Author Topic: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR  (Read 4771962 times)

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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR
« Reply #435 on: August 22, 2016, 06:52:19 PM »
Honour was sitting on the deck in the middle of the cabin just as he had instructed, with Zara sleeping peacefully in her lap.  Honour looked up as Jack came through the door, her face hopeful that the ordeal was over.
“And how are my girls,” Jack asked.
“Are they gone?  Did they sail past us?  Oh, please say they did!”
He shook his head.  “No, love.  They're still with us.  Just sitting there, in fact.  No signal, no movement.  No guns, which is encouraging.”
Her face fell in disappointment.  “What are you doing here then?  Aren't you supposed to be on the quarterdeck, reassuring your men?”
Jack walked to her and sat down on the deck facing her.  “The men are just fine.  Briggs is doing an expert job of staring those Navy ships down.  I felt it was more important to come check on you while I had a chance.”
“We're fine, really,” she lied.  Her eyes were still puffy from crying earlier.
“Yes, you are.  We all are.”  Jack took her hand and got her to meet his eyes.  “Everything is going to be fine, I promise.”
“How can you be so sure, Jack?  You said yourself; they haven't done anything yet.  They must want something of us, or they would go away!”
“Sweetheart, it's my experience that the Navy tend to shoot first and think about asking questions later.  They haven't fired a shot, so that's a good sign, yes?”
Honour thought about his words for a moment and nodded her agreement.

“But what do they want?” she finally asked.
Jack shrugged.  “No idea.  Not even a hint of one.  But this is better than dodging and running any day.  But we'll find a way out of this, I promise.  There's always a way out.”
“Now you sound like the old Jack Wolfe.”
He pulled her hand to his chest.  “He's still in here.  And I guess he always will be.  He just knows his place now.”
Honour smiled a little.  “All right then, Captain Wolfe, do you have a plan?”
“We're going to wait them out.  That's the plan.  If they're looking for a reason to shoot at us, well, they're not going to get it.”
“What's left then?  Talking?”
“I admit it's old-fashioned, but it's a fairly effective way of communicating intentions and wishes nonetheless.  And it's up to them to come over and talk to us.  This was all their bright idea anyway.  They chased us, so we stopped.  They sit like stones; we wait for them to move.  I want to play this on our terms as long as possible.”
Honour shook her head.  “You're always so sure of yourself!  How do you do it?”
“Beats going through life afraid of my own shadow, don't you think?”

A knock came at the door.  It was Briggs.
“Ye said to come get ye when they make a move.  Well, they've gone and done it.”
“What is it?  What have they done?” asked Jack.
“The big frigate just put their longboat in the water,” replied Briggs.  “Four men, two all dandied up like officers.  They're comin' this way, flyin' a white flag of parlay.”
Jack looked at Honour and sighed.  “Well then.  I guess it's time to talk.”
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR
« Reply #436 on: August 30, 2016, 07:38:57 PM »
Honour's eyes went wide with worry.  Unconsciously she clutched Zara to herself a little more.
“Jack, I'm frightened.  Strange men coming aboard our ship...”
“Don't worry, love,” he said with a reassuring smile.  “It's just a formality.  If they wanted to harm us, they would have done it already.  It's probably just their commander's errand boy wondering if we've any spare tea.”
“You're certain?”
“Well, not about the tea.  But he's an errand boy, no matter how much braid he's wearing.  He's coming to talk, and talk is good.  Much better than shooting.”
Honour tried to force herself to relax.  This was supposed to be a simple cruise home.  Home, to a new life.  Not this.  Anything but this.  In spite of her best efforts, tears began to well in her eyes again.
“Go do what you have to do, my love,” she said quietly.
Then Jack did something she never expected.
He held out his hand.
“I-- I don't understand,” she said.
“I want you with me, Honour.  I need you with me.”
“But, why?”
“You're half owner of this vessel, and you have the most precious of all our cargo right there in your arms.  I want the Navy to know they're taking on the whole Wolfe family this day.  If that doesn't make them take pause, I don't know what will.”
Honour's eyes hardened a little.  “You want them to see there's a woman and a child aboard, knowing that will stop them doing any rough stuff.  Or have I suddenly begun misreading you?”
Jack gave a resigned sigh.  “No, darling, you haven't.  But if I just tell them you're on board, they may decide I'm bluffing and do something stupid.  If they see you with their own eyes, whatever plans they may have will be out the window.”
He took her hand and squeezed it gently.
“Please, Honour.  I wouldn't even entertain this idea if I thought you and Zara would be in any danger.”
“You could have asked me straight out, Jack, instead of trying – poorly – to sugar coat things.  I would have said yes.”
“I'm sorry.  I should have given you more credit,” he said.
“You'll make it up to me later,” said Honour with a slight smile.  “I've got lots of ideas on remodelling.”
“Extravagant, I'd imagine?”
“Yet very tasteful.”  She turned her attention to Zara, who was busy tugging at one of the button eyes of her toy rabbit.  The little girl's face was focused determination as her dainty fingers twisted and pulled.  Suddenly, the button came off in her hand.  Zara looked at the shiny green bauble in surprise.
“Bolx!” she exclaimed.
Honour arched an eyebrow at Jack, who shrugged innocently.
“First, we deal with the Navy,” she said stiffly.  “Then we deal with this.”
She turned and walked toward the door.  Briggs leant close to his friend and muttered, “I'd rather take me chances with the Navy!”
Jack didn't say a word.  But he nodded in agreement.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ahoy, the ship!  We wish to come aboard!” called Lieutenant Ethan Kensington from the longboat that rode along side El Lobo.  He was a young man in his mid-twenties, with an officious bearing that well suited the bright red dress uniform he proudly wore in his station as first officer of the Commonwealth ship Reliance.  Kensington watched patiently as a tethering line snaked through the air and landed across the longboat.  One of the sailors took the rope and quickly tied it to the front of the boat.
“We are secured!” he announced as his men pulled the boat closer to the ship, and presently a rope ladder with wooden steps unfurled along El Lobo's side.  Kensington checked his pistol and made a slight adjustment to the way his sabre hung at his hip, then took hold of the ladder.
“Hold there!” said the other officer on the boat.  James Marlowe, a freshly minted lieutenant junior grade, stepped over one of the sailors and placed a hand on the ladder.
“Regulations clearly state, sir, that crewmen of lower rank precede the ranking officer when boarding another, possibly hostile, vessel.”
Kensington looked down his nose at Marlowe.  “Regulations be damned, Mister Marlowe,” he sniffed.  “Jack Wolfe is my prize, and I'll deal with him myself.  You will remain here with the boat.”
“I must protest!” Marlowe countered.  “This is highly irregular.”
“Your concerns are duly noted, Mister Marlowe,” said Kensington flatly.  “Now you will follow orders and remain in the boat.  Or do you crave the lash in reward for your insubordination?”
Marlowe glared at Kensington, but he knew trying to press the matter further was futile.  Kensington was as ambitious as he was reckless, and he was the ranking officer.  The best he could do is note the incident in his report, and hope for the best.  He clenched his teeth, then sat down.
“Good man,” Kensington said in his best patronising tone.  He adjusted his coat smugly and began climbing the ladder.

