Morning had arisen over Brighton, the McLoughton villa slowly followed the bright autumn day with the mixture of bright green grass and golden-brown trees, shedding their skin of leaves in the light breeze which pushed the inhabitants of the town into wearing extra layers to compensate for the decreasing temperatures of the season. The head of the villa had awoken from his loud slumber early to the sounds of his butler’s voice, reminding him of his plans to visit most of his many factories. Naturally, Garth had awoken at the time his father had finished his breakfast at the massive decorated wooden table. Entering the room to see the myriad of untouched silverware which nearly covered the whole table, many sizes of foreign vases placed on the windowsills as expensive paintings hung from the well maintained walls.
“Good morning, son. Did you enjoy our little two man party last night?” The fat man greeted his son as he pulled his jacket over his body, straightening the fabric before buttoning it up. The butler gave a small nod as the man raised his arms, silently asking how he looked.
“Of course, it’s nice to know you’re doing slightly well.” Garth answered, rubbing his bed head in a little pain as he scratched against his stomach, still dressed in his pyjamas.
His father hummed playfully as he quickly stepped over to his side, placing an arm over his shoulder, “Is that a hangover you have there? Is the wine too strong for you?” He poked at his son’s intolerance to alcohol,
“You forced me to drink so much, of course it’d affect me this way.” Garth protested, a more natural smile slightly pushing through his tired expression as he pushed the arm away from his shoulders before sitting at the end of the table, opposite to were his father had sat. “Are you going somewhere? Another meeting?”
“Nah,” the fat man dismissed loudly, almost on purpose, “I’m just visiting the factories. Gotta boost the working man’s morale y’know. Are you going to return to Cambridge today?”
“That’s right, I need to prepare for the journey.”
“Well, be careful out there.” The man pat Garth on the shoulder before turning to leave the room, a maid stood on the other side of the door carrying a briefcase which was kindly handed over to the man. “I hear there’s been some unrest in South Africa lately.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll just be in Cape Colony for a day or two. It shouldn’t be too bad.” Garth waved his hand as a sign of dismissal, fully aware of the present dangers that spread across the world. He was too tired and hungover to figure out a true plan of action, but upon return to Cambridge, he may be able to think of something with Damien.
“Alright alright, I’m off then.” He turned to leave, quickly giving an order to the maid who handed him the briefcase. “Give Garth my bank book please, I left a cover letter on the table.” Finally, he had left.
Digging in to breakfast, Garth silently tended over his hangover as he received the bank book and a cover letter stating permission to withdraw a certain amount of money. It’s safer to bring the butler with him to hand the bank book back after taking out the maximum he was allowed to. It would prevent the loss and misuse of the book during the journey after all. At least he had quickly completed his side of the preparations, with enough time to spare to pester Fergus about more information. Unless Damien had successfully done that for him.
Over the last few days before the decided departure time, Garth, Damien and Fergus worked hard over their discussions and research of Garth’s notes. The preliminary work Garth had done during his journeys to and from his home held a great importance over the research overall. His genius mind standing out from the rest during the daily meetings, held secret from the rest of the university while lasting nearly the whole day. The recorded transcriptions and their translations adding more to the main mystery while clearing out the confusion of minor points. However, the main questions continued to come up. Why were the spears designed in such an abstract way? Where and when were they used, and why? Most importantly, what does this ‘prophecy’ of the three spears exactly mean? There was no means to answer these questions at this time, continuous mentions of Choi Xue had come up during all discussions, each of the three deciding to leave it to this man to answer the main question. If he could, that is. For all they knew, the man may not have worked out anything.
A week had finally passed, time travelling much faster than anyone would have expected as they were drawn more and more into their work. But now, they had to leave for Southampton once again, hoping to see the Expedite at the port, ready to embark. Farewells were given towards the Cambridge professor as the two explorers boarded the train once again, the same train, the same seats, the same stop, different people. They both wished for this feeling of deja vu to pass, refusing to accept the same fates they had experienced in Mexico.
Once again, John waited at the Southampton train station, checking his pocket watch as he huffed at the late arrival. He was dressed in the same attire as last time, carrying the same luggage as last time, it was as if time was reversed for the scene to play out once again. John even had to ask the closest person of the date to remind himself that the past was not being repeated once again. Looking to the skies as another kind reminder that the summer had passed, grey clouds blanketed over the bright blue case which covered the Earth.
