Pieces of Nine: Part IV – A Serialized Story

Pieces of Nine

Part IV

The Captain’s Logbook:

My name is Arthur Barrington. I was captain of the Leslie Marie, a merchant ship out of Portsmouth. On my many travels around the world in the business of shipping, I often entered many strange and ancient ports. One in particular was on the Island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea, where I discovered something that was to change my life forever.

In the year 1853, the Leslie Marie was piloted into the harbor of Nicolaos, on the northern part of that island. We were there to deliver a hold full of olive oil from Genoa. While in the city, I overheard a snatch of conversation between two Cretins in a pub about the “Pieces of Nine”. I was intrigued immediately. I knew what pieces of eight were, Spanish silver coins, but had never heard of pieces of nine.

I intruded on their conversation and bought a round of drinks to soothe their objections to my interruption. More drink flowed. More conversation ensued. Finally, I was invited to meet with them later that evening to be introduced to one who could tell me more about these pieces of nine. I promised to meet with them at the agreed upon time and place and left them to return to the Leslie Marie for a few hours of rest before the evening arrived.

When the time approached for the meeting, I left the Leslie Marie and walked through the cobbled streets to a small residence about a mile inland from the port. I knocked on the door and waited. An old crone opened the door and bade me enter. Inside were my two friends from the pub. Their names were Miklo and Stephan. We sat and chatted for few moments. In a short while, there was another knock on the door. The old crone again opened the door and bade an old man to enter.

The old man was introduced to me as Miklo’s father. His name was Manos Kalergos. He was the Grand Lector of the Pieces of Nine, the keeper of the sacred texts. I was confused now. I inquired as to what this meant. Manos said that the Pieces of Nine were an ancient fraternity that could trace its roots back to the Phoenicians of 2500 years ago. The Phoenicians were an ancient sea-faring race.

I became very interested in everything that Manos was telling me about the Pieces of Nine. I was in port for about three weeks. During that time, I visited with Manos and the others daily. I became obsessed with the things that they were telling me about this ancient brotherhood. I could not learn fast enough. I cannot explain my obsession, but obsession it was, nevertheless. Finally though, I had to depart from my new friends. I left with promises to return. On my day of departure, Manos showed up at the docks and gave me a manuscript that he claimed would explain much about the Pieces of Nine. He was more correct than he knew.

For five years I studied that manuscript in detail. I researched and investigated related information in libraries all throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. I learned much. The most important thing I learned was that Manos and his Pieces of Nine brethren were imbeciles. They were idiots. Their entire fraternity was based on a manuscript that was incorrectly translated from the ancient Greek, which itself was mistranslated from an earlier language.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Phoenicians had a unique goddess, one with no equivalent in other cultures. She was the goddess of time. The Phoenicians prayed to her and she supposedly taught them how to use time and the stars to navigate their ships to faraway places. Her name was Nirne. Again according to Herodotus, she also had a very unique power. She could control time.

Herodotus goes on to explain that Nirne showed the Phoenicians not only how to navigate the seas, but also how to navigate time, which she compared to the sea. She taught that time had waves, tides, and storms, just as the sea does. Occasionally, time will wash things up on faraway shores. This detritus of time was called “feces of Nirne” by the ancient Phoenicians. It was how they explained strange races or cultures of men they met in their travels. They cursed them, calling them “feces of Nirne”.

These idiot Cretins had mistranslated a Greek text from 2000 years before changing “feces of Nirne” into “pieces of nine”. The words are very similar in ancient Greek and modern Cretan. I laugh aloud when I think of this. They had no idea the power they were in command of. They knew not in the least the proper use of their talisman. Oh yes, the fraternity had a talisman. The kept it in a lead lined wooden box. I was not allowed to see it on that first visit to the island.

In these pages, I will admit my madness completely. In 1857, I bought a piece of property in the town of Avery’s Point and paid the architect Burnham to build this house and this underground complex. I paid him well to keep the secret. I also paid well to have him killed a year after completing this project. He fell from a scaffold while working on one of his building projects in Boston. Yes. My madness was great.

Upon my return to the Island of Crete in 1864, I discovered that the old man Manos had died a few years before. His son Miklo was now the Grand Lector. I killed Miklo and made off with the talisman. I stowed it in my stateroom aboard the Leslie Marie and sailed for home. Once I arrived home, I promptly sold the Leslie Marie to a Portsmouth shipping interest and retired to my home in Avery’s Point. I brought the talisman with me. I placed it beyond that iron door that you now see in front of you.

I spent the next ten years studying the texts of the brotherhood. I learned how to manipulate the talisman. I learned many, many things. The entire extent of what I learned you will find etched into the solid granite in the tunnel you came through to get to this room. The language that it is written in is the lost language of the ancient race of Phoenicia. Now you truly see my madness.

I will tell you this, though… the talisman was a gift from the goddess Nirne to the Phoenicians. It gave them the power over time. It allowed them to sail that sea, also. The Phoenicians mysteriously disappeared sometime back around 500BC. The traditional histories state that Phoenicia was conquered by Persia and absorbed into that culture. However, the historian Herodotus mentions the mysterious disappearance of a large portion of the conquered Phoenician people. History brushes this event aside.

So what happened to the Phoenicians? They set sail on the sea of time. Just as myself and my family did centuries later with the help of the talisman. I had taken many such trips before that last one. This is how I learned the ancient Phoenician language. I sailed the sea of time to that point in history when the Phoenicians were at their peak. They taught me their language themselves. They welcomed me as a brother, a fellow sailor of the sea of time. Where am I now? I wouldn’t know.

A final warning: those who lack the knowledge should beware the power of the talisman. To navigate the sea of time is perilous in itself. To be cast upon it with no knowledge of how to navigate it is death.

So ended the Captain’s Logbook entry.

©2008 V. T. Eric Layton (excluding images)

Pieces of eight image courtesy of shipwreck-heritage.org.uk

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Stay tuned, dear readers… next Tuesday – Part V.

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