expensive goods and a Kingston lady held for ransom – but a leak in the hull and a strong gale determined losses of lives and almost sunk the ship. Conflicts aboard led to dismissing some of the pirates also – better in Tortuga than marrooned on an island, since no lives were taken.
    As a result of the failed assassination attempt at the New Year Masquerade, the assassins turned their attention to their employer instead, learning on the way that other persons are interested in his death as well. While the death of Admiral Moncada resulted in Cuba negotiating a surrender and the Allied navies’ blockade being lifted, it also generated a fight for power among the Spanish high Navy officers, some of them being for peace, some for war – hence they decided to attack Nassau in February 1720.
      The epic

Battle of Nassau got all the allies involved in it, privateers included. Blood and gunpowder stained the sea, and the privateer ship “Twilight Shark”  got sunk, with some of its crew saved by other ships, including the French privateer “La Chanson.

    As for the British Navy ship, it was also involved in catching a stray Spanish ship which had succeeded to run away from Nassau…
    In Saint Domingue, a noble lady had been kidnapped by rebel slaves, and two adventurers went to her rescue. Would the slave uprisings extend all over the French colony? It is very possible… Intrigues of all kind were brewing also in Port de Paix.
    In the meanwhile, a bunch of smugglers led by a mercenary, with the help of a British Navy officer and a pirate captain, got on another investigation mission in Cuba, completed successfuly. If it will be of any use to the payer, it remains to be seen, though…
    At the end of March 1720, the pirates caught a Spanish treasure ship, getting the jealousy of other Tortuga residents. In late April, the captain’s and master gunner’s dreams of vengeance materialised in catching the slaver ship who had kidnapped and sold away women they cared for. Nevertheless, the revenge wasn’t as sweet when nobody knew the whereabouts of one’s fiancee and the other’s sister…
      The pirate council voted, at a frail majority, for sparing all the slavers’ lives, however one morning, four of the slaver officers had been found mysteriously dead. Some said it was poisoning, others

voudou, divine judgment or an epidemic the medicine couldn’t cure. However, it was only the start of the pirates’ misfortunes… Because upon their return in Tortuga, a group of shipless pirates planned to commandeer the “Rising Sun”.

     The pirate captain got a warning, though, and the invaders were awaited by armed pirates and overcome. Some died, the pirate captain got severely hurt too, but some of the invaders lived and kept conspiring with the spared slavers…
    The British Navy ship returned to its usual patrolling at the beginning of April, after having been repaired and reinforced. The French Navy flagship escorted a convoy with supplies to Nouvelle Orleans, having aboard the new fort commander. In the Mississippi Delta, they got attacked by villains who hoped to prey on a small merchant ship, so the fort commander made a triumphal entry into town.
    The privateers were out at sea too, fighting first Spaniards, then pirates, and the French Navy ship saved, in late May 1720, the privateer frigate, seriously damaged by a pirate snow which succeeded to run away.

Relationships and Intrigues

    Love and romance abound in the Caribbean, and it is a well known fact that sometimes, the relationships, the scandals, and the gossip – both true and fabricated – can become as complicated as the bloody battles themselves.
      The noble ladies of Saint Domingue raise the interest of many men, not all possessing the blue blood and family fortune needed to court them. An Austrian countess has got a French Rear-Admiral, a British Captain and his second lieutenant, all competing for her attention, but she seems to favour also a street dancer, whom she had taken under her

