Greetings, readers. This story is set in the universe of the Uncharted video game series. Though it does not feature the characters of those games, it does tell of the events leading up to the first game, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. However, a familiarity with the video game is not at all needed to fully enjoy and appreciate this story, though fans of the game will find some Easter Eggs hidden within the text. I had a lot of fun writing this story, and I hope you enjoy it. As always, feedback and comments are welcome and appreciated, positive, negative, or otherwise. Thanks for reading!
“Keep on ‘em, men! Do not let those Spanish dogs escape!”
Standing at the helm of his beloved ship, Sir Francis Drake sailed with the skills and determination befitting the most seasoned veteran of the British Navy. The Spanish galleon he now trailed was fast, faster than most, but was still no match for the legendary Golden Hind. As the winds remained in his favor, Drake was easily able to keep his ship directly on course, constantly gaining ground on the Spaniards. All the while, his men fired their cannons, peppering the water around the opposing ship with gunfire.
“Mr. Hawkins, report!” Drake called out, seeing their target slow.
“Direct hit, Captain!” John Hawkins replied. “Their rudder has been disabled. It shall not be long now!”
“Well done, First Mate!” Drake said with a smile. “I’ll bring us alongside; prepare the boarding party!”
Now closing the distance between the two ships, Drake could now make out the name of the ship they pursued: Esperanza. He barked out orders to his crew, ensuring the broadside gunners were ready for the chaos that would certainly ensue in mere moments. Still, he was not worried; these were strong, intelligent men, and this was far from their first plunder. It was the primary means of employment for a privateer crew, after all. Now approaching the Esperanza, Drake prepared for the impact of their retaliation.
“FIRE!!!” he shouted to his men.
Almost simultaneously, the two ships fired upon each other, inflicting heavy damage with their broadside shots. Still, it became immediately clear that the Golden Hind possessed the superior firepower. As the Spaniards struggled to defend against the assault of gunfire, Drake’s elite men assembled on deck, grappling hooks at the ready. In near unison, the twelve sailors latched their hooks onto the opposing ship and swung over, taking the Spanish crew completely by surprise. While ten of the men began tearing into the sailors spread across the deck, two of Drake’s men made immediately for the Esperanza’s mast, beginning to slice into it with a two-person saw. After a minute or two, the structure began to creak and splinter, finally toppling down and landing partly on the Golden Hind, creating a bridge for Drake and the rest of his crew. The English poured onto the ship, restraining the downed Spaniards in record time. Finally, Sir Francis Drake himself boarded, approaching their prisoners.
“Greetings! I am Sir Francis Drake, loyal servant of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. Who among you is captain?”
“I. Captain Alejandro Montoya,” said a man of about thirty.
The man and his crew seemed petrified with terror, as Drake’s reputation was feared throughout the oceans of the world. After fifty-four years, he was easily the most successful privateer Queen Elizabeth had ever employed, which came as no surprise, considering the trouble he gave her navy in his days as a pirate. Still, Drake was not without a soul, and always prided himself on granting mercy to his beaten opponents.
“Greetings, Captain Montoya. I thank you for graciously allowing me permission to come aboard,” Drake said jovially, his crew laughing all the while.
“Cease your taunting, English scum,” Montoya seethed. “You are here to kill us, so be done with it. We go into the hands of God.” Montoya and most of his crew bowed their heads and traced the cross with their hands.
“Very well. Gentlemen, give ‘em the usual treatment!” Drake said to his crew. Before they could react, Alejandro Montoya and his men found themselves bound and their faces blinded by burlap sacks.
“Welcome to the Golden Hind, and my grand feast!” Drake said, removing the sack from Captain Montoya’s face.
“I ... do not understand?” the man stammered. He suddenly found himself cut free of his bonds and seated at a grand dining table with his top officers, a spread of succulent food adorning the table.
