Charmed Role Reversal



Witches of the Caribbean

Phoebe stared at it through her right eye but couldn't quite make it out. She held the spyglass steady and kept her gaze through it a few seconds longer until she was sure.

"Ship off of port!" she shouted.

She lowered the spyglass from her eye and pointed with it off port. From her vantage point in the crow's nest, she had an un-obstructed view of the sea. She raised the spyglass to her eye again and took one more look. Then she lowered the spyglass and stuck it in her belt, climbed over the side of the crow's nest, found her footholds in the ropes and began climbing down the foremast's ratlines. The black kerchief around her head held her hair in place but her blood red shirt and black pants billowed slightly in the wind.

The bosun standing on the main deck raised his spyglass, looked in the direction Phoebe had pointed and saw the ship, too.

"Go tell the Captain," he said and sent one of the crew to the Captain's cabin.

In a moment, Phoebe jumped down the last few feet from the foremast to the schooner's deck and joined the bosun as the Captain came on deck.

"It's a brig, Captain Prudence," the bosun said.

Prue's three-cornered black hat shaded her eyes from the sun as she looked at the ship in the distance.

"It's flag's furled," Phoebe said. "I can't tell whose ship it is."  Prue took the spyglass from her and had a look for herself.

"Bring her about," Prue commanded, "and haul wind."

The topman went to work on the sails to direct the ship into the wind. Prue closed an open gold button on her ivory-colored waistcoat and adjusted her black long coat she wore over it as she looked around the deck for the gunner.

"Prepare the guns," Prue ordered. The gunner ran to hurry his crew to the gunports to begin loading the cannon.

The schooner's speed and agility allowed it to gain on the other ship. In a few minutes they were within six hundred yards of the brig. A sudden burst of cannon on the other ship sent a cannonball towards the schooner's foresail. Prue waved her hand at it and the cannonball fell harmlessly into the water.

"Fire a shot across their bow," Prue commanded, as high above the schooner the black Jolly Roger blew clearly in the wind. "Show them that Captain Prudence and the pirate ship Power of Three mean business!"



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The schooner was now within three hundred yards of the brig.

"Fire 100 yards across her bow," Prue commanded. The Gunner gave the signal and the port cannon boomed. Prue could see the brig's crew scurry about the deck.

"Quartermaster, prepare your boarding party," Prue ordered.

"Aye, Captain," Piper said. She stuck the tails of her white shirt into her black pants and adjusted the black and tan striped bandanna that was around her head.

"The brig doesn't seem to be paying heed, Captain," the bosun said. Prue raised the spyglass and looked at the ship.

"Fire across her bow, again," Prue commanded. "At fifty yards."  At the Gunner's signal the port cannon erupted once more.

The Power of Three was less than one hundred-fifty yards from the brig. Piper stood to the side of the main deck, a cutlass strapped to her belt and a flintlock pistol stuck in the front of her pants at her waist. Some thirty armed pirates, Phoebe among them, stood behind her.

"Ahoy!" Piper shouted at the brig, her hands cupped around her mouth. "Heave to!"  There was no response but she could see some frantic activity on the brig's main deck.

"They're striking the colors, Captain Prudence," Piper called out, as she saw the brig's flag being quickly hauled down. "They're surrendering."

The schooner came alongside the brig and the pirates threw grappling hooks across both ships' gunwales, then lashed the ships together. The ships' freeboards were almost equal and Piper simply jumped across the schooner's gunwale onto the brig's deck, the other pirates following quickly behind her. The brig's sailors cowered fearfully around the far side of the ship, none daring to approach Piper and her boarding party.

"Where is your captain?" Piper demanded. She walked forcefully over to one of the sailors, drew her cutlass and held it to close to his chest.

"Where is he?"she demanded again. The sailor began to tremble, then motioned with his hand towards the captain's cabin.

"The six of you come with me," Piper said, pointing to a group of pirates behind her. They turned and made their way to the captain's cabin.

Phoebe slowly walked around the deck, examining the faces of the ship's crew. Suddenly a man came running out from the crew's quarters in the forecastle and stopped some ten feet from her.

"What a bunch of sea dogs you all are," he proclaimed, looking at the brig's sailors. "Of all the ships I could have chosen for passage to Nassau I had to pick the one with a crew full of waisters."

"Who are you?"  Phoebe asked.

"The name is Stuart. And I'll not be letting my possessions be stolen, nor myself be taken prisoner, by pirates," he said, withdrawing his sword from his scabbard. Phoebe quickly pulled out her cutlass and their swords clashed.