patronnage… 

    Other two young, unmarried ladies of Saint Domingue, one of them the cousin of the Rear-Admiral, are prone to scandal for their unrestrained behaviour which can be misinterpreted. The death of the flag captain’s wife in childbed let him unconsolated and broken, so he asked for a transfer. The rear-admiral chose the very funeral to announce the promotions – would the new captain be better than the former one?
    In the nonconformist Tortuga, a cheated wife has befriended her man’s mistress. Two coloured young women, one of them married, have been spending too much time in the company of an Oriental young man who taught them an original way of self-defense. Inconceivable in a more civilised place! A former mercenary, now smuggler, made the pledge to be a pirate’s sworn brother. One would say the world is going upside down…
    The arrival of two new women aboard the pirate ship gave room to gossips, speculations and jealousy, especially when one of them is an accomplished sailor. But people would always gossip… Especially when one of them is appointed as first mate, no matter how capable she had proven herself in front of the crew.
    Peace with Spain was signed in February 1720. In late April its news arrived to the West Indies, so the May Day in Kingston was widely celebrated in a week-long festival, as the day Peace was officially instituted again in the West Indies. French allies and former Spanish enemies were invited to Kingston to the feast, and enough Navy men don’t know they had drunk or competed in strength games with pirates. A smuggler captain saved a young woman from thugs, and got wounded in the process, so now she is tending his wounds. Will a new love story blossom from this vulnerability?
    The rumours are flowing about everyone in the Colonies, and in order to counter them, the French Rear-Admiral gets trapped into a shotgun wedding he is not thrilled with. In Tortuga a double wedding is celebrated right after Easter, and some others are to happen in June…
    From France and Louisiana, there are also gossips about failing investments rendering rich people poor and making money vanishing. Who will be trapped in the Mississippi Bubbles, on the French and British sides?
    There is Saint Jean’s holiday in Port de Paix, corroborrated with a birthday party and a wedding in the upper class. Pirates in disguise might crash the parties too – but with them there will be never peace, as now all the Navies will ally against the common foe – pirates, making their trade more difficult to survive. The same holiday is celebrated in Tortuga too, offering some surprises around the midnight fires.
    And the intrigues are never ending…

What happened in the summer of 1720

    The pirates have remained shipless and marrooned on a desert island, as some of the the former slavers mutinied, plotting together with the survivors of the commandeering attack which had taken place at the beginning of May. The ones who were aboard the ship got sold to the French Navy and got to prison. Those stranded on the island were saved by a British Navy ship and they succeeded to return to Tortuga before the Navy captain learnt the truth about them. In his ire, it remained to him only to punish some of his crewmen for not telling him/ not knowing that those were pirates.
      In Port de Paix, a

princesse de sang‘s arrival causes turmoil in the high society… and even more havoc the day she goes missing. Soon a ransom letter is received by the Rear-Admiral, showing that she had been kidnapped by pirates who want some of theirs freed in exchange… He had to swallow his pride and make the exchange, for the princess’s sake (and his position), swearing revenge for later and sending all his ships in patrol, to hunt all the possible pirates.

      The pirates found allies to help them recover the ship, and went, with Captain Johnson’s two ships, to seek for their beloved

“Rising Sun”. Only that, when finally found, the “Rising Sun” got sunk by mistake, with a wrongly aimed cannonade from their allies. And the sound of the battle had alerted the two Navy ships in the area, HMS Sovereign  and Le Phenix, who came to investigate. 

      A doomsday battle ensued. Some well aimed fire arrows met the

Sovereign‘s ammunition bag, and the British Navy ship exploded together with its pirate prize the crew had just boarded. The French flagship succeeded to sink the other pirate ship and to fish out some prisoners, but not before getting raked by bow. Therefore, sixteen hours later, the flagship lost its fight with the water seeping into the ship through the damaged hull. The survivors’ story is told in our next volume,  Caribbean Dawn.Sharpen your blades, load your guns, drain the last sip of rum, and raise your sword to swashbuckling adventure, building a colonial paradise under a new Caribbean Dawn!

In the meanwhile, life was going on in all towns… 

It happened at a Caribbean Dawn in 1720…

 

The survivors

Pirates and navy men have survived the DOOMSDAY BATTLE and ITS AFTERMATH, but they remained shipless and were washed up or rescued at sea by various ships. Pirates and Navy men found themselves forced to survive together or die together, and, in this process, some discovered that the enemy’s representatives were just people like them, whom one could have befriended in different conditions. Some of them will actually end almost friends for life, tied by the adventures they had faced together.

In Martinique,  the surviving French Navy sailors and pirates encountered, after a long walk through a deserted area, a Native tribe (which had adopted some marroons too). They healed the French Navy master’s mate, who had been biten by a snake and started having fever and hallucinations. 

In Bequia, the survivors had also found a friendly tribe, who knew a bit of French, because some French from Guadeloupe were visiting them regularly, being allowed to take some wood for timber. The French ship helped them return safely. 

In Curaçao, the two former best men at a certain wedding – one a pirate quartermaster, the other a British Navy sailor – had been washed out on a desertic beach. They had to walk a lot until finding a farm of aloe vera, one of the few plants growing in that arid climate, where people helped them recover and reach the capital, a port wherefrom they could leave to Tortuga. 

