Pirate Festival => Port of Call => Topic started by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 07:28:47 AM

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 07:28:47 AM
This was a collaberative writing between Black-Hearted Pearl, Queen Bonnie, Ice Mage, Mad Jack Wolfe and myself (Welsh Wench).  The posts were lost in the forum highjacking but Mad Jack saved it in post form and I had put it in narrative form way back when.  So...we shall post the narrative to the point where the postings take over.

Since it started out loosely, it was named Bilge Pump Pub by BHP. Queen Bonnie and Ice Mage posted a few times. Pearl hung in longer and then opted out after a bit .
Jack and I took it over. 

The title will change to El Lobo del Mar since we only were in the pub for one bright sunny day~

For those that are curious...this is a prequel to Dead Man's Tavern. 

I also wish to point out that even though the post are from me, Welsh Wench, the story is half Jack's and alot from Black Hearted Pearl...this was the only way we could post it.
© 2008 by the respective authors.  All Rights Reserved.

Captain Pearl walked into the pub and looked around. There seemed to be several people milling about, drinking and carousing. It's the early part of the evening. Not all ships have released their crews for shore leave yet. I figured no time like the present. As the more experienced crews come in, I will have less of chance of convincing the young ones to take a chance on a female captain. I gathered up my nerve and stride to the the center of the room. Deep breath.

"Ahoy, I'm Captain of the Scorpion and am looking for some young green crew to learn the ropes. It's a small schooner, about a 75 meters in length. I prefer young strapping lads, but am willing to take on strong lasses as long as their strong wills do not get in the way. So what say you, who here wants to learn to sail the seven seas?"

She  looked around with squinted eyes, and waited for a response.
Captain Vardus strolled  into the pub,  looking to grab a pint before The Knight Hammer departed.
"Barkeep, an ale if ye please."
He sat down, and put his feet up on the chair next to him.
Pearl watcheed as another captain entered the pub. 'Bugger, now how I am to acquire crew with a male captain admists. What I need is a cute wench to distract the captain and not just any wench. The most beautiful in the town.' Until then, Pearl realized there is another opportunity here. Pearl wandered over to the captain.

"Good day, sir. What brings ye to port? Do ye have anything ye liked to trade?"  she asked, eyeing the captain who appeared to be eyeing not her eyes but rather lower.
"Nothing to trade as of yet, Milady. We simply stopped in to take on provisions."
The captain took a swig from his tankard.
"However, when we return our hull should be busting with goods from all over the world. If ye be abouts when we return to sell our Priz...... i mean our cargo, iI might be inclined to reach some sort of a bargain. In the mean time, how about a drink?"
The captain  motions towards a chair on the other side of the table.
Pearl eyed the captain. She doesn't want to get drinking with the man. She needs a crew. Her source has indicated the Spaniards are due to set sail with an armada of treasure from the new world. The Spaniards know nothing of the summer storms. It is a bad time to be sailing east. One shipwreck and Pearl will have it made for the rest of her life. She needs that crew. Perhaps she can acquire some from this captain. Mutiny, as long as it isn't against oneself, could be profitable.
"Aye, I'll join ye for a drink. That is,"  as she smiles sweetly and winks, "if yer buying."
"Certainly Milady. Take a seat. Oh I am amiss.  Let me introduce myself. I am Captain Daemon Vardus of The Knight Hammer. May I have the pleasure of your name?  I would hate to share a drink with one as lovely as yourself, and not catch your name."
"Aye, ye can have the pleasure of my name. It is Pearl and I'll take a rum."

Pearl sat down in the chair next to Captain Vardus and eyed him through lowered eyes. She placed down her pewter mug to be filled. On the mug is an engraving of a scorpion; It matches the one she wears on her finger.

"So Captain, what flag do you sail under?"
The door opened and another captain swaggered- or is it staggered in!
"Yarrr! Rum for me and my First Mate, Barkeep!- and a Rum all around for all here! Ye can Thank Capt Black Bonnie Macfearsom- of the Scurvy Cat . We have had some good sailin!!! Yo Ho!"
Capt Bonnie looks around to see who she is treating. " Ahoy Vardus!!! We have not seen ye in ages! "
Captain Vardus looked up at his table guest.
"Our own officially, we are a freelance vessel. But if we were to call a place home, it would be in Glenlivet. We usually fly The RF Flag of Glenlivet underneath our own. But some circumstances warrant us to lower it, in the interests of peace that is. How about y........"

Captain Black Bonnie entered the room, ordered drinks around the house. Without even a breath she spotted Captain Vardus sitting at the table, and started over to him.
"Captain why don't you join us?  We were just discussing our home port, and the flags we sail under."
Pearl looked at both Captain Black Bonnie and then at Captain Vardus. Can she trust these folks? Do they work for the Spaniards? She'll just have to test the waters.
"I sail under a letter of Marque from the Governor of Port Royal. Most me crew is tailors and such. We are always in the market for cloth, particularly from the china seas."

The 'such' being a cutthroats will ne'er a thought to slicing a throat for gold.
 Jack strolled  in and took a long look around at the patrons. His left hand seemed to be tallying numbers of some sort, while his right hand danced off the hilt of his cutlass. His eyes darted suspiciously about the pub, when he spied a table that gave him full view of his surroundings. He took  a seat at the table, careful to ensure that none have made a move in his direction.
"Barkeep! Rum! And... more rum, if you please."

 Bonnie  McFearsome  explained,  "We are sailing also under the Royal Flag of Glenlivet. No doubt you have heard of my Sister the Queen? We are under her protection.  Seafarin' tailors, eh?"
Bonnie raised one eyebrow in amusement as she gulped her rum.
"Must be handy when yer sails need mendin!"
She laughed heartily, as did Capt.Vardus. Capt Bonnie gave thought to her own scurvy crew of Elves, Fae and adventurers. She hoped they were keeping a weather eye on the valuable cargo she had in the hold. She took note of the pirate sitting alone and looking about nervously.
"Ahoy lad! The rum is on me this day! Drink up!"
She flashed a smile at the newcomer. In the business of piracy and pillaging one could never have too many friends!
:Jack thought quickly. "Well! If we have royals in this fine place, then I might ply Her Majesty for a Letter of Marque?"
 He approached the most bonificent Queen of this fine realm.
"Mind you, I don't usually stoop to such things, but an empty belly can go far in changing one's mind, yeah? So, what say you, Your Majesty? Game for another privateer in your ranks? What say you to a Letter of Marque for a daring soul such as meself?"
Pearl watched  with interest the exchange between the new comer and Captain Bonnie Black. The newcomer had yet to identify himself and already he was asking for a letter of Marque. How bold, thought Pearl. Perhaps a deal could be made with him on the sly. All crew that sailed under her had the protection of a Marque, be it only through the Governor of Port Royal.
Wench entered the tavern, her eyes trying to adjust quickly to the darkness. She sat at a table and looked over the crowd. Scurvy lot, she thought.
She signaled the barkeep and he ambled over.
"What it be, miss?"
"A pint of ale, please." She slid a coin across the table. He nodded and said, "Be right back wit' the ale."
In a few minutes, he came back and set it down.
She looked up at him and said, "I didn't just come into this port green, you know. I'm looking for someone and willing to pay for information. But I'm savvy and when I pay for information, I expect it. Even if it is an 'I don't know' I expect a name of someone who might."
He said, "So. Be ye a lady or a wench?"
She looked him steadily in the eye and said cooly, "What makes you think I cannot be both?"
The barkeep grew embarrassed and said, "Well, ye dress and talk proper like but ye has the coolness an' experience o' a wench."
She folded her hands under her chin and looked him steadily in the eyes. "Let's just forget the social commentary and get down to brass tacks, as they say. I am seeking someone who frequents this port."

She looked over and swore under her breath. At the table drinking an ale with a captain--a female captain at that!--was her very own Captain Daemon Vardus!
She looked over. What?? Captain Jack Wolfe--with an 'e' no less!
Thought he was long gone!
Wench thought to herself, 'Forget the information!'
She drank the ale in one long gulp, and then she dropped quietly to her hands and knees and tried to crawl out the door without being noticed.

Jack caught  a hint of hesitation in the Regent's eyes. He leaned close and played  his hand in a rough whisper.
"Look, dearie. Word around these parts is that you're in thick with my kind, so formalities can be tossed aside, savvy? I'm offering you the service of a well kept 32-gun pyrate frigate, with a very hungry crew. You get 15% of our take, before expenses. No one else need know our arrangement, or else the deal's off. Now, what say you to putting pen to paper, and issuing that Letter of Marque? Make it out to one Captain Jack Wolfe, with an "e". No sense running afoul of the Rules of Admiralty, eh? Payment upon delivery of said goods, and all that rot."
Jack smiled, and looked expectantly at dear Bonnie. ::
Capt Bonnie laughed, "Ye are mistaking me for my twin sister, Queen Bonnie??? We look alike, but I am younger and much prettier, don't you think? For yer letter o' marque- you need to see Her Majesty! I have my own crew- Magical folks! Why our luck in pillaging be so good! Now, how can I help you, Capt Jack? Have another tot o' rum?" Capt Bonnie batted her long lashes at Jack.
Jack took a good, long, incredibly puzzled look at Bonnie. ::
"So, you are in fact not your sister, who is in fact the Queen? Well, that's different then, ain't it? I think I'll be havin' that rum you mentioned...."
The barkeep approaches the four sea dogs sitting at the table. Soon all mugs are filled. Each looked at each other, curious and expectant. Who will be the next one to speak? Pearl took the lead and raised her tankard.
"Well then my new mates, let us raise our rum to honor the seas! The sea!"
"Aye! To the Sea!"
Jack paused and cocked his head. 'I know that dragging sound!'  He stood with his hand over the butt of his pistol, and faced the noise he'd just heard.

"You there! In the shadows! That's right, mates, step up into the light where we can get a fair look at you! Exactly who is it that's keeping me from my rum?! And explain to me, in ten words or less, why I shouldn't kill you?"
Wench looked up from the floor where she attempted to crawl out inconspicuously.
"Oh! Hi!, Captain Jack. Um..guess my skirt was dragging on the floor. That's thirteen words... would you let me slide by with the extra three ones?"
 Jack tried mightly to quash his laughter, and barely succeeded.  He walked over to the lovely Wench, and extended his hand.
"Nah, love, you needn't be dodging Ol' Jack! Here! On your feet, deary! That's it! Now, tell us why you went to all the trouble of trying to escape this rat's nest and avoid my less than honourable intentions?"
 It didn't help matters that when he pulled Wench to her feet, his face was not but an inch from hers, their mouths dangerously close.
Wench took a step back and tried to put some distance between the two of them.
She whispered, "I always knew someday you'd come walking back through my door...."
"It's a smaller world than they'd have you imagine, love. Smaller that I'd ever imagined, that's for sure. But, here we are. "
Jack stepped  forward and caressed her cheek. "We can still catch up on old times, yeah? Did you honestly think I'd quit burning for you?"
Wench took another step back.
"I'd have thought you would have put that fire out a long time ago. I know I did."
Without closing distance, Jack smiled disarmingly.
"Some fires never die, love. No matter how much we'd like them to."
Jack chuckled ruefully, "No matter how far and wide I've sailed, you always manage to find your way into my dreams. And what fine dreams they be! Short of what we've known of each other, but fine dreams nonetheless. A poor substitute for your exquisite touch, I'll grant that."
Jack's cheeks flushed, knowing he's once again said too much.
"So, dear heart... you'd have be believe that you feel nothing for me, despite your attempt to scurry out on hands and knees? Such extravagant measures for one who no longer yearns for my attention!"
Pearl watched intently. It had been a long time since she had a man. It stirred longings in her she didn't want to remember. The sea was her mate now. It had never let her down and always provided for her. She didn't want to be an audience to this any longer.
"Hmmmm, excuse me. Miss, would you care to join us or perhaps you and this fine captain like to be alone?"
With her eyes never leaving Captain Jack Wolfe's face, Wench said to Pearl,
"No, that is quite alright. But I do owe him this.."
And her hand raised to slap the Captain across the face.
 Jack caught her hand gently at the wrist, and felt the anger drain from her strike.
"Now, now, love. Such rash action! Hardly the kind of greeting one would expect from his wife, after all this time! Or had you forgotten that small fact, dearest? So, shall ye try once again to slap me face from me skull, as ye seem want to do?"
Jack stepped back with arms wide open.
"What's it to be, love? A tender embrace, of a decapitation? Your choice! You know I've no fear of death, with good reason. What's your answer?"
Jack tossed a strange gold coin into the air as he awaited an answer.
Wench took a step towards him and enfolded herself in his embrace. As his arms closed around her and his face buried into her neck, she took the dagger out of the sheath from the back of his belt She stepped back, drawing it and holding it in front of her.
"It's over, Jack. It's been over for quite a while....."
"So, tell me love... After you're done killing me, what have ye planned next? Your move, deary. Make it count!"
She reached around and put the blade back in the sheath. With a steady look, she said, "You just are not worth killing, Jack. And when I die, if anyone tries to send me to hell, I can honestly say I've done my time. With you."
Jack beamed at her.
"I thought you'd come around, love. We're much more destructive together than apart, yeah? Now, all we need is that Letter of Marque, and we're back on the Account. And this time, I need ye with me. At my side, as it were. What say you, love? Can you serve as Quartermaster aboard a pyrate ship?"
She leaned into Jack, gently touching his cheek. As they drew close together, just before their lips touched, Wench whispered to him, "And what makes you think you haven't been replaced?"
She drew away and the smile on her face was one he didn't expect to see.
"In all aspects of my life, love. All aspects! You have been gone a long time..."
Jack smirked at his beloved, and drew up a seat on the nearest table. "'Substituted', deary... But never replaced." Jacks eyes narrowed, and his smile grew feral. "It's true, I've been gone far too long; but to be replaced? You remember that month on the sands of Barbados, sweetness? The delicious oaths you made? How on earth can you say I've been replaced after all that? And the Dutch Merchantman we took? How her Captain soiled himself as you held your cutlass against his throat? You can't tell me that wasn't as thrilling as you made it out to be. We can have all that again, love. A letter of Marque, and we sail. Pure and free, living the life of Kings. Yes, or no?"
Her face coloured. "You can hardly hold oaths uttered in the throes of passion against me, Jack. I've grown up. I'm not that impressionable young lass you took on as your wife. I've shoved all that behind me. And that is what you need to do, Jack. Shove it. I'll not be your pawn again."
Pearl, tired of this banter, spied a bucket on the floor filled with liquid. Should she throw it? What would be the consequences? Aww, they bloody need it, that's fer sure. Pearl grabbed the bucket and tossed the contents on both Captain Jack and the Wench.
"Oh bugger! I didn't know that was tobacco swill."
Pearl dashed toward the door, tankard in hand, and tossed a matching gold coin to Captain Jack's at the barkeep.