When Kensington got to the top of the ladder, he found two rough looking sailors waiting for him.  They took him by the arms and helped him climb over the gunwale.  Once his feet were on the deck, he made a point of brushing off the sleeves of his coat where the men had touched him.  When he looked up from inspecting his sleeves for tar stains, he found there was a tall, gangly young man smiling cordially at him.
“Welcome aboard!  My name's Eli Meredith.  I'll be escortin' you to see th' captain.”
Eli continued to smile and held out his hand in greeting.  Kensington glanced down at the young man's extended hand, cocked an eyebrow, and looked back to Eli's face.
“Yes.  You shall take me to see your captain.  Now.”
Somewhat puzzled by the Navy man's abruptness, Eli's smile faded as he let his hand drop.  “I don't think I caught your name, mister...”
“My name is of no concern to you.  Only to your captain.”
“Right.  Follow me, then,” he said.  As he walked toward the quarterdeck, he muttered to himself, “Poppin'-jay son of a...”
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR
« Reply #437 on: September 04, 2016, 07:48:29 PM »
Kensington followed closely behind Eli as they climbed the steps to the quarterdeck.  Waiting there were Briggs, Jack, and Honour with Zara in her arms.  Briggs was near the steps with his hands behind his back, while Jack and Honour stood toward the stern.
Eli turned and motioned to Briggs.  “This here's the captain, like you wanted.”
Briggs eyed the Navy man with disapproval.  “Josiah Briggs, captain and master of this vessel, at yer service.  And ye'd be...?”
“Lieutenant Ethan Kensington, of the Commonwealth warship Reliance.”  He looked suspiciously at Jack, then back to Briggs.  “This is a poor bit of deception, Mister Briggs.  You're the quartermaster, not the captain.”  He pointed at Jack.  “You are Jack Wolfe, are you not?”
Jack gave a curt half bow.  “That I am, lieutenant.  This is my wife, Honour Wolfe.  And Mister Briggs is indeed the captain of this ship now.  I am merely the owner.”
“And just when, pray tell, did this happen?”
“Roughly a month ago,” said Jack.  “You'll forgive us that no paperwork was filed.  We don't exactly stand on formality.  Gets in the way.”
Kensington's eyes narrowed.  “No, I suppose you wouldn't.  But not to worry.  The Admiralty has extensive files on you already.”
“Do they now?”
“You're very well known, Mister Wolfe.  Or would you prefer I address you as Mad Jack?”
Honour shifted uneasily and moved closer to her husband.
“Mister Wolfe suits me fine,” Jack replied tersely.
“It makes no difference to me what you call yourself,” said Kensington as he looked with casual boredom at his fingernails.  “You will accompany me back to the Reliance.”
“For what reason?”
“To meet with my commanding officer, of course.  He's very keen to talk with you.”
“Please extend my regrets to your superior, Lieutenant,” said Jack.  “However, he is more than welcome to dine aboard my ship.  We can talk then.”
Kensington shook his head.  “That's not the way it's done, Wolfe.  Don't make me arrest you in front of your pretty wife.”  He pulled back his frock coat just enough to reveal his pistol.
“You're playing a dangerous game, lad.”  Jack took a step forward, placing himself between Honour and Kensington.  “Draw that weapon, and no matter what happens, you'd never make it off this ship alive.”

Kensington gave him an oily smile.  “All eyes aboard those three warships are watching us.  If I am attacked, they are under orders to open fire on this ship.  That would not bode well for your wife and child.  Check and mate, Mister Wolfe.  Now, come with me.”
Jack glared at the pompous officer.  There was a good chance Kensington was bluffing, but he couldn't risk Honour and Zara's lives.
“All right, lieutenant.  I'll come with you, peacefully.”
“Good man,” said Kensington with a self-satisfied smile.  “Say your goodbyes.  It may be a while before you see them again.”
Jack turned immediately to Honour.  Her eyes were wide with fright, and tears were already starting to roll down her cheeks.
“Jack, you can't go with that horrible man!  You can't leave us!”
He took her gently by the shoulders and kissed her forehead.  “It will be all right, Honour.  I promise,” he said quietly.  “I'll find a way to make this work.  His commander has to be more reasonable than he is.  I'll... negotiate with him.”  Jack leant close and kissed Zara's head, then Honour's cheek.  “Every man has his price, and I'll find this one's, I swear.  Don't be afraid.  I'll make this work.  You trust me?”
He looked into Honour's eyes, and she nodded.
“Time to go, Mister Wolfe,” announced Kensington.
“I love you,” said Jack, and he kissed her and Zara once more.  He then turned to Kensington, no longer willing to hide the contempt he felt.  “What are we waiting for?”