Clang...clang...clang. Their swords crossed each other. Phoebe thrust her cutlass and backed Stuart against the forecastle wall. He parried and then riposted with a thrust to Phoebe's right. She parried and thrust again.

"What?" Stuart exclaimed. "You're a girl!"  Clang...clang...clang. "What are you doing on a man's ship?"

Clang...clang...clang. "I'm a better sailor than any man," Phoebe retorted. As she thrust again, Stuart turned to avoid her and jumped up onto the forecastle deck. Clang...clang...clang.

"You belong at home, tending to a man's needs," Stuart said. Phoebe's eyes narrowed and as she followed him up onto the forecastle deck she thrust towards his left side.

"You're a male chauvinist!" she exclaimed, and forced Stuart back towards the brig's bowsprit.

"I'm a what?" he asked. "What does that mean?"

Clang...clang...clang.

"I don't know," Phoebe said, "I just made it up."  Clang...clang. "It just seemed to fit you."

Stuart stopped backpedaling and held his ground. Their swords came together, brute force holding each other's in check. As they did their hands touched each other below the swords' hilts and remained touching for a few seconds.

Suddenly Phoebe backed off and dropped down. She was already flat on the deck before Stuart even started sweeping his sword across in a semi-circle. Finishing his futile maneuver, he stared at Phoebe but did not move as she jumped back up.

"How...how did you know what I was going to do before...I even moved my hand?" he asked.

"Because I'm a better sailor, and pirate, than you," Phoebe said with superiority. "Touching your hand was all I needed to know what you were about to do."  She raised her cutlass to thrust at him.

"Wait," he said. "You're a rather amazing girl. I'd rather be with you than against you."  He paused. "But I can't let you take my possessions."

"We're not taking anything," Piper said. She had come out of the hatch from the ship's hold and stood a few feet below them on the main deck. "There's nothing here that we're after."

Stuart looked at Phoebe and saw that she was not about to attack him. He jumped back down to the main deck and she quickly did the same.

"How's that?" Stuart asked Piper. "I know that the ship's hold is filled with spices, molasses and silver. What manner of pirate would leave that behind?"

"We're privateers," Piper said. "We have a Letter of Marque to search for and take enemy ships in the Carribean. This ship is not one of them."  She turned around to her pirates. "Return to the ship. Take nothing and no one with you."  There was muttering all around as the pirates started back to their ship.

"Wait!" Stuart said. "Will you be putting into port on New Providence Island in The Bahamas?"

"Our Letter of Marque is from New Providence Governor Woodes Rogers," Phoebe said. "We sail into the capital Nassau to report our encounters to him and to take on provisions."

"Then I want to take passage there with you," Stuart said.

"It may be some time before we're there again," she said.

"No matter," he said. "I'd rather take longer to get there but know that I'm among a crew that fights than to be at the mercy of this bunch of whimpering waisters."

"It's up to Quartermaster Piper," Phoebe said, pointing at her.

"You'll have to stand with the crew in battle," Piper said.

"Understood," Stuart said. He turned to the brig's captain who had cautiously come onto the deck. "Keep half of the gold I paid you for passage for the time that I've been here but return the rest to me."

"I...uh...I agreed to give you passage to Nassau for your gold," the Captain said. "If you choose to leave now you forfeit it all."

"He's come but half way with you," Phoebe said. "Return half of his gold to him."  She raised her cutlass and held it to the captain's chin. "Now!"

The Captain, seeing the look in Phoebe's eyes, swallowed hard. Then he motioned to one of his crew and nodded his head at him. The sailor went to the Captain's quarters and in a moment  returned with a small leather bag. Stuart grabbed it from his hand, opened it and shook half of it's coins onto the deck.

"Here," Stuart said, tossing the leather bag to Piper. She poured the rest of the coins into her hand, looked them over, then poured them back into the bag.

"Agreed," Piper said. Stuart went to the forecastle, retrieved his duffle filled with his belongings, and re-joined Piper and Phoebe on deck. They made their way to the gunwale and hopped over it back onto the schooner. Seeing Prue, Piper exhaled and shook her head 'no'.

"Release the brig," Prue commanded, "and resume course."  The crew removed the grappling hooks and began trimming the fore-and-aft sails. Prue opened the door to her cabin and went inside.

"Yo ho. Ba-a-ahk," the parrot squawked. It was a large bird, over eighteen inches tall, with purple wings, a purple head and an orange body. A red bandanna was tied around its neck.

"Yo ho," the parrot squawked again. "A parrot's life for me."

