Turning Point

By Christopher Jon Luke Dowgin

Part of the Sinclair Narratives

It was 1799 and we were on the maiden trip of the Mount Vernon, a 355 ton fully rigged ship bearing 50 men and 20 guns. Our captain has sailed us by the southwest winds of the Indian Ocean around the Cape of Good Hope back to that scorned bitter mistress, the Atlantic, but the calm pleasant waters of the Mediterranean were to prove the most dangerous. We were intended for Madeira, but last night some scrolls were deciphered. Some rare ancient documents our Master, Elias Hasket Derby the junior, had found in India have determined our course to Egypt—a course change that was to prove most deadly.


The X, Y, Z Affair was fresh in everyone’s minds (a fiasco created by His Rotundity), Timothy Pickering’s Alien and Sedition Acts were rounding up anyone that looked French who might vote for Jefferson in the coming election, the Republicans were being degraded as Democrats for their support of the French Revolution, and we were to be hunted by the French navy.

The French just began their Egypt Campaign. One hundred and fifty-four scholars from every profession—from archaeology to architecture, medicine to geography, and engineering to lexicography—had accompanied Napoleon as part of his expedition. To the outside world, its main aim was to recreate the crusading plans that began with the Fourth Crusade in 1204: first secure Egypt, then invade the Levant. Though Napoleon had grander plans that would captivate within him enough power to conquer the world.

Our first threat came when we had seen a French ship at Terceira Island (Portuguese) change her course and sail for us, which we outran with some...considerable effort. Jefferson and his party might have been showing support for the French in their conflict with the British, but our president was an Anglophile through and through; at one time he was behind an attempt to secede our nation back into the arms of the Mother Country. John Adams, the once minister to England, a post that three generations of his kin were to hold, was no lover of the French. So that proved dangerous for us, since Jefferson didn’t have his own flag to sail…

On the afternoon of July 28th, we sailed in the middle of the convoy. One ship (18 gun) pursued ours with English colors, but then switched to French as she closed in and fired upon us. Few grapeshot hit the deck and Master Derby took two rounds in the arm. By midnight we outran their chase. Then two more French frigates gave chase the next day which eventually disappeared over the horizon. Off St. Vincent, a twelve-gunner chased us with one 18 pound gun to our 6 pounders. In due time we found out that we were the superior ship in speed, but not before a lugger appeared in front of us at midnight near Cadiz City and Derby played chicken. They moved... In the morning at Algiers point, we opened fire on a lateen of 100 men. They thought it prudent to increase the seafoam between us.

Tonight is the first night I found sleep since entering the Mediterranean. I found myself in the supercargo’s stateroom, for the Master served that capacity for his father as well. A small, but adequate cabin with bed, desk, and bookshelves. Plus a privy. By the morning we were to set port in Naples.

We, Derby and I, we’re expected to meet Admiral Nelson and Lady Hamilton at his table for an early breakfast before dawn.


Our ship docked in view of Castel Nuovo. We departed and ventured through Piazza Municipio—where we saw this lanky pale man run for his life. He was being chased by a local militia. He bumped into me, I checked my pockets as he hid behind me.

“You must help me signors, stanno cercando di impressionarmi e ho i piedi piatti!,” the stranger said in quite a hurry, “...flat feet?” Then the curious stranger mimed a soldier with a gun and began marching in place while shaking his head. He then grabbed my shoulders and began to cower behind me again.



I pulled a hat from my bag, slammed it on his head, and handed him the artifacts I was carrying while dropping a piece on purpose, “You fool! Pick that up—I should box your ears in! Hurry up man…” The soldiers shook their heads, with one giving him a sympathetic look as his commandant scolded him to hurry on.

“I see Henry you are still picking up the stray mutts from time to time,” laughed Elias.

The curious stranger just hissed at him.

“Well, we find ourselves a little behind now,” Elias waved us on with his chest out smiling, “It is not Nelson I fear, but his ill-tempered mistress! The last time I was late meeting them I got a scone upside my head. Do hurry.”

As Derby continued on ahead of us I slowed my pace a little to inquire into the mutt’s name. Beyond my first observations the man was finely dressed, a bit dainty which clashed with his almost ashen malevolent parlor. As he flitted about he had a tendency to raise his hands to his lips like he was eating a piece of raw liver. This habit habituated me with his long fingers and their unkempt pearly nails, except for the thumb and the next two fingers adjacent to it on his right hand. His movements ranged from a subtleness that always left you unsteady admixed with his haughty jarring steps and nervous rat-like twitches.

“Mi name a Michele Felice Cornè, artista incisore!” Michele exclaimed with a hand pointing in the air and another on his bloated chest. “Flat feet!” he said as he pointed in the last direction of the soldiers.

“Well Derby’s father is a vain man, he likes portraits of his ships commissioned,” I said pointing at Elias, “We can have you start on the ship we will find voyage back to America on, tonight.”