Jack sat silently in the boat as the sailors rowed toward the Reliance.  He watched as the distance between him and his ship – and his family – grew steadily.  Honour was still on the quarterdeck watching, and Jack found himself regretting the choices he had made in this life that now threatened to separate him from the dearest things in his life; his wife and child.
“She's really quite lovely,” said Kensington.  “It's a pity you won't see her for a very long time.  Hopefully, her looks won't fade too much before you see her again.  Then, of course, there's your child...”
Jack looked over at the arrogant lieutenant, his face impassive.  “Kensington, keep in mind that we're away from my ship,” he said quietly and calmly.  “If anything were to happen now, your men have no reason to fire on her, only this boat.  Now, if you keep talking, I'm going to find out if your blood matches the red of your uniform.”
Kensington's eyes went wide, and he swallowed hard.
The remainder of the trip to the Reliance passed in silence save for the creak of the oars as they pulled through the water.

Once aboard the Reliance, Jack was led below deck through the companionway to a heavy oak door near the ship's stern.  “Right to the big dog,” he thought.  “At least they're not wasting time.”
Kensington knocked three times on the door, and a voice within replied: “Come!”
The lieutenant opened the door and stepped inside.  Jack could see the commanding officer.  He was looking out one of the gallery windows, his back to the rest of the room.  He was a little taller than Jack and wore a red uniform with gold braids at the shoulders.  His hair was pulled back in a pigtail and tied with a black ribbon.
Kensington turned beside the door and snapped to attention.
“Sir!” he said loudly.  “I present to you the right honourable Admiral Wolfe!”
Jack stepped inside and began laughing.  “I did rattle you back there, didn't I?  It's Captain Wolfe, sonny.  But I appreciate the promotion all the same.”
The figure at the window cleared his throat.  “He wasn't announcing your arrival, Captain Wolfe.  He was introducing you to me.”
The man turned from the window, and Jack's mouth fell open in shock.
“Thomas?  It's you??” he gasped.
“Hello, Jack,” Admiral Thomas Wolfe said with a smile.  “It's been a long time, my dear, wayward brother.  Please, have a seat.  There're a few things we need to catch up on.”
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR
« Reply #438 on: September 25, 2016, 07:56:27 PM »
A grin of joy and relief quickly spread across Jack's face.  He rushed past a dumbstruck Kensington and into his brother's arms.  As the two men laughed and embraced, Kensington struggled to make sense of what he was seeing.
“You're... brothers??” said the slackjawed lieutenant.
“Oh dear,” said Thomas.  “Mister Kensington, you've put one and one together and come up with eleven again, haven't you?  Surely someone of even your overwrought pedigree should have noticed the uncanny similarity in our family names.  Go ahead, think about it.  And...”
Kensington's face began to colour when he realised the mistakes he'd made that day, all in the name of reaping personal glory for apprehending a renowned pirate.  He had unwittingly bullied and threatened members of his superior's family, most likely destroying his prospects for advancement in the process, all because he had been too full of himself to notice a crucial detail.  The admiral's patronising tone was salt in that fresh wound.
“... there it is,” said Thomas with a snap of his fingers.  “I trust you treated my brother with all due respect, Kensington?”
“Um... well, you see...  I...  ah...” 
He waited as the lieutenant squirmed, then he looked to Jack, who slowly shook his head no.
Thomas began writing a note to himself on a scrap of paper.  “Mister Kensington, you're relieved of duty until I get this sorted out.”
“But, Admiral!  You're going to take the... head waggle of a-- dare I say it--”
“A pirate?  Yes, because he's a good deal smarter than you,” said Thomas, his tone becoming increasingly impatient.  “This is not a debate.  Shall I confine you to quarters as well?”
Kensington snapped to attention.  Everyone knew it was a bad idea to earn the admiral's anger, and he knew he'd done just that.  One more mistake added to a very, very bad day.
“No, sir!  My apologies, to you and your brother, sir!”
“You are dismissed, Mister Kensington,” said Thomas in quiet, even tones.  “I'll deal with you later.”
The young man beat a hasty retreat, almost slamming the door behind him.  Not out of anger, but of humiliation.

Jack looked at his older brother in surprise, not quite sure what to say about Thomas' dressing down of the lieutenant or his amazing turn of luck.  Thomas slipped off his frock coat, folded it neatly lengthwise, and draped it over the back of his chair.  Then he burst out in laughter.
“You always got that look on your face when Father scolded one of us instead of you!  I nicked that bit from him!  Still works, doesn't it?”
“I was waiting for you to send him out back to the woodshed to find a switch!” laughed Jack.  “Thomas, I must admit I'm at a loss for words.  To hear Kensington tell it, I was bound for Newgate prison for the rest of my days, if my ship wasn't blown out of the water first.  But there has to be a reason for you and your lads chasing me down this way.”
“He threatened all that, did he?  Well, well.  That's going to make overlooking him for promotion so much easier.”  Thomas paused for a moment before motioning to the seat in front of his desk.  His demeanour became unsettlingly businesslike.  “Sit down, Jack.  There is a very good reason why we were following you.”
“Do I want to hear it?”
“You don't have a choice.”
“I already don't like it.”