The three pirates washed out on Isla Santa Margarita (or fished up around that island) had shown their devotion to the patron saints of sailors and voyagers, who had saved them. After a pilgrimage or two, resulting in some answers for the former pirate captain and his first mate, they returned to Tortuga, decided to give up their trade and find a safer ship to take them on.

    Other pirates and Navy men alike had been fished in the open ocean by ships passing by. In one case, the ship belonged to one of the pirate’s friends, and the survivors were taken to her, to Nassau, where they recovered until returning to Tortuga.

Adventures of all kind

In Tortuga, an intrepid wife decided to open a small bakery at home and started making the first sales. One of the rescued pirates got hired by a local cartographer. Her mapmaking skills are renowned. 

A newly hired smuggler was shocked to discover that Tortuga was a customary stop in their trips to Havana, but also that the town didn’t show its proverbial bad fame, being just one like many others on different islands. 

After the celebration of the pirates’ return, a sort of original council is held too, in order to establish what they are going to do next, how to get a new ship. Havana is the port where the adventure would happen, and some smugglers are willing to give them an (unseen) helping hand.

In Regla, everyone was praying to the patron saint of sailors, Saint Mary of Regla, ready to bring good luck and encouragement to her protegees. 

In Havana, in the harbour, midnight brought a stealthy pirate attack to the merchant ship Villa Rica. There were squirmishes here and there, but most sailors had been surprised in their sleep and they surrendered, being promised their lives.

In Port-de-Paix, a religious festival, the Assumption Vigil, is the best opportunity for various people to meet, to get acquainted and to gossip, to pray for the return of the seafarers… or to conclude various kinds of understandings with old acquaintances, with the thoughts mellowed by the Holy touch of the vigil music. This is how half-siblings who had never talked to each other meet and attempt to establish a connection, how past grievances about mutinies and executions are braided with recent gossips about sunken ships and missing seafarers, how flirts and love stories start or end. 

The former privateers jumped ship for more profitable and less risky ventures. Most of them found employment aboard smuggler ships. 

It is unusual for a woman to be the owner of a chandler’s shop, but it is possible. And her business is going well also because she is making friends in all places: in the herborist’s shop, at the religious procession, among shipwreck survivors and foreign officers. Good luck further!

In the open seas, a Navy ship met a privateerman and exchanged letters bound to their port of destination. A Scottish merchant ship got caught in a storm and one of the sailors injured himself. A small ship ran away from a storm, taking shelter in a cove, and everyone was curious to explore the island they drifted towards.

A smuggler ship’s crew found out suddenly that they were hiding a runaway slave, protected by the captain. 

Aboard “L’Amazone”, the crew welcomed aboard the British liaison officer before setting sail for Havana, towards new adventures. The day before, the survivors of the shipwreck outfitted themselves fully for the voyage. The chandler’s shop owner had a busy day.

In Kingston, the banker received bad financial news from London and he tried his best to minimize his risks by denying unprofitable loans. The rejected farmers had to find alternative solutions for obtaining some money. But it was just the beginning of the financial downfall… From France and Louisiana, there are also gossips about failing investments rendering rich people poor and making money vanishing. Who will be trapped in the Mississippi Bubbles, on the French and British sides? And how much would these men value when losing their money?

Relationships and Intrigues

Love and romance abound in the Caribbean, and it is a well known fact that sometimes, the relationships, the scandals, and the gossip – both true and fabricated – can become as complicated as the bloody battles themselves.

In Port-de-Paix, the reception of the new Spanish Admiral and his wife got way beyond warm. May the traditional beauty of the Spanish ladies have something to do with it? The new flag captain was seen showing the town to a pretty Spanish lady – nobody else than the Admiral’s wife. Was he looking for an additional way to strengthening the renewed alliance? 

The Rear Admiral received the most unexpected birthday gift from a mysterious lady, who showed him and his wife her secrets. Not the kind you would figure up, though… Can a birthday dinner between a Rear-Admiral and an assassin end well? Who says that the Rear Admiral doesn’t have some unusual friends? 

A few days later, the same high officer was seen in the forests around the town. His staff said that he would be absent a few days. What he might be up to? Just finding out that it is difficult to build bridges among cultures with very different, clashing values. What’s a path through the jungle for the French Rear-Admiral, for his Native guide, whom he thought he would impress in order to make his mark upon colonial diplomacy, seemed to be much more, and a reason for conflict. 

