I am so close to my first book release and if you feel like it, you can already read the first chapter of my book here. Please feel free to comment.
The title of the book has also changed from Deadly islands to Butterfly Islands because after writing it all, it made more sense.
Chronicles of the Twenty-one Butterflies and the tittle is now Butterfly Islands. Enjoy!
Every female pirate was once a scared little girl fleeing from something. However, in time,
even small girls can become death in the horizon and make grown men tremble in fear.
“Mercy,’ cried the broad-shouldered man and begged for his life. But it was too late. The
pirate queen wanted her revenge and fed him to the sharks a piece at a time. In doing so, she
wiped away the last bad memory of her former life.
Casey shook her head at the reflection in the large wood-framed mirror. For half an hour, she
had tried to decide if she wanted her hair tied in a knot at the back of her neck or left hanging
down over her shoulders. It was her wedding day, and like every other girl, she had dreamt of
this day her whole life and of how beautiful it would be.
Casey had been in love with Jack, the blacksmith’s son, for more than two years. He was two
years older than she was and at the age of seventeen, he was in many regards, already considered
a man. Their children would be gorgeous, Casey had often thought to herself as she watched Jack
hammering away in his father’s workshop. Jack always worked without a shirt on, revealing his
well-trained upper body, which years of forging had chiseled into shape. Casey knew he most
likely took off his shirt only to impress the girls, and especially her, but she didn’t mind. She
could sit for hours on the stone fence across the street from the blacksmith’s shop and admire
Jack work the bellows or shape a piece of iron into a tool or a horseshoe on the big anvil. Just
watching him gave her a warm sensation in her stomach that spread through her chest and up her
neck until it made her blush. She was sure it was the feeling of true love.
The feelings between the two of them were mutual, and Jack had promised her that they
would marry as soon as he became a skilled blacksmith. With his savings, they would buy a
small workshop on another island. He would be the only blacksmith on the island with plenty of
work to do, and she would give birth to a lot of babies. Just a few months ago, they had kissed
for the first time. They had only briefly touched lips, but it was a kiss of promise, Jack had told
Casey stared into the mirror. She did not look anything like she had imagined in her dreams.
Her long blond hair was a mess, and her usually clear blue eyes were swollen and red from
crying. Her skinny body was trembling, and she breathed rapidly, unable to calm herself.
Today, she was not marrying Jack, as she wanted to. Casey’s father was lost at sea a few
years ago, and he would not be there to walk her down the aisle. Instead, her mother’s new
husband, Mr. Stevens, would give her away. Mr. Stevens had also decided whom Casey would
marry, and it would not be Jack. In a few hours, she would be Mrs. Johnson, wife of Alfred
Johnson, the governor’s son. Casey burst into tears as she thought of the life awaiting her.
Casey’s mother had resisted the marriage between her daughter and the governor’s son for a
long time. She dreaded the thought of Casey marrying Alfred Johnson, who had a reputation for
being a hot-tempered gambling man and a drunkard. However, Mr. Stevens had worn her down
over the months until she gave in and agreed to the marriage.
It all started with heated arguments where Mr. Stevens angrily insisted that the wedding
between the two was most sensible. When Casey’s mother did not give in to his persistence, he
became violent; he started slapping her across the face with the back of his hand whenever she
denied agreeing with him. Sometimes, he also punched her hard in the stomach, and she would
curl up on the floor unable to breathe for minutes. Mr. Stevens would stand above her roaring
like a wild animal hovering over its prey. The bald, broad shouldered merchant with hairy arms
and a potato-shaped nose was not a man who accepted a woman’s refusal. Besides, he also had
an interest in the marriage that would gain his direct access to the governor’s ear. A family
relation with the governor, albeit a weak one, would make it much easier for him to secure the
lucrative transports of goods across the ocean to the Old World in the east. He had already
planned how he would approach the governor on the matter at the wedding
In the end, the arguments and beatings made Casey’s mother give in and agree to the union.
Mr. Stevens made all the wedding arrangements a few days later, even though Casey was only
fifteen years old and it was customary to wait with marriages until the girl turned eighteen.
Sometimes, poor families would allow their girls to marry at an earlier age, but among the
wealthier families, it was very rare. Casey had also accepted the wedding arrangements so that
the daily beatings her mother endured would end.
