Friday, 6 July 2012

Chapter One, Part Four

Now deep into the tunnel Poppy, Geoffrey and Thomas were happily oblivious to the drama that was occurring back in the house.  

"Look!" Thomas exclaimed as they walked around a corner.  "Up there!  Light!"

Poppy was more than a little relieved to see that Thomas was right and it was all Geoffrey could do to stop himself running towards it.  He had never been afraid of the dark before but after walking for nearly half an hour what was nearly pitch black he knew that he would never be truly comfortable in it again.

All three picked up their pace; they were all eager to reach the end.  

Poppy gasped as she stepped through the end of the tunnel.  She had been expecting the tunnel to lead them to the coast; instead they had emerged in a massive cave.  

"What in the world-" Thomas asked.  He looked as shocked as Poppy felt.

In the middle of the cave was a boat.  It was being supported by wooden struts which held it upright and apart from a little dust she looked ready to sail.

"I don't understand, how did it get here?" Thomas asked, confusion written large on his face.

Poppy was not listening.  She thrust her torch at Geoffrey and ran to the boat.  There was a ladder propped up next to it, inviting her to board.  It was an invitation that she could not turn down.  Quickly she scrabbled on board and started examining her.

Geoffrey was more cautious.  He was looking around the cave, wondering how the boat could have got in the cave in the first place.  He became aware that there was a draft coming from above them and looked up.  There was a light shining through the roof of the cave!  It was very dim but there.  His mind raced as he thought about what that implied.

Thomas was mystified.  He had come to here expecting treasure and instead had found another mystery.  He could not even begin to think about how the ship had gotten into a completely dry cave.  Slowly he walked around her, looking at the details, trying to figure out the answer.  He walked to her front and saw for the the first time her name Anna Maria.  He gasped and raced around to join Poppy

"Mr Green!"  Poppy exclaimed when she saw him clambering on board.  "This is amazing!"

"Do you know what this is?" Thomas asked, wondering if she'd figured it out.

"It's a ship.  Spanish probably from the way she's been constructed.  I wonder what condition her sails are in, we have to find someway to get her out of here, she's too fine a ship to be left in some cave, she-"

"She's the Anna Maria," Thomas told her, growing impatient of waiting for her to draw breath.

Poppy was stunned.  "But my grandfather told me that she was destroyed," she said confused.  "This can't be the Anna Maria, there must be some mistake." 

"That's what the name on the front says.  And while I did not know your grandfather I did know your uncle and as good a man as he was he did not always tell the truth."

Poppy nodded.  "The Anna Maria," she said almost reverently.  "I grew up hearing the stories you know.  Being told about how my Grandfather stole her from the Spanish and then flew away in here when they invaded.  They spent years making live as difficult as they could for the crown."

Thomas nodded; he'd heard the stories as well, every child born after the rebellion had.  "In the stories I heard your grandfather was a black hearted murderer who fought against the rightful royal family and against bringing back the holy church."

"One mans rebel is another mans murderer," Poppy said philosophically.

"True.  So what do we do now?"

"My dear Mr Green, I have no idea."

Rebecca ran into the house; seconds after the English had started searching the grounds she remembered about the tunnel and knew that the first thing the soldiers would do after finding it would be to follow it.  There was no way that she was going to let a group of heavily armed men go in there after her daughter.

Unfortunately she was too late. As she rounded the corner she heard one of the soldiers call out "Sir Henry!  We have something!"

"Damn you all," Rebecca muttered.  She turned around, intending to head to the front of the house and ask Sir Michaels to help.  But she found her way blocked by the soliders leader, Sir Henry.  

"Oh no you don't," he said to her, grabbing her arm.  "Jones, keep hold of her," he manhandled her towards another soldier who held her firmly.

"You have no right to do this!" Rebecca practically shouted at him.

"You are suspected of harbouring a traitor and told me that there was nothing going on here.  You looked me in the eye and lied to me."

"I may be a liar but you sir are a trespasser.  You have no authority to hold me or to search my house," Rebecca hoped that by keeping him talking she would give Poppy valuable seconds to get further down the tunnel.  "Trust me when I say that when people hear of how you came in here and treated my people and I you will pay."

Sir Henry smiled cruelly.  "Oh I only need to worry about that if there's anyone left to tell the story."

Rebecca's blood ran cold at the threat implicit in his words.  "You wouldn't," she told him hoarsely.

"Try me.  Now, what's down there?  Remember, the more you co-operate the more likely it is that this will all end peacefully."

Rebecca thought for a second then answered "I don't know."  She was fully aware of the fact that this was not a answer that would please Sir Henry but she had no idea what else to tell him.

From Sir Henry's expression her assumption was correct.  "Come on," he scoffed.  "You really expect me to believe that?"

"It's true," she told him, her mind racing.  "The traitor, Mr Green, didn't tell us why he came here," she told him hastily.  "He burst in here last night and demanded to see us."

"He did?" Sir Henry questioned, arching his eyebrow.

