1452 AD 14th September, Aegean Seas, Outside Negroponte.
The Aegean Sea, same as always as the last thousands of years, kindling in its own symphony. The Aegean having a reputation for being the mother of the Greek and Western Civilisation, it has forged its very own sea-song and the never-ending pushing sea waves are riparian-blue as it always has been.
Despite the recent decade of disputes, battles and destructions, the sea never changes, and same goes for the Venetian ports on the shores and various isles scattered around the Aegean's forming a chain of natural deep water ports that form the perfect location for a trading port.
Unlike the Atlantic waters which is unimaginably deep, full of devastating rogue waves and impounding cyclones. The Mediterranean is perfectly the opposite. She takes her cue from the breezing wind of Asia, kisses the shoreline with her unique blue lips.
However, something going on in the far horizon of the Mediterranean broke the peace and calmness of the seas.
"Catch the wave lads! Hurry up!"
"Full speed! I need full speed!"
"Curses on these bloody fools, how is their ships so damn fast!"
"Crossbow men! Ready yourselves! Give them a salvo of warning shots!"
The man giving orders is Antonius De' Ricci, the right honourable captain of the privateer galley Formidata, an experienced sailor in the Mediterranean from the city state of Genoa in northern Italia.
"Raise the black flag! Crossbow men, give them another salvo right on the deck!"
Just before Antonius is growing more and more impatient, ready to unleash the grappling hooks and hard board the ship, it slowed down.
As the two ships reached a side-by-side position, Antonius's chief officer Abraham, an always vigilant and cautious watchman from Ethiopia, commented.
"Hooray captain! Judging from its sheer size, it seems like we caught a big prey this time, even bigger than what we have expected!"
The scent of a big catch soon spread a sense of enthusiasm amongst the crews, they can almost catch the 'fragrance' of the stink of coins, the aroma of mead and the perfume of young lasses.
Antonius too, has a wide grin on his face, until he observed something.
"Sheathe it lads! Seems like our prey wants to talk!"
The two ships stopped side by side, the crew readied their weapons and crossbow men readied their weapons ready for another salvo of shot when commanded, which is able to sweep down every single standing man on the deck.
"So, look at who we got here." Antonius stepped forward facing the men on the opposite deck and sneered at the sailors with a frightened look apparently feeling hopeless for their dilemma. "I am sorry, but I shall not speak to a bunch of low-born cowards, now! Show your captain before I run out of patience!"
It did not take too long before a man, dressed in fine ottoman caftans and kalpaks showed up with despise in his eyes, with heads raised and staring right into the eyes of Antonius.
"I demand to know the meaning of this, infidel."
Antonius stared back into the eyes of this man, with arms folded. The little Ottoman soon found himself in the state of embarrassment as his height is no match for the man in front of him, and he must keep his heads up in order to look at his face.
"You owe us an explanation, captain."
"Explanation? Ahahahah" Antonius burst into laughter and a gruesome titter ran through the surrounding crew.
"Yes, I'm afraid you do, 'captain'." The man tried to hide his nervousness and continued. "If you failed to notice, this ship is flying royal Ottoman flags."
"Aye I do."
"…and I must tell you, that this ship is a direct property of his highness the sultan Mehmed II, and you also better be reminded that this ship is under the command of the honourable Kizlar Agha, who is charge of all eunuchs of the Ottoman court and a close kin to the sultan himself. Do you understand?"
"Aye I understand."
The Ottoman got back some wit after listing out all his masters, and he raised his head again with hands on his waist. "So, I believe that you do owe me an explanation, what is the purpose of this meaningless intrusion of the Sultan's property and ship?"
"Ahhhh…. aye, I think I do owe you an explanation." Antonius looks like he got this sudden realisation on his face. "Before that, please, if you can, mention your righteous name?"
The Ottoman took a deep breathe and spoke. "My name is Abdullah Miralai, I am close kin to the Vizier-A-Azam, or the Grand Vizier himself."
"Okay okay noted." Antonius stopped him before he could continue.
"Captain Abdullah, since you have asked for an 'explanation', so here is your 'explanation."
"My dear Captain Abdullah, my crew and I halted your ship so that my men can board your ship and plunder all the valuable stuff that is on board. My men and I have been on the seas for weeks trying to find a prey, you know yourself, living on the seas is no simple task for us. Thus, we cannot leave any big catches like you sneak away. Does this explanation satisfy you, Captain Abdullah?"