A noble lady had lunch with an inn owner, former prostitute, after meeting in church. They found out that, beyond the difference of status, women have the same main griefs.

The ship Acadie has arrived from France, bringing all kind of news and a rich heiress aboard. Also the British Navy liaison officer was there. Fortunately, he got welcomed by an affable innkeeper and invited to the Assumption Vigil, a good opportunity to meet new people. A couple of days later, he got an audience with the Rear-Admiral, waving together interesting plans for tying stronger co-operation bonds between the neighbouring islands. Soon he made new friends in the French Navy and got seduced by an exotic dancer. 

The Rear Admiral’s secretary helped the banker’s heiress around in her first day in town. Later, she had an original way to make the acquaintance of the British liaison officer. A French Navy lieutenant went to the bank to ask for a loan, while the Rear Admiral’s assistant offered the banker books and promises of meeting the colonial elite. 

A French Navy sailor is courting the owner of a chandler’s shop, bringing her books and presents from the most recent voyage and asking her out for that very evening. The same young man’s charms proved to be successful even with a blood princess, for an unforgettable afternoon. After a ceremony for the survivors of the sunk French flagship, she had granted him, a common sailor, a private audience, a really unusual event… The same young man saved a ship boy from drowning during the shipwreck, finding in the process that… he wasn’t quite a boy. After trying to persuade the disguised youngster that there were less risky professions for a girl, he succeeded to convince his recently widowed mother into taking in an orphan girl, to raise her properly.

A Navy carpenter has the surprise of his life when the woman he thought far away, in France, got right in front of him, telling him he was the lucky father of twins.

A little boy sings nicely and receives the promise of music lessons. The young boy shows some potential…Will he become a great singer? And who can guess that said tutor is moonshining as an assassin? 

A ship captain met a lonely lady on the docks and invited her to lunch. A week later, he received an invitation to her homecoming party. Who says that the French colonial nobility doesn’t know how to amuse themselves? A welcome party is a good opportunity for talking politics, building alliances and …dancing with a princess. The French flag captain and the British liaison officer were seated next to each other. A good opportunity for getting acquainted. Who might find a good friend? Who might find a love interest? It remains to be seen…

In Tortuga, the midwife was called in emergency by the chandler’s shop owner. The bad news about the sinking of the pirate ships in a battle with two navies had taken some tolls… Fortunately, things weren’t as dire, and the baby will be born in due time, not before.

More surviving pirates find their way home and start gathering in the welcoming inn, bringing with them two former British Navy men who decide to settle on this island – one with his sister and a new ship to work on, with his smuggler brother-in-law, and another with his best friend and lover, and with this pirate’s sister. from Curacao, and they found another young man having the same destination. Friendships can be made easier after having seen Death and returning from that dangerous edge. 

One of the surviving pirates proposed to his lover, a herborist, upon breakfast. Wedding bells will sound after they get a new ship.

An assassin and a smuggler were drinking tea together, exchanging the latest news. An Irishman arrived to Tortuga, interested in joining piracy. He received the first news and encouragements in the chandler’s shop, befriending the owner, then he was introduced to the people in the inn. One of the tavern maids accepted to show him, in her free time, the town. It seems they enjoy being together.

A pirate and a former Navy man befriended a jeweler who was ready to get a new life in Tortuga. With their help and the innkeeper’s, the jeweler bought a building and arranged it, together with his friend and the new apprentice, former slave, in order to open a shop.

In Kingston, an English merchant of Scottish origin helped a young compatriot with finding a job in his service. He also found out that the ship captain bringing him letters and goods was also a compatriot, without knowing about enmity between their clans. Both the Scottish merchant and the lad in his service, each one at his turn, were lucky to befriend another British Navy captain, too, who got invited to an inland tour, to various plantations.

The Colonies seem the most suitable place for unseeming friendships and love affairs. Two Navy captains of the allied forces, one young, one with lots of experience, were drinking together in a tavern, then visiting the town together. Long live the alliance! At another table, a corporal and a newcomer Londoner were having lunch together. 

A pretty laundress, with high morals, who had rejected a rich merchant’s indecent proposal, invited home a lad who had volunteered to carry her load. Is it how romances usually start?

