Plunders Beyond the Devil’s Eye

Part Three

Just then, a shot tore into the side of the Phoenix, killing ten of Vane’s crew. 

Cyrus pleaded, “Captain, will ye not consider the white flag? There’s nowhere to run!”

Ignoring Cyrus as he set the sextant to the side, Vane looked toward Julius and the Lark as they barreled at them.

“Give ‘em hell, mates!” shouted Vane.

The Phoenix’s shot grazed the side of the Lark, but the Navy ship’s return shot hit home yet again, tearing a hole in the starboard stern and blasting wood shrapnel, barely missing Vane.  

Vane’s Lookout shouted down in a panic, “Black gale approaching fast from the southwest!” Vane squinted to see an angry rush of black clouds rolling toward them.  

Cyrus called out to the helmsman, “Change course - south by southeast!”

Vane roared, “No! Full speed ahead! That’s our destination, mates! Reload!”

Vane’s crew, white as ghosts, followed his orders.

Cyrus pressed on, “Charles, we’ll surely die - think of ye boy, Davie!”

Vane turned on his first mate in a flash and held a pistol to his temple. His eyes were darker than ever. “Don’t speak to me of me boy, Cyrus. This IS for him - don’t ye see!” Vane withdrew his pistol and madly opened his arms to embrace the coming squall as he laughed.

On the Lark, the Lookout shouted, warning of the black gale.  Julius stared in disbelief as Vane continued his course dead into the storm, “He’s truly gone mad.”

“Change course, Sir?” asked Cornelius.

“No! Stay the course and continue fire. We end this tonight!”

Cornelius hesitated but then sounded the order. Dread dawned across the faces of the crew.  

The crew raised canons, fired, and the shot blasted through and destroyed Vane’s main sail, crippling the vessel.  But it was already too late - the hungry storm swept the pirates’ ship into its wake.

Completely crazed, his arms still wide open, Vane cried, “Haha, Ol’ Jules! The Devil’s got me now!”

The monstrous storm tossed the ship like a child’s toy, and the crew flung about like dolls. Cyrus pulled Davie to him, “Hold on, lad, stay with me.”  

Lightning sliced through the sky as clouds parted to reveal the moon, now bloodied by the full eclipse. Another bolt struck the remaining mast, and the ship’s deck split. Water burst into the hull of the vessel as the crew panicked.

On the Lark, Julius and Cornelius watched as the tempest battered the Phoenix, pieces of the ship splintering in the water even while the roiling waves tossed their own vessel. 

“Sir, it’s our last chance! Change course?” Cornelius begged.

Julius finally agreed, and Cornelius shouted the order, but it was too late.  A colossal swell dragged the navy ship into the wake of the storm, the crew scurrying to man the riggings. 

Vane clutched the sextant and stared out to sea.

“Father, Father! What do we do!?” cried Davie as the boy and Cyrus stumbled their way to Vane. The ship tore apart piece by piece, causing some of the crew to be tossed into the sea.  Soon they saw the object of his gaze - a massive swirling maelstrom, and they were on a direct course being sucked in by its force.  Vane seemed to wake up momentarily, hearing his son’s voice.  “Remember what I told you, son. This is only the beginning! This is OUR new beginning!” he says with a crazed hopeful smile.