“Conte?” Michele said, “Tools—carta da disegno?”

“I’ll provide, before tonight.”

Who was this guy?


Castel Nuovo was built in 1266 by Charles I of Anjou. In time, it passed to Joanna II of Naples who left it to me in 1438 as I became King of Naples. At that time I was known as Rene d’Anjou, Joan of Arc’s captain in arms, great illustrator, and Nautienier of the Prieuré de Sion. An order which protected the secrets of the Templars and the lineage of our Saviour. Many of their artifacts passed safely from Roslyn outside of Edinburgh to Salem back in 1399. This castle was my home for a brief three years, until I fled before Alfonso V of Aragon could forcefully remove me. Today we were to meet Horatio and his lady...without his wife knowing.


We were led into a private antechamber off of the grand hall to the balcony overlooking the sea. The breeze was salty and cool, as it fluttered at the nape of Lady Hamilton’s lace which revealed some love bites. Still flush. Two seats were left open as Michele was forced to stand behind us.

My mind went back to a time before I was King of Naples, but a traveling wretch who gained an audience to this room after a night of drunken ribaldry. I was much unkempt from vagabonding my way through Europe looking for magical items, which needed to be secured for the benefit of the much so I was not recognized by my distant cousin Charles III of Naples. In the old Norman taverna, we met up with Boccaccio who had kept us entertained all night with his risque tales; it was in this room he told us the tale of the werewolf who got to eat chicken instead of his love…

“Admiral. My lady,” Derby saluted, as he opened his napkin and placed it on his lap.

“Henry, what a pleasure!” Horatio greeted me. Lady Hamilton just blushed and covered her love marks musing over similar ones I had left on her before her marriage to Lord Hamilton.

“So what news from the Grand Lodge?” Derby inquired.

“Our sources on Malta inform us that the young Corsican has made great progress finding what he seeks,” Horatio answered.

“News is that the French are fearful of this little man, they will let him follow any whim as long as he is not in Europe anymore,” Derby added, as he nodded to the choice of wine the servant held. He was looking to the table of faire more than the news of our cause.

“He has secured many Hospitallers to lead his scholars,” I joined the conversation. “He is rumored to be looking for a magical talisman once belonging to Solomon.”

“My art supply dealer has informed me that a Lieutenant Pierre-François Bouchard, under his command, has found a wondrous tableau that makes translations of ancient Egyptian into Greek possible,” Michele chimed in with perfect English. I had to stare at him in disbelief.

“Who is your art dealer?” I had to ask, still flummoxed.

“Chemist Nicolas-Jacques Conté,” Michele answered, “He makes the most wonderful crayons! He leads part of Napoleon’s exposition”

“OK,” I stammered.

“By the way, I would need those crayons tonight before we depart…”

“Um—My sources in the Essex Lodge inform me that some of my brethren within the East India Marine Society have heard that after this lieutenant’s...find, Napoleon was able to walk privately into the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid and translate the hieroglyphics for the first time in centuries,” Derby informed us in between bites of his duck l’orange. “They say he came out quite stricken—and removed himself to his tent for several hours with orders to shoot anyone who disturbed him. Huzzah!”

“Estries, a princess who shared the wrong mother with an ancient Persian Emperor was sent through the canal through the isthmus of Egypt to find new quarters in a foreign land,” Nelson imparted a legend to us. “In the villages, she had set up her temples in Persia—strange plagues befell. It was with the emperor’s sympathies, he allowed her to leave, but a detachment of horse guided by Magi and the woolen guild set chase to her on their own volition,”

Horatio paused to sip his Madeira and kiss the Lady Hamilton’s hand, “They gave chase down the canal opening the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Tales have it that the men in patched robes had caught up with her and caused the dust of the desert to rise in the middle of their twirl on the banks sending such a tempest upon her ship that it turned the boat sideways blocking the canal—where the Magi set upon her forces,” He paused again to taste the duck, “A terrible battle ensued. Many died on both sides. The Magi prevailed and fought their way below deck to her chambers. It was said that many upon approach just fell dead with their first step toward her.

A Magi found a porthole and slid it open. The tempest from the woolly fellows entered and paralyzed the harpy by her blindness within the sandstorm that had engulfed her. From there they were able to seal an ankh in her forehead. Afterward she fell into a deep stupor. The patchwork brotherhood’s tempest was so strong that it lilted a berm up one side of her ship. Soon the ship could not hold the sand back and the other side was covered within the dust. The Magi and the Sufi had sealed her fate. Some hope to change it for her,” continued the Admiral.