Jack took the seat and folded his arms across his chest while he waited for Thomas to sit as well.
“Something to drink?” offered Thomas.
“You didn't chase me down for brandy, Thomas.  Let's cut to it.”
Thomas' eyebrows went up at Jack's directness.  He went ahead and poured two glasses, and pushed one of them in front of his brother.  After taking a sip of his drink, he held up a piece of paper.
“My orders,” he said, slowly fanning the page in the air.  “To pursue and arrest one John Michael Wolfe, known also as Mad Jack Wolfe, captain and master of El Lobo del Mar, on charges of piracy and half a dozen other related crimes against the Commonwealth.”
Jack took a long drink, then stared into his glass.  “This is very good brandy.”
“That's it?  I tell you there's a warrant for capital crimes sworn out against you, and all you have to say is 'good brandy'?”
“What would you have me say, Thomas?  Beg for leniency?  That's not going to happen.  We both know I'm guilty.” 
Jack put down his glass and looked Thomas in the eyes.
“You want to know where my ship was headed, dear brother?”
Thomas shrugged.  “Barbados, I assumed.  That was where you'd made a home of sorts.”
“Funny you should put it that way.  That's exactly where I was headed.  Home.  A new home, and a new life.  You want to know who else is on the ship with me?”
“Do tell.”
“My wife and child.”
Thomas blinked.  “Your wife?  And a child?  You remarried, then?”
Jack shook his head.  “No.  Our paths finally crossed again, thank God.”
“I thought you were only interested in that relic she stole.  A key, wasn't it?”
“A key I gave her.  Honour kept it out of spite.  But I found she was the treasure I'd been looking for all this time.”

Thomas sat back, trying to absorb what Jack was telling him.  His face was a mask of confusion as he tried to sort it all out.
“Let me see if I understand this,” he said finally.  “The woman you swore you hated came back into your life...”
“Yes.”
“... with a child in tow...”
“No, she was still in Wales.  That's where we're returning from.”
“She??  You, with a daughter??”  Thomas began to laugh so hard he could scarcely catch his breath.
“Go ahead and get it out of your system.  Believe me; I was shocked to death when Honour told me we had a little girl.”
“And you're certain she's yours?”
“No question.  Wait until you see her.  She's definitely a Wolfe.”
Thomas was finally catching his breath from laughing.  “So the three of you are headed back to Barbados to start a new life?  At least I hope that's the intent?”
Jack sighed.  “That was the plan.  We have a plantation outside of Bridgetown.  I thought I'd try my hand at being landed gentry.  See how the other half lives, you know?  That is until you showed up with that damnable piece of paper.”  He gave his brother a quizzical look.  “What the devil are you smiling about?”

“I'm happy for you, Jack.  Happier than words can describe.”
“Happy that I almost got that life mum and dad wanted for me?  Your sense of humour has taken a cruel turn, Thomas.”
Thomas shook his head and refilled their glasses.  “No, I'm happy you said the magic words.  Most of them, anyway.  There's only one more I need to hear.”
“You have me at a disadvantage,” said Jack.  “What magic words did I say?”
Thomas opened a drawer to his desk and produced another piece of parchment.
“This enterprise cost me calling in quite a few favours, Jack.  Nearly all of them.  I knew anyone else would have executed the warrant and washed their hands of the matter.  Just another pirate put away, and hopefully a promotion if the stars align properly.  But I knew that if I were the one to find you, I could help.  That's where the favours came in.  So I could offer you something no one else could.”
He put the piece of paper in front of Jack and smiled proudly.  Jack picked it up, and his mouth fell open.
“I.... I can't believe it....” he stammered.
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR
« Reply #439 on: September 27, 2016, 06:33:13 PM »
“Believe it, Jack,” said Thomas.  “It's just what it looks like.  A full, immediate pardon, signed by Oliver Cromwell himself.  The only condition is that you give up piracy and never commit another act of it again.  Those were the magic words you said earlier.  You've already made the decision to quit the life and rejoin society.  Take your time and read it over.”

Jack took another sip of brandy and began to read the words printed on the parchment:

An Ordinance of Pardon and Grace to One John Michael Wolfe, also Known as Mad Jack Wolfe, Master and Owner of the Ship El Lobo del Mare.
[10 November 1654]
 
His Highness the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the Dominions thereunto belonging, being desirous that the Mercies which it hath pleased God to give to this Nation, should be improved for the good and advantage of all Parties, Doth Ordain and Declare, and be it Ordained and Declared by his Highness the Lord Protector, with the Consent of his Council, That John Michael Wolfe, also Known as Mad Jack Wolfe, and any other Aliases thereof, and the Crewe of the Ship El Lobo del Mare, of what degree or quality soever they or any of them are (except the persons hereafter in this Ordinance particularly excepted) shall be, and are hereby, and from and after the first day of December in the year, One thousand six hundred fifty four, freed, acquitted and discharged from all Forfeitures, Pains, Penalties, Mulcts, corporal or pecuniary, Restraints, Imprisonment or Imprisonments, Punishment or Punishments whatsoever for any matter or thing by them or any of them, committed or done by Sea or Land; And that for the matters aforesaid, there shall be from and after the said First day of December aforesaid, no Sequestration, Confiscation, Fine, Penalty, Forfeiture or Punishment, imposed or continued upon them or any of them, (otherwise then as is hereafter in this Ordinance expressed) but the same shall be put in perpetual Oblivion.