“Oh, my dear Captain Montoya, I may be a privateer bent on looting you of your treasure store, but we English remain civilized gentlemen, even to the Spanish,” Drake replied, taking a seat at the head of the table. “After all, I have no desire to murder my fellow Christians in cold blood, even if you are Catholic.” This elicited a murmur of laughter from Drake’s men guarding the room.
Smiling, Montoya replied, “That is exceedingly generous of you, El Draque.” Raising a glass, Montoya indicated to his men to do the same, which they reluctantly did. “I suppose I should thank you for granting my officers the courtesy of life, though I must also confirm the safety of the rest of my crew.”
“They are perfectly safe,” Drake answered. “They got a bit rowdy, so we had to lock them in the brig, but they are all unharmed ... well, at least the ones who survived our boarding, you understand.”
“Of course, of course. Occupational hazard.” Taking a sip of the delectable wine in front of him, Montoya realized now that Drake was indeed a man of exquisite taste. “Sir Francis Drake, what will you do now?” he asked. “We were followed not even a day prior by another of my countrymen’s ships. You know they will find us, sooner or later.”
“And that is our full intent, Captain Montoya,” Drake replied. “Once our feast has concluded, you and your crew shall be escorted back to the Esperanza. Obviously, you will be unable to travel anywhere, what with that unfortunate accident involving your mast, but your countrymen should easily find you before long. We shall leave you a week’s worth of food and supplies, just to be certain. Now, as for your treasure, it shall be returning to England with me, for it is being loaded onto my ship as we speak.”
“Once a pirate, always a pirate,” Montoya mused.
“Privateer, if you please,” Drake corrected him. “I am, of course, fully sanctioned by Her Majesty.” Standing from his chair, Drake slowly walked the length of the table towards his honored guest, seated at the foot. “Still, in all my years of sailing, I have long learned that, if a treasure is truly of the utmost importance ... it is to be kept on one’s person, not in some treasure vault. This, for instance.”
As Drake withdrew a piece of paper from his coat pocket, Montoya suddenly stood in anger. “Where did you get that?!”
“From your coat pocket, of course. Fascinating document, I must say.”
“Give it back! That is for King Phillip’s eyes only!” Montoya’s officers rose to back him, but were quickly silenced by the sound of Drake’s guards drawing their swords.
“Not anymore,” Drake replied calmly with a grin. Placing the paper on the table and taking a seat next to Montoya, Drake began to inspect it, showing it to be a map of a portion of Brazil. “I do not pretend to be an expert in translating your Spanish language, but I have picked up just enough over the years. Of course, some words translate across all manner of tongues ... such as this.” Pointing at a spot on the map, it was accompanied by only two words.
“You know not of which you speak,” Montoya sneered defiantly. “I believe you are too confident in your translation capabilities.”
“Really? Because, if I am not mistaken, this appears to be a map of the wilds of Brazil, leading to perhaps the greatest treasure the world has ever known: the mythical City of Gold.”
“Filthy English pig!” Montoya spat. “You are unworthy of El Dorado! We shall find it, for we are destined to rule this world! God Himself has decreed it!”
“Ah ... so you are saying that you have not yet found it?” Drake asked knowingly.
Montoya’s eyes went wide, his mouth wordlessly moving. He knew he had given away their secret mission, not just to an Englishman, but also to the best sailor in the entire world.
“You needn’t say anything more, my good boy,” Drake assured him. “It is now time for you and your crew to depart back to your ship. My first mate, John Hawkins, shall escort you.”
Sitting alone in his cabin, Francis excitedly worked in his journal, a small, leather-bound book. Though unassuming, he had carried it throughout all of his journeys and noted all of his most incredible discoveries within it. In truth, that book likely contained information on all of the most valuable secrets the world over, and it now included a map to the legendary El Dorado, sketched by Sir Francis Drake himself. As he continued to study the map, a knock came at his door.
As the door opened, a man near Drake’s age entered, similar in appearance, though more balding. “Good evening, Sir Francis.”
“Good evening, John. Are we away?”
“Indeed we are, the Spaniards are safely back on their ship ... or what’s left of it, anyway. Damn, we did a number on it!”
