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01 of ALCH
Chapter 1
The Land Called Haven

A small giggle bubbled up from Freya's throat when the cool ocean spray splashed onto her cheerful tanned face. Today she was especially happy for Edward, the lookout up in the bird nest, spotted land. This land was no other type of land, though, for within its soil, there were thousands of chests filled with gold, land deeds, and silver; everything that a pirate could ever want.

"And I'm going to get my hands on it too," Freya stated aloud as she stood on the tip of the bow with her hands on her hips. A large, fat arm encased her shoulders and a rumble was felt on Freya's side. "Hi Uncle Donal," Freya greeted as she turned her head to gaze at the chubby, yet kind, man that had his hairy arm around her small shoulders.

"That there is Haven," he pointed out with a goofy smile as he looked towards the oncoming island. Freya switched her view to the said island and evaluated it with her shining eyes. The towering mountains that surrounded the land stood like guardians, protecting the city within and the black sand that lined the shores created a great contrast with the cool blue of the sea and the dark green of the large trees that blanketed the slopes of the mountains. "It's rumored that it's streets are paved with gold," he continued in a low voice, only speaking into her ear that was adorned with earrings of all sorts.

Freya's chocolate brown eyes sparkled, as if she was a child who just walked in to an overflowed candy store and found out that everything didn't cost a single pebble of copper. "Really? What else is in Haven?" she questioned in a sweet and childish voice, eager to know more about this fantasy island.

Uncle Donal stroked his stubbly chin in thought as he sifted through all of the rumors that filled his head with false knowledge. "Well," he started, "It's also rumored that everyone who lives there has gold teeth, and some are even crazy enough to melt them down and paint their body with gold."

Freya stared up at him, wide eyed and enchanted, and mumbled, "Gold teeth," quietly to herself. She gazed towards the looming island, longing to set foot on its shores and explore the land of gold. Her thoughts were interrupted when a door slammed open from the captain's quarters.

Captain Angelo strode out on deck with his clunky leather boots and his midnight black cloak flowing behind him in the wind. He peered around at his crew with his ebony colored eyes that contrasted with his milky skin, and the corners of his kissable pink lips turned up in a grin.

"My family!" he boomed, holding his arms open towards the crew on deck. Freya turned around fully and flushed at her captain's husky and deep voice while she looked him up and down with desirable eyes.

Remember Freya, he's way to old for you, she thought to herself as she shook her head side to side, getting the unspeakable thoughts out of her "innocent" mind.

Captain Angelo examined his crew with pride filled eyes and parted his lips to say, "It seems as if our long journey from Belial to Haven is finally coming to a close, and looks like it will be a great pay off."

The crew cheered at this fact, excitement and joy felt throughout the atmosphere. They all grew quiet when their captain held up a single hand to silence them, though, and everyone fidgeted when they saw the look on his face. They knew that what came next wouldn't be good.

"Yes, it's all incredibly relieving, but as I said, it's coming to a close. We still need to make it on the island without being seen or caught. If we happen to end up in that situation, then it shall blow the whole crew's cover and we'll have to abandon the treasure that we've worked so hard for; the treasure that is rightfully ours," he explained, causing the crew members to gulp down their nervousness.

Captain Angelo took a moment to look over his crew once again before saying, "You see, the reason why no other pirate crew has tried to take treasure from Haven is because it's defense system is incredibly hard to get through. All around the island's beaches, there are a large handful of posts set up which are always occupied with three or more guards. The mountains are also a tough ordeal for they are steep and are a rigorous climb.” He paused before continuing on to explain more of the situation at hand.

“Not only is it a tough task on the outskirts of the island, but it is even tougher on the inside. The forests that you see covering all openings of the mountain are filled with beasts of all sizes and shapes. They kill mercilessly and are worse than the beasts that haunt your own nightmares. They are the demons of Haven.

“Inside the towering trees, it reeks of death as well. The smell and the height of the trees can drive a man insane and cause him to fall to his knees in agony. It is like a bear trap for humans, so I give you all my hope that you will come out of it alive,” the Captain warned with narrowed eyes, causing a slight fear to pulsate through the crew.

One crew member named Christian questioned aloud, “Well then how are we supposed to get on the island in the first place? It sounds pretty much impossible to me.” The comment caused the pirates to mumble in approval, none of them having the insight that Captain Angelo had.

The sea, Freya thought before her Captain spoke the same exact words on her mind.

“In order not to be seen, we are going to set up anchor out here in the sea and then swim the rest of the way. The waves will hide your heads when you need a breath of air, and when we get to the shore, we will be able to sprint to the forest's edge behind the guards' back one by one. You only need to follow my lead and then you will know what to do when we get to that part,” he informed, earning sighs in relief.

“When do we leave Captain?” one man asked from within the crowd.

At that moment, Captain Angelo dropped his cloak and kicked off his boots, leaving him with nothing on but his fitting pants and bare feet. “We leave right now lads!”