Alfred Johnson, on the other hand, was twenty-nine years old and eager to make a wife of
the blond, blue-eyed girl, who when she walked by, always turned the heads of the boys in the
city. In the taverns at night, he would proudly tell his friends what he planned to do to Casey on
their wedding night. When he acted out scenes of him and Casey in bed, using chairs or barmaids
as stand-ins for his wife-to-be, his friends would cry out in laughter, encouraging him into more
bizarre and perverted acts.
Casey shuttered at the thought of her wedding night. She knew what Alfred expected of her,
but she had absolutely no desire to spend a single night in the same bed as him, let alone the rest
of her life. She looked out the window and across the sea to the west. Her eyes fell upon the
place that would be her new home after the wedding.
The three-hundred-foot-high cliff faces of North Island to the north and New Island to the
south both stretched for hundreds of miles in either direction. The islands almost touched each
other where they met, but a small gap allowed flow of water between them. Once, a single great
rock had blocked the passageway between the two islands, but many years ago, someone had
lifted it out of the sea to allow trade between the east and the west. The rock, they left hanging
one hundred fifty feet in the air suspended between four massive interlocked iron chains. Bizarre
and extricate looking mechanical contraptions held the chains firmly anchored to the top of the
Soon after the rock was raised, people began to settle this floating island-in-the-sky and
today, an ever-expanding city of primarily wooden houses rested on the rock’s uneven surface.
The mostly poorly built houses were crammed into a crowded space, with some practically
resting on top of each other. Between them, myriads of narrow streets and alleys created an
elaborate maze. Twelve hundred people lived in the city, all with the risk of the chains snapping
one day under the weight of the growing population.
Casey didn’t like God’s Mercy, as the city was called, a fitting name for a place as ungodly as
can be. Though she had never been there, Casey had heard plenty of stories about the city, which
had more taverns and brothels than any other island in the New World. Crude entertainment was
really the only thing the city had to offer, as it produced nothing else of interest. Besides these
vile taverns and brothels, the city had a market, where traders sold clothes, food, wine, weapons,
and furniture, as well as a jail alongside several government buildings.
Despite its lack of almost anything except alcohol and prostitutes, God’s Mercy still had its
fair share of visitors. The city had a reputation that no matter a man’s desire for a woman, he
could always find it in God’s Mercy. This meant that travelers and merchants in search of grimy
entertainment often stopped in God’s Mercy rather than the other islands in the area.
The harbor of the city was located directly underneath the floating rock in the gap between
North Island and New Island. Ships moored at one of the several large wooden platforms where
broad rope ladders led up to the city high above. The ladders were wide enough for three men to
pass each other. From time to time, men would lose their grip and fall down, often landing on the
wooden platforms or the ships below creating quite a mess. When the winds were gusty, the
screams of the unlucky ones carried for miles around. If a man fell from the very top of the
ladder or from the side of God’s Mercy itself, he could sink a small vessel by landing on the
deck. Because drunken guests from the taverns and brothels relieved their bladders over the sides
of God’s Mercy at night, most ships preferred to anchor further away from the city after dark,
avoiding both the rain of urine and fallen boozers.
God’s Mercy was a scary place and Casey feared the life awaiting her there. Soon, she would
be Mrs. Johnson, the sheriff’s wife. After the wedding, Alfred would take over as the new Sheriff
of God’s Mercy. Casey was very well aware that Alfred would probably be the most corrupt and
drunken Sheriff ever to take office. Little did it matter that he was incompetent and more
interested in filling his own pockets and getting into bar brawls than upholding the law. As long
as his father was the governor of Gallows Sound, the collection of small islands sprawled over a
vast area between the curved reaches of North Island and New Island, Alfred’s position was
Someone knocked on the door and Casey awoke from her thoughts.
“Come in,” she said.
Her voice trembled and she knew it was almost time.
Casey’s mother walked into the room. Her eyes were same color red as Casey’s and she had a
fresh bruise covering the left side of her face. Her attempt to cover the wound with her hair was
useless, as it was getting darker and becoming more visible.