“Looks like it might start to rain soon, I should’ve brought an umbrella.” John spoke to himself, watching the steam train loudly puff into the station, screeching to a stop before the conductor conformed with the passengers that they were ready to leave…
“What do you mean you haven’t got the sailors to help us?” Damien questioned, refusing to believe John’s failure after knowing that the other two explorers had succeeded in their plans.
“Exactly what I said, they had disappeared to Cornwall for the week when I arrived, I think they should be back by now but one of the sailors to stayed behind refused to help.” John repeated himself, leading the Explorers through the streets of Southampton to his home, where they may pick up their Mexican artefacts.
“I don’t think they understand the importance of this journey.” Damien stated, hoping that he could explain to the sailors their situation,
“I’m sure they fully understand, but they refuse to help us because of the death of Harold.” John turned to the silent Garth, he was lost in thought as he mindlessly followed closely behind, “Do you have an idea, Garth?”
“I might have… We’ll have to figure out.”
“Like fuck are we going to help you.” Several of the sailors of the Expedite called out as soon as they saw the three explorers wonder towards them. They had returned from their saddened trip the day before yesterday, calmly maintaining their vessel with plans to seek contracted work from traders and the like as some sort of courier. A simple, well paid job which they all deserved.
“No, I don’t think you-” Garth was attempting to explain their situation to the new captain of the Expedite. A young man who seemed to work more on building muscle in his arms than he did anywhere else. Suffering male pattern baldness at such a young age as he grew out a thick black beard as means to compensate for his hair loss.
“No, last time we helped you, our great captain died. What says the same won’t happen?”
“Maybe the fact that we aren’t travelling to Mexico.” John rudely entered the argument with his sarcastic comment, leaning against the wrapped up spear he gently placed between the wooden planks of the dock.
“I don’t care where you travel, we aren’t helping. Those weapons to grabbed are cursed.”
“Listen, uh…” Garth attempted to call the captain by his name, but had yet to hold the pleasure of a proper introduction.
“Samuel.” A monotone, rude way to give his name,
“Samuel…” Garth continued on, the pattern of his voice begging to not be interrupted by the captain who crossed his arms in annoyance. Clicking his tongue as a way of accepting his momentary silence, “You are the only people who know of these artefacts, we don’t want to drag anyone else into this mess. We only request your services to China, you do not need to worry about a journey back, we will find a new one. I can offer you a higher pay too if you need it.”
“You do realise that there’s a lot of shit going on in the routes. Loads of tension hanging around in South Africa.” The captain seemed to calm down, the atmosphere becoming less tense as Garth’s words were spoken through the most calmness he could, a way which psychologically brought the opponent’s blood pressure down, “And we don’t care about how much you pay. It’s the safety of my crew I care about.”
“Do you not remember the people we ran away from? They know we’re English, they obviously saw the name of the ship you command. It’s a matter of days until they arrive here on a hunt. That’s not a very safe thing.”
“Why would we care about two Spanish idiots?”
“From the design of their clothing, they were government funded, Samuel. They could throw a whole fleet at us if they wanted to.”
The truth of this had finally hit the sailors as concerned whispers echoed through the entire crew. The Captain himself flinched at the truth as he struggled to think up and argument which would top Garth’s words. His eyes fell to a glare as he looked Garth up and down, a rich kid, weak but smart and surrounded with money.
“Some of us have families.” Samuel spoke beneath his breath, his fists clenched as he bit down on his teeth,
“They won’t be in trouble as long as they’re unknown. I doubt they would be found from just seeing the ship.”
“Pay us triple.” One of the sailors called out from the rest of the crew, breaking the tense silence between the two negotiators. A simple demand which was first met with disagreement, eventually leading to the rest of the crew to agree. They all knew well that going on such a long journey would soon prove the Spanish pursuers the futility of their search. A large moment of hesitation came across Samuel’s body, his head hung low as he stared at the slowly rotting wooden planks of the dock, finally raising to meet Garth’s eyes once again.
“Pay us triple and this will be the last time we help you.”
“Done.” Garth agreed as he held his hand out to initiate a handshake between the two, John was about to call out in protest to such a sudden increase in pay but was silenced by Damien who raised a hand which signalled silence. His head shook as he sympathised with the sailors’ hesitation to help the three. “We’d like to leave immediately, how long would it take to prepare?”
“Give us a couple hours to pack our supplies. Come join me in my quarters, we need to plan out the route.” Samuel answered, turning to board the ship as he swung his head as a gesture to the three to join him. Returning to the cluttered captain’s quarters they were all to familiar with. The only thing that had changed was the increased amount of clutter which littered the entire room, Samuel really wasn’t a tidy person.