"Here's for yer troubles", she shouted as she did a somersault through the door; nearly knocking down the marines entering. She quickly regained her composure and slyly averted her eyes.
"Good day, sirs", she murmured demurely and quickly walked away, bowing her head.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 07:30:50 AM
Wench stood there gasping and dripping. EWWWW!!
"THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!" she screamed at Jack. She yelled at Black-hearted Pearl, "If I didn't feel so icky, I'd thank you!"

Jack leveled his pistol at Pearl's deparing form. His finger tightened on the trigger, and the hammer slammed against the frizzen. No spark. The metal was so wet from the goo flung by Pearl that no spark could be had. In frustration, Jack hurled his pistol at the door, hitting one of the marines squarely in the forehead. The marine collapsed like a house of cards. Jack winced, and looked back at his petulant bride.
"I'm supposing that's my fault, too? Honestly, shall it always be this way between us? I was looking forward to a truce with you, love. I really was. But since it's come to this, so be it."
Jack drew his dagger, and held it against his beloved's throat, using her body as a shield against the intruding marines.
"You see, love? Whether or not you wish it, you're terribly useful in keeping me alive. Gentlemen! Step aside, and shoulder your weapons! That's right! Keep the lady breathing, and all's right with the world! Thanks, mates... We'll just make our way to the door, nice and easy."

Jack made his way to the door, with the lovely Wench positioned between him and the marines.
"Gentlemen! And my dearest love... She's all yours!"
With that, Jack shoved his bride forward into the marines, and ran at breakneck speed for the port.
Fizzel, snap! Pearl stayed low. That was close call, thought Pearl. Good thing that slime was all over Captain Jack's flintlock.
Still, Pearl was without crew and had better check on her sloop. It was tied up on the edge of town, in a growth of swamp and seaweed. If she wasn't careful, it would certainly foul the rutter. It wasn't a large ship, one that could be easily be crewed by six. Five of which she still didn't have.
What's this? Pearl spied Captain Jack running for the port, marines chasing him. "Better him than me", thought Pearl as she sauntered toward the edge of town.
Capt Bonnie looked at Capt Vardus!
"Well what do ye think of that?"
They both broke out in hysterical laughter!
"Shall we depart to my vessel for more and better libations?"
As Jack made his run for the port, he tossed a sheaf of paper into the air in such a way that the pursuing marines could not help but notice. On the few pages was information about a sloop making berth near the town, mastered by one 'Black Hearted' Pearl, carrying several tonnes of contraband. Jack grinned as he heard the footfalls of the marines pull up to gather the documents. As he rounded the corner, he could see the masts of "El Lobo del Mar" in the harbour, and his jollyboat at the end of the pier. ::
As Pearl walked down the street, she heard a flutter in the wind. Slowly a piece of parchment floated down to her. Pearl was not from a wealthy family, but she does know how to read. The parchment stated, "A sloop is perched on the edge of town {giving location} and commanded by one "Black Hearted" Pearl."
Pearl seethed with anger. "It's a schooner, not a sloop! Damn you, Captain Jack. I'll get my revenge before the week is out."
Pearl made haste to her schooner. Luckily the tide was with her and she pulled anchor. The seaweed as mysteriously moved away and the schooner floated free, further down the coast. Pearl spied an inlet tucked further in. She hoisted her jib and used it to gently guide the schooner into the inlet. It's not the best, but it'll have to do for now.
Wench went back to her room and cleaned herself up. Damn that Captain Jack Wolfe! Always screwing up my life!
She changed her clothes and opened a small box. She took out a piece of paper that had been ripped and taped, ripped and taped.
Grabbing her cloak, she walked down to the business offices just outside the docks on the main street.
She looked up at the building. Yes, this is the place...
She walked in and went up to the magistrate.
Slapping the paper down, she said in a determined voice, "I want this marriage dissolved. And if it is stricken from the records, even better!"
Back safely aboard "El Lobo del Mar", Jack tried desperately to relax. He'd bathed off the wretched spew tossed upon him by Black Hearted Pearl... Tossed upon him, and his wife... His wife...
Jack pondered upon this at length. My wife, hmmmmm. That carries a fair portion of responsibility. A responsibility that I've not lived up to. Have I a child from this union?!
Damn it all!
"To the braces, lads!! Concentrate your fire agaist the waterfront! Fire now! And fire again! No survivors! Only at the waterfront, lads. I want no trade to or from this town. I want to find, if they exist, my child...."
The magistrate looked at the paper that had been ripped and patched together. He laughed, "Been in a snit-fit often? License looks to be torn and patched several different times."
He squinted at the paper. "What does it say for the year? I can't make it out. How long you and this--John Michael Wolfe, is it?---been married?
"Eighteen months."
"Can you come back in an hour? I have a wedding to perform and then I can look at it more closely."
Wench said, "Eigthteen months, another hour won't matter."
She walked out in the sunshine and saw her friend Kate.
Kate said, "I've been looking for you all over. Vardus wants to sail out of here tonight. He didn't have a chance to speak to you in the pub. And what are you doing coming out of the magistrate's office?"
Wench looked at her and said, "Trying to get rid of a problem that seemed to have been spawned during a rum-fueled weekend. But no worries, Kate. In about an hour, it will have been resolved."
Given a fresh shift of gear, Jack strode purposefully along the pier. He saw the Magistrate's office on his left, with two women outside the door. Cannonfire rained destruction on the waterfront, yet these two lasses seemed locked in dialogue. Jack quickened his pace, only to see the two women scurrued away. Too late, he recognized the taller one as his wife. He slammed open the Magistrates door.
"What did she want?"
"Sirrah?" pled the Magistrate.
"What did my wife want?!" Jack leveled his refreshed pistol at the Magistrate's head."Um...uh...Sir, I cannot say!"
Jack's pistol went from half-cocked to fully cocked.
"I beg your pardon, sir. You will say."
"She pleads release from your wedding vows! Do not kill me, I beg of you!! I have a wedding to perform!"
"A wedding? How ironic that is! You seek to dissolve one marriage, only to consecrate another? Surely even you can see the contradiction in this! I'll make you a bargain, my quivering minister. Refuse the dissolution of my marriage, and you can go on to soil yourself before the young lovebirds waiting in yon chapel, savvy? Surely, that cannot be as ignominiuos as your brains spattered against the chapel wall? So, what say you?"
'Oh Bugger, look at the time!' thought Pearl. "I must change quickly." Pearl grabbed a gown from a chest located on deck. She quickly slipped it. Pearl dashed down the gang plank, getting the edge of gown wet as she sprinted the extra way to shore. Why did she agree to marry that old man? Oh that's right, he promised to spend his money on her lavishly.
Behind, she didn't notice that the stern anchor had worked free and the ship had begun to shift in the water. As Pearl entered town, she quieted her gait and kept her head hung low. Back at the ship, a crunch sound is heard as the keel of the ship dragged against the coral.
Pearl made her way to the magistrate's office. 'How long could he possibly live?' She wondered. "Not for long." as she fingered the scorpion pin on bodice.
Jack's eyes narrowed as he stared at the shaking magistrate over the barrel of his pistol. The wigged official was obviously too frightened to be of any use.
Jack laughed and tucked his sidearm away. "On second thought, Your Honour, why should I care to see this fine young couple get off any easier than I did, yeah? Go on, perform your litte ceremony! Till death or whimsy do they part, and all that rubbish."
The magistrate could scarcely catch his breath. "Thank you, Captain! Thank you for sparing me..."
Jack gave the man an icey stare. "We're not done here, brother. Not at all."

Jack left the magistrate's office and faced the docks. He waved his arms over his head, signalling the lookout to cease fire. He looked around, remembering the direction his reluctant wife had departed in. "Ah, yes. This way. We need to chat, you and I!"
Kate and Wench entered the Shattered Blessings Tavern. Wench signaled for two ales.
"Wench, what is this about a rum-fueled weekend that requires the services of a magistrate?"
Wench sighed and traced her finger around the rim of her ale. "Kate, you know me better than anyone---well, maybe except one other person and he has sailed off too--so what I am telling you is in strictest confidence.
There are things I haven't told anyone and don't intend to. But on my way to Glenlivet I stopped in a seaport town for a week. And long story short, I ended up married."
"Married? You said your husband was dead!"
Wench waved her hand like the notion was an annoying fly. "No, this is another one. Lasted a month. He went off to sea and I took the opportunity to get out of there and run to Glenlivet. Still looking for Captain Spleen."
"I heard the Crude Organ Donor was in port. Obviously you didn't make contact as you are still here."
"No, I didn't. I literally ran into him and didn't even know it."
"So....what of this other marriage?"
She took a deep drink of her ale and said, "I need to deep-six it and pretend it never happened."
"How do you intend to do that?"
"Well, if it can't be dissolved legally, there is a loop-hole."
"Which is---?"
Wench laughed. "The marriage license is under the name of Captain John Michael Wolfe and Honor Bright."
Wench laughed and said, "Who's Honor Bright?"
They both laughed and Kate said, "I have to hand it to you, Wench. Always thinking ahead!"
Wench turned serious. "And no telling Daemon about it. He hates messes. By tonight, this will all be over and it's out to sea again for us."
They clinked their tankards and resumed their talk on the latest boot-fashions.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 07:33:14 AM
Jack turned the corner near the magistrate's office, cursing himself for dallying overlong. "Where would she have hidden herself, I wonder?" he thought. The church? No, too predictable. And too many row-houses to search. Just then, he spotted the "Shattered Blessings" tavern. "Sounds like my kind of establishment. And if I can't get any information, libation will have to suffice."

He walked into the darkened tavern, and blinked as his eyes strained to adjust from the bright sunlight. Spying a familiar face at one of the tables, he smiled and sauntered over to chat with his bonnie lass. "Please be wearing it, please be wearing that damned pendant!" he muttered.
"..but I seem to prefer the ones which lace up the front. The fit is better and slimming to the leg so you-----"
A shadow fell over the table where Wench and Kate were sitting. They both looked up and Kate scooted her chair over to the shadows, a look of concern across her face.
Wench looked up into the intense eyes of a man who was actively her husband for all of one month. Four weeks. Thirty-one days. Thirty-one long days. And nights. Why couldn't it have been February?
She took a quick glance down to make sure her bodice dagger was effectively in place--and well hidden.
She said cooly, "Well, well.....I thought you would have sailed off into the sunset by now. Looks like you got the spewage off. I must say, I had to throw that dress out. So....what have I done to earn this attention from you, Captain? Aside from being your human shield."
With his best disarming smile, he took a seat at the table. Oddly enough, he felt like the pig at a luau... "Love, we haven't exactly gotten off on the best foot regarding our reunion, yeah? A bit stormy, what with the Redcoats and the bombardment, and all. I assure you, nothing over a 4-pounder was used, and no carronades. Strictly for effect, it was! Um... would you do us a favour and look upward, toward the ceiling? I do so admire your striking cheekbones, and ...Damn!"
WW locked eyes with Jack. "WHAT?!"
"Oh, nothing! Just that expected to see a wee trinket I gave you on our... *Jack bats his eyes* wedding night. Any idea where that bit o' shine might be hiding, lover? Out of innocent curiousity, mind you. Say you didn't sell it! Sorry! Sorry, please forgive me.... You know what?! I need to dwell on this, as me Indian Swami instructed me."

Jack affected a meditative state, all the while keeping his bride and her friend in full view. "Let this confuse them for at least the next 30 seconds while I come up with another plan!" Jack thought. "That pendant is somewhere, and I have to find it!"