And also that the Estates real and personal of all persons of shall be, and are hereby and from thenceforth freed, discharged and acquitted from all Sequestrations, Confiscations, Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures whatsoever, for any matter or thing by them or any of them committed or done, in relation to any aforesaid Crimes committed against the Commonwealth and Her Peoples.

Except and always reserved out of this present Ordinance, and all benefit thereof, are any Member of the Crewe beneath the Rank of Mate, to include all Ordinary Sailors, and all the Honours, Manors, Castles, Houses, Messuages, Forests, Chases, Parks and Lands and all Tenements and Hereditaments, Royalties, Priviledges, Franchises, Immunities, Rents and Appurtenances to them, belonging or appertaining, or heretofore lawfully used or enjoyed by them, or any of them, as part or parcel thereof, and also all the Goods and Chattels, and all the Estates, both real and personal...

Jack's eyes began to glaze over at the verbose legalese, but it was not lost on him that a few of his men would be forfeit in this pardon.  The most prominent being the young Eli Meredith, whom Jack had come to look upon as a son.  “Nothing a clever lie and a quick promotion can't fix,” he thought.

Provided always, and be it further Ordained, That this Ordinance, or any thing therein contained, shall not extend, nor be construed to extend, to the freeing or discharging of any Prisoner or Prisoners arrested for their several Crimes, from their respective Imprisonments; or to the Cancelling or Discharging of any Surety, Bond, Parol, or Engagement, of, or for any Prisoner of War, without the special Order of His Highness the Lord Protector, or whom he shall appoint.

“So much for the jailbirds,” thought Jack.  “Serves them right for getting caught.”

Signed this Day, the Tenth of November in the Year of Our Lord, One Thousand Six Hundred fifty-four.

Oliver P

A slowly exhaled breath escaped Jack's lips as he considered the terms of the pardon.
“I never thought I'd give half a damn to see anything with Ollie's signature on it,” he said quietly.  “I know, politics go out the window when it's your neck on the block, but...”
“The beautiful thing is,” said Thomas as he picked up the warrant again, “that document, because of the who's signature is on it, nullifies this one.  If you sign it, of course.  Please, Jack.  I want to tear this one up.  Hell, I want to burn it!”
“They got the name of my ship wrong.  What about the Laws of Admiralty?”
“Jack, I am an admiral,” said Thomas.  “I'll write an attachment that will cover the misspelling.  You're lucky they spelt your name right.”
“All right.  I can live with that.  But I need to know; is Honour covered by this?”
“Was she aboard during any act of piracy?”
“No, she wasn't.”
“Does she hold any rank?  Beside Captain's Woman, that is?”
Jack couldn't help but laugh.  “No, besides the unofficial rank of Master and Commander of me, she doesn't.”
“Then everyone that matters is covered.”
“Everyone but Eli, but I'll fix that myself,” Jack said to himself.

“All right, Thomas.  I take it 'yes' is the magic word you're looking for?”
Thomas nodded in the affirmative, with an expectant smile.
“Give me a pen.  The word is given.  Yes.  I accept the pardon.  Effective this date, the term 'pirate' is no longer applicable to Jack Wolfe.”
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR
« Reply #440 on: November 14, 2016, 04:01:26 PM »
Honour stood on the quarterdeck, continuing to stare at the English command ship as if she could will them to release her husband back to her.  It had been nearly two hours since Jack was taken aboard the other ship.  She could only imagine what Jack must be going through, and she tried hard not to.  Instead, she focused on a prayer.  A prayer that he would be back soon and they'd soon be on their way homeward.  Also, she thought of little Zara sleeping peacefully in her crib, oblivious to the drama playing out with her father...

A gentle hand on her shoulder startled Honour out of her thoughts.

“Oh!  For goodness sake, Duckie, you scared me half to death!”
“I spoke your name three times, my dear,” said the doctor.  “You were too lost in thought to notice.”
“I'm sorry.  I was... preoccupied.”
“Of course you were.  Anyone in their right mind would be.”  Duckie paused a moment as he looked off at the English ships.  “Josiah stopped by to tell me what happened with the Navy lieutenant.  Damned infuriation, their timing.”
“The fates themselves seem determined to keep Jack and me from any sort of peaceful, happy life,” she said softly.  “I'm beginning to wonder if it really is too much to ask for?”
Duckie sighed as he continued looking at the warships.  He couldn't help but hear the undercurrent of despair in her voice.
“I can't think of anyone more deserving of a quiet, peaceful life than you, Jack, and Zara,” he said, trying his best to reassure her.  “With as much as you've gone through, the struggles, the obstacles....  No, Honour.  Something good has to come out of this.  You deserve that 'happily ever after' you've been dreaming of.”
“Then why does it feel like everything is slipping away?” Honour asked, her voice cracking as she blinked back tears.
Duckie turned toward her.  “Is it now?  Is it really?”
Honour gave him a puzzled look.
“All we know is that an impolite, ambitious young man in a uniform came to fetch Jack to talk with his superior.  Yes?”
“Yes, but he threatened to arrest Jack...”
“Did he?”
“No.  Jack agreed to go peacefully.”
“The man Josiah described to me was self-important, imperious, and arrogant.  If he actually had the authority to arrest Jack, to humiliate him in front of his wife and crew, do you think he would have hesitated?”
Honour thought about Duckie's words, then shook her head.  “No, I think he would have jumped at the chance.”
“Well, then,” smiled Duckie.  “Things aren't so bleak after all, eh?”
“But what about the commander?” she asked.
Duckie took her hand and clasped it in his.  “Honour, Jack Wolfe is the most infuriatingly lucky man I've ever known.  Defying the odds is what he does best.  You've seen it yourself.  You've helped him beat the odds more than once.  And when he found you again, it was through...”
“A twist of fate,” Honour said, and she began to smile.  “More of his dumb luck.”
“I know why you worry so about losing him,” he said gently.  “But when you think about it, our Jack is not an easy man to get rid of.”
Honour's eyes went wide at his remark, and she couldn't help but burst out laughing.
“No, he really isn't!” she giggled, and for a few moments she was able to relax.  “You really believe everything will be all right?”
“Yes, but what I believe isn't important.  Do you believe everything will work out right?”
Honour looked out at the command ship once more.  “Yes,” she said with quiet confidence.  “I know it will.  Jack is coming back to us.  He just has to.  I won't accept anything less.”
Yo ho ho! Or does nobody actually say that?

Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR
« Reply #441 on: November 20, 2016, 08:09:31 PM »
Thomas shook his head in disbelief.  “If it were anyone else telling me these fantastical things, I'd think them mad.”
“Which part?” asked Jack.  “The maze island, the books, the stone faces?  I know it's hard to believe, but every last bit of it is true.”
“That Honour took you back, and you're a father of a little girl.  The island adventure is peanuts in comparison.  Even the voodoo woman can't hold a candle, pardon the pun.”
“When did you get so cheeky?” said Jack.  He picked up the brandy bottle to pour them each another drink, but only a dribble came out.  “Bad news, Admiral!  We sank this one too!”
“Not to worry,” laughed Thomas.  He reached into a cabinet behind his desk and produced another bottle of rum.  “Plenty more where that came from.”
“I know what you mean, though, about Honour,” said Jack while he waited for his brother to finish pouring.  “Her coming back into my life was the best thing that ever happened.  Well, almost the best thing.  Zara's the best thing.”
“Mum would have loved her name.  But the offspring of you and the woman who could gentle you...”
“Thank you very much for not saying 'tamed'.“
“Don't mention it.  You'll be domesticated soon enough.”
“You had to remind me.”
“You're welcome.  Anyway, I'll bet a month's wages she'll be a handful.”
“Are you kidding?  She already is,” Jack laughed.  “Just ask the ship's cat.  And the quartermaster.”
“Off to an early start.  Not unlike her father.”
“I was never that bad.”
“Oh, weren't you?  I'm sure Prissy would beg to differ.”
“What did I know?” protested Jack.  “I was four.  I was trying to make her tail longer.”
“Terrier's aren't supposed to have long tails.  Poor thing ran around with hers curled up like a corkscrew the rest of her days!” laughed Thomas.
“Da was furious; I remember that.   I stuck to stretching the truth rather than dog's tails after that.  Safer for everyone.”
“You were excellent at it, too.”
“Still am.  It's served me well over the years.”

Thomas took another drink, then reached for the first parchment he'd read Jack.  He looked at it a moment and smiled, then pushed it across the desk.
“What's this?” asked Jack.
“That warrant I told you about.  I thought that while we're on the subject, you'd like to know just how long I've been holding onto this scrap of paper.”
Jack picked it up and read the date in the upper left margin.  He looked at his brother in surprise.
“A year and a half?”
Thomas nodded.
“Then you had this when we met last year in Madeira!”
“And I would have told you about it.  If you hadn't drunk me under the table, that is.  When I had my men look for you the next morning, you were already out to sea.”
“I hate long goodbyes.”
“Rubbish.  You suspected.”
Jack gave a noncommittal shrug.  “You were asking an awful lot of questions.”
“I had to see if the charges were true.  And you didn't disappoint.  Hell, you practically bragged!”
“Of course I bragged!  A lot of work went into all that.”  He swirled his glass, then set it down on the desk.  “Would you have arrested me?”
“Do you think I had a choice in the matter?”
“No.  That's why I drank you under the table.”

Thomas gave Jack an exasperated look, then began to laugh.  “Well, I'm glad you did.  The last thing I wanted was to haul off my own brother in irons.”
“Awkward for you, bloody miserable for me.  Not only am I grateful now for the pardon, but I'm grateful that you were such a lightweight back then.  I owe you.”
“Yes, you do. There's only one thing I ask as repayment.”
“What's that?”
“That you abide by the provisions of the pardon.  That the pirate Mad Jack Wolfe is laid to rest, never to be seen again.”
Jack smiled and raised his glass.  “Done!”
Thomas clinked his glass against Jack's, and the two men downed their drinks.
“I still owe you, too,” said Thomas.
“You do?  For what?”
“For drinking me under the table in Madeira.  It took me months to live that down with my men.”
Jack smiled and picked up the bottle.  “This is a celebration, I reckon.  Care for a rematch?” he asked as he held the mouth of the bottle over Thomas' glass.
“Pour,” said Thomas.  “And keep pouring.  I'm winning this time.”
Yo ho ho! Or does nobody actually say that?

Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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Re: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR
« Reply #442 on: December 06, 2016, 07:58:04 PM »
But the old one, she is still awake, when something else was said
You can say what you want, you silly old fool, there's a man in my daughter's bed
No rest, no peace could the old one get till she got up to see
But her foot gave a shot to the chamber pot, and into the creel fell she
Into the creel fell she...