Prue walked over to her desk and sat down in her captain's chair. She opened a leather-bound diary and turned it to a blank page. She took her pen in her hand, dipped it into the inkwell and began to write:

October 14th, 1720. Stopped and boarded the brig Holly Marie bound for Willemstad on Curacao. Searched the ship and found it not to be enemy vessel. Took nothing of its cargo. Set the ship and all hands free.

Prue exhaled, put down her pen and closed the diary as Piper came into the cabin.

"Yo ho, Quartermaster," the parrot squawked. "Ba-a-ahk. Quartermaster walks the plank."

Piper turned to the parrot and squinted at it.

"I don't know why you bought that bird in Kingston," Piper said, staring at it sitting on its perch. "They had parrots of normal green and yellow color, and of normal, smaller size, that you could have had for half the gold you paid for this one. I've never seen a parrot such as this anywhere. It's bizarre and abnormal."

"It's unique," Prue said. "Just like the Power of Three. That's why I like it. It fits in on this ship with us."

Piper shrugged her shoulders and turned back to Prue.

"I've given Stuart passage to Nassau," Piper said. "He had taken passage on the brig and decided he'd rather sail with us."  She tossed the leather bag of gold coins onto the desk.

"This will not buy his exemption from fighting," Prue said, looking inside the bag.

"He knows that," Piper said.

The beige colored cat quietly walked through the open cabin doorway and stopped behind Piper. It wore a black patch over its right eye and with its good left eye it looked around the cabin.

"Meow!" it cried and raised its paw as if to swat the parrot.

"Ba-a-ahk. Scat the cat," the parrot squawked. It flapped its wings and hastily jumped up from its perch to a shelf higher up and further away from the cat.

"Stop that, Captain Kit," Prue admonished the cat, as she sat down at her desk. "Let the parrot be."

Kit stared at the parrot with her good left eye.

"Meow!" she said again, restraining herself.

"Scat the cat," the parrot squawked again. "Ba-a-ahk. Scat the cat."

"Come here, Captain Kit," Piper said. She picked up Kit, sat down in a chair and, holding Kit in her lap, began stroking her back.

"We've stopped and boarded three ships in the past fortnight," Prue said, "and none have been the enemy we're looking for."

"And the crew is none too happy about it," Piper said. "They've gone quite a while without any loot."

"I know we're in the right waters to find them," Prue said.

"We were in the right waters last week but are we still?" Piper asked. "We'd do well to ask the See'er again."

"Yes," Prue agreed. "Bring-" A knock on the cabin door interrupted her.

"Enter," Prue said and the bosun came in.

"Morgan and a handful of the old coats are stirring up trouble," the bosun said. "They want to be looting these ships instead of letting them be. They want a change."

"Indeed!" Prue said. She stood up and strode out of her cabin onto the main deck where Morgan and five other veteran pirates stood.

"You have issue with me, Morgan?" Prue asked, a steely glint in her eyes.

"Aye, I do, Captain Prudence," he said. "And so do the others. We be pirates on other ships for many a year and we be taking booty from any and all vessels we capture. But on this ship, it be a many a week now since we take anything. We want a change."

"I remind you," Prue said, "that we are privateers and not common pirates. As such, only enemy ships authorized in my Letter of Marque may be captured and looted."

"Then your Letter be damned," Morgan said. "From now on, we plunder every ship we capture."  The men standing around Morgan nodded their heads in agreement.

"I am the captain of this ship," Prue said, "and I determine who we plunder."

"Then it be time for a change in command," Morgan said.

"Not on this ship!" Prue said. She withdrew her cutlass from its scabbard and Morgan did the same.

Clang...clang...clang.

Their swords crossed as Prue and Morgan thrust and parried. Prue forced Morgan back against her cabin wall but then Morgan's riposte had Prue backpedaling.

Clang...clang...clang.

Prue's back was against the foremast when Morgan's attack knocked her cutlass from her hand and sent it flying onto the main deck to her right.

"I think the Captain be at a disadvantage," Morgan said, holding his cutlass at Prue's throat. "It be time for a new captain."

Prue didn't flinch but stared Morgan straight in his eyes. Then she moved her eyes to his hand and motioned slightly with her head. Morgan's cutlass went flying across the ship and landed at the foot of the starboard cannon. Morgan's jaw dropped and he looked after his sword in disbelief.

Then Prue waved her hand at her own cutlass and it came flying back to her. She grabbed it by its handle as it came to her and held the cutlass to Morgan's nose.

"Think again!" Prue said, the steely look once again in her eyes. Morgan's expression turned to shock and he began to quiver.

"Is this done with now?" she asked him.

"Y..y..yes," Morgan said. Prue turned to the five pirates who had stood with him.