A Navy captain is usually entrusted, when leaving a port, with letters of all kind. Some recipients are invited onboard to take the letters, but the luckier and wealthier ones receive his visit. The visit was granted to the Duchess of St. Albans, a young widow owning a big plantation, bringing her letters and news from London. Unfortunately, the letters were telling about new legal problems, so she invited over the magistrate, to get his help. But he seemed to focus more on the pretty slave, who needed the governess’s help in order to get away from a sticky situation. 

In Havana, the French flag captain has found the best guide to show him the charms of Colonial Spain. Does it matter anymore that she is married to the newly appointed Spanish Admiral? Their torrid affair could set on fire the fragile peace between the two countries, creating a serious diplomatic incident. 

In a brothel, a French Navy petty officer made a promise to a prostitute. He smuggled her aboard the ship and got caught by the First Lieutenant, who punished him, without harming the woman. 

The intrigues are never ending… But, in the meanwhile, life goes on in all towns. 

What happens next? Who will be fighting whom, and who will flourish under the new Caribbean Dawn? Whose lovers will weep somewhere ashore, and whose will celebrate, showered in gold and gifts? That’s a story which might remain forever untold… or which will make the subject of other interactive writing sites… or novel series!

If you want a glimpse into the future of some characters, you may find it in the EPILOGUES.

– THE END –

 

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Fanart Pribegii mărilor

Azalea Doll Divine este un site unde îmbraci păpuși, în diferite costume de epocă (sau de fandom, că avem și Harry Potter, și Star Wars, etc.). Dacă te amuză, îți construiești păpușa preferată din nuanțe și lungimi de păr, culori de ochi, de piele, rochii, etc.

Asta a făcut o prietenă, acum mulți ani, când știa că am scris o poveste cu vikingi, creându-mi personajele:

Marina

Marina Kateriniotissa este personajul principal (da, pe vremuri aveam ceva probleme cu geografia, nu mă gândisem că locul din care este are importanță, din punct de vedere geografic, pentru povestire. În sătucul din vârful munților Pind, de unde mă gândisem la 19 ani că ar fi ea, nu aveau cum să ajungă francii vreodată, însă pe țărmul mării, la poalele Olimpului, nu foarte departe de Salonic, da).

PeAstrid

După cum se vede, aceasta este domnița Astrid, devenită, prin căsătorie, regină a Danemarcei. Are în mână sabia primită la cununie, pe care a jurat credință soțului ei și pe care o va dărui fiului cel mare. Sabia se numește Glumr (cea cu fața întunecată).

Jurământul nupțial a sunat așa: Atâta vreme cât soarele străluceşte, cât inelul este rotund şi lumea dăinuieşte, jur să-ţi fiu soţie credincioasă, să te respect şi să te urmez. Poporul tău va fi şi al meu. Sabia pe care se odihneşte mâna mea să mă rănească şi tăişul ei să se întoarcă împotriva mea dacă mă dovedesc sperjură. Fie ca Odin, tatăl tuturor şi părintele făgăduinţelor solemne, să asculte jurământul căsătoriei noastre, fie ca Freya să-mi păstreze credinţa şi fie ca Saga să ne sape în amintire acest legământ!

Erna

Aceasta este doamna Erna, soția, apoi văduva lui Rholf, Jarlul din Froj. Are în mână sabia primită la cununie, pe care a jurat credință soțului ei și pe care o va dărui fiului cel mare. Sabia se numește Swarur (cea care răspunde la chemarea la luptă). Îmbrăcămintea ei este potrivită pentru o femeie viking, însă deosebită de a cumnatei, fiindcă ea este islandeză.

Lirolay

Tlazohtixochitl este soția căpeteniei de pace a totonacilor, cu care Marina se va împrieteni în noua patrie. Tigrul din poză ar trebui să fie, eventual, jaguar american, însă așa era modelul, nu am avut ce-i face. Costum amerindian și fundal asiatic – și clădirea îmi pare mai curând  templul din Angkor Wat decât unul aztec…

Poate fi și aceasta o invitație ca eventualii fani cu talent la transpunerea în imagini (nu am zis talent la desen, că ce s-a întâmplat mai sus, pe calculator, nu e desen, ci doar îmbrăcat păpuși, dar tot e de efect) să-mi trimită versiunea lor după personajele preferate din cărțile mele, pe Facebook sau pe e-mail.

Book haul Bookfest – part II

Da, am fost și sâmbătă la Bookfest. Ca urmare, azi, duminică zac cu o migrenă imposibilă, de la sinuzită, și cu umerii varză de la cărat prea multe cărți.