Antonius, with a sinister wide grin on his face, moves steps and steps closer to Abdullah as he talks, by the time he finishes he is almost point close to the poor Captain who is now trembling in fear.
"The…the sultan's navy will come for you, the feared Kapudan Pasha will come for you, they will sink your ship, trial and slaughter all your crew. They will, capture you, filthy infidel, they will peel your skin, burn you, bit by bit, to repay for your sins."
Antonius waited for him to finish with a smile on his face. And then he laughed and suddenly changed to a stern face.
"Now, you, you Ottoman devil, you cowardice, do you think you shall make it through today. I, Antonius, witnessed by Christ himself. Shall take all the treasures that you and your Ottoman bandits have robbed others and return it to the hands of the righteous Christians."
Antonius called for one of his boys and said. "Hey boy, you heard what this domine wants, do it as he wishes."
"No, no, I plead you, I beg you, don't, please don't, I can still prove useful!" Abdullah pleads as he is about to be dragged into a secret chamber into the ship's cabin.
Antonius ignored him and shouted out to his crew." Alright lads! We have waited long enough, board the ship! Take all her wares! Make sure these people won't retaliate or do anything stupid!"
War cries erupted as the pirates readied their weapons and stormed the target ship in search for the ale, coins, silk that they dreamt for months.
"Please! No! Sir, Sir, I have information! Vital information! I will prove myself useful sir!" The voice of Abdullah can still be heard as the crew is having a hard time trying to drag his massive and resisting body across the deck.
"Wait, I've changed my mind, bring him back boy."
The boys brought Abdullah back, he is panting up and down trying to catch his breathe. His fine ottoman caftans and kalpaks completely soaked in his own sweat.
"So, what news do you bring me, Abdullah, be reminded that this shall be your last chance of survival. Now talk"
"Yes, oh yes, your righteous captain, I shall tell you all I know, the most vital information I have is that my Sultan, Mehmed II, is assembling his armies in Edirne and Bursa, preparing for a war to punish the emperor of the Greeks!"
Abdullah finally stopped panting and looked up eagerly at Antonius' face, still afraid about his eventual fate in the end of the day.
"Abdullah, tell me, how do you think this news might ever mean anything to me? Do I look like a monarch in country affairs? Do I look like the pope? Or the governor of Genoa? Or the emperor of the Greeks? Abdullah, I am a privateer, what I want is the cargo and treasure on this ship, now tell me where the treasure is hidden on your ship?"
"Treasure, yes, treasure." Abdullah gulped and stammered. "Honourable captain, my ship bears no treasure, it is transporting a shipment of precious medicine to Edirne to be used by my Sultan Mehmed II's most beloved concubine! She is now bedridden and…."
"By treasure, I mean gold! Silver! Coins! Ale! Silk! All of that! Why would I have the need of a shipment of medicine! Do I look like I am sick?"
Antonius waved impatiently towards the boys.
"Take this man away." He ordered. "This man proves a complete waste of my time."
The sense of fright and death soon overfilled the mind of Abdullah, he wailed. "No! Do not do this to me! I can prove to be worthy of a ransom! I am close kin to the Vizier-A-Azam! They will pay a huge ransom for me! Please!"
Antonius, clearly frustrated by this man, bellowed. "Enough! Shut him up with a cloth! Lock him up in the cabin!"
As quiet returned to the deck, only the cries and laughter of crewmen plundering the ship can be heard. The chief commander, Abraham returned to him.
"Antonius, Seems like there's nothing on the ship other than a bunch of dried plants and grass with some powder."
"I know that man has told me just now. And he bears some news with him."
"Is it a good or bad news sir?"
"I don't know, but I know it is a piece of news that is worth countless ducats if we are on time, I shall tell you about it later."
"Alright sir, so now do we do with this disappointing ship?"
Antonius looked back at this supposedly 'big catch' worth nothing. He sighed and ordered. "Take whatever cargo that is on it, then let the men and ship free. We cannot afford to waste too much time, those Ottoman might already after us."
He then looked at the ocean, calm as still and stretched in every direction to the horizon, and continued. "Then we set sail for Krete."
Soon, calm returned to the ocean and the water remained as still as a pool, nothing can be heard, and the Aegean continued her melody, as-if nothing has happened here just now.