"And what say you?" she asked them. Fear in their eyes, they nodded their heads in agreement, then slowly backed away from her. Prue lowered her cutlass from Morgan's nose and he gave a loud sigh of relief.

"Now that this is settled," Prue said, returning her cutlass to its scabbard, "some entertainment may be in order to lift the spirits. Bosun, assemble the musicians."

"Aye, Captain," the bosun said. He went below deck and in a few minutes returned with half a dozen pirates carrying trumpets, fiddles, a drum and a bagpipe. He assembled the pirates in a semi-circle along the starboard side of the ship, waited for them to be ready, then signaled them to begin.

The musicians started up a jig and the pirates began dancing to it. Morgan and his group stood back but soon joined in, too. Phoebe was dancing as well but after fifteen minutes she noticed Stuart leaning against the main mast. She stopped her jig and approached him.

"Don't you dance?" she asked him.

"I do indeed," he replied. "But this is hardly the style of music that I fancy. I'm accustomed to something more refined and graceful."

"Oh," Phoebe said, "is that what you think is missing here."  She turned to the musicians and held up her hand. They ended their jig and sat silently as Phoebe approached them and said something to them that Stuart could not hear. As she walked back to him the musicians started playing again. But what they played was quite different from the previous music.

Stuart stood silently listening to them.

"A minuet?" he asked in disbelief.

"You asked for something refined and graceful," Phoebe said. "I trust a minuet will satisfy your request."

Stuart stared at Phoebe as she took her place a distance from him, waited three counts, then took one step towards him, her hands demurely folded in front of her. He shook his head in disbelief, hesitated a moment, then lowered his hands to his sides. Phoebe plied and lowered her eyes and Stuart bowed at the waist. They each took a step outward and turned to face each other, then took each other's hands and plied on their left feet.

They released their hands and began to step in a counter-clockwise half-circle, exchanging places.

"I know not what astounds me more," Stuart said. "My ears hearing these pirates playing a minuet or my eyes seeing a pirate dancing properly to it."

"We were not born as pirates on ships," Phoebe said. "We have lived lives elsewhere. Many of the hands have served in the Royal Navy. Some come from centers of culture such as London, Charleston and Philadelphia."

They took each other's right hand and made a right turn figure, then began a Z-figure, dancing sideways to the other corner of the deck.

"Where do you hail from?"  Stuart asked.

"Salem, in Massachusetts Bay Colony," Phoebe said.

"That Puritan town is not known to engage in such music," he said, as they danced diagonally back across the deck.

"I have spent much time in Philadelphia," she said. "Minuets are regularly danced there at social gatherings."

They completed the Z-figure by reversing positions, then took each other's left hand and began a left turn figure.

"Where are you from?" she asked.

"New York," he replied, as they danced sideways back to the corner. "But I have spent much of my time in the Carribean."

They plied on their right feet and extended their left hands towards each other.

"You are quite full of surprises," he said.

"Indeed," Phoebe said. "There is much about me that is still unknown to you."

"I believe," Stuart said, with a hint of a smile, "I should like to learn more of it."

From one corner of the dance area on the main deck they danced sideways to the other corner, then came forward to meet each other. They took both of each other's hands and had danced sideways to the rear near the port gunwale when the musicians ended playing. Phoebe plied on her left foot as Stuart bowed at the waist to her.

"You do recall that the reverence at the completion of a minuet includes honoring you partner with a kiss," Phoebe said. Stuart hesitated for a second and then smiled.

"I do indeed," he said. He leaned forward and kissed Phoebe on her right cheek and she returned the kiss on his. For a moment they simply stared into each other’s eyes. Then the musicians began playing a jig again and the crew resumed their dancing. Phoebe smiled at Stuart, turned around and joined in with the other pirates.

 

Fork in hand, Prue toyed with the salmagundi on her plate. A pirate delicacy, salmagundi was made of chopped meat, eggs and cabbage and was a favorite of Prue's. But the continued failure to find enemy ships had robbed her of her appetite and she pushed the plate aside. She lifted her mug, half-filled with bumboo, a rum, sugar and nutmeg drink, and finished the rest of it.

She looked over the maps on her desk, then leaned back in her captain's chair as Piper came in to the cabin.

"Quartermaster Piper, fetch the See'er," Prue said. Piper nodded and left the cabin as Kit trotted in and jumped up onto Prue's desk.

"Ba-a-ahk," the parrot squawked. "Scat the cat. Scat the cat."

"Meow!"  Kit snarled.

"Enough, both of you!"  Prue snapped. She went back to her maps and in a moment Piper and Phoebe came into the cabin.

"We've seen ne'er a trace of an enemy ship in over a fortnight," Prue said. "Perhaps they're no longer in these waters. What say you See'er Phoebe?"