Casey noticed how old her mother looked even though she was not even forty years of age
yet. Her hair was lifeless and graying and she walked around hunched over, her face
expressionless. Mr. Stevens had forced her to wear an elegant blue dress and shawl, but the
clothes only underscored the stark contrast between the expensive dress and the woman’s broken
Casey remembered what her mother was like when her father was alive. She had been the
most wonderful woman in the entire city, always smiling and singing. Casey’s parents had been
the kind of couple that people looked at and could instantly tell that they were meant for each
other. They would always laugh together, and from the moment they had met in their early
twenties, Casey’s father had been passionately in love with his wife. His sole ambition in life had
been to make her happy and to make sure that she and Casey had everything they wanted. When
he died, all of their happiness perished with him and the house once filled with laughter and love,
turned into a tomb of sorrow. Within two years, Casey’s mother had spent their entire fortune on
expeditions trying to find her lost husband. When she eventually ran out of money, she married
Mr. Stevens, only because she could no longer put food on the table for herself and Casey. That
was just over a year ago and Mr. Stevens had promised to ‘take care’ of them both.
Casey’s mother stepped behind her daughter and started to smooth her hair with a brush. She
was crying and her hands were shaking.
“I don’t want to lose my only child to Alfred Johnson. I am so sorry for everything,” she
Casey felt tears fill her eyes and start to run down her cheeks. She didn’t want to marry him
either, and she feared what would happen after she had wedded Alfred and Mr. Stevens had no
more use for her mother. If he had treated her badly before, it would only become worse after the
wedding, and Casey shivered at the thought.
“Run,” Casey’s mother suddenly whispered with a newfound clarity in her voice. “Run away
from here right now and make a better life for yourself elsewhere.”
Casey was shocked. In minutes, she was supposed to marry Alfred and now her mother was
telling her to run away. In disbelief, Casey turned around and stared at her. There was
determination, strength, and love in her eyes that Casey had not seen in a long time. But to what
avail? It was all too late now.
“I can’t. What will happen to you if I run away? Mr. Stevens will be furious and he will turn
his wrath on you. He will make your life a living hell,” she reasoned.
Casey was torn. She desperately wanted to flee, but she was genuinely concerned for her
Casey’s mother smiled softly at her daughter’s concerns.
“Ever since we lost your father my life has been a living hell. Nothing, Mr. Stevens can do,
can come even close to the pain I feel for that loss. I only have one thing left to live for and that
is your happiness. You will never have that if you get married today. Run away and be happy,
only then will I find my peace. I thought for a long time that there could be another way for us,
but now I see that there is no such hope.”
“But what if he kills you?” Casey protested. She was convinced that Mr. Stevens was
capable of murder if he became angry enough.
Casey’s mother smiled and wiped the tears from her daughter’s cheeks.
“If I die, I will see your father again, and that is what I long for more than anything else in
this world. We will lie together on a cloud in Heaven and look down at you and smile. We will
laugh when you laugh and we will be together again as we are meant to be.”
Casey saw in her mother’s eyes the spark that had been gone for so long. She threw her arms
“I love you so much. I will come back for you. I promise.”
The two of them hugged for a long time. Casey couldn’t let go. She feared that once she left,
it would be the last time she would see her mother. The thought of fleeing and leaving her
mother behind created a knot in her stomach, but a hard knock on the door reminded them of the
urgency. If Casey was to escape her own wedding, it had to be now. There was no time to rethink
“Casey!” Alfred Johnson shouted from outside the door. “You better get down here now!
The minister is waiting for us and I will not tolerate my wife making me look like a fool in front
of my guests. Do you hear me, girl?”
A whole day of drinking had made Alfred’s speech slurred. He knocked again, this time
hammering his fist repeatedly into the wooden door.
“Casey, if you don’t open this door right now, I will make you regret it,” he threatened.
The two women were momentarily silent. Then they heard another voice outside the room. It
was Mr. Stevens.
“Margaret!” he yelled, addressing Casey’s mother. “I know you are in there, woman. Hurry
up and open this door now or I will beat you senseless when I get inside.”
Mr. Stevens threw his shoulder against the only entrance to the room. It gave way a little
causing plaster to fall from the ceiling. It was clear the door would come down quickly from the
weight of the stocky merchant ramming his shoulder against it.
Casey’s mother took her daughter’s head into her hands and kissed her.
“Go now. Go through the window and do not look back until you are in a safe place. I will
tell them that you are in the bathroom to buy time. Go!”