"Jack burst from his swami state, and gazed bonificently at Kate and ... and... what the hell is her name? 'Think! This scam won't work if you don't recognize her name!' ...
"Oh, love, you surely jest!"
'Honour Brite'? That's it! "The laws of Admiralty are on my side! You cannot marry me, nor I, you, under an alias! So, my bonnie 'Honour Bright', you owe me that pendant I gave you as a betrothal gift... You know, the one you tought too spiney and pokey to be comfortable? Where is it now, my sweet? You make a fine and beautiful human shield, to be sure. There is a critical shortage of perfect breasts in this world, and I would hate to see yours damaged. But you also supplied the Admiralty with a false name. That goes far in dissolving our marriage, but brings me no closer to that damned pendant! Where is it? Tell me!"
Wench burst out laughing. "You always were SO transparent. Even in that long, tedious month I spent as Mrs. Captain Jack Wolfe. So....that hideous pendant you gave me still interests you! Family heirloom?"
She looked up and tapped her finger to her lips. "Something tells me no. Something tells me this is more important than you are letting on."
She took her foot and propped it on the seat that Jack was sitting on, barely missing the REAL jewels he so prized.
She pushed back and crossed her arms across her chest. "I don't know why you want it back. It was too large. And the back of it scratched. And since it was a non-betrothal gift, it now becomes just a gift. In my possession. And possession is nine-tenths of the law. Now where could it be? What could I possibly have done with it? Sold it? Threw it into the sea in a fit of ill temper? Gave it to a lover?"
Jack made a motion and she cooly said, "Damage these breasts, Jack, and the male population in this port will never forgive you..."
"Damage those? I'd sooner cut off..." Jack looked about the room and found an anonymous mark. "His feet. Yeah, those would do. Look, love... you don't want to stay married to me anymore that I want to stay married to you. As I see it, it's a win-win situation, yeah? We both get our freedon, and you get rid of an uncomfortable bit of jewelry that wasn't that impressive in the first place! So, given that splendid bit of logic, where is it, dear heart? Hand it over to ol' Jack, I sign the papers, and you're off doing whatever it is you do. Are we square?"
Kate began to look nervous. "Wench, really, just hand over whatever it is he wants and let's get OUT of here."
Wench looked steadily at Jack. "My, my...for a piece of jewelry that wasn't impressive in the first place, you seem to want it pretty badly. Wait! I've got it! You plan on getting married again and this is the be-all-end-all of betrothal gifts! And the way I see it, I've GOT my freedom. You yourself said that using an alias voids the marriage. So. What makes you think I even have it? And if I did, why would I, in a fit of generosity, turn it back to you? I consider it a trophy--a skin of a leopard, as it were--for having to put up with you for that month I so foolishly said, 'oh yeah' when the magistrate said 'do you?' And here is another piece of news--because of that night, I haven't been able to touch a drop of rum since."
Kate stood and began to pull on Wench's arm. "Let's go, NOW!"
Wench stood her ground and gave Jack a sweet smile. "I certainly wish I could remember what happened to it. It was so long ago. Over a year. Why, it could be anywhere. In my room. At the bottom of the ocean. On the bosom of a noblewoman in England."
Wench stood there with a slight frown on her face. "Of course, it would have to be a very large woman. And kind of homely too..."

Jack feigned a defeated posture for a moment, then smiled scardonically. "Well, good for you, love. You've bested ol' Jack at his own game. Nicely played." He paused for a couple of seconds. "Too bad you'll be missing out on your share, eh?"
Wench smiled politely and said, "Yes, it really IS too bad I shall miss out on my share. But I daresay YOU shall miss out on YOURS too."
She sighed. "If you REALLY must know what happened to it, I gave it to a captain. He in turn sold it for me and gave me the profit. Didn't ask a percentage, either. Just did it as a favor to a friend. Well, if you want to find it, I daresay it could be on the chest of any high-classed noblewoman. I'd start looking in the Caribbean. Failing that, I'd start in Cornwall and work my way across the continent. So it looks like we are BOTH out of luck. Ta, love---see you around--NOT!"

Wench and Kate left the tavern. As they stood outside the door, Kate said, "Whatever it is he wants, he surely wants it badly. Who fenced it for you?"
Wench grabbed Kate's arm and laughed softly, "Whatever makes you think I did that? Nay, it is in a place that is secure. And he shall never find it. Now...we just need to figure out why it is so damned important!"
Jack watched the two women depart. "No doubt she believes I've given up looking as much as I believe she gave it away. She's still got it, and I know she'll find where she's stashed it," he thought. He stood up and noticed that one of the mugs still had some ale in it. He downed the brew in two gulps. "Aye, this day's looking up!"
Pearl continued walking toward the magistrate's office. She glanced across the road and saw the wench from the Bilge Pump Pub coming out with another wench. Should she duck? Would that Captain Jack be with her. Pearl couldn't take the chance that he would fire his flintlock at her again. She quickly dashed into the magistrate's office where her betrothed was awaiting, Sir James H. Marshall.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 07:38:15 AM
Kate looked worried. "I don't know, Wench. He looks like the kind of man who plays for keeps."
Wench reached down to relace her boot. "Well, if he did, why did he wait eighteen months to hunt me down? As soon as he left for sea, I bolted."
"How on earth did you ever end up married? It's not your style."
Wench sighed. "We both had too much to drink. We were in a pub in Cardiff. I don't remember a thing. I woke up the next morning with a man next to me and a marriage license on the dresser."
"You always were impetuous."
"A little too much so."
"So..what happened next?"
"Well, I sailed to Barbados with him and after a month, he went back to sea. That afternoon I booked passage back to Cardiff. I had Taliesin stabled and left Muir with the innkeeper so I picked them up and headed for Glenlivet where Rhys told me Captain Spleen would be."
"Didn't you ever think about that husband?"
"Guess I kind of pushed it out of my mind. You know--that messy business with husband #1 kind of overshadowed it."
"So, you are stuck."
"Not necessarily. The marriage license has the name 'Honor Bright'. As she doesn't exist, neither does the marriage. So the license isn't even worth the paper it is written on. I just want to see the magistrate and get it stricken off the records."
"And this item the man-who-would-be-your-husband is looking for? What exactly is it?"
"The most god-awful pendant you can imagine. It was like a sun. The rays were like all spiny. If you wore it for any length of time, you looked like you came out the loser in a catfight. It was gold and had a hideous face carved into the sun. The chain was a bit heavy. I mean, look at me! Something like that around my neck? May as well drag a ball and chain around."
"So, just give it back to him and be done."
"Kate, the fact that he mentioned it and wants it back leads me to believe there is something there. Otherwiise if it was a worthless trinket, he could care less."
All of a sudden, Wench reached out and pulled Kate back.
"Wench, watch it! This is a new skirt!"
Wench looked through the glass into the magistrate's office.
"I don't believe it! It's that captain that baptized me and Jack with tobacco ick. And...looks like she is getting married!"
Kate looked through the window. "Wow, looks like he can hardly stand up! Bet he's going to be a real live wire!"
Wench shrugged. "Better her than me! Let's just wait out here for the eulogy--I mean ceremony!--to finish. Then I can be as free as a bird!"

Jack sat at the table Wench and Kate had occupied minutes earlier. With his feet propped up, he finished a second cup of rum. The innkeeper, with a deeply puzzled look on his face, approached Jack to try and satisfy his curiosty.
"Beggin' your pardon, gov'ner, but this is a terrible small room. I couldn't help but overhear that little dust-up with the lady..."
"And might you be helpful enough to be letting me know her name?" Jack interrupted.
"Eh? But, I thought you called her your wife!"]
"Very estute of you, mate! Your hearing's impeccable. That fair lass is indeed my bride. And I'm guessing that your perfect ears overheard, at some point, her name? I mean, her real name? The one I know's as genuine as that swill you call rum. Now, about that name that you may or may not have overheard..." Jack spread 5 shillings on the table, fanned in a neat arc.
"Honest, sir, I don't know. Everyone speaks of her as 'the Wench', or just 'Wench', if you please. Not at all flatterin', if you ask me. But she seems to pay it no mind." the inkeeper offered, his eyes never leaving the coins.
Jack smiled. "'Wench', is it then? Fair enough. That gives me something to work with, at least. Another rum, mate."
The innkeeper's puzzled look remained. "Gov'ner, I've never seen a man get in a public row with the missus and be as chipper as you! Then again, everyone I know what's married knows their wife's name... Aren't you going after her, to try and set things right?"
"All in good time," replied Jack. "Where's the sport in denying her a head start? No doubt, she's pleading her case this very moment to have our marriage anulled. And the longer the string I give her, the closer she brings me to what I want."
The innkeeper collected the empty mug to fetch Jack's refill. "You, my friend, are a strange one."
Jack winked, "You have no idea, mate."
Wench and Kate sat at the pub across the street from the magistrate's office.
"Let's give that wedding another fifteen minutes and then I am on my way to total freedom," Wench said.
Kate took a sip of her ale. "So, you can't touch rum anymore?"
Wench folded her hands under her chin and said, "No, I can't. I drank so much that night I didn't even remember my own name!"
Kate laughed, "So, what IS your name? You won't even tell ME. Your best friend!"
Wench shook her head no. "There was only one person--a captain--that I would ever trust. I told him once I would tell him my name and only under the right circumstances. But there never WERE any 'right circumstances' . And after that little incident carving my initials in his sails, I doubt that will ever come about. Or that I can trust him again. Kate, I just can't tell you. Out of safety."
"Why not? You've been in Glenlivet for almost a year when you signed on with Captain Vardus."
"It's for everyone's safety, especially mine. Old Vinegar Vein's family is looking for me. His sons have bounty hunters that showed up at Dead Man's Tavern the night before we left. I had to climb out onto the rose trellis to leave. Almost broke my neck when I jumped. If I told you the name and they came looking for me, well, with your face you'd give it away. Don't give me that look! You know you don't have a lying face."
"So..why did you go off to Barbados with this Captain Jack Wolfe?"
"Well, I WAS technically his wife or so he thought. Hey, I needed a vacation! And who can beat the sands of the Caribbean? Don't forget, I'd been on the run for a month or two. I needed to put distance between me and the hounds, as it were. And how better than to go incognito as a pirate's bride? The station in life I held, no one would ever suspect it."
"Then why didn't you stay in Barbados and wait for him to come back?"
"Me? Wait? Hell, no! I had to look for Captain Spleen. He has the information I needed. Just can't find him yet."
"So why did you pick the name 'Honor Bright?' "
Wench motioned her closer. "All I will say is that old Vinegar Veins sat on the House of Lords. 'Honor Bright' is an assurance of truth or fidelity."
Kate giggled, "You are so bad!"
Wench smiled, "You knew I had a twisted sense of humor!"
"You stayed a whole month with Captain Jack. Why didn't you get an annulment the next day? Certainly both of you must have known you made a mistake!"
A small smile played upon Wench's lips. "Well......he WAS fun!"
Kate raised her eyebrow and said, "Oh. That."
Wench laughed and finiished her ale. "Yeah. That."
"Come on, let's go! I have an annulment to get and a ship to board."
And with that, they walked over to the magistrate's office.
The magistrate was acting nervously. Couldn't he just get on with the eulogy...hmmm ceremony?
"Do you Sir James Howard Marshall, take thee Lady June Pearl Whelan, to be your awful, I mean lawful, wedded wife?" asked the magistrate. The feeble Sir Howard crocked, "I do." The magistrate repeated himself to Pearl. She responded sweetly, batting her eyelashes, "Certainly."
'Finally!', thought Pearl. 'Now we just needed to sign the paper.'
A few more days, and she would have the money she needed and be free to sail the seven seas again."
Pearl glanced through the window to see the wench from the Bilge Pump Pub headed toward the magistrate's office. "Oh bugger, I hope she doesn't have any tobacco swill with her.", thought Pearl. "Doesn't anyone ever get drunk and pass out in this town?"
Pearl tried to hastily move the magistrate along, but he keep dropping books and then couldn't find the writing utensil. Pearl was becoming so frustrated, she almost pulled her small flintlock from under her gown to move the magistrate along. That would go over as well as her tossing the tobacco swill on the two love birds. She had just gotten Sir Howard to sign before the door was tossed open by the wench.
His attitude properly adjusted, Jack emerged from the pub and squinted into the light. As he looked down the street, he saw Wench and Kate cross the street to the magistrate's office. "Ah! A shackle undone, and a prize to gain. I'm beginning to like this town."
He crossed the street and stopped to check his pistol. And old woman paused to give him a questioning look. Jack looked up at her.
"A bit of privacy, if you don't mind? We're having a moment here." he mocked.
The old woman turned her head sharply, obviously insulted. "A pirate if I ever saw one!" she huffed.
Jack shrugged, and walked toward the magistrate's office. Taking up a position just outside an opened window, he eavesdropped on the proceedings within. "Well, this should be interesting" he thought.
Pearl quickly turned and grabbed the wench by the shoulders, "Dear Sister, I'm so glad you were able to make it!", cried Pearl. Leaning in closer, she whispered fiercly into the wench's ear, "Please, don't make a scene. Help out a woman in need, and you will be rewarded.". Pearl stepped back from the wench and turned to her new husband. "Darling, I would like to introduce my sister, Honor Bright."
Kate started to open her mouth, "But this isn't your...OW!"
Wench had subtly pinched Kate's arm. She raised her eyebrow and said, "Why, dear sister, there is no way on God's green earth I would miss your nuptials! Marriage vows are not something I take lightly!"
Kate snorted and could hardly contain her laughter. She whispered, "Oh, sure! Tell your 'sister' why you are REALLY here..OW! Will you quit doing that?"
Pearl turned to her new husband and said, "This is my little sister. Honor, this is Sir James Marshall. My new husband and the light of my life."
Sir James extended a cold, clammy hand-which was more like a claw--to his new 'sister-in-law' and said, "Very pleased to meet you."

Wench reluctantly took his hand and mentally went 'EWWW!!!' She turned to Pearl and she could barely contain a smile. "I'm sorry to be so late, sister. But I had an altercation with a substance and had to change my clothes."
She turned to Sir James and said, "Why, my dear sister practically raised me after Mother died and...what was that noise? Did you hear something outside the window?"

Pearl looked toward the window. She didn't see a thing. "Wait, what was that?" There in the corner, she could just make out the edge of a hat. "Who could it be?", thought Pearl. Just then, Sir Howard grasped her hand in his cold one, "Come dear, we have to get started on our Honeymoon.", he said in a weathered gravelly voice. Pearl had no choice but to follow Sir Howard to the door.