Phoebe opened a small chest that was on the floor next to the desk and took out a pendant. She held it in her hand and closed her eyes.

"They are still here," Phoebe said. "I can see them."

"What course do we take?" Piper asked.

"That I can not say," Phoebe said.

"Meow," Kit said, putting her right paw on the map.

"Southeast," Piper said, looking at where the cat's paw was. "Perhaps Captain Kit has some insight."

"T'would be more than I have, just now," Prue said. "That would be a leeward course so we'd make headway."  Prue thought for a moment and then exhaled. "Do it," she said.

"Aye, Captain," Piper responded

 

The stars twinkled overhead in the dark night sky. Phoebe leaned back against the main deck's port gunwale and looked up at the stars as the schooner swayed slightly in the water. She had removed her shirt and the three-quarter moon shone a creamy white on her bare shoulders.

Piper came through the forecastle door from her quarters and walked around checking the starboard side of the ship.

"Quartermaster Piper," Phoebe called out. Piper turned and crossed the deck to her, then looked up silently at the moon lit sky.

"Captain Prudence is relying on your visions," Piper said after a moment, turning to Phoebe.

"I know," Phoebe said. Their success in finding the enemy weighed heavily on her.

Phoebe took a deep breath of the night sea air. She loved being at sea. The stars, the air, the water - they helped her to relax. And tonight, they were helping relieve the pressure she was feeling.

"I have faith in what you see," Piper said, putting her hand on Phoebe's arm. "We will find them."

 

The feel of cold steel against her tongue was an accustomed sensation to Piper. Some high clouds made for a picturesque, bright blue, morning sky above the Power of Three. Piper squinted from the sunlight and she turned so that her back would be to the sun.

She held the shrouds in both hands and gave the rigging rope a good tug. Satisfied that it would hold fast, she tied off the rope with the requisite knots and gave it a final tug. She took the dagger that she had been holding between her teeth in her hand and cut the rope. She put the dagger back into her boot, wound the cut off rope and stowed it.

High above Piper, Phoebe's watch in the crow's nest was ending. She was getting ready to come down when she saw something in the distance. She stared at it for a moment through her spyglass.

"Ship off the bow," she shouted. She hurried over the side of the crow's nest and climbed down the ratlines. Prue joined Piper on deck as Phoebe jumped down the last few feet.

"It's a sloop," Phoebe said. "And it's flag was clear. An upside down pentagram."  Prue and Piper glanced at each other.

"Replace the colors," Prue ordered.

"Aye, Captain," Phoebe said. She went to Prue's cabin and in a moment returned with a folded flag. She went over to the rigging, lowered the Jolly Roger, replaced it with the flag she was holding and ran it up. The black and orange triquetra now flew above the Power of Three.

The sloop changed direction and started coming at the schooner. After a minute, Piper saw it change course again and begin sailing away from them.

"They were coming after us and now they've turned," Piper said. "They must have seen the triquetra and they're trying to outrun us."

"Trim the sails and tack to starboard," Prue commanded. The sloop was fast but the schooner's crew knew their ship and they manipulated its sails to get every advantage they could and began gaining on the other ship.

Suddenly, a mist began to form around the sloop.

"Shiver me timbers," one of the pirates exclaimed. "It's..it's starting to disappear. What is happening?"

"Ne'er you mind," Prue shouted. "Just stay to course." 

Stuart saw Phoebe heading towards Prue and he hurried over to join them.

"You saw well with the pendant, See'er Phoebe," Prue said.

"What pendant is that?  Stuart asked.

"I'll explain later," Phoebe said.

Prue looked around the schooner until she saw Piper.

"Quartermaster Piper, hurry here!"  Prue called and Piper came running.

"We must do this quickly before the sloop disappears," Prue shouted and took hold of Piper's hand.

Stuart stared at the now only partially visible sloop.

"It's becoming invisible," he said, in disbelief. "What manner of ship is that?"

"That...is a ship of demons," Phoebe said, as she took Piper's hand. "That is the enemy we seek."

"Together," Prue ordered and they began to recite.

    "Bind our ship to follow this vessel,

          To all seas and dimensions in which it may sail;

     To vanquish the demons we cast a spell,

          To give power to our weapons to let us prevail."

The mist surrounding the sloop spread out and began to surround the Power of Three, as well. Within the mist, the sloop became visible to the crew once again though nothing else of the sea around them nor the sky above them could be seen.

"Where are we?" some of the pirates cried. "What is happening to us?"

"Bosun, keep the topman and as his crew at the sails," Prue commanded. "And come what may, stay with the sloop."