The brothers burst into drunken laughter as they sang the last line.  Jack managed to get down another swallow of rum, and Thomas was ready to refill the glass the moment it hit the tabletop.
“Do you remember when Granddad Ian taught us that silly little song?” asked Jack.
“Of course I do!” said Thomas.  “It was the first time we'd ever tasted alcohol!  Remember when Mum came down to the mill house and found the three of us there, blind drunk and singing?”
Jack laughed and nodded.  “I'd never seen her so cross with anyone, much less her own father!  At least she was more angry with him than with us.  Though not by much.”
“Granddad Ian had a talent for getting in trouble.”
“That's what I admired most about him.”
Thomas began laughing again.  “Da was no help to her mood, was he?”
“He tried so hard to act all angry and disappointed with us!  We stood there giggling like fools.  But I thought Mum would take the rolling pin to his head after he started laughing too!”
“She never let him live that down, either,” chuckled Thomas.  He finished his glass and poured another.  “Come on, you!  Get to drinking!  I'll not have you do all the talking whilst I drink.  That's what got me in trouble last time.”
Jack picked up his glass.  “Ah, you've got me sussed!  Damn!  I'm no match for the admiral.”
“Bloody right, and don't you forget it!”

A crisp knock came at the door, and Thomas rolled his eyes.
“All right, what is it?” he shouted.
The door opened, and a man on officer's dress stepped smartly into the cabin.
“Here to report the change of watch, sah!”
“Yes, yes, very good, Master Griffin,” said Thomas dismissively.  “Oh, Master Griffin, this is my brother, Captain Jack Wolfe.  Jack, this is Griffin, my boatswain.”
“Cheers, mate,” slurred Jack.
Griffin gave a polite nod.  “How do, sah.  Can I get the admiral anything?”
“No, no, Griff.  We're good here.  You're dismissed.”
Griffin gave a quick salute, turned on his heel, and left the cabin.

“Nice of them to tell you when the watch changes,” said Jack.  Suddenly, his expression changed.  “Wait a minute!  He said the watch changed?”
“Yeah, what of it?”
“Bloody hell!” Jack cried.  “We've been at this at least four hours??  Honour must be beside herself with worry!  We've got to get back to El Lobo!”
“Wait, what do you mean, we?”
“I'm not doing all the explanation on this one, brother mine.  If I have to face the music, so do you.  Besides, it will get you aboard my ship, and we'll have dinner there.  One big happy family.  If Honour is still talking to me after this.”
Thomas shrugged.  “It's only fair, I suppose.  Now quit panicking.  We'll finish our drinks first.”
“Thomas, did you hold any hope to make a good impression when you met Honour?”
“Of course I do!  She's part of the family now, such as it is.”
“Well, you're starting from a deficit,” said Jack.
“Hold on now, you're as much to blame as I am!”
“She'll be angriest with me, but you're the older brother and should have known better.  Don't bother sorting her reasons, she comes from a family of sisters that watch out for one another.  We'd best put down the shovels and start climbing out of this hole.”
“Mum would have liked her.  She's got your number, this one,” laughed Thomas.
“Moreover, she's got my heart.  That's why damage control matters.  Let's go.”

Jack tried to stand, but dizziness overtook him and he plopped back into his chair.
“Oof, my head!  I guess I'm out of practice.”
“If you hadn't told me about Honour and Zara before we started drinking, I'd say you were trying to weasel out of the contest.  But I suppose you're right, we shouldn't keep her waiting.”  Thomas gave his brother a wary look.  “She'll be that upset with us?  Really?”
“Thomas, think about it.  She believes her husband has been taken into custody by the Royal... sorry, Commonwealth's navy, probably to get hauled off to prison in England, and nothing has happened in over four hours to show her any different.  While she's been worrying, we've been reminiscing and drinking far past our fill.  Do you think she'll be terribly happy seeing us in this shape?  A Spanish armada would be far more forgiving, and rightly so.”
Jack and Thomas traded worried looks for a few moments as Thomas thought about what his brother had said.  Simultaneously, the two men grabbed their glasses and downed the contents in only a couple gulps.
“There, just the courage I needed,” said Thomas.  He sat up straight, tugged on his waistcoat to smooth the wrinkles, and unceremoniously slid from his chair onto the deck.
“Merde,” sighed Jack as he looked under the desk at his soused brother, who lay there giggling.  “Round two goes to me.  Now let's get you up and sorted.  They won't let me off this ship without your say so, and I'm not facing Honour without you as an alibi.”
“You mean a scapegoat,” said Thomas, his statement punctuated with a hiccup.
“Fine, split hairs if you must.”
“Jack?”
“Yes?”
“I lost again, didn't I?”
“Yes.  But not by much.  Can you stand?”
“Maybe.  Are you going to help me if I try?”
“Of course!  Give me your hand.”

Jack took hold of Thomas' hand and helped the admiral to his feet.
“Now no fair dropping me,” slurred Thomas.
“I promise, I won't drop you.  Now, one foot in front of the other... that's it!  I'll grab your justacorps.  Well done!  Almost to the door...  let me open it so we can both get out.”
Jack took his hand off Thomas to open the cabin door.  The moment the door swung open, Thomas collapsed in a heap, face down on the deck.
“LIAR!” he yelled.
“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to let you fall!  Are you all right?” asked Jack.
“God, this deck needs a good scrubbing.”
Jack looked heavenward and shook his head.  “A navy officer who can’t hold his rum.  This is going to be harder than I thought.”
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Offline Welsh Wench

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Re: PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR
« Reply #443 on: January 14, 2017, 08:11:39 PM »
Meanwhile, aboard El Lob del Mar...