"It was pleasure meeting you, Miss Bright, but if you don't mind, your sister and I have to get down to business. Perhaps you can come to dinner some night soon?" He parlayed.
Pearl jumped at the chance, "Oh Darling, I haven't seen my sister in so long, perhaps she and her traveling companion can join us for dinner tonight?" Pearl batted her eyes at Sir James. He scowled in return. Pearl let the water works begin to moisten her eyelashes. Sir James sighed in compliance and turned to Honor Bright, "My dear, it seems my new bride wishes to hold me in anticipation. Will you and your lovely traveling companion join us for a celebratory dinner tonight at my home? It seems it would please my new wife very much."
Kate raised her hands and said, "No, thank you! I have a prior engagement for the evening!"
Wench looked at Pearl's face. Oh, I should SO get even with her for the tobacco swill.
She hesitated, "I'm not sure...I think I had something to do myself. I really would hate to come between the tender moments of a man and his bride..."
She caught Pearl's eye and then softened. I wouldn't wish that fossil on my worst enemy. Good Lord knows I had to put up with old Vinegar Veins...
She put on her sweetest face and said, "I think I can cancel my plans and I haven't seen my sister in such a long time. Why, I would be delighted to share your nuptial dinner. But only for a little while. I know you must be to cement your relationship."
She hugged Pearl and air-kissed her cheek. She whispered, "You owe me BIG-TIME now.."

After getting the directions to the manor, Wench realized just what a gold-mine this woman fell into.
"I'll be there by 7 PM," she said and fake-waved an enthusiastic good-bye.
Pearl hugged 'Honor Bright' back and whispered, "You have no idea." "We'll see you tonight then, dear sister, at 7pm." called Pearl. She grabbed ole what's his name's cold clammy hand and lead him to the door. "Come, dear, we have to prepare for our guests." Pearl said. Sir James Howard Marshall did not look pleased, but sighed in defeat. Pearl's lips turned up into a sweet, but somewhat menacing smile.

Her eyes darted to the movement by the window. There was a shadow now of a person.
Kate said, "Wench, I have to go now. I'll catch up with you later. Remember what I said about Daemon."
Wench said, "Yeah, I know, I know."

The magistrate came out of the chapel and mopped his face. He seems extremely nervous, Wench thought.
"So..what is the good word on this annulment? Where do I sign?"
He coughed and said, "I am afraid you have a slight problem."
He was still reeling from the near-death threats from Captain Jack.
"And what might that be? I gave a made-up name. So therefore it can't be legal. Jack Wolfe married a woman who doesn't exist."
He averted his eyes, "Well, technically. You see, your name may be fake but your body isn't. What I mean is, YOU were there. At the marriage. So he didn't marry your name, he married your body. What I mean is he married the person standing in front of him. She could have given her name as the Queen and it would still be legal."
Wench paled, "Are you trying to tell me I am married all legal-like to Captain Jack Wolfe?"
He looked down at the license. "I am afraid so. Miss--Bright, is it? You are lawfully wedded to Captain John Michael Wolfe. Until death do you part."
She snatched the license out of his hands. "No, no, no, no, no...there is NO WAY I am married."
"But I am afraid so...."
"You tell me you are 'afraid' one more time and you WILL have something to be afraid of. You had better be ready to scratch this out for all eternity. I need to find out how to get un-manacled."

She walked out of the magistrate's office into the sunlight.
What a fine kettle of fish THIS is! Married...MARRIED? STILL?
Some mistakes you never stop paying for....
Jack shook his head and tried not to laugh out loud. He returned his pistol to half-cocked, and shoved it into the sash about his waist. Rounding the corner and stepping into the magistrate's office, Jack looked about at the comical scene before him.
"Pearl! You seem to have traded up since we last met in Tobago!"
Jack strode forward and shook the cadaver's hand as strongly as he dared. Leaning close to the old man, he whispered "I hear she's a bit of a tiger, mate! I'm sure you're up to it, with all your experience, yeah? There's a good man! Off you go!"
Jack paused to smirk at Pearl as her new prize weakly dragged her toward their wedding bed. "He'll be dead before the morning, well played..." he mouthed.
Jack whirled, and shot a whithering look at the Magistrate, who quickly found papers to shuffle. Turning to Wench and Kate, shook his head slowly.
"Crashing a wedding? And they insist upon calling me a pyrate? Well, that's as may be..." Jack sneered. Taking Wench by the arm, he drew her close. "I possess the Moon, love. And you, the Sun. Both must be joined in union for the treasure to be unlocked. Much like us and ecstacy, yeah? Ah, you still remember! Good! I'll be needing that trinket you claim not to possess."
Jack's dagger maked its point at Wench's ribcage. "Do we have an accord, love? What say you?"
Jack shoved his pistol into his sash. "Sweetness, the one thing I've come to learn about you is that the more you protest, the less believable you are. I'll admit, we both felt the thunder. But that bit of gold I gave you is far too large and ornate for you to have merely pawned off somewhere. What I'm offering, since you have called for the privilege of parley, is that there are two keys to the chest in my possession. I have one of them. I, in a moment of indescretion, gave the other to you. Given the gravity of the item, you would have been loathe to discard said item. Now, if you'd kindly accompany me aboard my ship, I'll tell you how I came upon the chest after our matrimony."
Jack extended his hand to Wench. "Ale and rum abound upon 'El Lobo del Mar'"
"Jack, how stupid do you think I am? I board your ship, what is to stop you from pulling up anchor and I will be your bounded prisoner? Let's say I have the Sun pendant and I hand it over to you in a moment of...what shall we call it? Unbridled passion? What would stop you from pitching me overboard? Nay, I unloaded that amulet as soon as I could. I'll tell you the truth. If you really want it, it is in the coffers of St. Armand's church. In exchange for a confession well-done. Can't remember the name of the town but it is between Barbados and Glenlivet. THAT should give you something to occupy your time. Think of it as a treasure hunt! I know how you loved them!"
She crossed her arms and gave him that look of defiance he had come to know all too well during their brief one-month encounter.
"So you see--I am of no further use to you. I suggest we both go see the magistrate and end this travesty of a marriage. Then you can buy me that ale AT THE TAVERN and regale me with your little fairytale of how you came in possession of this so-called chest. IF you even have it!"
Pearl sneered at Captain Jack as the crypt keeper lead her away. If that Jack wasn't so handsome, she could easily run in him through without a thought. But a goodlooking man is hard to find these days, especially one with all his teeth. The fact he was a successful pirate made him all that more appealing.
"Come deary", Sir Marshall said drooling. "We may have time to consumate our vows before your beautiful sister arrives to join us."
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 07:50:37 AM
Jack smiled condescendingly as Pearl passed by with her walking carrion. "It's a shame our paths have crossed in such dissonant ways," Jack thought to himself. "Perhaps, perhaps..."
He turned his attention back to the petulantly defiant Wench, and smiled. "You know what, love? I almost believed you for a moment. But knowing that your heart is at least as black as mine, you're hoping I'll divulge more. Well, my sweet, I've learned a lesson or two since our last pairing. Foremost, I should never tell you too much. Secondly, you're better off not thinking that every single word out of my mouth is a lie. Only every other word. Every third word on a Sunday. So, when I tell you I have the chest in question, and the Moon key, I'm actually being honest with you. You, however, have been less than honest with me! I may not know your name, but I know you. You still have the Sun key, as you recognise it's value. Nothing that ugly and that substantial can be worthless, eh? I only wish I'd known about the chest's contents before I gave you that key..."
Jack sat wearily upon a wooden bench near the from of the magistrate's office. "I've tried breaking it, shooting it, and hauling it to pieces. I need that key I gave you. It's a fair offer, love. Half the contents of the chest."
He rose from his seat and looked Wench square in the eye. "If you have gotten rid of the Sun key, as your lovely lips protest, then the chest is no use to me. I'll just sail out into deep waters, and chuck it over the side. My time would be better spent chasing the Spanish treasure fleet, quite frankly! So, what is it to be, my love? Truth or consequenses time, 'Honor Bright'!"
Wench leaned against the wall of the magistrate building and ran her fingers through her hair, twisting the ends as was her manner when she was deep in thought. Unfortunately, Jack knew this in their brief month together that this was a tell-tale sign that the wheels were turning in her mind.
He grinned and took a step closer to her. She quickly whipped out her bodice dagger and said calmly, "Back off, Jack. Or I'll match that scar I put on your chest the last time we were together."
He deftly took the dagger out her hand and flipped it over his shoulder.
Well, that didn't work out like I thought it would, she mentally noted.
She took a step back. "You won't throw that chest out. You're bluffing. And that's alright. I can respect it. Now let us say for the sake of argument I DO have that hideous key. You say you have the moon. Well, since you once promised me the moon...."
Jack reached out to her and she went to pull a bodice dagger out. But she realized too late that he already took hers. DAMN!
She pushed him back. "I prefer to deal with you for the moment on the grounds of mutual respect, not...never mind. I have no assurance you won't pull that pistol on me once you have what you want. I haven't seen you in eighteen months and in the last two hours you pulled it on me once and your knife twice. I must say, 'Hello, honey, I'm back!' sure takes on a new meaning. I sure would have loved to have seen the look on your face when you pulled into port and your wife was gone. Along with a few other things you left in my possession.
So....what assurance do I have that I will be alive once the chest opens? And make it fast because I have to go to my 'sister's ' for dinner."

Pearl and Sir Marshall arrived at the Manor. Sir Marhshall was beginning to look very worn and gray, not that he didn't already look gray. It was just grayer than normal.
The butler came to take their outer wear, "Sir, I have your room ready." and while turning to Pearl, "and yours too, Mistress."
"She won't be needing her own room." snapped Sir Marshall. "She'll be in mine." Pearl smiled apologitically to the butler. Sir Marshall headed for the stairs on a somewhat stooped gate. "Pearl, come, let us retire a bit before dinner with your beautiful sister."
Pearl began to follow Sir Marshall to the stairs, but turned to the butler before proceeding up. "Sir, would it be possible for us to have some tea brought up to the room. I'm so parched from all the dust." Her crystal blue eyes pleaded gently to Sir Marshall. The butler looked to Sir Marshall for approval. "Yes. Bring us some tea, but tea only, no cakes." barked Sir Marshall.
Pearl and Sir Marshall continued up the stairs. The turned into the first room on the left at the top of the stairs. The room was lavishly dressed in gold and cream. Heavy curtains hung from the windows that overlooked the front courtyard and out onto the harbor down below. The room was dominated by large canopied bed that required stairs to enter it. Heavy cream drapes hung from the canopy enveloping the bed. Although the room was bright, there was a musty, sort of deathly smell about it.
Pearl began to remove her gown. "God, how she hated wearing such heavy clothing.", she thought. Sir Marshall was turned to look at her. A sneering smile played about his lips which grew wider when Pearl let down her blonde waves.
"Oh bugger!" thought Pearl. She had forgotten to remove her small flintlock from her bloomers when she had thrown upon her gown. Pearl turned away from Sir Marshall and slowly removed her underskirt leaving her bloomers. "I want to watch!" growled Sir Marshall. Pearl looked sultrly over her shoulder at Sir Marshall. "Anticipation, my darling, is such sweet pleasure. Don't you agree?" Sir Marshall's sneering smile returned. "Continue, my darling"
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.
"Your tea." called out the butler.
Sir Marshall snarled while Pearl grabbed the robe laying over the bed. "Oh I'm so parched." she exclaimed as she went to the door to retrieve the tea.
"Oh, Thank you, Benjamin" Pearl said quickly as took the tea from the butler. "I can serve Sir Marshall, Benjamin. You don't need to stay." Pearl stated.
"Yes, leave, now." snarled Sir Marshall.
"Calm down, dear" soothed Pearl. "We don't want to get you too excited too soon." said Pearl as she set the tray down on a gold gilt table.
"Why don't you wash up a bit before we have some tea?" Pearl gently suggested.
"Hmmph" replied Sir Marshall as to wobbled to the bathing chamber located just off the bedroom.
Pearl watched as Sir Marshall began to wash his face. She quickly unlatched a secret compartment on her scorpion pin and a fine white powder fell into her open hand. Pearl quickly placed in the white powder into one of the teacups and poured tea into it.=
"Here you, dear." said Pearl as she handed the now less pale Sir Marshall the teacup. "Let us have a toast to our union." as Pearl raised her own teacup and tapped Sir Marshall's. They both took a sip. Pearl eyed Sir Marshall over the rim of her cup.
"Come join me on the bed." said Pearl as she took the cup from Sir Marshall. He followed her to the bed, his eyes starting to droop.
"I feel so...." his voice began to slur. "This will be a night you'll remember, dear" said Pearl intently as she gently laid Sir Marshall down. Soon, he was sound asleep.
"Finally!" thought Pearl as began to poke about the room. "Where is that secret compartment?" Pearl knew she only had a short time before it would be dinner and the sleeping potion would wear off. She had to find it.
 Jack smiled. "Love, I left nothing with you that I minded losing. I have to say the the 'Sweet Trade' has been very good to me. And yes, I promised you the Moon. But the Sun was all I had to give at the moment, much to my later dismay. Thank you for confirming that you still have it! I was beginning to get worried. You're quite the bluffer, dear. You always have been."
He leaned close, his cheek nearly brushing Wench's. "You need assurances that I'll keep you alive? What words can I say, my lovely, that will reassure you? None that I can think of! But from what I'm told," Jack paused as he traced his finger along Wench's equisite cheek, "there's riches that would embarass Christ himself. I'm more than willing to go halvsies with you. And even if this chest is empty, no harm nor foul. I keep the chest, and you go on about doing whatever it is you do best. You'll never hear from me again. So, do we have an accord?"
Wench tried to catch her breath at his touch. A familiar sense of heat starting at her very core began to spread. Damn him! He always knew what buttons to push.
She tried to break the physical contact and felt powerless as always. She said softly, "Why did I ever marry a scoundrel as you is beyond me..."
But she then recovered and said, "You have no assurances. I would need to think this over. I don't really feel like being one with the fishes. I've seen you in action, Jack. You are ruthless and I am a disposable commodity. I am not that foolish girl you married. I'm twenty-one now! And I have a new..."
Jack raised his eyebrow.
She continued, "Never mind. I'd have to see this chest before I make any decisions. Grant you, I am NOT saying I have the key. Or even where it is.. Maybe I have a few connections to people who MAY know where it is. It would go through a few channels."
She pointed to a place behind Jack. " Now---a gentleman would retrieve my bodice dagger for me. There's a good husband that you are!"