“At a young age playing in the same garden as her brother, it was said that all of the children were drained of their life when one child began a chorus mocking her and the love she felt for a bluebird she carried in a cage with her. The proverbial canary for things to come...She grew into a demon—a shape shifter. Usually she appeared as a beautiful woman who would prey on her lovers. For those who survived her attacks, great power and immortality were said to follow them,” I added from my knowledge of the mythological lore shared with me by Thomas Bulfinch one night while discussing the various tunnels his father had built.

“No wonder, the emperor waisted no haste to have her removed,” Derby said, giving a haughty laugh with his mouth full as he dripped some sauce down his chin. “A real firebrand of a wench—that one is. Haha!”

“The Philadelphe Lodge has conferred onto me, that the hieroglyphics in the King’s Chamber imparted the coordinates on the old canal where her body and boat are to be found,” Michele added as he ate a tomato, which seemed most disgusting and—brave by Derby who was aghast. “You know the old bitch is not dead till they use one of those inventions the French are so fond of.” Michele then sliced his hand down quickly saying, “Chop!”

Who was this guy?


I got Michele his Conte crayons and Derby provisioned our ship and two others. He unloaded our cargo to be redistributed to the new ships with orders of which ports to sail to and what wines should be exchanged for it, at a profit, to be sailed back to America before us.

With the morning wind and tide, we embarked for Egypt. Behind us, the Admiral was to send a fleet to attack the delta on the Nile where Napoleon had birthed his fleet.

On the trip, Michele continued to redefine the several sketches he had made of the Mount Vernon the night before, while sitting on the plaza drinking some grappa. Some of the sketches had happy faces on the stern of the ships. He worked through the night under the moon. It was only then that I found him to venture upon some of his background.

“Elba, I came to Naples looking for commissions from the princes. Elba, had fallen on hard times with despotic ways,” Michele weaved his tale, “In truth, the despotic condition was the condition in which I left the magistrate’s daughter in. You understand...” In truth, I found it despotic to leave a child behind. “A few ships engraved and painted bought my daily bread, but sad to say...a whole lot more wine and women. A few more indiscretions—and you find me being chased by the militia.”

“Flat feet, I remember,” I said. He just nodded and pointed down at them.

I was finding our new found friend, slowly unpalatable. Derby on the other hand was falling for his flattery and he was sure his father’s pride would be bolstered once he brought him back to Salem to immortalize his fleet. The strangest thing about him was the long crate of soil which he insisted on bringing on board. He grew his tomatoes in it. Michele would have the soldiers carry it above deck during the day so the plants could thrive, and then have them return it once the sun set, saying the plants were from the nightshade family.

We were at sea for only a night, when we had seen a frigate bearing the Corsican’s standard to our starboard. The wind was with us as we turned to give chase. Their aft guns fired upon us. Derby ducked holding his arm where he was recently hit with grapeshot. Our fore guns opened. To our starboard once more, a small fleet of Barbary Pirates was closing with their broadside lining up to us. Six ships in total were with the first, which was gaining on us. It was setting its sails to intersect before us, blocking off of our pursuit of Napoleon. We were to be no-match for five on our broadside and one to our fore.

Derby set orders to drop the foremast and the missal before he turned the wheel hard to port. The pirates sailed past us and only got one shot off from the middle ship which landed in front of us. Elias had the masts raised once more and caught the western trade wind sending us back toward Tuscany. By the time the fleet corrected, we were far over the horizon.

We ducked behind an island and began to sail Northeast once more to pick up the little man’s track again. It was not for a few hours did we see him again. The sea route he was in seemed to have lost the wind. They were rearranging their sails to tack the other way as we closed in fast on a strong wind that was cutting across their bow fluttering her sheets. Our fore cannons opened once more. We hit the royal sail on the middlemast before the wind switched leaving us dead in the water as their sails were unfurled and pulled them away as they were passing Benghazi.




Our ship just sat there and watched them sail away. At least we knew where they were heading. The abandoned city of Tennis. After Louis IX of France sacked Damietta, the Arabs leveled the fort at Tennis. It was the only remnant after the abandonment of the city by Saladin in 1199 to prevent another foothold for the Crusaders. Tennis, an island in Lake Manzala that provided safety for ships entering or exiting the Nile during rough waters was once a strong textile center. From there, our sources on Malta believe Napoleon will lead his exposition to Tel Al-Dafna on the long drained Pelusian Branch of the Nile. A city lost to antiquity.

“So what do you believe Napoleon expects to find in Egypt?” I asked.

“That old mistress, my friend Henry—power. The cruelest of mistresses. One you must forever guard, for she has a roaming eye,” Derby said as he slapped me on the back while I was drinking my tea over the rail. I hope the fish enjoyed it more than I would of. Power. A fickle promise from old One Eye. Many times Odin promised victory on the battlefield to hand it to another with a spear running through you. Power is truly fickle and less determinate than a prostitute when the ships come in. Not to say during the bronze age when Queens ruled and killed their mates every eight years, that the male counterpart was any more faithful as a gigolo.