"Yes! Yes," Rebecca told him rapidly.  Now that she had said that she had an idea forming as to how she might get out of this situation.  "He was saying something about their being treasure in the house, that it was something to do with my uncle."

"The heretic John Dee?"

"That's right," Rebecca replied, forcing herself not to respond to his slight on her uncle.  "We were terrified, a strange man breaking into the house in the middle of the night!  He forced us to help him.  He made the hole in the wall."

"He made a tunnel this big over night?" Sir Henry asked sceptically.

"No, no, he found the tunnel.  I don't know who built it."

Sir Henry nodded.  Rebecca could not tell if he believed her lies but she was too far gone to recant them now.

"So where is he now?" Sir Henry wanted to know.

Rebecca hesitated before answering "He went down there.  He took my daughter with him."

"I see."

"When you and your men arrived here I thought that if you went in after him then he might hurt her."

Sir Henry nodded.  He had to admit that her story was fairly believable for one made up on the spur of the moment.  "We'll try our hardest not to let that happen," he assured her.

"What do you mean?"

"When we go in we'll do our best to make sure that she isn't hurt."

"You mean you're going down there?  You can't."

"On the contrary I think you'll find that we must.  We are chasing a traitor and is it not my duty as a knight to find the man who's kidnapped your daughter?  Even if she is a Welsh pirate."

Rebecca swore under her breath.  "Really Lady Hawkins, I'm shocked by such language," Henry told her.  
"Know you're quite clearly becoming overly distresses by what is happening.  Jones, take the good lady outside.  Make sure you stay with her to see if she needs anything."

"Yes Sir Henry," Mr Jones replied and guided her out of the house by the arm.

In the cave Poppy and Thomas were occupied exploring the ship.  

"She really is beautiful," Poppy said more than once.  She lovingly stroked her rail, still not quite able to believe her luck in re-discovering this lost legend.

"How are we going to get her out of here?" Thomas wanted to know.

"To tell you the truth I have no idea," Poppy replied.  "I don't even know how they got her down here."

"Shouldn't this thing fly?" Thomas querered.

"Shhh, don't call her that!" Poppy chided.  "And yes, she's one of the Spanish flying ships.  The only one ever to be captured."

"In that case you're the captain, make her fly," Thomas said, only half joking. 

Poppy merely looked at him.  "If I knew how then we'd already be in the air."

Thomas walked over to the centre of the deck towards a wooden plinth.  On it sat a large stone.  "So that's the famous blood of the wind," he said.  "It doesn't look very impressive."

"My grandfather told me that when the aether worked it used to glow red.  He said it was not so much like a rock as it was a living thing."

"Do you have any idea how this all worked?" Thomas asked, waving his hand at the complicated looking ropes and sails overhead.

"Vaguely, my grandfather told me the basics.  The stone would give off an aether that could be collected up there," she pointed at a sail that was tied horizontally between the masts.  "It would life the ship of the ground and then they would use the currents of the wind to take them were they wanted to go."

Thomas nodded.  "So what makes the aether?"

Poppy shrugged.  "I don't know.  In fact no one this side of the Atlantic knows, not even the Spanish."


"No.  The natives in the New World keep a very firm grip on the secrets of the stone - where it comes from, how they're activated.  The Spanish aren't allowed to know the location of the mine, hell, they're barely allowed out the city they've founded there.  There have to stay in their little enclave and the Natives bring to them what they want to trade."

Thomas nodded.  "You seem to know a lot about the Spanish," he observed.

"I should do I've spent enough time trying to steal from them."

"You seem quite open about the fact that you're a pirate," Thomas observed.

"Privateer," Poppy corrected.  "We might not officially still be at war with Spain but they're still our enemy."

"And is that true of the English as well?"

"That depends."


"On whether or not they attack us first."

"Miss Poppy!" Geoffrey called out from his place near the entrance to the tunnel.  "Miss Poppy!  I can hear people coming!"

"Already?  I wasn't expecting mother to send someone to follow us quite this soon," she replied, unconcerned by his words.

"This doesn't sound like anyone your mother would have sent," he told her.


"There's quite a few of them, I can tell from the footsteps - they're not exactly making an effort to keep quiet.  And they sound English."

Poppy swore colourfully while Thomas looked terrified.  "What the hell's going on up there?" Poppy wondered.  "Geoffrey, come up here.  If they're going to attack us I want us to be together and up high."

Geoffrey nodded and hurried over to join them.  "I don't like this," he said, the effort of climbing up the ladder having left him breathless.  "I don't like fighting."

"Hopefully it won't come to that Geoffrey," Poppy attempted to reassure him.  "We'll probably be able to sort out any misunderstanding just by talking to them."

"Do you really believe that?" Thomas whispered in her ear.
"No," Poppy hissed, trying to ignore the slight tingling sensation that his close proximity was causing.  "But the last thing I want is for Geoffrey to panic."

Thomas nodded and reached for the sword that Poppy had lent him earlier.  

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