This is part 3 of my short story “The Legend of Captain Jon Blackwell” Thank you to Jessi9999 and deventART for the artwork. It’s beautiful! I’m glad I could share it. Please enjoy the third installment of my short story.
Jon had fallen into a coma like state before the doctor had arrived. Marissa did not move from his side, holding his hand as the doctor examined him. He had no explanation for the sudden illness; perhaps something he caught at sea or the flu from months back reappearing. The doctor tried to reassure Marissa that Jon would pull through; he was a strong man and promised to return the following day.
Never leaving his side, the night grew darker. Marissa could feel the child growing restless in her belly and the cook begged her to eat something for the good of the child. She shooed them away and would not take her eyes off her husband who lied motionless in their bed. As the night passed, they could not persuade her to leave his side, but she did finally agree to take some soup and biscuits at his bedside.
She fell asleep in the chair, still holding Jon’s hand. Well after midnight, Marissa awoke to a bright light which filled the room. She lifted her hand, shielding her eyes as if staring at the sun. Out of the light, a woman appeared adorned in a golden dress and cloak with the texture of scales like that of a fish or dragon. Marissa stared at her in awe, speechless in her presence.
“I am the goddess of the sea, the one your husband named Calista.” She said, holding her hands out.
Marissa could not take her eyes off of her but found herself without words. She looked down at her husband who moaned in the presence of Calista. Grasping his hand tighter, she attempted to gaze upon Calista again and finally found her voice. “What do you want?”
“Jon Blackwell.” Calista spoke simply. “For him to fulfill his promise or for him to die.”
Marissa found her courage and stood. “What promise? He will not die!”
“I can see how your beauty has bewitched him. It is you that has kept him from me when he promised to love me forever.”
“He cannot sail the ocean forever!” Marissa’s anger began to well up inside of her.
Calista laughed at the girl and her anger. “He can, and he shall or at this time in three days, he will perish.”
Collapsing into the chair, Marissa raised her hand to stroke Jon’s face and whispered. “It cannot be true.”
“It is true, and will be true of every male child born of his line. Like the child that grows now inside of you. They too will die when the reach the age of twenty-five. Forever cursed for their father’s broken promises.”
Marissa instinctively covered her stomach with her hands, protecting the child inside. “No, you cannot have my son too.”
The light flashed bright in the room and Calista stepped back inside of it. Only her voice echoed in the room, “Three days. Return him to me or they shall all die.”
Sobbing, Marissa fell to her knees beside the bed. What could she do? A tearing sensation ripped through her stomach and she screamed out in pain. Trying to stand, another shooting pain brought her back to her knees. The baby was coming, now. She screamed for maid; she needed help immediately.
She woke to the sunlight streaming through the window of bedroom next theirs with vague memories of delivering her child. She looked beside her, the maid said holding a child swaddled in a soft blanket of blue. The child was quiet and all she could see is the small hand that gripped the blanket. Marissa gasped softly making the maid look up and smile. “It is a boy, ma’am.” She said, rising to bring the child to her.
Marissa reached out to receive the child. She cuddled him close to her chest and kissed his beautiful, angelic face. Tears began to stream down her face at his beauty and the words of the sea goddess filling her thoughts. She could not lose them; both of the men she would love more than her own life.
The child did not leave her grasp for the next two days and she demanded constant updates on the condition of her husband. They would report the same every time, no change. Jon remained in a coma and she wept. She closed her tear filled eyes and prayed. She prayed for guidance, how can she let it happen? How can she let them both die as the goddess said? Marissa slipped into a quiet sleep, still clutching her child in her arms.
She woke again, it was dark and only the light of moon lit the room. The child had been removed from her arms. She searched desperately in the dark for him in the bed beside her. “Shhh, be still child. The baby is safe.” A kind voice said in the darkness. Marissa heard what sounded like a snap and the room was filled with the soft light of one of the lantern lamps beside the bed.
A woman came into focus, holding her child in her arms as she rocked back and forth with him in the chair next to the bed. She was truly beautiful with long brown hair that softly curled down her shoulders. She was dressed in white, and had strikingly beautiful eyes though in the light Marissa could not tell if they were green or blue only that they shined in the light.
“Who are you? Calista in another form here torture me further? Please give me my child.” Marissa said venomously.
The woman did not give the child back, continuing to rock the child in her arms. “No child, I am not the one you call Calista. I, too, have many names and I serve one who had heard your prayers and wishes to help you.”
Marissa settled back down into the bed. “Help me? How can what a goddess has done be undone?”
“It can’t be.” The messenger said. “But it can be changed. See, Jon did make a promise, unknowingly. Calista has twisted his words to fit her desires and therefore developed a few loopholes that we can use.”