Pearl continued to rattle about the paneled walls, tapping on the wood. Tap, tap. Tap, tap. Pearl sighed in frustration, "Hmmrph!" Tap, tap. Pearl was losing her patience which was never a virtue of hers to begin with. Tap, tap. Pearl's patience's snapped. She rushed to the bed and grabbed Sir Marshall about the shoulders. "Where is the compartment, you smelly old toad!" Sir Marshall slowly opened his eyes, "Pearl, darling, come let us a finish what we started." he slurred. "The compartment, you toad, then I'll finish what I started." snarled Pearl.
Sir Marhsall mumbled, "The oil lamp" and his eyes rolled back and his head fell to the side. "Out like a lamp." thought Pearl.
Pearl looked about the room. "The oil lamp" he had said. There were several beatiful oil lamps about the room, but which one could it be? The two beside the bed were tall brass with milky white globes on top. The brass was made to look like grecian columns. There was one the desk next to the window. This looked more ulitarian and clearly could not lead one to a compartment. Lastly, there were two oil lamps on red cherry bureau. These looked to be made of brass as well, but were not the grecian columns of bedside lamps. These were ornately decorated. One was a male merman of striking stature with curly hair about his shoulders. The other was a beatiful mermaid with long flowing wavy hair. The lamps were exquisite.
"This has to be it" Pearl grinned.
"Retrive your dagger? But of course!" Jack bowed , swept, and produced Wench's blade. "I see you've kept it as sharp as I taught you to. Well done. Now, about that chest.."
He gently returned the dagger to it's scabbard, slipping it between her ample breasts into it's sheath. Meeting her eye to eye, he continued. "So, you wish to see the chest? You know where it is, love. In my cabin, aboard 'El Lobo.'" Jack's lips nearly brushed Wench's. "My crew remember you, so no nocturnal boarding, eh? Jamb my rudder chain, and I take your life. I'm trying desperately to be above board with you, love. 12 hours. I'll meet you on the docks, and you bring the Sun. We open the chest together, in my cabin. And we share whatever wealth is contained within."
Jack smiled broadly, and stole a kiss from Wench. "Twelve hours, love! And all this will be behind us! You know where to find me. And I'll be waiting for you."
And with a flourish, he left the magistrates office, never offering to nullify their marriage.
Wench called out to him, "Wait! You forgot our----"
Her trailed off, "---annulment!"
Damn! She stormed off in the direction of her lodgings. What a day!
Checking behind her frequently to make sure she wasn't followed, she unlocked her door.
What do you wear to a dinner with your un-sis? And why did Black-Hearted Pearl all of a sudden want a familial relationship? Granted, if I had that cadaver pawing at me, I'd pick ANYONE--even Jack Wolfe--to delay the inevitable. I put up with that crap with Old Vinegar Veins for three months. He did wear that bodice dagger quite well though. Served him right, the old fossil.
Wench was pulled out of her reverie. What was that noise? Take a deep breath, Wench! You are just jumpy.
She looked through her clothes and picked out a peacock blue dress. Shedding her clothes, she slipped the blue dress over her head. It cascaded down her body as it headed toward the floor, skimming her hips and legs.
She reached over and put on her new boots. White leather. Acquired by unconventional means. What a lovely captain he was, too.....
She brushed out her blonde hair and caught it at the nape of her neck, twisting it up.
Pinching her cheeks and biting her lips to redden them, she grabbed her new suede cloak.
She headed out the door but turned back. She put on her scabbarded rapier. Was that on my right hip or my left hip? If I am right-handed...oh, who cares? Probably never use it anyways but just to be sure......

She headed over to the mansion where Pearl was now mistress of the house.
Mistress. Wench laughed to herself. Been there, done that. Damn Vinegar Veins anyhow.
Deserved that dagger!
Now to see what Pearl has in mind. I'm mildly curious, you understand....
But thoughts of Captain Jack Wolfe kept crossing her mind.
She didn't need to pinch her cheeks.
They were blushed enough.
Pearl walked over to the two beautifully adorned lamps. She felt about them. Nothing. She looked behind the bureau. Nothing. Pearl was starting to get very angry. She swatted at the merman's lamp, but only managed to tip it slightly before it fell back into place with jolt as if something was holding it in place.
As Pearl started to look at it more closely, a panel next to the bureau slide open slightly and seem to stick. Pearl's eyes lite up with a smile. "Aha, I've found it." Pearl leaned the merman lamp again, this time noticing the cord that ran beneath it. The panel slide open wider still until it was completely open.
Sir Marshall stirred on the bed. "Oh darling, this is wonderful!" he murmured.
 Pearl raised her eyebrows at this. "What exactly did that vodoo witch give me?" she wondered. Pearl turned her attention back to the open panel. Inside, she could see a small wooden box, ornately carved with the images of slaves.
"Oh, how she hated this part of 'proper' society", she thought. '
The box did not lock. The owner must have thought if you could find the box, one deserved to open it. She pulled the box from the wall and wiped her hand across the dust on top of the box. Her hand, now dirty, she then whiped across her bloomers, not realizing the smear of dirt left behind.
Pearl was sweating with anticipation as she opened the lid to the box. What would she find? Gold, Rubies, Saphires? Inside was a velvet pouch and nothing else. Pearl's heart sank. Pearl decided not to leave empty handed and pulled the velvet pouch from the box. Inside was an old brass key, inlaid with black pearls. Pearl's eyes began to burn. She had heard of a key inlaid with black pearls. It was said to open a chest of magnificent treasure.
Suddenly, voices could be heard coming from the courtyard below. Was it dinner time already? Pearl put the key between her breasts and put the velvet pouch back into the box. She quickly put the box into the panelled compartment. "Oh bugger, now how to close it?"
Sir Marshall stirred again. "hmmmmm" he murmured.
Pearl tipped the merman lamp. Nothing. Pearl yanked the merman lamp back and forth. Nothing. Pearl pulled the merman lamp up and down. Nothing!
"Oh, bugger! Oh, bugger! Oh, bugger!"
Pearl heard the front door open and Benjamin saying "Welcome to the Manor, miss. May I take your coat for you?" Pearl didn't hear the reply. She was too busy looking behind and under the red cherry bureau.
Sir Marshall stirred again and started to rise from the bed. "Oh, I smell dinner." he said as he fell back on the pillow and seemed to fall back asleep.
"Oh, bugger! Oh, bugger! Oh, bugger!" thought Pearl again.
Pearl swept her hand across the the top of the bureau. Her hand hit the mermaid lamp, knocking it asckew. The panel began to slide close and stopped. "Of, course!" thought Pearl. "Leave it to a woman to finish a job!"
Pearl quickly ran to the bath chamber and splashed cold water on her face. Straightened herself, still not noticing the dirt smear on her bloomers and quickly jumped into bed next to Sir Marshall.
Knock, Knock.
"Pardon me" called the butler from behind the door.
"Come in" replied Pearl.
"Your guest has arrived." said the butler as he opened the door to see Pearl lying next to Sir Marshall who appeared to be waking up.
"Poor dear" said Pearl "I think I wore the poor devil himself out."
The butler looked embarrassed. "Sir, do you need my assistance?" He asked.
"No, No, I'm fine." Sir Marshall snapped "See about our lovely guest."
Pearl hopped out of the bed. "I must get dressed. Where are my manners?"
Sir Marshall stumbled out of bed and grabbed her by the shoulders
"I want a kiss!" he snarled, but as he turned her around, Sir Marhsall noticed the dirt smear on her bloomers.
"What is that from?" he look puzzled. ]
"Oh, dear, I didn't realise they had a smear when I put them on." exclaimed Pearl.
 Pearl turned her crestfallen crystal blue eyes toward Sir Marshall. A tear trembled at the corner, "I had so wanted our first time together to be perfect and I have ruined it with my carelessness." The tear fell gently from down her fair cheek that was blushed from all the previous excitement.
Sir Marshall reached up a finger and caught the tear on the tip. His eyes softened as did his voice, "It's alright my dear, we shall buy you a whole new wardrobe of beautiful gowns and under dressings."
"Gowns" thought Pearl. "Gowns were nothing more than chains that men used to inprison woman." Pearl smiled sweetly at Sir Marshall and blinked away the rest of her tears. "Shall we join my sister for dinner?" She asked.
"Certainly" replied Sir Marshall.
They both gathered themselves and walked out the door to the grand staircase where the wench in a beautiful peacock gown looked up at them.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 07:58:19 AM
Jack sauntered back to his ship, a bit too pleased with himself for getting an admission from the lovely Wench. "Of any woman I've met, being married to her isn't so terrible... I could get used to it!" he thought. His reverie was broken as he met the King's men blocking the way to his ship.
"And to what do I owe the honour, gentlemen? I paid my dock fees."
"Captain Jack Wolfe! You are charged with bringing malice and mayhem upon a protectorate of His Majesty, King George the First! You will surrender yourself to us forthwith!" proclaimed the guard.
"Ah! So that's how you feel about it, then? A pity, really. That sounded so well rehearsed" Jack said. Looking up, he spied his Quartermaster.
"Mister Briggs! Snipers to the shrouds! Doubletime!" Jack yelled.
Briggs brought his fist to his forehead in a salute. "Aye, sir! Snipers, aloft! You know your targets, boys! If it's in a red coat, kill it!"
The guards shifted uneasily. "Captain Wolfe, you will accompany us to the stockade!" said the taller of the two.
"Gentlemen, you have ten men with muskets trained upon your backs. Withdraw, and no harm will come to you. Bother me further, and you will die. Understood?" Jack crossed his arms and waited.
The two guards looks sidelong at each other, then beat a hasty retreat. "I thought you'd see it my way!" Jack called after them. He walked up the gangway to the gun deck. Mr. Briggs was there to greet him.
"Did you really think that using carronade against this sleepy town would go unnoticed, Captain? What's got you in such a fine mood this day?" Briggs enquired.
"My wife, Josiah. My bonny bride. She'll be joining us at sunrise. See to it that the men don't shoot her?"
"Aye, Captain. We'll make certain we don't kill her." Briggs clasped his hands behind his back. "As if we needed more foul luck. He had to go and find her! We're all damned..."
Wench watched as Black-Hearted Pearl walked down the stairs with her not-quite dead husband. Sir Marshall smiled. 'Whoa, he looks kind of like a skull. Just missing the crossbones. Bet if he had on a cravat....'
Pearl extended her hands to her and took Wench's in her own. "Dear, dear Honor! I am SO pleased you have been able to join us. Have you news from home?"
Wench slightly panicked. Home? What home? Why is Pearl steeping me into this tea of deception?
But she recovered quickly. "Oh, Pearl, that is talk for another time. I am sure your bridegroom does not want to hear of people and places that he knows not of."
Sir Marshall offered his free arm to his newly acquired sister-in-law. "Shall we enter the dining room, my dear---Honor, is it? My, such an unusual name."
He pulled the chair out for her at a table that would seat fifty.
He seated Pearl to his right. She made a face and Wench tried very hard not to laugh.
Wench, in a small way, felt a kinship with Pearl. Looks like we both did what we had to do. Unfortunately mine had to die not so peacefully.
Sir Marshall rang for the first course. Soup. What else. Wench took a sip. Who am I to look a gift dinner in the mouth?
Sir Marshall asked again. "I was interested in why you were named as such."
Pearl rested her chin on her hand. "Yes, sister, dear. Tell my beloved. I always loved that story."
Wench thought quickly. "Well..our father was a magistrate. I was the youngest. Pearl here is older---MUCH older!---than me..."
Here Wench shot her a look. Put me on the spot? This is MY story, sorry if you don't exactly like it, Captain Black-Heart!
Wench took another sip of soup. "Father knew I was to be the last child as Mother was not in the best of health. Mother died in childbirth with me, you know. As a symbol of his everlasting love to her, with her dying breath, she told him I was to be named Honor Bright . An assurance of fidelity and truth. Because they loved each other so much!"
Here Wench paused to wipe a tear from her eye. Pearl choked on her soup.
What cheek this wench has!
Sir Marshall asked, "And what is a lovely woman such as yourself doing all alone in this port?'
Pearl added, 'Oh, do tell my husband, Honor! '
Wench took a deep breath. "My husband--God rest his soul!--died of an acute wound--DISEASE!--and died within three months of our taking our vows to cherish each other forever."
Another tear trailed down her cheek.
Pearl thought, 'Damn, she's good! She almost has ME believing this crap!'
Wench regained control and continued. "So I am here to mend my broken heart. The physician thought a month by the sea would do my disposition much good. I was--"
Wench faked a cough "---having a breakdown because I was so devastated on the loss of my dear husband."
She then delicately blew her nose on her handkerchief. "I am sorry, Sir Marshall. It is very difficult for me to talk about at this time."
Sir Marshall extended his claw--with yellow nails, I might add--and laid it on her arm. The old goat applied pressure Wench did not like at all. Why...the old boy is a pervert!
Then casually Sir Marshall asked, "What a touching story! But, please--explain to us about the unsavory pirate that accosted you at the magistrate's office! He acted awfully familiar with you!"
Pearl leaned over and said, "Yes, dear Honor. One would think you knew each other quite well!'
Wench said, "I'm sorry. He was a stranger who thought I was someone he knew before. I set him straight. I never saw him before in my life! Now---could you please pass me some of that divine bread there, dear brother-in-law of mine?" 
Dinner had progressed without much change in the dinner conversation. Sir Marshall asked questions and Wench had either conveniently lied or side-stepped the matter all together.
The wine had been flowing freely and it looked like Black-Hearted Pearl and Sir Marshall had more than their share.
The wedding dinner was a sumptuous feast of roast pig and turkey. Wench delicately picked at her food. By the time dessert came which consisted of frosted cakes, Sir Marshall was face down on the table. He narrowly missed getting frosting on his face.
Pearl was decanting yet another bottle of wine.
The day had been too much for Wench. First Captain Jack, her husband of all things, had re-entered her life with a crash landing. Now the nuptial dinner party from Hell.
She rubbed her temples. Damn! A headache! She stood up and said to Pearl, "I really have to leave now. I have an early morning appointment that I really can't miss. I do wish you's his face...a great deal of happiness."
Pearl grinned. "I have lots of reasons to be thankful for marrying this old coot."
Wench smiled back at her. "And I am betting they all are in a safe."
Pearl said nothing but stood up and gave Wench a quick hug. "Thanks for playing along, 'Sis'. You helped me fix it so the only arms around this skin-covered skeleton will be his man-servant as he carries him to the marriage bed."
Wench picked up her cloak and as she put it over her shoulders, she said, "I hope you know what you are doing, Captain Pearl."
Pearl gave her a mock salute and said, "Aye. That I do."
"Then I wish you the best."
Pearl opened the bottle of wine and poured herself a generous glass. "As I wish you and Captain Jack years of wedded bliss. Funny he never mentioned a wife."
Wench paused with her hand on the doorknob. "Isn't it? Funny thing is, I never mentioned him either."

