In the year 326 A.D., a child was birthed in a cold alleyway of Barrie Port. The mother was gravely frail, having conducted the delivery all on her own. She was too poor to afford medical assistance or even simple herbs to soothe the pain. The father? Nowhere to be seen. The mother had worked as a prostitute for the last 4 years so she concluded that somewhere along the line, there was a mess up. She, however, cared less about trivial things such as fathers and pain. With what strength she had left, leaning against the side of a brothel, the mother embraced the crying newborn. A blessed baby girl had been brought into the world. That was all she truly cared about. As tears of joy began fogging her vision, she thought of a name for her daughter— an angel in the dark, one who would rise up in the world and topple those who opposed her. Her name was Jasmine.
On Jasmine's 10th birthday, her mother gifted her a small wooden doll. It was Jasmine's first birthday present since money was never spared for anything other than food. It was the first and only childhood memory she considered happy. Four days later, she was informed that her mother took her own life. Sadness was the first thing she felt. An immense sense of grief. Jasmine spent many nights, weeping upon her rotting mattress, holding onto the doll to remember her mother by. But over time, she felt a trickle of confusion that slowly consumed her mind. Many questions began plaguing her sleep. Was she hated? Was she a burden to her mother? Did she do something wrong? The wooden doll, which she believed to be a sign of love, now confused her as well. Why? That was all she could she wanted to know. Why?
It would take over 22 years before Jasmine learned of the truth. The hidden truth of her mother's death and the mystery behind her father's identity.
On Jasmine's 13th birthday, she was beaten by the local baker for "attempted" theft. All she took was a loaf of stale bread she found in a waste bin and yet she was punished. Her face was bloodied and her body bruised. The baker scoffed and spat on her trembling body before returning to his shop. Street orphans were treated as pests and for that, merchants were compelled to retaliate when the "rats" began meddling. Jasmine was tired. Since her mother's passing, theft and beatings became routine for her. She had no meaning in life. She had no one to look over her. Every day, she fought to survive, and for what? Everyone around her was out to put her down. There was no point in struggling when the reality was that she had no power in this world. She closed her eyes and wished for death. At least then, she would be reunited with her mother and be happy once more.
Her eyes reopened at the scent of smoke. The sky was a dark orange with black clouds hanging over the port. Jasmine didn't know how long she had spent on the ground unconscious but in whatever amount of time that had passed, a disaster had struck. As she slowly stood back on her feet and limped towards the harbor, she noticed another aspect of the sky that left her astonished. Massive ships were floating in the air, their anchors lowered upon the roofs of burning houses, ropes danglings from all around. Its passengers ran amok, massacring anyone who stood in the way. Jasmine passed by the local bakery and found the baker's corpse, lying on top of what she presumed to have been the baker's wife. She looked around and saw nothing but chaos. People ran wild, crying for their lives. Bodies were everywhere with multiple severed limbs to accompany them. It was a nightmare.
Then, she felt a hand on top of her head. It felt large like that of a grizzly bear and it became tangled within her unwashed crimson hair. She tried to see who the hand belonged to but the force placed upon her head prevented any sort of movement. She was rendered to watch the unfolded madness in front of her. Then, a scruffed voice spoke quietly next to her ear.
"I wanna ask you a simple question," the voice muttered, "You see that boy over there?"
Jasmine felt the hand lift off her head, allowing her to identify the voice. She turned to see a barbarian in uniform. He appeared older than middle-aged but not elderly. His lips were cracked and reeked of alcohol. His grey beard was unkempt, food crumbs, and dried blood appearing in specks everywhere. On his head, he wore an oddly-shaped hat, one she had never seen in her life. A large white feather poked from its side.
"Hey. You listenin'?"
She shook off her trance and re-focused her attention to what the man was saying. Following his extended arm, she saw a young boy groveling over the decapitated corpses of an elderly couple. It was a horrible sight and yet she felt nothing. Everything felt like a dream to her. Thus, nothing was at stake.
"What do you think is gonna happen to him?"
Another barbarian appeared from the corner of her eye. He wasn't as well-dressed as the man next to her and was covered head-to-toe in spilled blood. Approaching the boy, he began dictating commands in a loud and menacing voice. The barbarian, once in front of him, grabbed the boy's arm and pulled in the opposite direction. In response, the boy wailed and screamed, refusing to leave the couple alone. The barbarian barked more commands but was met with endless resistance. Finally, he was fed up. In a single swing, he severed the boy's arm with a red-stained cutlass. The boy shrieked in horror before his throat was sliced open a second later. He fell upon the couple's bodies, soulless. The barbarian showed no remorse, instead focusing on wiping away the fat that had caked the edge of the blade. Then, he retreated towards his next victim.
"Well? You see what happens when you begin acting up? That boy would've had the privilege to come aboard the Jolly Roger along with me and my men had he just acted like a good boy. So, now I pose you two choices. Quietly come with me or die with the rest of these bastards."
Jasmine looked towards the man. His face was wrinkled and his eyes void of any color. His expression spoke for itself— he demanded a response, now. But, Jasmine didn't feel fear. In fact, what she had seen reassured her view of the world. He had it coming, she thought to herself. Not all men are created equal and those who fail to understand that notion would be punished the harshest by more powerful forces. It was the system of life. Her mother taught her this 3 years prior. It was because of this system of life that Jasmine knew her fate was sealed. She had no power and thus, death was all that awaited.
But then, a thought came to her mind. It was farfetched, even to her, but depending on what the man had to say, it would be a revolution. Her response to him was a question.
"Can I become powerful? If I go with you, can I become better than them? All of them?"
The man stared at her, surprised by what she had said.
"I'd make you a slave," he said calmly, "You would have no power against me or my crew. You'll never have power against us for the rest of your life."
"But, what about right now? Would I become better than them? Would I become more powerful than I am right now?"
He paused. Her question was strange but he had an answer.
"On my ship, everything and everyone is more powerful than the rest of the world. I'd even consider my deck swabber better than any lousy king. But, no one on my ship is more powerful than me. I don't care even if you're a god in the flesh. On my ship, I'm the captain."
The thought of mercy didn't matter to her. Jasmine was overjoyed, rather, at the thought that the system of life could be wrong, or perhaps, she was just uninformed of a vital detail. Not all men were created equal but power could be gained. Those at the bottom could climb up and become powerful. That meant that anyone had the ability to peak. She had the ability to peak. She had the ability to atone for her mother's disappointment. If she was more powerful, no, the most powerful, then perhaps she could find a meaning to her life once again. The man who called himself captain said it was impossible to surpass him. However, the system of life was absolute. That meant nothing would stop her from climbing up and toppling the captain from the peak. But to take the first step, she had to live.
"I'll go with you. Please take me with you", she begged.
The captain smiled and stood up from his crouched position. He held Jasmine's frail hand and led her towards one of the floating ships, where his men waited for their departure.
"Welcome to hell, kid."