“Splendid! Now then, I think we should focus on this incredible discovery we have unearthed from Captain Montoya, don’t you?” Drake replied.
“Sir ... as much as I would love to, we have been given strict orders from Her Majesty. We are to return to England within a week’s time from now. I have already instructed the helmsman as such,” John replied tentatively.
“Are you daft, man?! We are on the verge of the discovery of a lifetime!” Drake replied, showing him the map. “It is all laid out for us!”
“Be that as it may, Francis, we are short on supplies, and a mission of this sort would certainly require Her Majesty’s permission. I wish to find El Dorado just as much as you do, but we must first return to England.”
“Meanwhile, those damned Spaniards remain one step ahead of us ... but you are correct. We will need Queen Elizabeth’s funding for an expedition of this magnitude. Very well, keep our heading the same.”
“Aye, sir. Goodnight, Francis,” John said, closing the door behind him as he left.
Alone once more, Francis sat alone with his thoughts, reminiscing to himself of his friend and cousin John Hawkins, likely the only man on Earth who could get away with speaking to Sir Francis Drake in such a manner without reproach. They had been friends for almost their entire lives, both growing up in Devon, England, and had started their first pirate crew together, Drake as Captain and Hawkins as First Mate. Since then, they had been inseparable. As he thought, Francis twirled his favorite silver ring between his fingers, as he frequently did. Though simple in appearance, it was one of his most treasured possessions, a gift from Her Majesty when he had returned from his circumnavigation of the globe in 1581, over fourteen years ago. On that great day, he had been knighted, and Queen Elizabeth had presented him with the ring, inscribed with his life’s motto: Sic Parvis Magna.
“Greatness from small beginnings,” Francis said with a grin. “Perhaps ... that greatness is finally within my grasp.”
“Certainly not, it is out of the question, Sir Francis!”
“Your Highness, do you realize what this is? What we are so close to uncovering?”
“Realize what?” Queen Elizabeth replied. “What true proof do you have other than a tiny map? For all we know, the Spaniards are playing us for fools, tempting us with the legend of El Dorado, hoping we shall spend our time and resources chasing that which does not exist.”
“El Dorado does exist,” Francis insisted. “I saw it in Captain Montoya’s eyes.”
“Which brings me to my second reason for denying your request. The Spanish fleet is in disarray, thanks in no small part to your efforts, Sir Francis. The Crown is eternally grateful to you for this. As such, King Philip is exceedingly close to acquiescing to our demands of territory and trade, in the hopes of forming a peace treaty. Such a peace would truly be the crowning achievement of my reign, forcing the Spanish to admit our superiority. I’ll not squander that legacy on the phantoms you would have me chase. This matter is closed, Sir Francis Drake.”
“I ... understand, Your Majesty.”
“I am glad,” Queen Elizabeth said, her tone softening. “I know we have had our differences through the years, and even still today. However, know that there is not a sailor in the world I trust more than you. I do have a mission for you, one of vital importance. You must sail to the New World, and assail the Spanish fortress of San Juan de Puerto Rico. It is one of their few remaining strongholds with ease of access to our burgeoning colonies, and driving them from that island would certainly back King Philip into a corner, forcing him to heed our demands. Attack them there, and push their ships southward. When you reach the coast of Panama, you will surely find a damaged ship that my spies have gotten word of. Plunder it if you can, but most importantly of all, send those Spaniards scurrying back to their holes like rats. Sir Francis Drake, the people of England are depending on you.”
“Yes, Your Highness. I shall not fail.”
One week later, Drake had arrived at his home in Plymouth, England. As his primary port to the Atlantic, it was the natural place for him to lay his head during the times he was not at sea. Those days would be spent rather quietly, reading books and spending time with his wife, Elizabeth. She was an exceedingly kind woman, and very quiet, though this conservative exterior belied the sharp intellect contained within. She was highly adept at debating all manner of philosophical topics with Francis, and though she was not as verbose as he typically was, she was no less successful in her assertions.