The pirates cheered and rushed out of their clothes to jump into the comforting sapphire water. Freya followed in everyone's footsteps and stripped out of her tunic and torn shorts, leaving only her undergarments on.

“Haven, here I come!” she shouted as she dove into the water, not making even a tiny bit of a splash. Her world was suddenly surrounded in blue, and all around her, sea life sprinted away in fear of the large land creatures that were jumping into their home. She only spared a few more seconds staring at the vibrant hues on the fishes' back before she swam after her large and burly crew.

Freya's strokes were quick and clean, and soon, she could touch the bottom of the sea floor with her tiny toes. Although there were serpents that circled around her and the group of people in front of her, they made no move to attack, only seeming to observe what the humans were doing in such a rush.

It looks like everyone is starting to go into the forest, she observed while she watched the line in front of her shorten quickly. Freya looked behind her to see if there were others, and pouted when she saw that she was the caboose of the crew line. Why do I have to be so slow at these things, she complained as she poked her head out of the water to view if the guards were near by. One was pacing down the beach slowly with a sword on the hip and stone cold features decorating his face. She turned her head to the right, and viewed the same thing, finally realizing that her crew was at extreme risk of being discovered.

Her observations had caused her to fallen behind when she ducked her head back down under water and noticed that the space in front of her was empty of big, hairy-backed men. Shoot, she cursed as she swam forward and poked her head out again. Noticing that now was her time to go, she quickly sprinted forward quietly, barely even making footprints in the black sand.

It was a matter of seconds until Freya was finally in the shadows of the trees. She leaned against a trunk, catching her breath and dripping wet, and peered through the leaves at the guards. She inwardly chuckled as she thought triumphantly, they didn't notice a thing!

With a large grin painted on her face and with her breathing back to normal again, she swiftly turned around to view her crew, but her grin disappeared when she saw that she was all alone. They probably went on ahead that so they wouldn't get caught, she mused as she picked her way through the branches and leaves that had fallen on the ground to go deeper into the forest.

She felt panic in the small pit of her stomach, though, for she knew that she wouldn't be able to navigate through the forest alone. Hopefully they show up soon, she hoped while she scanned the oncoming darkness for any movement.

“You guys?” she called when she was far enough into the forest for the guards not to hear her. “Where did you go?”

The panic grew slowly, and after an hour, or what she thought of an hour, she was close to resorting to screaming out their names. Freya had no clue of how deep she had ventured into the forest, but from the increasing noises of creatures and the stench that was filling her nose, she knew that she was getting closer towards the danger that Captain Angelo had warned them about.

“Uncle Donal,” she whined, “Where did you go?”

“I'm here,” a familiar voice stated, causing her to jump up in surprise and fright.

“Oh thank god,” she cried as she rushed up to her friend who was standing off to the side. She hugged him around the waist and buried her face in his large stomach, holding in a sob. “I thought I lost you guys and I would never find my way out again, but then you showed up and now you can help me get back to the ship safely and...” she stopped. For some reason, Uncle Donal wasn't hugging her back like he always had. He only stood stiff with his arms glued to his side, as if he were a marble statue and always had been a statue. She took a small step back to gaze at his face and furrowed her eyebrows in confusion when she saw that he wasn't wearing his goofy grin like usual, and that his eyes no longer held the shine in them that he was famous for.

“What's... wrong?” she hesitantly asked, a rare frown forming on her lips. She watched him move as he dragged something out from behind him and placed it between him and her.

“Is that...?” Freya asked with disbelief as she set her gaze on the slightly damaged trunk in front of her. The binds that decorated the outside shone golden, even if there was no sunlight to reflect off of it, and the lock that kept the chest closed was absent. “You guys got to the treasure,” she stated as she looked back up at Uncle Donal in surprise.

“I'm sorry we didn't wait for you,” he apologized in a monotonous tone. This worried Freya for her uncle's voice was always bright and cheerful. It was yet an other problem with the statuesque man that stood in front of her.

“I don't mind it. Just make sure to save some of the digging for me next time,” she commented, trying to ignore her very much changed uncle.

At her statement, he looked away with sadness in his eyes, causing Freya's forehead to crinkle in wonder. “I'm really sorry Freya. Really and truly sorry,” he sobbed, his facade cracking before her eyes.

“Uncle Donal, it's no big...” her words were cut off when she saw her uncle's arm lift up, a club in the hand that was attached. He brought it above his head and swung it down, perfectly hitting Freya on her right temple. Black spots clouded her vision and she collapsed to the forest floor in shock, her surprised eyes wide open.

“I'm so sorry,” he breathed one last time before dropping the club beside her and stalking away, never to be seen again.

A tear ran down her face while she tried to catch the last glimpses of his back before the spots filled up and Darkness took her away from the Forest of Death to the land of Nightmares.

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