The sloop began to turn to port and Prue's crew matched it's movements.

"The demons attack ships throughout the Carribean, kill the crews and take their souls," Phoebe explained to Stuart. "Then they plunder everything on board the ships for themselves. The pentagram pendant I held to get my vision was lost by one of the demon sailors during an attack on a ship. I found it on that ship afterwards and kept it."

After a few minutes, the mist around both ships began to dissipate and the pirates once again saw the sea and the sky. They had gained on the sloop and were now less than four hundred yards from it when the sloop's cannon roared. Prue stood at the gunwale and waved her hand at two of the incoming cannon balls and they fell into the sea on either side of the schooner. But she did not see the third cannon ball and it tore into the jib, ripping apart the triangular foresail at the bow of the ship.

The crew ran to the shrouds to see if they could do anything with the rigging to save the sail.

"That foresail can't be salvaged," Piper said, looking at it with an experienced eye, "and we don't have time to replace it now. That will slow us down."

"Then we will slow them down, as well," Prue said defiantly. "Fire a broadside at their gunports." The bosun relayed the command to the gunner and in a moment the starboard cannon boomed. The gunner's crew's practiced accuracy made a direct hit on one of the sloop's guns.

As they went to work re-loading the cannon the sloop fired another shot from it's other gun.  Prue flicked her hand at it and the cannon ball flew over the schooner and fell harmlessly in the sea behind it.

"Another broadside," Prue ordered and the cannon on the Power of Three roared again.

BOOM!

The explosion erupted from the sloop's other gunport.

"That last shot must have hit their powder keg," Piper said.

"Fire the bombs!" Prue commanded. The gunner's crew lifted two powder-filled hollow iron balls and attached measured fuses to them. They lit the fuses and loaded the bombs into the cannon.

"Fire!" the gunner shouted and the cannon erupted again. The sloop's poop deck took a direct hit and it burst into flames, setting the large fore-and-aft sail aflame as well.

"Quartermaster, prepare the crew to board the sloop," Prue ordered

The sloop was now dead in the water and the pirates maneuvered the Power of Three next to it. The grappling hooks were thrown over the gunwales and the ships lashed together.

Prue and Piper jumped over onto the sloop and Stuart, Phoebe and the rest of the pirates followed. Smoke from the explosion and fire permeated the air all around them as the demon sailors come forth to fight them.

Clang...clang...clang. The sound of sword hitting sword and the cries of battle filled the air. One of the demons slashed his sword in a level arc just above the hilt of a pirates' sword and the sword broke off cleanly. The pirate looked in shock at what remained of his cutlass as the demon plunged his sword into him.

"ARRGGHH!" the pirate screamed.

"Ah, your soul is mine now," the demon said as his sword sparkled with the soul's capture and the pirate's body dropped to the deck. "Be stowed with the other souls," the demon said, pointing his sword below deck and the sword sparkled again.

"ARRGGHH!" a second pirate screamed and fell as another demon did the same to his sword and to him.

"Protect your swords!"  Prue shouted as she saw what was happening. "Don't let them slash at the sword's hilt lest their demonic power destroy it!"  The pirates took heed and altered their fencing to protect them.

A demon attacked Prue and despite her maneuvers he was able to slash at her sword's hilt. But Prue's cutlass glowed for a second and remained firm. The demon slashed it again but again the cutlass glowed and did not give. It was the demon who now stared in disbelief and Prue took his momentary lapse to run her cutlass through him.

"Arrghh!" the demon cried and vanished in a puff of smoke.

Piper had engaged a demon sailor near the main mast. Clang...clang...clang. She attacked and he parried but then using leverage in his riposte he knocked her down and the cutlass fell from her hand. He took his sword in both his hands, took a step closer and stood over her. He thrust his sword downwards with all his might but Piper rolled to her side before the sword struck and knocked his left leg out from under him. As the demon fell to the deck Piper pulled her dagger out of her boot and plunged it into the demon's side. He screamed and after a few seconds was consumed in a puff of smoke.

Piper retrieved her cutlass and as she stood up saw a demon aim his musketoon shotgun at Stuart and fire it. She raised her hand and the bullet froze in mid-air. Stuart turned his head and stared at the missile suspended not six inches from his chest.

"Grab it," Piper shouted, "else it will un-freeze shortly and strike someone."  Stuart brought his hand up near the bullet, put it half-way around it and hesitated. Then he put his hand completely around it, grabbed it and stared at it in amazement.

The demon was re-loading his musketoon and Piper raised her hand again. The demon did not freeze but his shotgun did and try as he may he could not load it. Piper pulled out her flintlock pistol from her pants waist, fired at him and he disappeared in a puff of smoke.