She left the bright lights of the house and continued her way to her lodgings. She contantly looked behind her to make sure she was alone or at least not being followed. She put her key in the door and opened it cautiously. I really need some sleep, she thought. Five o'clock in the morning...what a preposterous time to meet on the docks. It's still dark then.
She hung up her cloak and looked over. The moonlight shone through the window, casting just enough light to see.
In the corner was a rapier. A trail of clothes lead to her bed, with a great pair of boots next to the armoire. She smiled to herself and began to undress in the dark. Quietly she slipped into bed. As she curled up next to the warm body, a voice in the dark whispered drowsily, "Honor, where've you been?"
She put her fingers to his lips and whispered, "I think that's enough talk, darling....."
Pearl smiled deviously as the Wench left the house. "Now to put my plan into action."
Pearl eyed her husband dozing, sitting in his chair. She pulled a small vial that was tucked into her cleavage. She opened the vial and poured a clear odorless liquid into Sir Marshall's cup. Pearl added a bit a more wine to the cup, but not too much. She couldn't risk the servants finishing it after they had left the table.
Pearl cleared her throat loudly. "Oh dear, one last toast before we retire to our wedding bed?" Pearl called loudly.
Sir Marshall mumbled, opening his eyes, seeing his beautiful wife eyeing him expectantly. "What you say?" grumbled Sir Marshall.
"A toast before we retire to our wedding bed." said Pearl seductively. "Oh yes, indeed" said Sir Marshall, his eyes glinting a sinister look.

Sir Marshall snatched at his cup, downing the wine with one fell swoop.
"Time for bed, my dear" he sneered. Pearl smiled like a cat who had just eaten a favored pet bird.
"I shall lead the way, my darling." With that, Pearl turned her back on Sir Marshall and called out to the butler in the kitchen.
"We shall be retiring to our room now, Benjamin."
 Pearl headed for the stairs, knowing Sir Marshall would be keen to keep up with her.
Pearl had just reached the top of the stairs when she heard a gasp from behind her. She turned just in time to see Sir Marshall grasp at his chest and fall down the stairs. The butler had just come from the kitchen and saw Sir Marshall fall from the halfway point to the bottom. He looked up at Pearl, shocked.
"Sir! Sir!", he called crouching down to Sir Marshall. Sir Marshall was completely still.
Pearl watched with a shocked expression on her face. "Is he dead?", she stammered. Benjamin put his hand next to Sir Marhsall's mouth. "I'm afraid so, Madam."
Pearl had to catch herself from smiling. "Quick, call the doctor." said Pearl.
"Madam, it's too late." Benjamin replied.
"NO!!" screamed Pearl as she fainted on the stairs.
With the 5:00 AM meeting on the dock in the subconscience of her mind, Wench raised her head and looked at the old clock on her mantle. Uhh....time for me to get up, I supposed. I should just forget it. That chest probably holds nothing but a bunch of baubles. Why would whoever have the keys not unlock it? I should just stay here....
She snuggled closer to her bedmate, his arms around her. So nice when he makes port, she thought. But the nagging thought of the chest and its possibilites kept her from sleeping.
She sighed. May as well get this over with. IF I decide to hand over the Sun key.
She extricated herself slowly from him. Carefully she took her pillow and placed it where she was. No sense waking him up and having him try to talk me out of it.
She quietly got dressed, putting on breeches instead of a skirt. Never know when I may have to make a break for it or even end up in some sort of combat. Don't need a skirt in the way.
She looked over to where her rapier was, hesitation on her face. If the thought even crossed my mind to take it, then take it I shall. She scabbarded it and put it on.
Reaching over to where she had dropped her clothes the night before, she picked up her bodice dagger and put it in place. Then she picked up the black velvet pouch that her friend Lilaney had given her with a quantity of herbs that suited a specific purpose. You never know, she though.
Lastly she slipped the Sun Key in her bodice. What am I doing? That is the first place Captain Jack Wolfe would look. She put it in her boot and then inserted her sgian dubh. That should camouflage it. Wrapping herself in her cloak, she started out the door.
'Honor? Where the hell are you going, love?' A sleepy voice came from the bed.
Oh dear, the Inquisition begins....
'Nowhere, darling. Just go back to sleep. I have to run an errand and I'll be right back.'
'It's barely daylight, for God's sake.'
She thought fast. 'Well, if you want to get the freshest bread and fruit, you have to hit the docks early. Don't worry. I'll be back within the hour.'
Before he could give her the third degree, she let herself out, locking the door behind her.
The sun was just starting to come up over the town. With a bravado she did not feel, she headed towards the docks. Her fingers nervously tapped the hilt of her rapier. What am I doing? I should be back in a nice warm bed. Instead I am meeting the Devil himself.
Within ten minutes she reached the docks. Shading her eyes, she gave a sigh of relief.
Looks like I have been stood up...
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 08:01:09 AM
The sun rose over the sea like the Phoenix, bursting anew with joyous flame. Jack watched from the quarterdeck over his morning cup, and smiled at the promise of "Honour" bringing the Sun key.
A lookout, Mr. Stinson, called from his post. "Cap'n! She's at the docks, but she's stopped! She's out of range, sir, so what'll you have us do?!"
"Oh, dear 'Honour Bright'. How you do tease us so!" said Jack. Josiah Briggs, the Quartermaster, snorted sharply.
"Tease 'er yourself, Cap'n, and we'll take the key and be done with it!"
"That's enough, Mr. Briggs! We''l have her on board. No matter what the ill omen. I have the Moon and the chest. She has... everything else. All in due time, Josiah, my friend. All in good time."
Jack grabbed a rum bottle from behind the binnacle and took a deep tug. He walked down the steps to the gun deck and called out to the small for of his bride through the speaking trumpet. "Oi! You! The pretty blonde! Yeah, you, love! Don't be so shy, for you know I don't bite... too roughly! That's it! Come this way, or I shall voice more personal matters for all the good people of this town to hear!"
Jack smiled as Honour grudgingly walked down the pier.
Oh, great, she thought. Why can't he just act like a normal person? Why does everything have to have a bend to it?
Standing within speaking range, she put her hands on her hips, drawing back her cloak ever so slightly so Captain Jack would be sure to see she was weaponed with her rapier.
"You said to meet you on the docks. Well, this is the docks and this is where I am standing. So get your arse down here, Captain Jack Wolfe. I'll not venture any further. This is neutral ground. You should be glad I made it down here at all, having met you here at this ungodly hour."
Just then, Father O'Malley walked by. He tipped his hat to her and said, "Good morning, Honor, my child. Awfully early for you to be up and about, isn't it?"
Wench looked at Jack and then to Father O'Malley. "Yes, it is. I should be snuggled in my bed. But it seems I couldn't resist the Morning Sun. Or the Moon."
"As you wish!" Jack called, and he laughed as he handed the speaking trumpet off to Josiah. He checked his cutlass, and with a chuckle, handed his pistol to the quartermaster.=
"Cap'n, she came armed. Aren't you the one always preachin' about peace through superior firepower?" Mr. Briggs inquired.
"Aye, my friend. But I also have snipers, and a sharp crew on the swivels. If I fall, so does she. And you stand next to command, if elected. You're a good man, Josiah. And a good friend. We'll both be aboard soon."
Jack hung his justacorp on the binnacle, and strode down the deck to the gangplank, then to the dock. "How poetic is it, my lovely Honour, that you greet me with the Sun? I hope in more ways than one!" He took 5 casual steps forward. "Now, what is that on your lovely hip... a blade? I hoped we were over all that, darling. And I'll ignore that blush on your cheeks."
Jack's voice grew cold, and his eyes narrowed. "You, the Sun, and I the Moon. Always chasing one another, never quite catching up lest one eclipse the other. To business, Honour Bright, aboard my ship? Or to arms, here and now? Your choice." He hooked his right thumb in his belt, inches away from the pommel of his cutlass, and waited.
She took five steps back. She looked at him and then at his cutlass, his fingers tapping it casually.
"You wouldn't. You COULDN'T!"
Wench looked over and saw the men on deck, intently watching her. Her voice matched Captain Jack's in frostiness and she tilted her chin up to look him in the eyes.
"And that is no blush on my cheeks. It is just the reflection of the sun. So, it is quite clear now. You think I have what you need and after you have it, you shall be done with me. How typical of you. I hand over the key and what assurance do I have that my back will be to your rudder in the next hour? And I don't mean floating face down."
She casually tapped her own fingers to her rapier. "And don't try to snow me, Jack Wolfe. I've got captain friends that will hunt you down if anything happens to me. How can I trust you that I will still be alive an hour from now? And on dry land."

Jack took a step towards her and she made a motion to unsheath her rapier. "You know I can wield this with the best of them. After all, who taught me the finer points of thrust and parry?"
Jack held his place, but his hand remained near his cutlass. "I remember those days love," he said, with an almost feral smile. "Quite the student you were. And how exciting the lessons! I wonder... how much do you remember?"
His hand drew near his blade, but he restrained himself. "No doubt, you remember much. But I have no desire to search your lovely body for the Sun key. And since, as you say, your cheeks are flushed by the Sun, I take it you indeed have the item you so mightly protested not to have."
Jack assumed a relaxed stance. "You can quit fondling that blade, love. You know I have little concern for what your other courtiers might think or do. I'm resigned to my own damnation. And we have business to attend to. I swear, upon pain of death, that you shall return to this very dock, or at least as close as my navigator can get us, safe and unharmed. You're more a liability to me dead than alive, love. And upon the completion of our business, you'll get that annulment you're so hot after. Do we have an accord?"
He twisted momentarily toward El Lobo del Mar and motioned furtively, even comically, for his men to stand down. No visible weapons, no threats. We're all one big happy family...
Jack swiveled back toward Wench with an uneasy and forced grin. "Oh, I hope she doesn't realise how little control I have over these pyrates..." he thought.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 08:02:15 AM
Wench looked at him and laughed in spite of herself. "Oh, those lessons! We were together a month but you taught me much, Jack. Taught me so well I bested Captain Jonas Corwin. I must say, you would have been proud and said, 'That's my girl!'"
She then frowned.. "Except I did get sliced from a faulty blade. But I knocked him out with a few well placed kicks. One on the chin and one south of the border as it were. Stepping on a cat didn't help his cause, either. So if you ever hear the legend of how Corwin was beaten by a mere wench, you are looking at yours truly."
She looked over and saw the men of El Lobo del Mar stay there weapons. "I knew you could be reasonable in the end, Jack. You always were impressed by a woman with a blade even if you wouldn't admit it. It always got your blood hot. So let us negotiate and get this taken care of so I can go back to bed. IF--and this is a big IF--I decide to hand over the Sun Key, we split the treasure 50/50 and I regain my freedom from you. You promise to go right to the magistrate's and sign the papers and we part. If those are the terms, then yes. We have an accord."
She extended her hand to Jack.
Jack grinned and gripped Wench's hand. "You'll get your release, my pretty. As soon as we're done." He gripped her hand tighter as he spun her in front of him, and presently a knife was to her throath. "And you know how fond I am of insurance policies, dear Honour. Your life buys me immunity, as your multifarious sea captains will not attack with you in peril. Briggs! Cast off! Men to the tops, and full sail! We are away!"

