Melisande ran to the forecastle and leaned over the side. It was getting dark and most of the crew wasn’t paying attention to her. She suddenly began to vomit as tears fell out of her eyes. Her lungs ached as she tried to draw breath and regain her composure. She continued to lean over the side until her lung cooperated. When she was finally able to take in breath again, she cried out, “Why?”
A voice appeared behind her, “I asked myself that very same question long ago.”
She turned to see Baltazar looking at her sympathetically, “When I was told that I was the bastard of a family that had caused unspeakable suffering, imprisoned thousands, and even laid waste to the city of Rome.”
“How did you handle it?” She asked with tears in her eyes. “How could you?”
Baltazar pointed at her, “The same way you are. I was angry, sad, and confused all at the same time. Every fiber of my being hurt and I couldn’t escape what my blood line was responsible for. That’s when I abandoned everything I knew and took to the sea.”
“I don’t think I have the choice to run away.” Melisande said sorrowfully.
“Says who?” Baltazar asked. “You belong here with us, if running away is what you want to do, the Black Vengeance will be your chariot to the ends of the Earth. If you want to cast this aside, then stay with us and we’ll go back to plundering.”
She forced an appreciative smile, “No, Baltazar, it’s not that simple. Legion will find me eventually. He almost took me at my family’s home. If it weren’t for you…”
She lowered her eyes. Baltazar put his arms around her and held on, “You’re welcome.”
“Baltazar,” she said slowly, “I… I need you. I would never have made it this far without you. I know I’ve been rough around the edges, but now I am asking for your help. I need you at my side. You helped pull me back from the edge once… I may need you to do it again.”
Baltazar’s heart skipped a beat, “My lady… my ship, my sword… and my heart, are at your disposal… if you can do one thing for me.”
“What is that?” She asked.
He smiled, “Tell me, who are you.”
“Huh,” she asked in a confused tone, “what are you talking about?”
“Do you remember what I told you?” He asked, “What you are…”
She nodded, “… is not nearly as important as who you are, I remember.”
“Right,” he replied, “well now you know what you are. You know where you come from and you know about your past… so the question is, now that you know what you are, who are you?”
“I…” She struggled to find the words as her mind raced to answer the question. “I am Aralyn Patrisi, I am the descendant of a great angel, I am the heir to a good family, but I am also my own person… and I care for you deeply… Baltazar De La Fuente!”
Without another word, she raised her face to his and kissed him. Baltazar was surprised by this, but he closed his eyes and held her as they kissed. The eyes of the entire crew watched the scene play out on the forecastle. Cheers and applauding could be heard from the masts and deck.
Papi and Lailah exited the cabin and saw the two of them. Lailah remained emotionless, but Papi had tears in his eyes, “My little girl is grown up.”
When the two of them released one another, Baltazar smiled, “I care for you too, Melis… um…”
She smiled, “Aralyn… Aralyn is my birth name, please call me by it.”
Baltazar nodded, “As you wish… Aralyn Patrisi.”
Aralyn smiled as Baltazar stepped away from her to call to Morgan on the aft castle, “Morgan, call all hands on deck, we have much to discuss.”
Morgan nodded and rang the bell next to the helm, signaling all men to report on deck. Sounds of clamoring footsteps could be heard from below as the men scrambled to the deck. They grouped together on the main deck and turned to face the forecastle when they noticed that Baltazar was standing there.
As soon as all of the men were assembled, Baltazar addressed them, “Brave crew of the Black Vengeance, our mission is over. Melisande has discovered her past and thus her true identity has revealed itself. Three cheers for Aralyn Patrisi, the finest cabin server and healer this ship has ever seen.”
The crew responded in unison, “Huzzah… huzzah… huzzah!”
Aralyn smiled and bowed to the men appreciatively. As they finished, Gilles spoke up, “So how be it then Captain? Are we going back to pillaging and plundering Spanish ships?”
Baltazar sighed, “I wish I could say yes, as I’ve already asked so much of you men, and you have delivered in every way.”
He lowered his eyes, “Men… there is an evil out there hunting Aralyn. It threatens to destroy everything we hold dear. If it finds her, the effects will spell doom for us all. At this moment, the only thing standing between that evil, and her, is us.”
The crew looked at each other with worried expressions. Baltazar saw it and nodded, “This is a very heavy burden for any man to bear… too heavy for me to order it. Therefore, I once again offer you a way out. Any man, who does not wish to stay, will be set ashore in Ravenna and can make their way home from there. I won’t blame anyone who chooses to leave.”
“Make a liar out of me, will ye Captain?” One of the men yelled. “I told ye that I’d follow Captain La Fuente to hell and back… looks like we be putting that to the test!”
Gilles nodded, “Aye, no one knows how to handle the ship like I do, I’m staying on too.”
The men cheered as they all agreed unanimously that they weren’t going anywhere. Aralyn had tears in her eyes as she listened to them, “I don’t know what to say… thank you all!”
“Half of us wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for you,” Morgan yelled back.
“Hail young Aralyn.” Another man called, “We’ll follow Captain Del La Fuente into the gates of hell, and follow her back out!”
Aralyn smiled and laughed as she realized that, although she had lost her birth family, she had found a new one in this gang of ruffians. She realized that at long last she had found what she was truly looking for.
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