“You are leaving again soon, are you not?” she asked quietly, picking at the chicken on her plate.
With a small sigh, Francis replied, “Indeed.”
“Where are you off to this time?”
“The New World, once more. Her Majesty believes it is time to drive the Spanish from San Juan once and for all.”
Eying her husband longingly, Elizabeth asked, “And what does Sir Francis Drake believe?”
With a laugh, he answered, “Officially? I am her Majesty’s loyal servant.”
“Her Majesty ... has denied my request of the true mission I must embark on.”
“What mission is that, Francis?”
“I cannot say,” he replied. “My entire crew and I have been sworn to silence, on pain of death, and all our records on the matter confiscated. Still, I must say that I am ... disappointed ... by her inflexibility.”
“Dear, are you alright?” Elizabeth asked, staring into Francis’ eyes. “You appear as though you have watched a loved one die.”
“I might as well have. As a reminder not to disagree so forcefully, Her Majesty has ... stripped the Golden Hind from me.”
“Can she do that?!”
“She is my queen, and my benefactor. It is her right. She will, of course, spare me the public shame, and state that my ship is to be moored at a place of honor in Deptford. Still, I have sailed on my beloved Golden Hind for the last time.”
“I am so very sorry, Francis,” Elizabeth said softly.
After momentarily choking back a tear, Francis brightened up. “But enough talk of unpleasantness. I depart tomorrow for the New World, and I should like very much to spend one last pleasant evening in the arms of my true love.”
“I will love that very much too. But please, Francis, you need not lie to me. I know very well that your true love ... shall always be your first love.”
Mary, Francis thought.
Elizabeth stood and walked over to her husband’s chair. Kissing his forehead sweetly, she said, “Forgive me, I did not mean to bring up more painful memories. I simply wish you to always know that I bear you no ill will for loving her so.”
“Thank you, my dear,” Francis replied, kissing her lips tenderly.
Taking her hand, he led her up the stairs to their bedchambers, dimly lit by a pair of candles in the windows. Elizabeth excused herself to her wardrobe, while Francis began to disrobe, tossing off his shirt, pants, and undergarments. As he waited for his wife, no doubt prettying herself up, Francis stood next to his mirror inspecting what he saw. For a man of fifty-four, he was still in excellent shape, thanks in no small part to his active life at sea. His body was quite muscular, primarily in the legs and arms, and his light brown hair had begun to show some streaks of grey around his temples. This, combined with his authoritative-looking beard gave him a look that could only be described as “commanding.”
Francis soon felt the presence of his wife approaching behind him. Elizabeth slid her arms around his waist, massaging his skin with her soft, supple hands. He turned as she did so, facing his wife and wrapping her in his arms. After several long moments, he stepped back to admire her lovely naked form. Though short, Elizabeth was wonderfully shaped, with curvy hips and beautifully firm breasts highlighting her petite frame. Her skin was white as snow, and her lips a natural shade of pink, even with no makeup. Kissing her tenderly, Francis gazed into her soft, brown eyes, framed by her raven hair, and could hardly believe that a woman of such beauty could be thirty-three years of age.
Elizabeth grinned at her husband’s admirations, kissing his hand sweetly as he took her in. Turning her back to him, she threw a sweet smile over her shoulder as she walked towards their bed, her glorious posterior jiggling with every step she took. Francis followed her, cupping her ass cheek playfully as she hopped onto the bed. As she rolled onto her back, Francis was right behind her, gently placing his weight on top of her, his hardening member pressing against her thigh.
“Why, Sir Francis, are you becoming aroused by me?” she asked in mock surprise.
“It is a symptom of life on the seas, my dear lady,” he played along. “I do not see beautiful women all that often, so opportunity must be taken when presented.”
“Oh, my! You think I am beautiful?”
Kissing her longingly, Francis finally replied, “No.” Seeing her confusion, he continued, “I know you to be ... divine.”
