Chapter 1The familiar scent of salt mixed with the refreshing cool of ocean water surrounded Red Ryan evenbefore he was fully awake. With a deep breath, he reluctantly opened his eyes, only to close themagain as the brightness of the dawn streamed through his porthole window, assaulting his sensesand causing him to sneeze several times. With a long, purposeful stretch, Ryan slung his left leg outof the bed and pressed his bare foot against the gritty warmth of the planked floor. It was part of hisdaily morning ritual, but today was different. Today he wasn’t going to take twenty minutes to roll offof his thin, yet cozy, mattress; he wasn’t even going to sit up and chew the dirt out from underneathhis fingernails (and how he hated having dirty fingernails). Today, Ryan nearly jumped out of his bedin anticipation, taking only a few seconds to stretch his spine and scratch at the short, rust-colouredstubble on his chin that served as a beard. He had been growing it for three months now, and manytimes he considered removing it, but then decided that it would be to admit defeat, and he was apirate, after all … defeat was not an option.As Ryan sponged sweat off of his body and combed his hair, a memory played in his mind. Sixweeks prior, he was approached by a mysterious character as he was enjoying his nightly libationsat his favourite pub. The man was considerably tall, even next to the town’s tallest man - Francesco“Shorty” Montago, who stood a towering six and-a-half feet. He wore a long cloak that hid not onlyhis body, but his arms and feet, as well. His manner of speaking was similar to Ryan’s ownarticulate speech. The man refused to shake Ryan’s hand or even sit down. He had a short andsimple request - he wanted Ryan to find the long-lost Coins of O’Malley. The coins were given toGrace O’Malley’s first husband, Donal O'Flaherty, as a dowry that was later bequeathed to her afterhis death. Legend had it that she had hidden the Coins somewhere so that her second husbandcould not steal them from her. When O’Malley died, the location of the coins died with her, hiddenfrom all … even her own children … until now.The instructions left by the man were simple. Ryan was to go to the docks in three days and wait.He would be met there by a man dressed in blue and that man would give him an importantdocument. All the details would be revealed to him then. As a “good faith” payment, the man tossedtwo silver pieces onto the table from somewhere under his cloak. Although the man was stillspeaking, Ryan had already tuned him out, distracted by the glittering of the pieces under the dimlight of the pub. When he finally broke his gaze, the man was gone.Ryan did as instructed and met the man on the dock. It was his intention to ask him for moreinformation regarding the man he met three days before, but he quickly learned that the man wasmute, and unable to help. The man certainly kept his tracks clean, and although the mysterysurrounding him was intimidating, Ryan couldn’t help but admire the man for his cleverness. Thedocument he received was a simple note, “
Find the treasure. Count out one piece for each crewman plus two extra - take no more. Give one piece to your crew, one for yourself and return here with the other two.
Included with the note was a map; it showed the location of the Coins ofO’Malley … after all this time, it had been found.After the initial excitement subsided, Ryan was flooded with questions. The first being, why did theman choose him, of all other commissions he could have chosen? Was the one piece his fullpayment, or could he expect more from his mission, and the one question that intrigued him most ofall … why wasn’t he going to get it, himself? Ryan felt the strong tug of forewarning in the pit of hisstomach, but as much as he was afraid, he was equally fascinated. He immediately set to workdrafting a crew for his ship,
The Sea Witch
. For some odd reason, he could never keep a steadycrew.Now, here he was, on course for a hidden island to find a treasure that could never be found. Hehad confidence in his new crew - four experienced sailors, one aggressive, elderly pirate, two boys,and a very ugly woman. They worked hard and submitted to duty with no complaints, but Ryannever told them exactly what the mission was, and he knew it was pretty much the right time. Here,in the middle of a vast sea, Ryan was convinced that none of them would argue to turn back now.The problem was, Ryan didn’t really know what to tell them. They would expect a large booty for this