The fire had spread to the quarter deck as Stuart battled a demon sailor just below it. The demon sailor lunged at him and Stuart turned and jumped up onto the quarter deck to elude his thrust. Stuart had less than two feet between the edge of the deck and the advancing flames. The demon jumped up to pursue him just as a burning piece of sail came falling down towards them. Stuart leapt to his left to avoid it while the demon sailor turned to his right. But in doing so the demon sailor lost his balance and fell against the side of the ship, leaning backwards over the gunwale. Stuart raised his foot and shoved his black boot into the demon sailor's chest, pushing him overboard into the sea. The fire nipped at Stuart's boots and he hastily jumped back down to the main deck.

Clang...clang...clang. Phoebe was attacking a demon sailor but he parried her blows. He riposted by trying to slash Phoebe's sword, but her cutlass merely glowed in response to his attack. Then he tried knocking her sword from her hand but she resisted. Then she surprised him by jumping to his right side and as he turned towards her she skewered him.

"Arrghh!" he cried and she saw him vanquished and disappear in a puff of smoke.

"Uggh!" Phoebe grunted.

The dirk was designed for throwing and having been thrown from a distance of twenty feet, the small knife had traveled true and found its mark in Phoebe's chest, just above her right breast. A stunned expression of shock filled her face and she slowly fell to her knees.

The demon who threw the dirk was standing by the main mast and now he hurried to Phoebe to finish her off and take her soul. He was satisfied with the blood he saw soaking her shirt around the protruding knife and the stunned look he saw on her face.

"Arrgghh!" the demon screamed. He had not paid attention to Phoebe's hand and with her last bit of strength she had lifted her cutlass and plunged it into him.

Phoebe watched the demon be consumed in smoke. But her expression of shock did not change and she fell over on her left side onto the deck, the cutlass falling from her limp hand.

Prue was dueling with a demon on the foredeck without success. Clang...clang...clang. The demon suddenly changed his attack and thrust at Prue's head. She ducked but his cutlass speared her three-cornered hat.

"That was my favorite hat!"  Prue angrily shouted at him. A steely glint took hold in her eyes and she attacked him ferociously, her ponytail flying from side to side. She forced him backwards, then suddenly took a step back away from him and waved her hand, sending him into the port gunwale. As he fell to the deck she hurried over and ran her cutlass through him.

"Arrghh!" he screamed but before he was consumed in smoke Prue grabbed her hat off his sword. She turned the black three-cornered hat around in her hand and fingered the hole in the front of its crown.

"Hmmph," she said, frowned and put the hat back on.

The demon was on the attack, forcing Stuart backwards. Clang...clang...clang. Stuart parried but could not see what lay behind him and his feet tripped over the prone Phoebe. The demon slashed at Stuart's cutlass and his blade broke off as he fell backwards over her and landed on his back with his legs on top of Phoebe’s hips.

The demon leapt over Phoebe as Stuart grabbed her fallen cutlass to protect himself. The demon's sword slashed at Stuart but Phoebe's cutlass glowed in Stuart's hand and was not damaged. The demon tried again using both his hands but to no avail. Stuart's legs were behind the demon and he twisted them and kicked the demon from behind. The demon staggered and Stuart plunged Phoebe's cutlass into him.

Smoke filled the air as the fire leapt to the main deck and began burning on the port side. The pirates were in control of the sloop as all but one of the demons had been vanquished. The one remaining demon was dueling with the bosun on the forecastle deck. Prue picked up a musketoon lying at her feet, fired at the demon and vanquished him. Then she turned around and surveyed the scene. She began walking back towards the main mast and came across Phoebe and Stuart, just as Piper was emerging from the hatch.

"Bartlett, fetch the surgeon!"  Prue commanded a pirate near her. "Hurry!  The See'er has gone down."

Stuart slowly pulled the dirk out of Phoebe's chest, then cradled her head in his arm.

"One compartment in the hold was filled with the souls of the people the demons had killed," Piper said. "I freed them."

"Good," Prue said.

"Bosun," Piper called as the sloop continued to burn, "tell the hands there's booty to be had in the hold. But make haste lest they still be on board when the ship sinks to Davy Jones' locker."

"Aye, Quartermaster," the bosun said, with a big smile.

Bartlett and the surgeon jumped over the gunwale and came running.

"There's booty for you below, Bartlett," Piper said and sent him off.

"Surgeon Leo, save See'er Phoebe!"  Prue commanded. Leo placed his hands on Phoebe's chest over her wound. An aura of light glowed around his hands and he held them steady. After ten seconds, the aura dissipated.