Elizabeth felt the familiar swooning her husband managed to send through her heart once more. “Ah ... my mother always warned me to be wary of silver-tongued sailors. But then, she also wanted me to become a nun, so what does that old girl know, God rest her soul.”
“I shall show you a silver tongue,” Francis said with a chuckle.
He immediately began to attack her neck, coating Elizabeth’s soft skin with his kisses. Beginning high, around her jawline, he slowly worked his way down to her shoulders, her upper chest, and finally to her breasts. She began to squirm as Francis began to tweak her hard nipples with his tongue, resulting in him gently pinning her arms to the bed by the wrists. This, in turn, only heightened her sensations and moans of pleasure. As Francis could begin to smell the delightful aroma of her womanhood becoming ready for him, he finally released her and aligned his face with hers once more.
“Ohhhhhh yesssss...” Francis hissed as he slipped his length into her beckoning tunnel.
Elizabeth gasped in genuine surprise; with her husband often away at sea, she sometimes forgot just how much she loved feeling him inside of her. Spreading her legs a bit more, she gave him the room he needed to fully engulf his appendage within her. As he began to slowly thrust, her juices squished and seeped out of her entrance, filling the room with their scent.
“I love you ... Francis,” Elizabeth panted.
“And I you, Elizabeth.”
They made love for what seemed like years, each not wanting the night to end. As Francis grew weary, Elizabeth took her turn to straddle him, playfully running her fingers along his strong chest all the while. She began her pace slowly, just as he had with her, but soon found that she was unable to hold back her passions, and allowed them to break free. Elizabeth rode him like a woman possessed, for she knew not when they would be together again.
As her unbridled passions increased, Elizabeth removed herself from on top of Francis and began begging her husband to take her from behind. Francis had occasionally seen this side of his wife, but it never got old. She was a true lady for all the world to see, yet a complete temptress for his eyes only. Standing beside their bed, he bent her over and thrust his length back inside her slick tunnel. As he continued to love her, Francis had a perfect view of her magnificent backside, watching it jiggle every which way as his thrusting became more frenzied. Wrapping his hands around her slim waist, Francis began to pound her for everything he was worth, feeling his climax fast approaching. He plunged deep into her womanhood, his throbbing member near bursting, and finally thrust his last as he expelled his seed into her womb, their cries of pleasure echoing throughout the room.
Collapsing together on the bed, the couple lazily cuddled together throughout the night, dozing in and out of consciousness. Francis savored the warmth of Elizabeth’s supple skin, and she the strength of his powerful body. As the sun finally began to rise in the distance, she laid her head on his chest, sighing contentedly.
“You will have to leave soon,” she said softly.
“Yes,” he said with slight resignation.
“When ... will I see you again?”
Francis kissed his wife’s forehead, replying, “Elizabeth ... I do not believe we will see each other again. Though perhaps, you can expect some correspondence from our mutual friend, Mr. Francis James.”
“So ... you will do what you must, then?”
“Indeed. John is in agreement.”
“Then see it through, until it be thoroughly completed, my love. That yields the true glory, after all.”
Laughing, Francis replied, “You have been reading my writings again!”
“But of course! They are my greatest comfort while you are away.”
Rolling out of bed, Francis began to dress for the day, retrieving his sailor’s uniform from his wardrobe. The rest of his clothes were already onboard his new ship in the harbor.
“Francis, if we do not see each other again until we are beyond the gates of Heaven, I do wish you to know that I have but one regret. I ... am so sorry that I was unable to give you any heirs,” Elizabeth said from the bed.
Pausing, Francis gave her a warm smile. “Do not fret over it, my dear. After all, poor Mary was barren as well, God rest her soul. Perhaps it simply is not God’s will for my line to continue.” Sitting beside her, he continued, “Still, this does bring about an excellent point I wish to make. I wish for you to have no regrets from this day forward. If we are never reunited, my only desire for you is to find love once more, as I have with you. Promise me, Elizabeth.”
Smiling into her husband’s eyes, she replied, “I promise, Francis.”