Jack hustled Wench aboard his vessel, and released her once they set foot on the gun deck. He eyed her ominously. "You're in my world now, dear Honour. Once we're clear for the city's guns, we'll talk business. Mr. Briggs! Mr. Harlan! See to my bride's needs, as I'm sure they are as complex as her complaints... Take her below!" Jack stalked off to the holy ground of the quarterdeck, and fixed his gaze on the bow of his ship, his thoughts as dark as night.
"YOU BASTARD! You always were and you always will be! This is cheating! I have to go back home. I can't leave! I can't!"
As Wench was dragged below, she kicked Briggs in the groin and Harlan received a clip on the ear and a graze on his cheek from the bodice dagger she whipped out.
"OW! OW! OW! YOU LITTLE TART!" He raised his hand to her and she ducked as he drove his hand right into the door jamb. Briggs pulled him back. "Ye canna do that, that be Mrs. Captain!"
The two of them opened a door and thrust her into the chamber.
She caught herself before she hit the floor, landing on a soft bed. She looked around. Oh, great. This looks pretty familiar.
She sat there and swore softly to herself. Then out loud.
"Damn! Damn, damn, damn!"
Ok, so I give up the damn key and get dropped off at the next port. I can deal with it. That's not going to happen though.
She looked out the portal window, the town getting ever smaller in the distance. Wonder if I can squeeze out this window and swim to shore.
She pulled a box up and stood on it. If I can just open this window, I can be long gone. She carefully opened it up and started to slide her body through it. One good push and then I am home free!
Jacob Davis, a gunner's mate, heard an odd noise off the starboard side, just below his station. He peered over the side, and spied Wench trying to squeeze through the porthole of her cabin. He chuckled lasciviously, and grabbed a musket from a barrel near the main mast. He quickly affixed a bayonette, and leaned over the side. Tapping Wench gently on the head, he met her eyes as she looked up at him. "Hallo, deary! And where are we going this fine day?" He fixed the musket's barrel between her eyes. "Cap'n Jack ain't gonna look nicely on your escape, poppet. So snug yerself back in that hole, if you please. Otherwise, I have to raise a fuss, and we wouldn't want that, eh? The Cap'n can be thrown into quite the murderous mood, if you follow my meaning." Davis grinned with his stringy hair and yellow teeth, sizing Wench up as she struggled.
She looked at Davis with disdain. "You don't scare me. And neither does that mistake-for-a-husband I have! He wouldn't be the first man who ended up on the wrong side of a bodice dagger, if you get my drift. Murderous mood? Oh, poo! He gets cranky if his rum isn't up to snuff. So don't scare me with idle threats. As long as I have what he needs, he won't do away with me. The only reason I am getting back in the cabin now is because I'm hungry. The least you pox-ridden arses can do is get me something to eat."
She pulled her head back into the porthole but yelled out, "Strawberries dipped in chocolate and a bottle of your finest champagne. And hop to it, you scabbrous cur!"
She sat back on the bed, crossing her arms. Boss ME around, will you? HA!
She took out the Sun Key and held it in her hands. Time for you to go, little fella! She walked over in his chamber and hid it in a place he would never think to look. Now if he decides to search me, he won't find it. I'll be of no use and he can just drop me off at the next port. Tobago, Tortuga, St Thomas...I don't care. Just got to get off this God-forsaken ship!
Davis approached the quarterdeck and caught Wolfe's attention. "Cap'n! I caught your missus trying to escape. She's back in 'er quarters, but she didn't go kindly! And she protests mighty cravings of the belly, sir."
Jack shook his head. "And, no doubt, she demanded the best of everything we have."
Davis nodded in agreement. "Things what I've not heard of for victuals, Cap'n. But no doubt they be luxuries..."
"Fair enough, Mr. Davis. A plate of whatever the cook has for us tonight, and a full ration of rum for my bonny lass. No grog, but hard rum. Serve it with a false French accent, if you please. That's as soft as it gets aboard this vessel."
Jack turned his attention to the matters at hand. "Josiah, the ship is yours. I'll be in the great cabin, plotting our course for Isla Muella. Maintain full sail until I call a new course. As much canvas as she'll carry!"
Wench sat there looking at books on the bookshelf. What boring books! Oh, what have we here! She pulled a book out and could scarcely contain a giggle. Japanese prints, huh? I didn't know that was physically possible...I guess if you don't mind the blood rushing to your head....She heard a noise and hastily put the book back onto the shelf.
The door opened and Davis came in. "I have dinner for zee Madame, s'il vooz plaited. Voila!"
Wench shook her head as he pronounced it Vooil-AHHH.
He whipped off a towel and handed her a plate.
"And what is THIS?? Did you scrape it off the bottom of a parrot's cage?"
Davis grinned. "Tis what the rest o' us be eatin' and Cap'n says ye eat like us."
She shoved the plate back. "You may tell the Captain that I refuse the bord de faire. I am guessing the strawberries are out, let alone the chocolate."
He just stared at her.
"Oh, very well, garcon. You are dismissed."
He looked uncomprehendingly at her. She said, "It means SCRAM! But leave the rum. And it better be top-shelf, too."
As she poured herself a tankard, she thought long and hard about how foolish she was to trust Jack Wolfe.
A noise was heard outside the door. She grabbed a vase and stood behind the door, poised to crack it down on whoever the next person to disturb her would be.
Jack opened the door, and ducked as Wench tried to brain him with a flower vase. "Really, dear. You should take better care of your quarters. I might get the idea you don't appreciate them!"
He presented the square wooden platter Davis had attempted to serve moments earlier. "You see, my lovely, you're off the chart where luxuries be concerned. You can eat this stew of salt beef and biscuit like the rest of us, or go hungry. Have a bit of rum, first, though. It'll make you care less about the weevils."
He left the plate on the bed, and saluted mockingly. "You really should relax, my love. You'll come to no harm whilst in my care." And without further word, he departed, locking the cabin door behind him.
As the door closesd and the lock was heard to tumble, she picked up the platter and hurled it at the door.
She saw the stew drip off the wall . Cocking her head, she looked at it. He can frame it and call it a DaVinci for all I care, she brooded.
She walked over to the door and kicked it. Hard. OW! Need to get heavier boots...I could set fire to the place. Tip over a, with the way things are going, I'd be kindling wood before anyone got around to rescuing me. Rescue! Why didn't I tell at least one person where I was going? I would have at least have him come to save me. As it is, he's sleeping in my bed waiting for me to come back with bread and fruit. And I've now dropped off the face of the earth.
She looked out the portal and could barely make the outline of the harbor town. I'll just turn over the key and he can have the whole damned treasure. What do I care? I just want the annulment and off this ship. OK, Wench, don't push it. Just get off the ship.
Jack stifled his laughter as Wench's meal slammed against the door. Her kicking the door didn't help matters. He beat a quiet retreat to the quarterdeck.
"You're in a fine mood, Cap'n" Briggs entreated. "How goes it with the ball and chain?"
"Tempestuous as ever, Josiah. She's not changed one whit." Jack retrieved his coat from the binnacle, and looked out over the gun deck. "How many days until Isla Muelle?"
"A day and a half, given the present wind, sir. Two if she dies down. We've piled on all the canvas we can."
"Good enough" mused Jack. "That will do nicely. We'll drop anchor between the main island and the islet. The longboats can refresh our supplies for the return trip. Fall back to standard running. We've no reason to overtax our masts. No one is following, and any who decide to shall be dealt with. The ship is yours, my friend."
Jack walked down to the crew deck, and unlocked Wench's door. "My apologies, love. I've been a most unhospitable host. You have free run of this ship. But I'll be taking these..."
He deftly relieved Wench of her rapier (which is patently wrong for close quarter combat) and her bodice blade.
"Such lovely, shiney cutlery. I'll have to scold my crew for allowing you to keep them. Off you go! You have free rein. And if your quarters displease you, you may join me in my digs. I know you remember the way."
Jack sauntered off to the Armoury, where he locked away Wench's bladed toys. Locking the door behind him, he proceeded to the gun deck.
As Jack turned his back and stood on the gun deck, Wench bent over and took her sgian dubh out of her boot and hurled it. She deftly pinned Jack's shirtsleeve to the mast.
"You forgot one, " she said haughtily. "I shall stay in my chambers, thank you very much. It will be a cold day in hell before I find my way to your quarters."
She turned and walked back to her own quarters and took out her black velvet bag of herbs. How he didn't see that when he took the bodice dagger, I'll never know, she thought. She stashed it behind the book of risque Japanese prints. Checking her other boot, she saw the other sgian dubh buried down there. It was worth the look on his face to lose that one dagger!
Now...where to get some decent food. Maybe it is about time I befriended the cook. Weevils, indeed! She poured herself a hefty tankard of rum. At least this is halfway decent. Maybe inebriated is the only way I can stand this trip. She fell back on the bed and contemplated her situation.
Not good, Wench..not good at all!
Jack snorted with indignation as the celtic dagger caught the fabric of his shirt, pinning him to the main mast. He grasped it's hilt, furiously trying to wrest it from it's station. "A very nice trick, love! I'll remember this once we reach Isla Muelle! You dirty little..." Suddenly, the dagger popped free, and Jack found himself flat on his back.
"Ow!" Jack coughed. "Bugger, bugger, bugger!" He scrambled to his feet. "What are ye looking at, ye scabrous dogs?! All of ye, to yer posts! Don't make me say it twice!"
Holding his aching head, Jack looked at Briggs' smirking face. "Josiah, do not make me kill you today. Better yet, call Mr. Howell to duty station. I've had enough of your insolent face."
Briggs dropped his smirk and called Gregory Howell to the watch. Jack looked about, holding his throbbing head. "Steady on, men! We'll be done with this business soon enough! I'll be below..."
Jack walked the short stairs to the main cabin's deck. He paused outside WW's quarters, then shoved his shoulder against the door, bursting it open.
"Comfy, are we? Enjoy my hospitality, love. My patience for your antics is wearing thin." With that, Jack slammed the cabin door, but did not lock it. He stalked off to the great cabin, and contemplated the coming day's events.
Though his pride was wounded, he secretly hoped that Wench would rap upon his door....
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 08:05:05 AM
Wench did a very mature thing. She stuck her tongue out at the slammed door.
Damn! Here I am on this floating prison with NO decent food and nothing to wear..NOTHING TO WEAR!
I can't be seen in this two days in a row! I can't! What will the pirates think of me? She began to laugh to herself. What do I care?
She rummaged around in the dresser drawer...could it be where I left it? All the way in the back, she found it. Decent soap! The one that came from France. I remembered I bought it when we were in Port Royal that night. Ah, glorious, decent soap! Not that brown crap those guys have been using. No wonder they all look like beef jerky. Well, except for DOES he avoid getting that leather look is beyond me. Smells pretty decent, too.
She scrounged around some more...ah, more clothes! The 'unmenionables' that I threw in the drawer that night I got really mad at him and moved in here for the night. Her face coloured at that memory.
Wench walked over to the armoire...should be in here...She flung open the door. My gowns! Where the hell are my gowns? The red one...the maroon one....that wonderful blue one....
She remembered she had left them all in Jack's cabin. Well, I can sneak over to there and pick them up and be out of there. He's probably on that gun deck lamenting the rip in his fine silk shirt. She smirked as she remembered the astonished look on his face as the dagger pinned hiim to the mast. How fortunate that Rhys taught me the finer points in throwing a dagger. If he hadn't, I 'd be dead from that skewering old Vinegar Veins tried to pin me to the pillow with....
She stealthily left her chambers and went over to Jack's cabin. Quietly she pushed the door open with her hip and let herself in.
As she turned around, she looked up into the eyes of Captain Jack, sitting at his desk, surrounded by nautical maps.
Pearl awoke the next morning with sun shining brightly into the room. She had to catch herself from smiling. Her plan was going well.
The maid saw her mistress awake and ran to her bedside, "Oh madam, you are finally awake. We were so worried." Pearl thought quickly, "Oh my husband, what of my husband?" she cried. The maid responded, "I'm sorry, madam, but your husband has been murdered." "What! Murdered!" cried Pearl. "Who could do such a thing?" The maid looked down at the ground, "They suspect you, madam."
Pearl knew there was a possibility of being caught. She was silently patting herself on the back for inviting the wench to dinner that night.
"How can that be?" cried Pearl "I love him!" She almost made a mistake in saying "loved". She knew she must keep up the pretense or be found out.
"Oh, what as my sister done?" Pearl cried into her hands just as the doctor was opening the door.
"Now, now, dear, calm down." the doctor stated patting Pearl on the top of the head. Pearl turned her bright blue eyes up to the doctor.
Tears glistened from her lashes, "Oh doctor, I fear my sister is to blame. She is so jealous."
"Don't worry, my dear, we shall get this all straightened out." the doctor said assuringly.
"Oh thank you, doctor." replied Pearl as her eyes looked adoringly up at the doctor. Soon she would have her treasure. So what if the wench spent a little time in the prisons. She would be safer there anyway.
"If you must know, neither. I came to pick up a few things of mine that seem to have been left behind. And as far as sharing rum with you, no thank you. I have had enough rum in my OWN quarters."
She walked over to the armoire and flung open the doors. Good! Still here! All of them. Loading them up in her arms, she was lost under the sheer volume of all of them.
Stopping suddenly, she picked up her red gown and smelled it. Roses? I never wear anything that smells like roses! Strictly a jasmine girl! She took the maroon one. Lilacs? What the heck is going on?
The blue one.....GARDENIAS! And look at this!
Under the arm was a big rip. And some sort of sauce spilled on the front.
Wench threw the gowns down and raised her arm to strike Captain Jack. He caught her hand just in time. Their eyes locked. She whispered vehemently, "You bloody bastard! These gowns were from Paris!"
She wrenched her arm away, picked up the tankard of rum and dumped it on Jack's head.
Quickly she grabbed her gowns and ran down to her quarters, locking the door behind her.
She looked at the dresses and then thought, 'They were sooo last year anyways..'
Jack shook the rum as best he could from his shoulder-length hair. "Hmph! That went well..." He poured a bit more rum, and began rummaging through his sea chest. Finding the package he sought, he made his way carefully to Wench's quarters.