"She will live," Leo said. After a few seconds more, Phoebe opened her eyes and slowly looked around.

"Are you all right," Stuart asked.

"Yes," Phoebe said, "uh...yes...I...I am all right."

"Is not our Surgeon Leo amazing?" Prue asked.

"Indeed he is," Stuart said. "But no more amazing than the many other things I have witnessed today. Including See'er Phoebe's cutlass. The demon sailor's sword sliced through my cutlass as if it was made of paper. But when I held Phoebe's in my hand it merely glowed when it was struck and was impervious to the demon's blows."

Prue looked at Stuart with surprise.

"It is not the power of the cutlass, but rather the power of the one who wields it, that renders the cutlass impervious," Prue said. "That should not have happened when you held it. You do not have our power."

Piper watched Stuart help Phoebe stand up. She saw how he looked at her and the attention he was giving her.

"But perhaps he has a strong binding to one who does," Piper said, with a knowing look. "And therewith a connection to her power."

"You really are all healed," Stuart said to Phoebe, with relief.

"With the capture and destruction of this ship we will have good news to report to Governor Woodes Rogers," Piper said to Stuart. "We may well have you in New Providence sooner than we had expected."

"That no longer matters," Stuart said and glanced at Phoebe. "With Captain Prudence's permission, I shall elect to remain on board the Power of Three."

Prue looked at Stuart then turned to Phoebe.

"What say you See'er Phoebe, would you welcome that?"  Prue asked.

"Aye Captain Prudence, I would," Phoebe said, with a hint of a smile.

"Then my approval is granted," Prue said. She looked around the burning ship as the pirates hurried past them with their loot.

"We are done here," Prue said. "Let us take our leave. The Power of Three awaits our return."

 

Phoebe sat back, exhaled and stroked Kit, who was curled up in Phoebe's lap.

"And that, Nicole and Marion," Phoebe said, "is how the demon ship was vanquished and the Carribean Sea made safe again."

"That was a great story," Nicole said.

"It was terrific," Marion said. "Did you really make it up as you were telling it to us?"

"I did," Phoebe said.

"It didn't seem that way," Nicole said. "It sounded very real, as if you were remembering something that once happened. You didn't have to stop to think about what you were going to say next, the way our mother does when she makes up a story for us."

"I didn't, did I," Phoebe said, surprised herself. "Maybe I was sub-consciously thinking about pirate stories I read when I was a kid. But, no...I made it all up. Nothing in the story was real and none of it ever happened."

Ding-dong

"That must be your mother," Phoebe said. She picked up Kit, stood up from the armchair and took the girls to the front door.

"Hi Lorna," Phoebe said.

"Hi Phoebe," Lorna Palmer said. She was in her mid-thirties, with dark hair and stood five inches taller than Phoebe.

"Did you have a good time with Phoebe?" she asked the girls.

"Yes, Mommy, we did," Nicole said. "Phoebe told us a great pirate story she made up just for us."

"Thanks so much, Phoebe," Lorna said. "Since you stayed with them the night I was in Portland and told them that ghost story they've been asking to see you again. That was so nice of you to spend two hours with them now. And to make up a story for them, too."

"It was my pleasure," Phoebe said. "I enjoyed letting my creative side put my imagination to work and make it up."

Phoebe followed the girls and Lorna outside. The sun was about to set but some light still shone on the front of The Manor.

"Good night, girls," Phoebe said.

"Good night, Phoebe," Nicole said. "Thank you for the story."

"Good night, Phoebe and thank you," Marion said. "And good night, Kit."

Phoebe watched Lorna and the girls walk down the steps and get into their car.

"Meow!" Kit snarled and twisted her head around.

"What's the matter, Kit?" Phoebe asked.

"Meow!" Kit snarled even louder, and raised her paw as if to swat at something. Phoebe looked around the lawn and the street in front of The Manor.

"There's nothing here," she said to Kit.

Nicole was sitting by the right window in the back seat of the car. She began to wave goodbye to Phoebe and Kit when something large caught her eye and she looked up to the roof of The Manor.

"Oh!!"  Nicole gasped, staring at it in disbelief, as the car began to pull away.

From its perch on the corner of the roof it watched the car drive down the street. Then it turned its attention to Phoebe and Kit. It watched intensely as Phoebe took Kit inside The Manor and closed the door behind them. It stared at the door a while longer until it was satisfied that they weren't coming out again.

Then it raised its head and turned it, first to the left and then to the right, it's orange and purple colors and the red bandanna around its neck caught in the last rays of the setting sun.

"Scat the cat," the parrot squawked. "Ba-a-ahk. Scat the cat."