“So we’re travelling via South Africa.” Damien had begun the journey plan after using his spare time to research possible routes to China.
“What? That’ll take six months to do. We can just go via the Suez Canal!” Samuel protested, already regretting his agreement with Garth.
“And be found easily? They’ll keep records of our passing there. It’s not going to happen.”
Samuel sighed, understanding Damien’s concerns over being caught, a single record of their passing would easily allow the Spanish to figure out where they were planning to go.
“If we’re going to do that, we’ll need to stop at Gold Coast, Cape Town, Ceylon then Guangzhou.” The captain explained further, pointing out each port on the map which sat atop the small wooden table, struggling to allow the four people gaze upon it at the same time. “Is that good enough to you?”
“That seems good to me, what do you think, Garth?” Damien turned to his companion who was silently adding more notes to his small notebook. A small nod was all that was given as a reply as the man continued on with his deep thought, reaching the end of the journey agreement, opening doors for further planning which would take place during the journey. Finally allowing the next adventure to begin…
The days passed slowly for the sailors of the Expedite, surrounded by nothing but blue, white and the occasional gull. The sea contrasting perfectly with the sky, the calmness of the waves giving an almost perfect reflection of the mid morning sun and the clouds that hovered above, giving the impression of flight. Stuck within a blue container as the boat flew through the nothingness that surrounded them. Of course, in situations like these, there had to be means to satisfy the boredom and slowness of the travel.
“Alright you two!” John called out, his voice large and powerful as if he was addressing an entire battalion, his hands were held firmly behind his back as he stood straight, puffing his chest out while he continued calling out, “With the dangers that loom before us, you must learn to defend yourselves. Do you understand?”
“What are you going on about?” Damien questioned, slouching against the wall of the cabin, he hated the sight of nothing. Preferring to sit inside and read whatever he could, but for John to call him out for some annoying roleplay, he might as well head back to sleep. Garth, on the other hand, was busy leaning over the railing of the deck, staring at a gull which calmly floated beside the ship, studying it. The rest of the crew had already gathered as they knew full well what John was planning to do, they got themselves comfy as they leaned against the railings or sat on barrels and boxes.
“Stand up properly, both of you!” John raised his voice even louder, calling the two to sloppily stand beside each other, standing straight in a half-assed manner. “You two are going to learn how to use these!” He picked up two pistols which were kindly handed to him by a smirking sailor, severely looking down on the two explorers with the expectation of little knowledge on how to shoot.
“Why can’t you use them? You’re an escort anyway.” Damien stated, already annoyed at John.
“Now now, you need to at least try. I even got the crew to set up a target for you!” He turned to the side to reveal a target, poorly drawn on the top of a barrel which was held on a stack of boxes at the end of the ship. “All you need to do is hit a bulls eye from here.” He held the pistols out, allowing the two to take them.
At first, Damien refused to take a pistol, only to see Garth gladly take one and stare at it. His eyes glistening with amazement as he took this event as a possibility to learn, which it was designed for. However, no matter how much he stared, there was no way he could figure out how to function such a dangerous weapon. John sighed at the sight of confusion, stepping over to give Garth a hand with operating the gun.
“…You hold it like this, you cock it and aim down the barrel. Line up the barrel with the middle of the target and pull the trigger.” John explained, using a third pistol as means to show Garth who stared more and more deeply at the teachings before trying it himself.
“Okay, I can do this. How loud are the guns?” Garth spoke to himself before asking the question, sparking a little laughter throughout the crew.
“They can be a little loud.” John answered, surprised to see a small look of concern appear across Garth’s face. Was he sensitive to loud sounds? He never had a problem with it before, unless he never spoke of it. “Just give it a try.”
He raised the gun with both hands, cocking the weapon before aiming down the barrel at the target. The crew were already holding back eccentric laughter at Garth’s stance, wanting to stay quiet so they could watch the rich explorer do horribly wrong.
The trigger was pulled, Garth severely underestimated the recoil of the weapon as his arms flew upwards slightly, pushing him off footing as the bullet zoomed past the barrel, missing completely. The crew burst out in laughter as Garth dropped the weapon, rubbing his ears as the loud pains pulsed through his head. A small glare from John had quickly silenced the crew as he attempted to reassure Garth, stating that he just needed to practise more. Failing to get any of the words to be considered as Garth had already given up using a gun.