“It seems you spilled your tea, let’s get you another,” he said as he landed another arm astride my back and led me to the galley. Jarring yes, but I had nothing left in my cup to spill. Nor anything in my mouth to spit.

On the way to the galley I noticed George Crowninshield Jr., a good Democrat within Salem. He was Keno’s great uncle. Keno’s great grandfather was Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Crowninshield. I tried saying hello, but he skirted into the hull with some charts and scrolls.


I retired to my room and was resting on my back reading; switching back and forth between some bawdy tales of The Decameron to The Nibelungenlied and The Canterbury Tales. The seriousness of dark Scandinavian lore of tragedy to the ribaldry of the master and his protege. Funny, I find the people of the north much less serious than the Roman and their once occupied land. Then the backboard hit me in the head; we were under sail once more. A swift wind I could reckon from the bump on my head that I was imagining was swelling at the time.

I went up onto the deck and found Derby at the wheel beckoning for the sails to be hoisted. Hell if I knew which was what. Last time I sailed there was only one segl. At least I knew how to say starboard correctly... stjόrnborði.

“We’re back in business old man!—tighten that halyard!” Derby bellowed.

The crew was all about in a hurry, but I didn’t see Crowninshield. Being Derby’s first cousin and the first generation that cemented the two power-broker families of America they created the mythical divide between the conservative and liberal parties in America. Mythical like a Unicorn or an honest politician. These two families fought in the streets and divided the political profits within their family estates over holiday dinners. Maybe Derby had more pressing concerns for his cousin to attend to.

In lead, pulling the halyard was Nathaniel West, Derby’s brother-in-law. Derby admitted in private to me once, after 16 years of marriage to his sister, he fully understands why Nate would go to sea just to get away...It would only be seven years from then that Nate and Elizabeth would shock the nation with the first public divorce to be dragged through the social columns from Ohio to New York. It was a sight to see Nate be brought to fisticuffs with Derby and his sister after their father left him the mile-long Derby Wharf in Salem. I myself had to duck a few teapots that Elizabeth stole from a passing cargo cart.

It was in West’s house that Captain Joseph White was murdered. A murder blamed on George Crowninshield’s nephews, but committed by the man behind the curtain of President John Quincy Adams, Superior Court Justice Joseph Story, and Senator Daniel Webster. White’s nephew Stephen.

It was then George popped his face above deck for a second and motioned to Derby, who left the wheel to Nate and joined him below.



Derby was much occupied with George that evening and into the early morning hours, It was not till dawn that we saw Derby arrive on deck with his English breakfast tea. I had half a thought to slap him in the back and wish him a grand morning…

“Burning the midnight oil?” I had asked. He seemed quite ruffled by my question. I didn’t need to slap him, it seemed he was quite capable of choking on his tea on his own.

“We should be up on Napoleon’s ship by the evening. Our ship, from my observations, lists into the wind much easier than that old barque he was mastering,” Derby said, avoiding eye contact.

I was impressed by how much I flustered this master of the poker face. The Earl of Sandwich would be impressed by his unique skills. Especially on how he missed the meat of my question.

In fact, by the evening we were upon Tennis and the seas were calm. We found another ancient wharf that was still intact a few meters from the shore, before it crumbled under Poseidon’s grasp. The wharf was opposite from Napoleon’s and had a safe approach to and fro the mainland beyond their 12 pounders.

Napoleon had stationed a guard of cavalry upon the approach of his ship with a full contingent up on deck. We had a few Welsh emigrés who saluted the French within the usual two fingers showing the back of the hand. I could hear the French yelling kaniggit back as they raised their hands to their mouths.

We had a detachment of marines with us to set out in pursuit of the little man and his scholarly expedition. Derby was concerned with the whereabouts of the current position of the French campaign. There was no telling if Bonaparte would lead us through several contingents on the way to his goal. George and Nate joined us, George carrying his scrolls and maps once again in the back of a long-abandoned cart, which we affixed to one of the wild oxen in the area. Our ship carpenters did fix a few broken spokes and apply a tall covering, but it rode smoothly for him as we pondered our way through the desert following the old course of the hills that used to be the sides of Necho’s canal. Michele joined him under the tarp during the day and stretched his legs at night.

I walked in the lead with Derby. George was handing him sections of maps chronicled by different cultures and different times. Some were interpreted long ago, others only recently by a smuggled cypher through the Masons in Malta, based on the Rosetta Stone that Nelson acquired for us before we departed. In time we came across some Bedouins. After drinking some habak tea with them we acquired enough camels to carry our train and ourselves. Derby also purchased the service of some to act as mercenaries and guides.