“I love you mother,” Casey whispered as she opened the window.
A breeze of warm tropical air rushed into the room. She climbed out onto the ledge, took in a
deep breath of freedom, and looked one last time at her mother before she jumped down on the
soft grass below. As she landed, she heard the cracking sound of the door crashing in.
“Where is she?” Mr. Stevens roared like an angry grizzly.
As soon as he had busted through the door, he sensed that something was wrong, and
scanned the room. He didn’t wait for an explanation from Casey’s mother before he slapped her
across the face, sending her violently to the floor.
The night was dark and Casey ran as fast as she could. She didn’t get very far before she
heard her mother cry out in pain. The sound didn’t last long for Mr. Stevens’ furious raging soon
drowned out her screams. Casey sobbed as she turned one corner and then the next, running
further and further away from the city center toward the northern part of Queen’s Harbor. She
kept seeing images of Mr. Stevens beating her mother as he had done so many times before. This
time, Casey knew it would be worse which made her long to go back and save her mother from
the brutal assault. She knew, however, that if she went back, she would endure the same fate and
her mother would lose her last reason to live. She had to keep on running.
Casey ran as fast as she could through the small streets that made up the northern part of the
city. Queen’s Harbor consisted mostly of small two-story stone houses with narrow cobbled
streets between them. Many of the houses had a shop at the street level and accommodation on
the first floor, but all the shops were closed this late in the evening and only a few people were
out on the streets. However, all of them turned their heads to watch the girl in a wedding dress
and bare feet run by.
When Casey reached the blacksmith’s house after ten minutes, she was gasping for air and
her chest was burning from the exertion. She impatiently knocked on the door and called out
“Jack? Jack? Are you there?” Her voice pierced the silent night, and when she got no
response, she called again, this time, a little louder. Finally, after calling a third time, she heard a
sound from the first floor and looked up as a window swung open.
“Is that you Casey? What are you doing here?” asked Jack’s mother, surprised.
“I need to talk to Jack,” she panted.
“Jack is not here, my girl. He left Queen’s Harbor on a boat three days ago.”
“He did what? Oh no, what have I done?” Casey exclaimed. “Where did he go? You need to
“I don’t know. He was heartbroken when he learned you were getting married. He said he
wanted to go somewhere where he wouldn’t be reminded of you. What happened to you?”
“I am not marrying Alfred Johnson. I want to marry Jack! Can you tell him that when you
see him again?”
Casey pulled her wedding dress over her head and left it at the front door of the blacksmith’s
house. She only wore her long undergarments, but she didn’t mind, she just wanted to be free of
the confining dress and all it symbolized. Voices in the distance startled her and she took off
“I will tell him. Be careful my dear,” Jack’s mother shouted after her.
Queen’s Harbor was located in the southwestern part of Queen’s Island, the largest island in
Gallows Sound. Most of the island was farmland, with small villages scattered inland and along
the coast. North of the city, however, a dense jungle covered the entire western part of the island.
The jungle started just outside the city walls, with only a single narrow path leading into it.
Casey knew that the jungle would be her best chance at hiding from Alfred and Mr. Stevens.
She took a right turn down a small alleyway and then a left turn onto a larger street. She followed
this road until it ended up at the city’s northern gate. Two guards stood watch at the entrance to
Queen’s Harbor and Casey worried that they knew why she was running. She was pleasantly
surprised, however, when they passively nodded as she hurried through the gate. Apparently,
they presumed she was just a street kid going to hunt for some tubers in the jungle.
Back in Queen’s Harbor, the city lights had lit up the main streets and the moon had provided
Casey with enough light for her to find her way in the small alleyways. However, under the
jungle canopy, it was pitch black and she had to slow her pace down to a walk to be able to
follow the path without stumbling.
Sounds of wild animals filled the dark jungle. Everywhere, Casey could hear the constant
humming of crickets and the high-pitched squeaks of bats navigating their way through the dark.
In the distance, she heard growls from cat-like predators and in the bushes close to the road, she
could make out the sound of snakes slithering around on the jungle floor in search of an unwary
rat or a chick that had fallen from its nest.
Casey didn’t mind the sounds of the wildlife. They were familiar to her, having grown up in
this part of the world. What did scare her was the sudden barking of dogs on the path behind her.
