Chapter Four: Monkey Island.
As the sun sank towards the horizon a ship appeared and made its way into the sheltered sea cave.
Boats moved between ship and shore as the crew transferred cargo and supplies. A camp was set up in the old fort and Celina crept close to see what was happening.
Several important looking pirates were sitting around a camp fire drinking and discussing their plans. The ship was the Sprightly Maiden captained by the infamous Martin Swan. The pirates wanted to be away within a couple of days to hunt for a rich merchant ship they were expecting to pass close to the archipelago and the crew were working hard to restock the food, water and powder on the ship.
Celina reported back to the rest of the group and a plan was hatched to cause a diversion ashore so the heroes could board and capture the Sprightly Maiden.
Disguised as a male pirate Celina crept back to the fort, past the sleeping pirate officers, and into the tunnel that led to the beach. With her she took a small barrel of powder and a timed fuse assembled by Lefty.
Celina made her way to the pirates magazine deep inside the tunnel and lit the fuse to her bomb undetected.
With only half an hour to escape she hurried on down towards the beach where the rest of the pirates were hopefully sleeping off their rum where she hoped to steal a ship's boat.
She emerged on to the beach which was indeed covered in snoring pirates.
She could see the Sprightly Maiden with only a small anchor watch left on board.
Nearby the rest of the party lurked in their canoe ready to pounce.
As Celina quietly rowed away from the beach a massive explosion shook the whole island as the powder in the magazine ignited. Fire and smoke shot out of the tunnel killing the pirates near the entrance and stunning the rest. Rocks tumbled from the rocky overhang and the sea churned.
Working their paddles hard the rest of the adventurers rushed forward to close the gap between them and the Sprightly Maiden whilst the crew on board were distracted by the commotion on shore.
Reaching the ship first Celina managed to convince some of the crew to head to shore to help with the fire and casualties.
To her consternation more pirates appeared from below decks and in the bright light of the spreading fire her cover was blown.
Just in time the canoe reached the ship and the party swarmed aboard. The fighting was fierce and the outcome was hanging in the balance.
The pirates heading to shore turned back as they heard the gunfire and things were looking bad for our heroes but Panama Red prevented them from coming aboard whilst simultaneously directing the raising of some sail.
Eventually the pirates were killed and their bodies tossed overboard. The anchor cable was cut and under light sail the Sprightly Maiden moved off and out to sea under new masters.
Under the command of Panama Red the heroes managed to raise more sail and the Sprightly Maiden headed towards the third island to take on water before heading to Montserrat, the nearest friendly port.
Rounding the southern end of the island the heroes spied a stockaded native village. As their ship hove into view a figure ran from the village onto the sands waving frantically, Observing the figure more closely through the spyglass revealed it was a European.
The party landed and were greeted by Jacob Jacobson, a Dutch adventurer and scholar who told them a fascinating story of how he came to be on the island- the island he referred to as Monkey Island.
Behind Jacobson his 'subjects' slowly emerged from their stockade. Fierce warriors adorned with monkey masks and brandishing an assortment of unpleasant looking weapons.
Jacobson was eager to leave and return to civilisation but would the tribesmen let him go?
The arrival of our heroes seemed to inspire the Monkey tribesmen to keep a closer watch on Jacobson, they crowded nearer him and watched warily. They seemed disinclined to lose their new acquisition.
A hurried conversation with Jacobson resulted in a plan to abscond with him under cover of darkness that very evening.
Until then he must bide his time.
Jacobson, although clearly worried and on edge, put a brave face on and suggested a trip to the interior to see the mysterious pagoda and the Monkey shrine where the tribe worshipped.
A short trek along well-trodden paths soon brought the party to an impressive set of ruins.
The ruins were very dilapidated and offered nothing of value except inscriptions and carved pictures. Professor Arbuthnott translated the writings that told the story of a Chinese expedition that had sailed the Pacific in the early 1400s and somehow had ended up on the island where they had apparently buried their vast treasure to keep it safe. The Chinese mariners had marked the spot with a set of monkey statues.
Finally realising its purpose, Jacobson immediately led the party to the Monkey shrine on top of the mountain.
The shrine was surrounded by hordes of chattering white monkeys that pelted the visitors with fruit until they were driven off by the tribesmen.
Our heroes were not allowed to approach too closely but, with the aid of their telescope and Professor Arbuthnott's knowledge of Chinese history and art, they determined that the shrine was indeed of Chinese origin.
On closer examination they found that each stone monkey had an indentation in front of it, one of which matched the base of Jacobson's gold statue.
Jacobson became very agitated and and even more eager to escape the island so he and the party could raise an expedition and return to claim the treasure that he was convinced lay beneath their feet.
Everyone returned to the village where the tribesmen escorted Jacobson inside the stockade and posted guards to prevent our heroes from entering. The atmosphere was getting distinctly more antagonistic.
With Jacobson now under heavy guard the party hatched a plan to rescue him and get away.
Captain Red returned to the ship to prepare it for sea and everyone else camped on the beach and waited for the small hours of the morning.
When they deemed the time was right the adventurers sprang into action. Celina crept up behind one of the gate guards and drove a dagger into his back as Lefty shot the other one with an arrow.
Neither guard was killed unfortunately and the alarm was raised. As Celina and Lefty continued to fight the guards Courtney, Honest Jake and the Professor stormed into the compound.
A vicious fight in the darkness resulted in Jacobson breaking free of his captors and the party running for their lives as more and more tribesmen began to emerge from their huts and give chase.
Piling into their ship's boat the heroes paddled for their lives through the surf as the natives launched their canoes behind them.
The tribesmen closed the gap with alarming speed despite the best efforts of the party to hold them off with arrows and pistol shot.
Just as it looked like the canoes would catch the fleeing Europeans the heavy guns of the Sprightly Maiden crashed out a broadside that scored a glancing blow on one of the pursuers.
The natives redoubled their efforts and began to pull alongside the boat. Spears and arrows began to clatter off the bulwarks as our heroes bent to their oars in a frenzied attempt to get away.
A second broadside from the Sprightly Maiden sank the damaged canoe and the other slackened its pace.
The jolly boat surged ahead and made the safety of the ship's side.
As the exhausted adventurers helped Jacobson aboard and the sails were set the remaining tribesmen gave up their chase.
Under full sail the Sprightly Maiden left them, and Monkey Island, in its wake as Panama Red set course for Montserrat.
NEXT Chapter 5: Montserrat
Celina Merice. ‘Colonel’ Courtney Rice. Lefty Hamish McTavish . Professor Julius Arbuthnott. Panama Red. Honest Jake Fluke.