Mai întâi, bineînțeles, promovăm literatura românească:

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Am luat cărțile Georgianei Pasquali-Vâju, ale Cameliei Pantazi Tudor, cea despre actrița Doina Ghițescu (toate cu autograf) și două mai clasice, de la Hoffmann. Dar m-au atras și câteva cărți de autori străini:

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Marco Polo a fost una dintre marile mele iubiri încă de la 13 ani. De la el mi se trage si dragul de venețieni – cine mi-a citit poveștile, știe! 🙂  Și pe Anne și Serge Golon, cu Angelique a lor, o iubesc demult, așa că trei noi volume cu aventurile ei mai recente s-au adăugat colecției (din care îmi lipsesc încă destule din volumele din mijloc). Sicilianul lui Mario Puzo este un dar pentru soțul meu, care ii este fan… iar despre istoria piraților… nu mai e nevoie să spun că nu-mi putea lipsi la colecție! Nu sunt eu căpetenia piraților? Și vă voi dovedi acest lucru, la anul, cu noua serie PREȚUL LIBERTĂȚII! 

Book haul BOOKFEST 2019

…sau cum arată un faliment asumat 🙂

 

Book haul Bookfest partea întâi – promovăm literatura românească. De menționat că în antologia “Poezia Iubirii” sunt și 4 poezii ale mele, iar in volumul doamnei Eliza Roha intitulat “Prin labirintul cărților” este și o cronică a romanului meu “Alte vâltori ale vieții”. Misterul dosarului negru de Gabriela Banu a fost publicat la Editura Betta, ca și antologia “Poezia Iubirii“. Haiducul de Bucura Dumbravă este editat la Editura Hoffmann. Book haul romanesti-1

Book haul Bookfest partea a doua – promovăm literatura românească. Nepoata vrăjitoarei este de Virginia Stanciu Buțescu, Care de bonsai de Geo Naum (am asistat și la lansare), ambele de la Editura Eikon, Rochia aurie de Theo Anghel, publicată la Editura Quantum, Banul Mărăcine este de Grigore Băjenaru, publicată la Editura Hoffmann, ca și Jurnalul Aurorei Serafim, de Sidonia Drăgușanu.Book haul romanesti-2

Cam așa ar arăta, în viziune integrală, cărțile românești pe care le-am cumpărat:

Book haul romanesti

Book haul – cărți străine. Da, majoritatea sunt istorice. Vă miră? 

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Mă găsiți pe Goodreads!

De astăzi am mai făcut un pas spre modernitate. Mă găsiți și pe Goodreads.

Aștept followers (că în românește urmăritori nu sună bine!) și cereri de prietenie de la cei care au cont pe Goodreads! Eu îi mulțumesc lui Anasylvi că a insistat să-mi explice ce și cum, și m-a convins, și lui Roberto Kuzmanovic pentru că mi-a adăugat primele cărți acolo!

Da, știu, teoretic există un widget Goodreads pe care ar trebui să-l pun undeva pe blog. Nu știu cum. Am încercat, la sfatul altor scriitori, să-mi pun și link pentru abonament la newsletter. Sunt prea Antitehnicus pentru așa ceva, mi-am prins urechile și am renunțat. Așa că mai mult decât anunțul acesta, nu veți vedea…

Black Dogs: A Guide On Select Mercenaries (Real and Fictional) Throughout History

Nicholas C. Rossis

Al-Bawk the Undying | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Al-Bawk the Undying

This is a guest post by Allan Bishop, a mid-twenty-something writing hack, and yuppie professional somewhere in the Greater Boston area. He laments the passing of bacon, enjoys long walks on back roads, and provides irreverent but affectionate takes, guides, and discussions on science-fiction, fantasy, and the mechanics of writing. His life, unfortunately, has been hijacked by Al-Bawk the Undying, a sentient storytelling chicken.

You can contact him on:

Bawk, Bawk!

Black Dogs: A Guide On Select Mercenaries (Real and Fictional) Throughout History

The Black Company, The Golden Company, Outer Heaven. Mercenaries have fascinated readers in fantasy and science-fiction for as long as both genres have existed. More organized and ruthless than your lovable rogue, the mercenary serves often as an antagonist or a protagonist, depending on what purpose they serve in…

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