This caused the other animal sounds to cease temporarily and Casey could hear the dogs clearly,
even from far away.
She immediately picked up her pace and began running down the road as fast as she could.
Overhanging branches struck her in the face and her feet constantly hit rocks and tree roots,
sending violent shocks up her legs. However, she kept going. She knew that neither Alfred nor
Mr. Stevens had dogs, which meant the dogs chasing her must be Governor Johnson’s.
Only once had she seen Governor Johnson’s beasts. It was on the day Mr. Stevens had
arranged her marriage at the governor’s mansion. The governor had six large, mixed-breed, black
guard dogs. He kept them in individual pens to keep them from attacking each other and they
were only either let out when the governor went hunting, or when he went inspecting the villages
around Queen’s Island. He had once let the dogs attack a man who, in an intoxicated state, had
insulted him. The man ended up losing his right arm and the use of his left leg. He was now a
disfigured cripple in the slums of Queen’s Harbor, only left alive as a symbol of what would
happen to people who crossed the governor.
Luckily, for Casey, the governor still kept the dogs leashed. The pursuers did not want to
release them yet because the dogs were unruly and would probably run off into the jungle after
the first wild animal they heard or smelled. Even so, the pursuers were closing in on Casey and
soon she could actually distinguish their voices. She now was able to identify them as Mr.
Stevens, Alfred, Governor Johnson, and, at least, three other men who presumably were guards
from the governor’s mansion. She could hear them arguing with Mr. Stevens trying to convince
the governor that they would find Casey and reassure him that the marriage would take place as
planned. Governor Johnson quipped sarcastically that it would depend on whether they or the
dogs reached her first. He didn’t want his son to marry a disfigured and crippled little girl.
Chills ran down Casey’s spine, and she tried to pick up her pace. She quickly glanced back
over her shoulder and saw six torches dancing in the darkness less than three hundred feet down
the narrow path. The dogs seemed to bark more incessantly as her scent grew stronger.
Casey was beginning to run out of breath, and her chest burned. It would only be a matter of
minutes before they could see her under the light of the torches. She dreaded that the governor
would unleash the dogs knowing his appetite for the hunt. Feeling completely drained and nearly
defeated, she paused for a moment.
Maybe I should just give up and let them take me back – at least I’ll stay in one piece.
Then images of her mother came to her. She imagined her lying on the floor with Mr.
Stevens standing above her, blood on his fists. It was the fate awaiting her if her pursuers caught
up. She decided that she would rather die than meet that fate. Tears of despair filled her eyes.
I don’t want to die. I have done nothing wrong. Jack, why are you not here to keep me safe?
You should have taken me with you away from here.
Through her tears, Casey thought she could see a light in front of her, and then another. First,
they looked close to each other but slowly they started to move apart. The road was leading
straight toward them. A white wall appeared with two torches marking an entrance. Casey
remembered hearing about this place. It was the old Library in the Forest. Once, a large
monastery with several buildings lay within the white walls. The people in Queen’s Harbor
thought the monastery was abandoned and haunted, but the lights told a different story. Casey
felt a wave of hope surge through her body, but then powerful jaws clamped down on her calf
and threw her to the ground.
The governor had released one of his dogs to catch the prey and it managed to reach the
young girl within seconds. It’s fierce teeth sunk into her calf muscle and Casey screamed in
agony while the animal growled and shook it’s head back and forth, throwing her around like a
rag doll. Casey knew that it wouldn’t take long for the dog to rip her leg off if it continued. She
also knew that if the governor decided to release his other dogs, her life would very soon end.
She just hoped it would be a quick death and that the governor wouldn’t let the dogs mutilate her
and let her live like the cripple.
She had already given up hope and accepted her fate when the attack stopped. Even though
Casey’s leg was in terrible pain, she had enough feeling to notice that the dog’s bite weakened
dramatically. Incredulously, Casey looked down her leg. She saw that something had severed the
dog’s head from its body by a clean cut. Even so, the nerves kept the dog’s eyes blinking and its
lips curling. The legs of the headless body were also twitching as if the animal still tried to run.