It seems that these Jebeliya were an elite force descended from Roman troops brought from Eastern Europe by Justinian to guard the Monastery of Saint Catherine at the foot of Mount Sinai, the mountain of Yahweh and Moses. The possible location of the double serpent tree of Eden, the Burning Bush, the Caduceus. The majority of the Jebeliya still remain in the shadow of the three mountains, but this small force protects the travelers through this region from a dark evil. They only return home to replenish their supplies and to be blessed by their holy men.

For our destination Tel Al-Dafna was believed to be populated by the people of an ancient plague that did not allow the dead to rest—supposedly according to Bedouin legends... When I pressed Derby again—he looked toward George who tried to harness a harrumph as he stuck out his chest and looked back to his papers.

Derby just pointed forward and yelled, “Onward my good fellows! Make haste!”

What was I getting myself into? So I staggered back on my camel as Derby carried on. I made it to the stalwart of the Jebeliya. He had the: aquiline nose, coloring of the Tartar more than the swarth of the Arab, the height of the colonizing Swedes of Russia, but the stringy muscles of the Bedouin. This man rode to the side of the column and had his eyes roaming like that of the desert hawk.



“Kayf Haalak?” I asked, as I addressed him.

“Bi-khayr, al-Hamdu lillah,” answered the stalwart one who extended his hand which I held firm, longer than a normal western handshake and I lightly squeezed tighter.

“What do you make of this region?” I asked.


“How so?”

“When Necho II reopened the canal to Tel Al-Dafna, the city founded by Ramses II, a Jewish detachment (slaves from the battle of El Megiddo where their King Josiah fell) dug up an iron coffin while extending the foundation of the island citadel that his father Psamtik I had built,” he said making gestures with his hands to illustrate his tale, “Inside was a woman who looked like she was wrapped in the linen just days before. As the day began to pass to the night, these Jews fell dead near the citadel in the canal trench—pale were their skin, tongues lolling with their shovels before them. Soon others fell. The Jews began to murmur about Lilith, many deserted. Within a fortnight, they say those who died by their shovels rose from Abraham’s bosom. Scores fell during the nights that followed. Screams at night kept most of the workers from sleep as they pulled their daggers close to their chests. Necho led his best warriors back to the foundation of that ancient citadel. In it he saw the demon rise from her daily sleep—she slew ten men within a blink of an eye.

Zayed of the El Taraban tribe, raised his satchel to protect his head with his salary within; she sliced it spilling his salt. Praise to Allah; she dropped to her knees to lick the salt and pleaded, ‘I need all you have, and I will let you live. Procure me camels full and I will grant you power and prosperity for eternity!’ That was the price she asked of Necho, but the price she required of his laborers who brought the salt to her was far greater. She needed bread, the bread of the Prophet Christ, the body, and she drank their wine.”

“How so?”

“They said that the pharaoh had lost 100,000 canal diggers leading to the Red Sea; Necho though, went on to conquer. He massacred the Babylonians at Kumukh, but he stopped bringing her salt. His power only lasted five years as Nebuchadnezzar II (whom he conquered prior through her power) pushed him out of Syria and crossed the Brook of Egypt to Tel Al-Dafna. There they say Nebuchadnezzar met the Lilith and was attacked by her army of undead Jews. He survived but lost his army that he crossed over into Egypt with. Tales say he lost his wits for battle, fearful of the horrors he had seen in Al-Dafna; night terrors hounded him. He refused his wives, but he woke each night with his seed spilled. Eighteen years of Lilith attacking him in his sleep had led him to take an army to Jerusalem; they say his seers told him within the city was a magical device deep within the temple of Solomon that could contain the Lilith’s powers.”

“What contained her? Is she contained…”

“The waters silted and men stopped traveling its course, she was left alone, but men forget. Twelve years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Darius the Great, the Persian, conquered Egypt and opened up the canal to her once more. Great were the deaths. The Persians called her Estries. The woman who took the blood. They say he found the talisman that Nebuchadnezzar had found to control her on the lid of her coffin; so great was his power, he invaded as far as the Danube crossing through Walachia chasing the Scythian. There were legends of undead cavalry riding with him.”

“So does she rest now?”

“Who is to say—let’s continue, we have fallen behind with my stories.”

It was then the sun set and Michele came up wiping his lips. It seemed as if he took to wearing lipstick as I had seen red stains on his linen. Maybe it was some of his friend’s, Conté’s, crayons. He had been meeting with George on the ship, producing sketches and maps of various things that George was reading in his scrolls.

Ahead of us we heard the great screams emanating from the Bedouins as we ventured through an oasis of palms. As we galloped ahead we came upon a gathering of men. We pierced to the center of the crowd and found everyone staring at the horror of one of Napoleon’s soldiers reduced to a drained leathery corpse. Soon we heard others yell as we continued south. As we continued we found evidence of a skirmish, a line of soldiers who died where they fell.

The stalwart one said, “We must be close to the city.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“The dead always pile near the city,” he said, as he did a blessing with his hands looking to the sky, “They will be upon us tonight.”