The wind at his back, the spray of ocean water in his face; it was a true blessing for Sir Francis Drake to be back at sea. His new ship, the Pelican, was quite impressive, being named for the Golden Hind’s original name. It was nothing compared to its predecessor in his mind, but truthfully, Drake loved the sea itself far more than any individual ship.
“How does she feel, Captain?”
“Quite right, John, quite right,” Drake replied. “Even with our beloved Golden Hind moored, it is wonderful to be on the ocean once more.”
“Could not agree with ye more, Sir Francis,” John said, joining him at the bow of their galleon. Lowering his voice, he asked, “Are you certain of the plan? You believe it will work?”
“Without a doubt,” Francis replied with a grin. “I have arranged for false news reports to circulate through Europe of a supposed bout of Dysentery that I am battling. This, combined with the fierce resistance we will endure at San Juan will make reports of my demise exceedingly believable. Finally, look here.”
Francis showed John his favorite ring. Taking it in his hand, John now noticed that there were additional engravings next to Drake’s motto. “What are these numbers?” he asked.
“Nautical coordinates, off the coast of Panama,” Francis said. “Once my demise has been completed, those coordinates will be our hiding spot for anything we discover of value in our race against the Spaniards. Also, do you notice the remaining part of plain silver in the band?”
“Once we complete the deception, we shall engrave that section with the date after my supposed death, the beginning of my life anew.”
Shaking his head, John marveled at his friend’s cunning. “You are certainly a crafty old devil.”
“Am I? Then what does that make you?” Francis shot back in laughter.
“The devil’s spawn, most likely,” John conceded.
“You may well be right about that, my old friend.” Lowering his voice, Francis asked, “Now as to our other matter of business ... did you manage to procure it?”
Sighing, John replied, “It was quite a feat, and I had to go through much of my fortune to facilitate the necessary bribes, but ... here it is.” From within his jacket, he withdrew a small, leather journal, lifted from the secure archives of Queen Elizabeth herself.
“Excellent. Thank you very much, John,” Francis replied, taking his journal in hand. “Once we disappear from Her Majesty’s wandering eye, the treasure we find shall compensate you ten-fold, that I promise you.”
As they sailed on, Francis turned about in every direction, inspecting the fleet he now commanded. Twenty-seven ships strong, it would surely be more than enough to lay siege to any Spanish fortress. Of course, Sir Francis Drake had other plans...
“We’re hit! Damage report!” John bellowed.
“A direct broadside, sir,” a crewman responded. “Deck two, starboard side. I believe that ... the captain was on that level.”
“Oh, Christ! I’ll go and fetch him, just stay on the guns!” John ordered as he bounded down the stairs.
Though Drake’s fleet was an impressive show of English might, the Spanish had fought against the grizzled privateer for decades now, and were able to better anticipate his tactics. Thus, the siege at San Juan did not progress well for the English; most captains of the other ships believed that retreat was eminent.
“Captain?! Captain, are you here?!” John called out, reaching the lower deck.
“I am fine, John,” Drake replied, picking himself up from the floor. “Our fair Pelican, however, is not so fine.”
The pair immediately inspected the enormous hole now blown in the ship’s hull. Thankfully, the hit had been high enough that the ship did not risk taking on water, provided it evaded further damage.
“What are your orders, sir?”
Sighing, Francis replied, “Signal retreat.”
“Right.” Shouting up the stairs to the crew, John said, “Send word to the helmsman: we retreat at once!”
“John, I believe this broadside provides us the prime opportunity to put our plan into action, do you agree?” Francis mused.
“Francis, you are a bloody genius! Ok, are you ready?”
“I am. Do you have what we require?”
“Kept it on my person, ready at a moment’s notice,” John replied. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a pouch full of animal blood of some sort. Moving Francis to sit on the floor, John began to apply the blood to his limbs, giving him the appearance of sustaining a grave injury from the broadside. “Alright, that should do it. Now, let us get you to your cabin.”