Casey recoiled and kicked the head with her free foot and the jaws released. The head rolled a
few feet before it came to rest in a pool of blood that oozed from the dog’s beheaded body in
small pulses from the still-beating heart. Casey pulled away from the dead dog and as she did,
she hit a pair of sturdy legs behind her. She looked up, and above her, she saw a tall, dark-haired
woman holding two cutlasses. One of them was clean and the other one dripped with blood.
Torchlight lit up the woman who had seemingly come out of nowhere. She was wearing tight
brown leather pants with a white shirt tucked into it. She had her sleeves rolled up, and around
her neck hung a leather necklet with a blue butterfly pendant. Her dark brown hair she had tied in
a knot at the back of the head revealing two large round golden earrings hanging from each ear.
Casey was still processing the series of events when she heard, Governor Johnson yell.
“What in hell are you thinking, woman? I’ll flog you for this!”
As he came closer, he saw his lifeless dog laying on the ground. The body of the dead animal
still wiggled. The governor took a step forward toward the woman but stopped as she lifted her
“Do you have any idea who it is you are threatening?” Governor Johnson yelled. His face
turned red in anger.
The broad-shouldered man with black hair and mustache still wore his expensive white
tuxedo. It made him stand out from Mr. Stevens and Alfred who wore classic black and white
ones. Governor Johnson was accustomed having both lawful and physical power over those he
encountered and enjoyed watching people cower before him. No woman had ever had the
audacity to stand up to him before and the dark-haired woman infuriated him.
Resolute, the woman, didn’t back down from the governor’s threats. Instead, she looked at
him indifferently, her eyes shining in the dark.
“You are Governor Johnson, a tyrant, and a coward. You have no business here. Go back
before I make you a head shorter,” she spat at him.
The woman’s insolence took the governor aback.
“How dare you?” he warned and turned to the guards behind him.
The guards were wearing their usual uniforms of red coats and black pants. Each of them
held a leash with a wildly barking dog at the end of it.
“Let the hounds have her. Let them have both,” the governor ordered.
Seeing his dreams crumble before his eyes, Mr. Stevens tried to intervene, but it only took a
harsh look from the governor to change his mind and remain silent. The sole purpose of his
marriage to Casey’s mother was to eventually have a family relation to the governor, but now, all
of the efforts over the past year was going to waste.
However, before the guards could release the dogs, the woman stopped them.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,’ she said. The tone of her threatening voice caused the
guards to glance at the governor for reconfirmation.
“No one tells Governor Johnson what he can and cannot do,” the governor shouted, “Release
Before the guards had a chance to release the dogs, they heard sounds of pistols and rifles
being cocked somewhere in the dense jungle around them, and they stopped. Apparently, the
woman was not alone.
“Nevertheless, I am telling you.” the woman said. She remained disconcertingly calm,
crossing her arms while still holding the cutlasses in her hands.
“This is the last chance I will give you to leave. No one can hear you scream, and no one will
come to your aid. You are all alone, except for the animals in the jungle that would love to take a
bite out of your soft white bellies. Maybe I should feed them today. Fat is a rare luxury for most
Governor Johnson looked around. He couldn’t see anyone, but he knew they were
surrounded. He glanced at Alfred, Mr. Stevens, and his men. They were six, but there was no
way to tell how many men hid in the trees and undergrowth.
The governor’s eyes flickered wildly. He felt like a trapped animal and saw defeat no matter
the plan of action. If he attacked, the people hiding in the jungle would shoot them down. If he
went back to Queen’s Harbor, a woman would have succeeded in humiliating him. The very
thought of being told off in such a way made his face turn blue.
“Come on, Pa. Let’s go back. They are too many,” Alfred pulled his father’s sleeve like a
schoolchild wanting his parent to take him home.
Governor Johnson looked at Alfred briefly through narrow slits in his eyes before he
punched him so hard in the face that he knocked a tooth out. It flew through the air and landed
on the ground in the light of the torches the guards held.
“Shut up you wimp,” the governor roared before he turned to the dark-haired woman again.
“I’ll leave for now, but I will come back with an army and then I’ll burn this place to the
ground and have my dogs feast on your face while you’re still alive.”
He turned on his heel and walked past his guards and Mr. Stevens, who were more than
happy to leave. When the governor walked passed his son, who still sat on the ground looking
for his lost tooth, he grabbed his ear and pulled him up until he was standing. Alfred screamed in
pain as Governor Johnson dragged him back into the jungle.