With that, a branch from a palm tree knocked me off my camel.




I was spitting the sand from my mouth and wiping it from my eyes. As I began to focus, I could see a camel taxi. The man yelled down and asked where I was going. I think I replied hell...In response he said, “Well when you are not sure where you are exactly going, any direction will work, Get on!”

I took a good look at him and recognized Louie, my eternally reincarnating driver. “Louie, how did you get here?”

“My cousin works for the caliph of Cairo. He is his head chef and poison detector. Easy job. As long as he does not poison the food himself, he will live a long prosperous life.”

“How did you find me?” I asked, as I got onto the double-humped camel. Louie pulled down a lever engaging the meter built on the first hump.

“What is brown and hairy with a hump in Antarctica?” Louie asked.

“I have no idea!”

“A camel lost and very confused.”

“Maybe I didn’t?” he said.

“Excuse me,” I asked.

“You asked how did I find you and I answered maybe I didn’t,” Louie said as he turned into my six-foot rabbit friend Harvey the Pooka, “That blow to the head sure did—fuck you up!”

I just laughed at him as Tahnoon lifted me from the sand. “Are you hurt my friend?” he asked.

“Just my mind.”



As the night came on us, so did the monsters. First we heard the yells in the tents. Then we heard shots in the paths. Camels brayed and ran. Some of the camels fell too. I saw Michele scurry from his covered cart. Streaks of light ran past us as we heard more screams. I had my sword out of my cane sheath. One came upon me and with a slice I had its head. Another behind me and my sword found its lung. It fell and rose again. I took its head.

George hid under his desk in the cart. Derby was slashing his way through the camp. Nate was lining up a phalanx of sorts of our marines and Bedouins which began repelling these monsters.

The monsters fled.

“They will be back, be vigilant!” the Stalwart One warned.

“No use in sleeping and being picked off,” Derby ordered, “Prepare to continue. Send the orders down the line.”

We continued on to Tel Al-Dafna, fearing the worst to be ahead of us.

On the way, they began to pick off some strays, those who stopped to make water or to take a bite.

Then a scout came down from a hill before us declaring the city was within sight. Napoleon had made camp and had a guard posted on the ruins of the citadel. We camped in a circle with guards on our perimeter picking off the occasional monster, using the sword only so as not to alert the French about our arrival. Dawn was approaching soon. On the morrow, we would raid the French, with one less front to fight.

Derby was in conference with George and Michele. Nate went to inquire on the plan of action, but Derby just brushed his brother-in-law off.

“What is that group up to?” Nate had asked me.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, “By the way this is...I never did get your name?”

“Tahnoon ibn Accipiter, a pleasure to meet your friend,” Tahnoon raised his hand to him.

“Nathaniel West,” Nate was pleased to meet him, but looked wary, “I am afraid of what those three are up to. I fear when we proceed we will all be expendable. I just have this gnawing thought.”

“How so?” Tahnoon motioned for some of his kin to approach.

“That artist of yours Henry, I keep seeing him leaving George’s cabin wiping what seems lipstick from his face with his linen rag each night,” Nate expresses his concerns, “Those two are mysterious. What is in all of those scrolls and charts of his."



“They gather much concern with Derby,” I added, “The crew said he has not been the same since he entered a shrine in India dedicated to Kali. They say he did not set sail till George had arrived answering his letter from Russia where he last made port. How many of the sailors do you know personally, Nate.”

“Just a few; Derby had sent the majority of the crew we were sailing with onto the two new ships. These men, for the most part, were hired in Naples.”

“Well gather those you knew before and bring him here. Tahnoon, please gather your brethren as well to sit in conference. Keep an eye on Derby and his crew though.”

“Should we be concerned with him?” asked Tahnoon.

“No, I believe we should scatter our own ways and encircle the French and come in silently. Two waves to the center with snipers from the hills above,” was my plan. “Let Derby and his men do what they will.”



We scattered leaving Derby and his cohorts with a marine of 25. We left our gear behind and only brought with us the tools of war.

Derby looked up from George’s charts and saw our camp was much reduced. He called the remaining men to encircle him. They wrapped up the charts and scrolls and proceeded toward the camp of the enemy.

To our surprise, and to the marines, they walked unmolested right into the middle of Napoleon’s camp before the sun rose.



We watched from the hills as Derby shook hands with Napoleon and Michele embraced Conté on both cheeks. Derby’s men stayed above as Michele, George, and Derby were escorted by Napoleon and Conté below into the citadel. The sun was rising soon.

I began to motion the two waves forward and wave to the snipers on the hills...when Tahnoon stayed my hand.

“Henry, my friend,” he said with a smile, “I and my cousins have another plan.”