Wrapping his arm around his shoulder, John drug Francis up the stairs and to the main deck. The crew were immediately worried for the captain, but they were waved off and instructed to continue with their duties. Along the way, Francis gave a few moans and groans of pain, further convincing the crew of his injuries. Finally arriving, John locked the door behind them and sat Francis in his desk chair.
“Well, well, you are one convincing actor, my friend!”
Chuckling, Francis replied, “It is necessary. As we retreat and pursue the small group of ships that escaped towards Panama, news will spread that the Pelican is heavily damaged and the legendary Sir Francis Drake may well be near death, battling his injuries and his worsening bout of Dysentery.”
“Very good, sir. Rest up. I shall keep the crew engaged and set our bearings.”
Returning to the deck, John informed the crew of the captain’s temporary incapacitation, and instructed the helmsman to bear south, chasing after the fleeing Spanish ships. The remaining ten ships of the fleet followed suit, though they were heavily damaged and had difficulty keeping up. For nearly four weeks they pursued the Spaniards, though never managing to catch up completely. Finally, as they neared Panama, a dense fog blanketed the seas as the fleet sailed into the night. Most of the ships slowed and clustered together in waiting for conditions to change, but the Pelican pressed on, as John Hawkins knew that this was the opportunity they had been waiting for.
“All hands on deck!” Hawkins ordered. Addressing the assembled crew, he spoke with authority. “As you well know, our captain’s condition has worsened in the days since the Battle of San Juan. I have just visited him in his chambers ... he spoke to me of all of you, admiring your courage and resolve. With his final breath, he wished me to convey to you that sailing the seas with this fine group of men has been the greatest adventure he could have ever hoped for.”
The crew immediately dropped to their knees, bowing their heads and reciting prayers for Sir Francis Drake and his immortal soul.
“Tomorrow morning we reach Panama,” Hawkins continued. “There, we shall drop anchor and pay tribute to our fallen captain. He shall be buried beneath the waves, and become one with the seas he so loved.”
The next day, the Pelican dropped anchor off the coast of Panama, just as John Hawkins instructed. The shrouded body was brought out, weighted down with large stones, and tossed into the seas. All the crew mourned their fallen captain, and prayed that his courage would remain with them.
“Weigh anchor. Set our course southward,” Hawkins instructed.
“Sir? What of the fleet?” the helmsman asked.
“Weigh anchor. Set our course southward. Full sail.”
“Aye ... aye, sir.”
Confused as to the instructions, the helmsman did as he was told and directed the ship southward, intentionally avoiding the multitude of Spanish ships along the way, as per John Hawkins’ instructions. As they found themselves alone at sea once more, most of the crew began to wonder amongst themselves the reason for their change in course.
“Why indeed?” a voice asked jovially.
Looking up, the crew thought they were in the presence of a spirit, as it appeared that Sir Francis Drake now stood before them on the deck.
“Do not be alarmed, gentlemen, for I am no specter,” Drake assured them. “I am very sorry to have deceived you, but it was necessary for the world to think me dead. We are no longer privateers, gentlemen, for we now sail on a mission unsanctioned by Her Majesty. We make way for the wilds of Brazil, whereupon we shall follow a map I acquired from the Spaniards. This map will lead us ... to El Dorado.”
The crew gasped in amazement at the mention of the mythical City of Gold.
“You now understand, gentlemen, why my deception was necessary. Such a treasure would truly tip the balance in the world, either for England or for Spain. We must endeavor that England finds the treasure first, lest your children and grandchildren fall under the thumb of King Philip. From this moment forward, the entire crew of the Pelican is to be considered dead, lost at sea. This will give us the element of surprise we need in order to best the Spaniards. Are you ready, men? We sail for Brazil!”
For hours, Drake, Hawkins, and a team of five crewmen hacked their way through the dense jungles of Brazil. They had found nothing so far, despite everything the map said, and some of the men were beginning to grumble. However, Drake refused to give up. Clad in his best battle armor, he was prepared for anything that could be thrown at them, be it by the Spanish or the jungle itself. Just as the men were beginning to strongly protest and beg to head back to the ship to resupply, the group finally reached a clearing containing a cluster of ancient stone pillars and the entrance to a temple of some sort.