Honour finished off the last bit of brandy in her glass, and wiped a tear from her eye as she set the glass down.
“Feeling a little better?” asked Duckie.
Honour sniffled.  “Yes, a bit.  I feel so foolish for crying like that up on deck.  I should be stronger.”
“Nonsense,” said Duckie.  “This is a stressful situation.  No one is expecting you to sit on your emotions.  Stoicism is overrated.”
“May I have some more brandy, please?”
Duckie poured another half glass for her, and she took a sip.
“It was so sweet of Eli, offering to watch after Zara for a bit,” she continued.  “I never knew he came from such a large family.”
“He's really is a good lad, even for a Catholic,” he said with a chuckle.  Honour had to  hold back laughing until she could swallow her brandy.  “And he's worked hard to redeem himself in Jack's eyes.”
“Very hard,” she agreed.  “I know Jack hasn't said anything, but he really does think the world of Eli.  So does Briggs.”
“In his own gruff way, of course.  But it does my heart good to see it.”  Duckie looked on as Honour finished her glass.
“Do go easy, my dear,” he admonished.
Honour picked up the decanter and refilled her glass.  “Oh, I'm fine.  Please don't worry.  It just tastes so good, and it's helping calm my nerves.  Remember, I've been able to drink Jack under the table more than once.”
“Yes, before you had Zara.  Things change...”
“I promise to be careful, Duckie.  You worry so!”

Duckie started to say something else, but reconsidered.  Honour was probably right, he thought.  Perhaps he was being overly sensitive because of Rose.  And Jack wasn't the only man she'd been able to out-drink in her day.  In retrospect, even Rose wouldn't stand a chance.  He smiled, and refilled his own glass.
“I'd be less than a gentleman if I let you drink alone,” he said.
“The company is welcome,” she said.  “Duckie, do you really think everything will be all right?  I mean, nearly six hours and no word...  No idea whether or not Jack is safe...”
“Now, now, Honour.  Don't get yourself worked up again.  Keep in mind, there is one thing above all else the Navy is ruthlessly efficient at.”
She hesitated for a moment, then with a hint of worry in her voice asked, “And that is?”
“Protocol.”
Honour giggled at the joke, appreciative of his attempt to help allay her fears.  Smiling, she had another sip.
“If it's not signed, notarised, delegated, and properly saluted,” he continued, “they won't act on it.  I think that's what most attracted Jack to piracy.  The almost Utopian lack of paperwork.”
“Dreams of wealth had little to do with it?” she joked.
“It certainly didn't hurt.  Nor did his success.  As happy as he was a a pirate, I can tell you he's much happier now.”  Duckie raised his glass.  “Testament to the positive things the love of a good woman can bring.”

Honour blushed a little.  “Duckie, you're such a kind and gentle man.  You always know just what to say and how to sayoit.  How is it you're not married?”
A melancholy smile came over his face, and her breath caught for a moment.
“I'm sorry!” she said quickly.  “That wasn't my place to ask.”
“No, that's quite all right,” he said softly.  “Heaven knows you've told me, shall we say, uncomfortable things about your past.  Quid pro quo is only appropriate.  But you'll forgive me if I have a bit more brandy first.”
Honour took his glass and refilled it, and topped hers off as well.  She still felt embarrassed about asking him such a personal question.  But she couldn't help being intrigued.
Duckie took a long sip, then gave a heavy sigh. “Emily.  Emily Parker.  She was the love of my life.  We met my last year at university, at a Christmas party.  I courted her three years before managing to work up enough nerve to ask her to marry me.”  He chuckled and shook his head.”
“And... what did she say?”
“I'll never forget.  She said, “Please pardon my French, Drake Gander, but it's about damned time!'  You can imagine my shock.  I'd never heard her swear before!”
Honour laughed appreciatively.  “But she said yes?”
“Oh yes!” laughed Duckie.  “I'm surprised she didn't drag me off to the magistrate's that night.”
“Well, it's been known to happen!” giggled Honour.
“I would have done it, too,” said Duckie wistfully.  “I was so in love with her.”  He paused to take a drink.
“You still are,” thought Honour.  The tone of his voice said it all.  Her heart went out to him.  Though lessened now, it was a pain she knew too well.
“Anyway, our parents made sure we had the requisite big church wedding.  Six months later, I was made the offer of starting a practice in the burgeoning colony of Barbados.  The opportunity was good and the money even better.  It was to be our big adventure, building our life together in the New World.  So we made the journey, I started my practice, and we got a little flat that would be our first home.  But it didn't turn out the way we'd hoped.”

Honour's brow furrowed with concern.  “What happened?  What went wrong?”
Duckie sighed again and took another drink of brandy.  “Emily became homesick.  Terribly so.  She was depressed and miserable, and I was under contract to practice in Barbados for at minimum of two years.  If I broke the contract, I would have been thrown in gaol for up to five years.  So my choice was lose Emily, or lose Emily and my freedom.  I stayed on in Barbados, and Emily went back home to England.  Two months later, I received a divorce decree.”
“I'm so sorry, Duckie.  That had to have been awful!”
“It was!”  He looked into his glass as he swirled the amber liquid around.  “So like any proper Englishman, I crawled into a bottle and vowed never to come out.  We're very good at slowly destroying ourselves.”
“You're here now, though.  And this is the first I've heard to speak of her.  What changed?”
Duckie laughed and pointed up.  “That husband of yours.  That's what happened.  Him, and another gentleman you knew.”
Honour's face began to go pale.  “No...”
“Yes, Honour.  None other than Rhys Morgan.”
As she sat there speechless, Duckie refilled his glass.
“Did Jack ever tell you about what happened between him and that devil, Colonel Mendoza?”
Honour shook her head.  “Not really, and I didn't press.  Briggs told me Jack had been held captive and tortured.  Rhys told me a little more, but he made it sound like he helped in a simple jailbreak.  But I knew there had to be more to it than that.”
“Then let me tell you a story, my dear, of some incredibly heroic men lead by the brave Welshman, Rhys Morgan.  Amazing people, you Welsh.  Never underestimate a Celt, I say!  Now here's what really happened...”
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