We left the snipers behind and half of a wave of Bedouins. The rest followed Tahnoon into a tunnel in the hill which he said was the escape route from the citadel to the well we had gathered around. He had the key to the portcullis, which his men raised. We ventured through long dark corridors only lit by our torches. As we continued, we made it into the keep and the sun began to bake on us as it rose. The keep was empty. Tahnoon waved us into the castle and we continued to the western side. There we found a stair leading out of the castle into the dungeon below. As we gained the bottom, we could hear Napoleon confer with our old shipmates.

“Tonight she will be raised. Derby, did you bring the salt?” asked Napoleon.

“Yes, ha ha! But—only a taste,” Derby said laughing, slapping Napoleon on the back, “We wouldn’t want her to take it all and just slit our throats would we…? The rest is in our camp.”

“What about her bread…”

“Well we picked up a fresh shipment in Naples for her to feed upon.”

Later I found out our snipers would be able to save some of their bullets…

“Here, Derby, your key please,” said George.

Derby pulled a stone circle with a raised inscription that matched the female depression in a throne. He walked over and joined the couple and gave a twist. The floor opened to reveal an iron coffin. Napoleon walked up sipping on his tea. Derby slapped him on the back and he spit up on the coffin. “We will now control the three continents!”

Napoleon wiped his mouth and removed the talisman that bound her to the coffin. A few of Napoleon’s men lifted its top. She was still preserved as the day she died thousands of years ago. The linen has since dried up into dust after the first people had found her.

“Now we wait till sunset,” Michele added as he took a seat and began to eat a tomato.

It was then that the light from the sun behind us on the stairs went out. We heard the roars of the desert. A sandstorm was upon the desert. Only our torches lit up before us. The dungeon was in complete darkness and our torches gave up our position. We rushed in. Our enemies lit their torches and ran for us leaving the four behind. My sword was out and my back cracked, the berserk was on. I went low and tossed one over my shoulder and took out the next at the hamstring with my blade. Then one flew at me from the left; I swung my arm behind his neck as I had him fly over my leg to the ground. I continued. Tahnoon was slashing his way forward. Nate was fencing. The Bedouins followed their cousin’s lead.

Then she awoke. Derby threw one of Napoleon’s retreating soldiers to her; she had her breakfast. Derby ran away. Michele just sat there eating his tomato with a bag of salt at his feet. Conté and Napoleon hid behind the throne. George was just dumbfounded.

The Estries began to feed on the French...they were closer at first. Then the Bedouins came within her grasp. Michele just sat there with his tomato and salt. I looked at him for a second and he looked like he just had an epiphany; he grabbed some salt and pinched it into the area that he had already taken a bite out of and smiled after he tasted it. Then she came upon me. I looked for the seal, but Derby or Napoleon must have grabbed it. I leapt for Michele’s salt bag.

“Smell you!” Michele said.

I stood up and asked, “Is this what you desire?”

“Hmmm. You know it will be so,” she said, “What do you desire?”

“Your sleep.”

“I have slept long enough. I need a little wine with my bread.”

While I distracted her, Michele snuck up with the stealth of a tiger and gave her the chop with his sword. She fell.



“Excuse me, I fear I am parched as well.” With that Michele went down on his knees and began to lap the streaming blood from her neck. He stood up and wiped his lips with his linen, but all but his lips were streaked in blood. “Well that was a fine vintage, but for now I shall see what the new vintner has for this season,” he said as he bared his fangs.

At that moment the sun streamed back in. Michele jumped for the coffin and closed the lid. What was left of Napoleon’s troops went for us. Tahnoon called for us to escape for the steps, he was holding off the rest. Our escape was closing. We left Michele behind. Napoleon, George, Conté, and Derby were escorted into the castle where the rest of the exposition had gathered their finds within, but Tahnoon and his cousins bade us to follow them through the tunnel.

The guards on the mounts had turned on us and were storming the keep. Tahnoon let out an ululation and the snipers opened on the French on the mounts. The wave of Bedouins we left outside threw ropes over the walls which cinched around the Frenchs’ necks and pulled them over. The sandstorm was rising once more. Soon it would be dark. The cursed Jews that intermingled with all of the other lost souls through the centuries would soon be upon us. Tahnoon’s cousins provided the way to the tunnel for us, but still, some began to chase. They began to close, shooting at the walls behind us as we took a bend or two.

Then the undead fell in upon the French. We could hear their yells followed by silence. Inspiration to run faster was delivered. Fear began to well up inside of us that they might be coming at us from the other side of the tunnel. It was then that we heard gunfire at the mouth. The Bedouins were keeping our exit open. The wave of Bedouins that was sent to the outside of the citadel walls waited for us. We joined them as we ran for the banks through the darkness of the storm, which was shredding our clothes. The snipers shot the monsters that gave us chase. When we made it to the hills. We all fell upon each other. Our band ran back to camp. There we encircled the gear and waited for the attack.

