Terra Vonnel and the Skulls of Aries – Chapter 6
Once aboard the Aspen, Terra removed her weapons and placed them on the small table in her cabin. Cannon fire rang out as the Sea Ghouls lay waste to the Mont Delia, sending her and the remains of her crew to Davey Jones’ Locker.
The flicker of soft candlelight illuminated the dark walls of the captain’s quarters. After years at sea, the Aspen had become more than just a ship to Terra; it had become her home. The Aspen was a rare, magical vessel. It was the only ship known to man to have been built by witches. The Witches of Montoria had built the Aspen back in the late 1700s. A period referred to as the “Burning Times” had led to the execution of about half a million witches throughout Europe. This battle raged on from the 1400s until 1792, when the last of the witches had been destroyed. In a last ditch effort, High Priestess Ersilia Aspentainia commanded the Witches of Montoria to build their first and only battleship. It was said that Ersilia had given her power of healing to the great ship, a transfer of magic that in the end cost Ersilia her life. Bearing the name of her creator, the Aspen set sail. Quickly it became known as “the ship of a thousand lives.” Whenever it was damaged in battle, the ship was known to miraculously heal itself as if it were alive. The ship itself was responsible for destroying several hundred armadas during the war. It became the most notorious ship on the high seas and feared by all. In the end, not even the Aspen could save the witches from complete annihilation. Only a handful of Montoria Witches remained as a crew when they set sail into the unknown, never to be seen again. Some say the witches committed suicide; some say they joined Ersilia, giving their souls to the ship. No one knows what really happened. The Aspen was never heard of again–until two years ago, when Terra discovered her adrift in a fog bank near the city of Tunis in the Mediterranean. To this day, Terra was unable to explain what drew her to the coastal waters. Part of it stemmed from a dream she’d had the night before. In the morning, she gave Coven the coordinates for Tunis, not knowing why she should go, knowing only that she must.
Two years later the Aspen had become as famous as she was back then. Nothing about her appearance had changed except for her sails, which no longer carried the insignia of the Montoria coven. Instead, the Aspen was fitted with blood-red sails and the crest of the Sea Vixen, which consisted of the sun, the initials S V, two dragons, two revolvers, and the Vanquisher.
Terra stood as if in a trance. She was tired now, and even with the Skulls of Aries in her possession there was still more work to be done. The bright moon that had finally emerged from the once billowing clouds poured through the four large windows on the port side of her cabin. Just under the windows was a map table, a red-cushioned chair, and a half-bookshelf with a large Victorian oval washbasin. The floor and walls were the same charcoal gray as the rest of the Aspen, with accents of red in the form of pillows, rugs, and drapes. A short, winding staircase set in the center back wall led up to the top loft, where her bed, clothes, and a small writing desk were. Small artifacts littered the shelves on the starboard side of the room. It was Terra’s private treasure collection, which had been acquired during past adventures.
“Where would you like this, Vixen?” a voice asked from behind. Terra turned to see Coven standing there holding a rucksack in one hand and a mug in the other.
Coven was a tall, thin pirate with neck-length brown hair and hazel eyes. He wore a white collared shirt and burgundy vest inlaid with Asian embroidery, black pants, and boots. His weapons of choice were two Italian revolvers given to him by her father for his eighteenth birthday. They were strapped to him at all times in crisscrossing holsters around his chest.
“On the table is fine,” she said and moved her weapons to the side to make more room.
Coven placed the rucksack on the table and handed her the mug.
“You best drink it while it’s still hot,” he said.
“Tea?” she asked.
“Yes, the green kind you’re so fond of.”
Terra smiled. Coven’s innocence was at times charming. He was a pirate through and through so the finer things often escaped him. He was not one to appreciate the robust flavor of a good imported tea, or the comforts of a cabin that reminded her of home. For Coven his home had always been the sea, and his comforts consisted solely of his pistols.
“It’s not really green, silly.”
Coven smirked and stared back at Terra as if waiting to see if she were going to drink it.
She looked at Coven for a minute and then turned the mug and peered inside.
“It’s not green, is it?” Terra asked, a little worried now.
When Terra looked back at Coven, the corners of his mouth began to curl upwards. “Will that be all, Vixen? I do have a ship to run, you know?” Before Terra could answer, Coven turned and walked out of her cabin, closing the door behind him.
Terra looked back down at the mug and sniffed it just to make sure. To her relief she could smell the bittersweet combination of leaves and flowers with hints of citrus that she recognized as being from her father’s private collection back home. He had secretly packed it away for her before she left more than two years ago. She was just fifteen back then when she left home to complete the quest her father had become too ill to finish.
Terra took a small sip of tea and realized Coven was right. It was hot, but it felt good on the back of her throat, especially now that it was still sore from the vampire’s chokehold on her neck.
Terra sat the mug down next to the rucksack on the table. Now to find out the secret location of Mount Aries, she thought.
**I will post one Chapter each week, so this may take a while. If you just can’t wait, you can the complete book at Amazon for FREE.
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