Another fire was made, shocking John as he looked up to Damien, a perfect stance, using the weapon with one hand extended outwards. The crew were speechless at what they saw as the weapon was lowered, allowing one sailor to quickly inspect the barrel. The sound of splintering and cracking had already proven that he had hit the target. But still far from the centre.
“You missed!” The sailor called out, bringing more laughter throughout the ship before they were silenced with a shout from Damien,
“At least I hit the target, would you like to have a go to do better than me?” The sailor was silenced, laughter was directed more to him than the explorer. This small teaching session John had planned had quickly turned into a competition between the sailors as they all took their turns at shooting. The boring atmosphere was instantly incited into enjoyment, everyone passed the time with great enjoyment as the ship continued its way to the first stop. Gold Coast.
A punch was thrown into the old aged stomach of Fergus, throwing him to the ground of his office, coughing hard in pain as small patches of blood were thrown onto the carpet. There wasn’t even a single chance given to him as the back of his collar was grabbed, forcing him up to his feet too look Matias in the eyes. Spanish insults were thrown towards the old man before Gabrielo had called him back from his actions, pushing Fergus onto his desk as refused to move from where he stood. Ready to punish the old man further.
Silently, Gabrielo approached the professor once again, waving a hand as he offered Fergus to sit down. His calm, smiling expression forcing primal fear into the man’s mind as he took the offer as an order, quickly lowering himself to the seat. His breath was erratic, he was looking back and forth between the two Iberians, his body was in full fight or flight mode. Except neither of these possibilities could come true, he was forced into a corner, panic spread through his mind. Words failing to be spoken.
“Now, will you please tell us what you know about those idiots who stole our spears?” Gabrielo questioned almost too kindly as Matias scoffed at his tone, unable to understand a word that was said.
“I, I can’t.” Fergus struggled to reply, still refusing to give the truth.
“We can’t accept that as an answer, would you like some more pain?” Gabrielo gestured to Matias who pulled a fist back, ready to strike once again before he was interrupted by Fergus’ calls.
“Wait wait wait, I’ll tell you. If you answer a question for me!” He winced in anticipation to the punch, only to open one eye to see that Gabrielo had called Matias back once again, allowing a small sigh of relief to be given.
“What’s the question?”
“Who sent you?” Fergus seemed to have calmed down at this time, he was already anticipating the answer as if he knew it already. There was no way these two would know of the spears otherwise, but what was even more confusing was the spears they carried themselves. The two spears that he had seen back when he visited the temple itself. What a coincidence it was for these two ‘friends’ to hold the ability to wield them.
“Why, your good friend Diego of course.” Gabrielo smiled an extremely evil smile, taunting Fergus even further as he was at a loss for words. Of course Diego had to be the man behind these two brutal people, which means that he’s also on a quest to gather the spears himself for some reason. If estimations were correct, this man could be attempting to supply the army with such great power, placing the rest of the world under threat. “Now tell us where your students have fucked off to, or we will beat you to the point that you bleed from every orifice.” Gabrielo threatened further, falling impatient at Fergus’ silence as more threats of attacks were given by Matias, forcing even more flinching and panicking.
“Alright alright. They’ve gone to China.” Fergus finally admitted, hating himself for giving away the locations of his students. Hoping that they get to their location quickly.
“You’re not helping here.” A click of Gabrielo’s fingers allowed Matias to swing another fist, directed at Fergus’ face as a tooth was forced out of his mouth. “Where in China?”
Fergus refused to speak any further, forcing Gabrielo to click his fingers once again. Two words being shouted from Fergus just as the fist hit him, “South East!”
“A name, Fergus. Give me a name.” His fingers were about to click, however they were stopped in surprise as a name was given.
“Alright, that’s great.” Gabrielo clapped his hands together as he gave a small smile, thanking Fergus by shaking his hand. “Nice one for helping us, you’re a very smart man.”
He turned to leave the office, grabbing his wrapped up spear in the process. The Portuguese explorer stopped at the doorway, his hand paused as he was about to unlock the door. “Make sure you silence him, Matias.” The order was given in Spanish, giving a large smile across the Spaniard’s face as he pulled parts of the fabric from his own spear. Revealing the large, shiny blade. Fergus’ eyes grew wide as the blade was directed towards his chest, he tried and tried to raise from the chair, but his body refused. He had grown too old for such situations, the previous beatings had already worn his body out. There was no escape.
The spear thrust forward, piercing straight through the rib cage and heart. Thus, silencing the old professor, for eternity.