The sun broke through. The storm was ending. The monsters were caught. They were incinerated.

With great haste, we broke camp and ventured far beyond this land of the dead. We did not stop before Tahnoon pointed to the caves in the mountain inhabited by their priest who kept the blood fiends from venturing any further. He explained that the same protection was in place to the south.

It was not till then did Tahnoon looked at me and said, “The problem with Tel Al-Dafna is, all the damn vampires!” as he drank from his canteen.



We had ventured back to Tennis unmolested. We thanked Tahnoon and his cousins for their help. Tahnoon grabbed my hand, held his forehead to mine, and rubbed noses with me. He then gave me a big bear hug and said, “Salam alakum.”

“A alakum es-salam. My friend,”

Then I walked up the gangplank with Nate. “Do we have enough crew after our journey through the desert?” I inquired.

“We have 20 sailors, which is what we need. Those who fell were of Derby’s Italian marine in the desert.”

Nate was a fine captain and had owned many ships of his own. A fine privateer during the Revolutionary War. We were in good hands. He also grew to admire his father-in-law. He would ensure the safe passage of his ship home. Little did we know he had just recently passed. Well that was the nature of correspondence at sea at the time.

As soon as we made sail we saw the French l’Orient ship. It was not alone. Barbary Pirates had joined them with six xebecs. Closing in behind them were two French tonnant ships with 80 guns each.

We all lined up in a row and kept blowing into the sail. Nate picked up big fans and swung them fiercely. We were to keep a distance, but they were inching forward. I believed we were done for.

As we were approaching the other side of Lake Mazola, we saw the French navy retreat toward the Atlantic. Nelson and his fleet were sailing through wrecks of French ships. Our pursuers turned quickly and left.



Admiral Nelson defeated Napoleon’s fleet at the Battle of the Nile. In so doing, they took all of the exposition’s finds, including the Rosetta Stone and brought it to the British Museum. Napoleon escaped back to France where he was soon made emperor. Nicolas Jacques Conté’s family became wealthy, to this day, selling his Conte crayons. Derby, Michele, and George all sailed back to Salem and became powerful.

It turned out that Michele was made a vampire when Darius invaded Walachia. He was a Nosferatu. He grew up hearing tales of the Estries. Knowing she was the source of his infection. Believing what does not kill you will make you stronger, he sought out her location to feed upon her to become all-powerful. The Persians left behind the tales in his mountains, but the undead were not too good with maps, the canal silted again, and hieroglyphics were lost to Parsee and then Arabic which succeeded as the regional language. Michele had no way to find the spring he was looking for till he heard of Napoleon’s find.

It was rumored that George Crowninshield later built the first private yacht in America with the sole intention of freeing Napoleon from his island imprisonment. In Bordentown NJ, There is a place called Point’s Breeze on a branch of the Delaware River which Napoleon’s brother Joseph had built. Local legends say Napoleon did in fact escape the island and walk through his brother’s tunnels from the river to his home.

After the Embargo Acts were lifted, Nathaniel West sailed his ship with a few others from Salem back to Naples. All of the ships were captured by Napoleon’s navy. As George Crowninshield might have freed Napoleon, Nathaniel was forced to take Napoleon’s younger brother from Naples to England before his older brother imprisoned him. On the way, Admiral Nelson captured his ship again. They were taken to London and given a parade. The other ships captured were owned in partnership with Richard Crowninshield Sr. and Joseph White. A jest in a tavern by Richard Crowninshield Sr. about the folly of not following Jefferson’s ban of international sailing (which cost him and White their three ships) was taken as an insult by Joseph White. An insult that would lead to the mysterious death of Crowninshield’s son Richard Crowninshield Jr. in jail for a murder he did not commit. Joseph White sought revenge on his once business partner for the insult. His own murder, carried out by his nephew, would also capture revenge for White on Joseph Knapp Sr. for losing his privateer Revenge ! His two sons would hang for the murder.

Elias Hasket Derby Jr. inherited his father’s mansion that he only lived in for a few months. In it, he and Michele lived. Within the citadel in Egypt, Michele converted Napoleon and Derby into vampires. George became a Renfield of sorts. Michele and Derby would scour the poorer parts of town for victims and drag their bodies through the tunnels to the mansion. After I got Derby to live off of sheep and move to New Hampshire, his family got to see the basement of the mansion for the first time and saw the corpses. They quickly had it torn down and had Old Town Hall built in its place which President Monroe dedicated in 1816. Many of Michele’s ship paintings now hang in the Peabody Essex Museum.

Later Michele would move to Germany and become an actor. He took the name, Max Schreck. In the later part of his life, he filmed the famous movie Nosferatu in 1922, but had a tendency to eat the members of the crew. Some say he ate Schreck for his poor portrayal and played the part himself; eating his tomatoes in between takes...