“Ye of little faith,” Drake said jovially to his men, who immediately apologized for doubting him.
“Let us see what secrets are hidden here,” John said with anticipation.
The crew entered the temple doors with swords at the ready, expecting to encounter heavy resistance. Instead, they found nothing but an empty room and some dead Spanish soldiers. Drake immediately began to inspect the bodies.
“John, look at this. These men were not killed by sword; they seem to have been mauled by an animal of some sort.”
“The jungle is a dangerous place,” John mused, his stomach turning from the gruesome sight before them.
“Indeed ... let us keep moving,” Francis agreed.
Continuing to explore the temple, the explorers found it to be incredibly advanced in technology, considering that it had to have been built centuries before. Each room they entered appeared to be a dead-end, yet a mechanism or puzzle of some sort always revealed a secret exit. In one such room, a large brazier had to be lit with a torch, revealing a false wall. In another, four strange symbols adorned the walls, and, when pushed in the correct order, opened a pathway in the floor. In every instance, Francis made detailed notes in his journal. Still, as impressive as the temple was, it was far from the golden city the English had envisioned.
“Francis, I do not know what you expected to find here, but we have yet to see any sign of treasure,” John said as they entered another empty room.
“Ah ha! John, come look at this!” Francis called from the other side of the room. “Look here, this indention in the wall appeared to hold something quite large ... until very recently.”
“Amazing ... oh my, look here, on the ground. This residue, it appears to be ... gold!” John exclaimed.
Inspecting the carvings on the wall, Francis said, “It appears that this temple was built around a statue that stood here ... but why?” Racking his brain, Francis finally remembered one of his Spanish translation studies. “Of course! ‘El Dorado’ is most commonly referred to as the City of Gold, but there are other translations as well. One of which is ‘The Golden Man’. The statue that stood here, it must be El Dorado!”
“Based on this gold dust, I believe you may be right, my friend,” John agreed.
“Sir! We found tracks, and an exit!” one of the crewmen said.
Inspecting the area his crew had found, Francis immediately saw what the Spaniards had done. “It seems they removed the El Dorado statue from this place, drug it out on logs. They must have another ship moored through here. Gentlemen, follow me!”
The team followed the tracks, ending back up in the jungle. Passing by a magnificent waterfall, they soon found themselves traveling downhill, back towards the shoreline. Finally, they reached a beach, still littered with Spanish supplies, along with an entire crew of dead bodies.
“My God ... what the bloody hell happened here?” John wondered.
“A massacre,” Francis replied.
The group inspected the area, looking for any clue as to the whereabouts of El Dorado, yet seemed to find none. The bodies of the Spanish soldiers were, like the ones found in the temple, mauled and torn, apparently by a wild beast.
“I can understand the men in the temple being ripped apart, for they may have accidentally stumbled upon an animal’s lair,” John observed. “This, however, defies explanation. These men were elite Spanish soldiers, and would certainly have been able to defend themselves from wild animals when out in the open like this. Do you think they were attacked by a pack?”
“Doubtful,” Francis replied. “No tracks save for the human footprints left by us and the Spaniards. Perhaps their commander will be able to lend us some aid.”
Approaching the most heavily decorated body, Francis began to inspect his pockets, finally procuring a folded piece of paper from within the breast of his jacket. Opening it, Francis was amazed to see that it was a map of an island, perhaps a secret colony completely unknown to the English.
“John, I know where it is. I know where they have taken El Dorado.”
“Here, to this island,” Francis said excitedly, showing him the map. “There appear to be coordinates at the top of the page. Can you decipher them?”
“Absolutely, once we are back on the Pelican,” John replied.
“Then we’ve not a moment to lose,” Francis said with a smile.
February 15th, 1597
My Dear Elizabeth,