“What loopholes? Jon does not have to die? Or my child?”
“No, they don’t but it will require some sacrifice on your part I’m afraid, but you can save them both if you are strong enough.” The woman stood, and laid the baby into Marissa’s arms.
“What must I do?” Marissa whispered, staring down at her sleep son.
“You must return Jon to his ship before midnight tomorrow. If you do this, he will live.” The woman said.
“But that is giving Calista exactly what she wants!”
“True, but the Goddess of family and love will not see this family torn apart forever. Jon will live and thrive on the sea. You will be able to correspond and he will be able to come ashore once a year for seven days. Are you strong enough to handle these conditions to save your husband’s life?” The messenger sat on the edge of the bed and looked at her with curiosity.
“And what of my son?” Marissa asked.
“He will not have to die either, but by age twenty-five he will have to choose a life at sea and live by the same restrictions as his father.”
“? If he is forced to choose this life, will he marry? Will he have children?” The wheels in Marissa’s head churning, considering the options before her.
The woman smiled. “Oh yes, the line will continue for some time and each male child born will be afflicted with this curse.”
Marissa cried to think of the generations to come and the pain this will cause them, their wives and children. “I need to think about this.”
“You do not have much time to think, child. Midnight tomorrow will come and we will no longer be able to help you.” The woman stood, turning to look at Marissa. “Let me give you a little peace, there is a chance that this curse will be broken. In the Blackwell line a girl will be born. Her name shall be Arianna. She will be fair of hair, but have your green eyes and your strength of heart. If she chooses, she will save them all.”
Feeling warmth in her heart, as she has swallowed a warm drink, she found a piece of hope in the Messengers final words. “I will do what must be done.”
The woman smiled, running her fingers over the sleeping forehead. “I know you will. I will be watching.” She disappeared in a mist and Marissa fell back into a deep sleep.
The morning came and Marissa woke with a start. Her mission to save the one’s she loved was the only thing she thought of. The maid sat beside her, holding the babe. “Give me the child.” She said. “Call immediately for four Jon’s most trusted and strongest men. Quickly.” She rose from the bed and placed the child in the bassinet beside the bed. She was weak from two days in bed, but she managed to dress quickly and get to her writing desk across the hall in the office.
She composed a letter to Jon, explaining all that had taken place in his deep sleep and what she had to do. Sealing it with their mark, she entered their bedroom and stared for a moment at her sleeping husband. Without time to waste, she packed his bags as she had before and instructed the stable master to prepare a carriage for Jon to return to the docks.
When his men arrived she gave them the letter. “Give it to him when he wakes.” She said. “Please protect him on your journeys.” The men promised to do so and lifted his limp body and carried it to the waiting carriage down stairs. Marissa had instructed them to place him straight away into his cabin and to set sail as soon as it was possible, knowing they were preparing a voyage.
The sun was setting by the time the men got Jon aboard. They laid his lifeless body on the bed of his state room. The ship’s physician remained with him and kept possession of the letter Marissa had written to him. The stars were shining in the sky when they headed out to sea and Jon began to wake the further they were away from shore.
His eyes fluttered and he moaned as if he had a hangover from too much wine. He focused his eyes on the physician that sat behind his bed. “What has happened? Where am I?” He said, sitting up slowly holding his head.
The physician held out the letter from Marissa. “From your wife, sir. She said it would explain everything.”
Jon grabbed the letter and read:
My darling Jon,
I want you to know that I love you with strength more powerful than the sun. I had to make a decision while you slept, hoping beyond hope that it would save both your life and the life of our newborn son.
Tears welled in Jon’s eyes; we had a son. He continued to read:
It has taken all my will to choose between the certain death of you and ultimately the life of Jon Blackwell, Jr. This was the prophecy put forth to me by Calista who visited me on the night of our child’s birth. I was without hope, and prayed for an answer.
Last night, I was visited by a Messenger who brought me news of an alternative. Whereas the choice she gave me was not a perfect solution as she could not undo what Calista has already done, she could guarantee me that your death and Jonny’s death’s do not have to be.
My love, you will have to remain on the sea and appease the Sea Goddess and once a year, on the summer solstice you will be able to come ashore to me for seven days.
Jon felt angry, and guilt. How hard it had to be on her, forced to make this decision.
Please remain faithful my love. Pray for a daughter to be born of the Blackwell’s as she holds the key to end of Calista’s curse.
With all my love, I look forward to being in your loving embrace once again when the sun is longest in the sky. Watch for my letters.
Jon sat there stunned. He understood her words, and sadness gripped him. Only once a year he would be able to hold her. Jon would keep the faith that a daughter would be born soon as Marissa had said, and break the curse that would allow him to return home.
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