"Ahem! Let me start by saying those 'ho-bags' you referred to were rather expensive. And why should you be so upset, given that you've been out of the picture for some time, love? I never expected to see you again, what with you making off with the ships's boat in the middle of the night, and all. Not exactly an action one would consider convivial to a lasting relationship, aye? So, here I stand, on the opposite side of a locked door from your lovely self, with a bit of rum and a package that reeks of jasmine and spice... Fair enough! If you won't open the door, over the side this finery goes... Good night, love!"
Jack slowly strolled away from Wench's door.
Wench yelled through the door, "I don't care if you paid them in Aztec gold and you swung on chandeliers! What makes me mad is the fact that they squeezed their sausage bodies into my clothes! The blue one looks like it can't be fixed. What did she have, arms like an ox? To split a dress like that! And she must have had a hand-eye coordination problem because it looks like Hollandaise--which is egg-based by the way--is cascading down the front of it!"
She opened the door and threw the dress at Capt. Jack's back.
"If it can't be cleaned, you owe me one blue dress! From Paris!"
She slammed the door again and yelled through it again. "Buy yourself as many bimbos as you want! I haven't exactly been sitting around a widow's walk knitting and waiting for you to come home! And whatever trinket you have that you THINK I may be mildly curious about, well, I suggest you pitch it into the sea. Because like the Sun key, guaranteed in six months you will want it back!"
"Ah!" Jack thought. "Despite her protests, the Sun key is in her cabin. Maybe not on her lovely body, but there, nonetheless."
"T'would be such a sin to waste finery as this! I'll be returning it to my cabin, in case you change your pretty mind." Jack announced through the door. "You know, dear Honour Bright... Oh, damn it all! Enough pretense! From here on out, I call ye 'Theresa'. It's better than any counterfeit name I can politely call you! So, Theresa, you know how far out we are from Isla Muelle. You know where we will make landfall. And you know what I expect you to produce. Mull that over, as you brood in your cabin!"
Jack stalked down the companionway to the great cabin. On his way, he met Mr. Davis, who became immediately fearful of Jack's mood. Jack looked at him, and threw the sweet-scented package at the startled crewman, who could only stand there in astonishment as blue chiffon cascaded over his head. Jack slammed the door to the great cabin hard enough for it to be felt all about the ship.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 08:07:54 AM
Wench felt the reverberation of the door slamming into her cabin. She caught several books as they started to fall from the shelf. Throwing them on the bed, she said to herself, 'what is HE so touchy about? I'm the one with ruined dresses.'
She held her nose as she tried to put the red one on a hanger. Maybe a day out in the ocean breeze will get the 'Eau de Ho' out of it.
She cautiously looked out her door both ways and saw the coast was clear. She came face to face with Mr. Davis. On his head was something filmy and blue and looked suspiciously like a lady's garment. She picked up a corner of it and said to him, "That shade of blue does absolutely nothing for you!"
As she walked up to the quarterdeck, she hung the dress up on a crossbeam. Now..which way to the kitchen? I think Cook and I need to have a tete a tete about what consists of decent food.
And I don't mean weevils au gratin either.
Pearl was working her magic on the doctor when the Commodore was announced. "Doctor, Madam, Commodore Wellington is here." announced the Butler. "Send him in right away!" demanded the Doctor, taking charge of the household.
Got his eyes on the prize, now does he?, thought Pearl. Well, I don't plan on sharing it with anyone! Even if the doctor is devilishly handsome with black curly hair and piercing green eyes.
"Commodore Wellington, Madam has some evidence as to the killer of her husband." stated the Doctor. "Out with it, Madam" demanded the Commodore. "Now, Now, there's no need to use that tone of voice with her." replied the Doctor.
"I'm afraid my sister, Honor Bright, may have had a hand in this." said Pearl sadly. "I saw her early yesterday at the Magistrate's office with that scoundrel, Captain Jack. I'm afraid they are after my husband's" "Oh Commodore, how could they do this to me! My poor husband had some many more years left to give. I'm a widow on my honeymoon." cried Pearl.
The Commodore turned to his first Leutenaint "Captain Jack made sail this morning. The Brig 'Spirit' went after him. Send a message via pigeon that as well as being a Pirate, Captain Jack and his consort, Honor Bright are wanted for the murder of James H. Marshall."
"Right away, Sir" replied the Lt.
Jack sat as his desk and stared aimlessly at the charts arrayed before him. There wasn't much to do, as Isla Muelle lay little more than day's journey out.
"Damn my temper! Why should she have a greater hold over my moods than anyone else? I lose all reason when I'm near her."
A polite knocking came at the door. Jack openend it, to find a most uncomfortable Davis standing there, a blue dress bundled in his arms.
"Begging your pardon, Cap'n, but the, um, lady didn't much care for the dress." Davis mumbled.
"No doubt, as I left you wearing it as a hat. Presentation is everything, mate. Remember that."
Jack nodded sharply as Davis stared at him with a look of utter incomprehension. Jack took the dress, smiled uncomfortably, and slammed the door. Davis shrugged, and went back about his duties.
"Nicely done, Jack. Next time, try to be a bit more volatile with... whatever her name is! That should do the trick, you damned fool." He hung the dress up in the armoir, and settled back at his desk, intent on steeping himself in more rum. Being a less-than-charming hothead won't get him an inch closer to the Sun key, or the treasure...
Wench made her way down to the kitchen galley. What a mess! She screamed as a roach landed on her cleaveage. She swatted at it and as it landed on the floor, she stepped on it with her boot.
No wonder I can't eat. There were leaky barrels and food was dropped on the floor. What? No fresh fruit? No vegetables? No green beans almondine??
This is an unsanitary mess! She opened a larder door. Two beady eyes were looking back at her. She let out a blood-curdling scream and slammed the door.
She ran to the side of the ship and clutched the handrail, fighting the nauseousness. We'd better get to Isla Muelle before I starve to death.
She went to the other side and found the cook. He was sitting on a barrel passed out with a bottle of rum.
"Hey! YOU!" She poked him. He fell over and she thought, "Oh ****, he's dead!" She shoved him with her foot. He snored.
She stepped over him. Looks like I shall be on a liquid alcohol diet till I can get to a decent port and get some real food! Hey, I can go zero to sixty on the rum...
She pulled her chemise away from her body. Yes, definitely losing weight. As if I could keep this swill down. After all, you can never be too thin.
She made her way to the quarterdeck, shading her eyes. No ships that I know. Who you trying to kid, Wench? No one knows you are here.
She felt her eyes mist up. Hastily she wiped her eyes. As she stood on deck, she watched the sun dip below the horizon and into the liquid sea.

The Spirit was making good time. They soon would be caught up with the pirate ship. But they had to stay directly in the sun's path to avoid detection. Afterall, it wasn't easy to take a pirate ship.
Captain Kirst was carefully looking through his spyglass. Any glint could catch it and they would be spotted. Ahhhh, there she is, just over the horizon. Kirst called to his first mate, "Specks, lower the flag. We don't want to display our colors too soon."
"Aye, Aye," responded Specks. "Step two, you scalywags, and lower those colors." shouted Specks.
The pressganged crew snarled at Specks, but did their duty. To disobey would be a painful reminder that at sea, in her majesty's navy, there is little democracy.
With the british flag lowered, Kirst called out to Specks yet again. "I'm going below. Do not disturb me until we are close enough to see her decks."
"Aye, Aye" called Specks.
Back on shore, Pearl was now dressed in a beautiful new gown. No doubt a wedding gift from her recently departed husband. Her cleavage was quite on show. The man had good taste. She was sitting in the magistrate's office, accompanied by the Commodore.

"Yes, I met the lady Honor Bright a few minutes before the Lady Pearl came in with her betrothed. She was upset about her nuptials to Captain Jack." said the magistrate. "I explained that she was bound by the laws of her majesty and was therefore the property of Captain Jack as his wife." he continued.
"I thought she was here from my wedding." said Pearl. "That dirty scoundrel, Captain Jack, has turned her into a pirate and murderer." she exclaimed. "My poor sister." Pearl wailed as she buried her face into her hands, appearing to cry.'
It was really because she had to hide her grin. "God, she was a good actress." she thought to herself. But there was even less honor in being an actress as there was in being a pirate. Besides, being a pirate provided much more adventure and freedom.
"Now, Now, Lady Pearl. We shall have this all soon handled. Your husband's killers will be brought to justice." the Commodore stated while patting Pearl on the back in an awkward manner.
"Oh thank you, Commodore." replied Pearl as she looked up adoringly at the Commodore. Just then the doctor walked in to the magistrate's office. A frown burrowed across his brow. He had seen Pearl look at the Commodore as she had looked at him. "Was this all just a game to her?" he thought to himself. Pearl looked over at the doctor and saw the anger spark in his eyes. "Oh bugger" thought Pearl. "Why can't a girl have many consorts. Men do." she thought.

"Oh doctor, thank you for coming." Pearl exclaimed as she rose to her feet. As she stepped toward the doctor, she began to feel dizzy and started to fall. The doctor and the commodore rushed to her side. "Are you feeling all right, my lady?" inquired the doctor. "Actually, I'm feeling a little faint. I don't know what's come over me?" replied Pearl. Actually, she was feeling faint. All these heavy gowns in this oppressive heat were taking a toll on her. She needed to get back to the cool trade winds of the open sea.
"I think I need to rest." she said to the men hovering over her. "Yes, we will continue this questioning later, madam." said the Commodore. He called out to his men, "Take Lady Pearl back to her mansion for resting." "I'll be by later to check on you." he said in a low whisper as he leaned toward her.
"I think that is my job, commodore." stated the doctor as he eyed the Commodore. "Yes, that is correct." stammered the Commodore. "Contact me once she is well enough to continue questioning." he said straightening up. "Someone has to pay for this crime." he declared.
"Oh bugger" thought Pearl as she was lead away to the waiting carriage. "Why did they have to discover the poison?"
Jack looked out the great cabin's window and took note of the dying daylight. He shuttered the windows, and went topside to check the ships position.
He approached his quartermaster quietly. "Josiah, about my earlier interperate outburst..."
Briggs stifled a chuckle. "No worries, Jack. I'd of been mad enough to spit fire, meself. She had ye in fits the last time, as I recall."
Jack laughed. "And history repeats. So, my friend, how fares our mutual taskmistress?"
"We're making good enough time, and only one sail espied near the horizon, but she fell away. I'm a wee bit confused about our heading, though, Cap'n. On our current bearing, won't we make the port of Isla Muelle proper instead of the cay?"
"Aye, Josiah, true enough. And if we can believe the tales of that chest, I'm not of a mind to take any chances. Douse all lights on deck, and order the men to keep the gun ports closed and tied fast. No watch bells, no music. And the cook can put out the kitchen fire, if he bothered to light it at all. Once that's done, I want the tender made ready with the largest canvas she'll carry, and half-a-dozen signal lanterns."
Briggs beamed. "Aye, sir! It'll be a pleasure!"

The crew worked quickly to finish as the available light finally faded. The tender had been rigged with an improvised lateen sail, and the lanterns affixed to short poles affixed around the boat. She'd been lowered into the water and hauled behind the ship with a towline. The ship's dinghy had also been towed along to retrieve the two crewmen readying the tender. When all was ready, and darkness fully fell, the order was given.
The tender's rudder was lashed in place, the lanterns quickly lit, and the sail set. The two crewmen scrambled into the dinghy and cut the towline from the tender. As the towline was hauled in, Jack enacted the last part of the plan.
"Now! Set the tops! Steersman, take us 5 points to starboard and hold us there." He watched with satisfaction as the tender, lit like a vessel 3 times it's size, sped off on it's way. El Lobo settled into her new more northerly course like a swift, silent shadow.
Wench looked over and saw Captain Jack talking in a low tone to Mr. Briggs. She kept well out of sight and heard their low laughter. He's standing between me and my quarters, she thought. Damn!
She hastily ducked into the shadows and under some canvas and rigging. I just hope there is no vermin here. Something brushed against her leg and she stifled a scream. It was orange and big and furry. She sighed with relief to see it was just a dock cat. The cat rubbed against her face and she tried very hard to hold back a sneeze. 'Nice kitty, nice kitty--now go find mice,' she whispered.
She peeked out from under the canvas and looked at the commotion. Men were running all over. Hope they don't need this piece of sail. She could hear the gunports close. Two men were dangerously close. One stepped back and stepped on the hem of her dess through the canvas. That was close! He could have stepped on ME! The two men hurled themselves over the side. Well, that was interesting. A mutton taking place. Or is that mutiny? I always get those two words mixed up.
She saw Captain Jack's boots as he paced back and forth shouting out orders. His cutlass swung dangerously near her. He's going to put an eye out with that thing.
What seemed like forever, the two men jumped back on the ship. Wench slowly came out of the canvas but kept part of it wrapped around her like a blanket. I can still blend. She kept part of the sail over her hair so it didn't shine like a beacon in the moonlight. As she put her hands on the rail and peeked through it, she saw a tender fast paced in a different direction, lit up like the bonfires of Samhain. Her eyes grew wide at the sheer beauty of the tender cutting through the waters and away from El Lobo.
Something is up. And I don't like it. Why didn't I stay curled up in bed? They were right. Curiousity killed the cat. And it just may be my demise.
She waited till the rest of the crew were sitting on the other side of the ship with their grog before she came out from under the canvas. Quietly on her hands and knees so as not to be detected, she crawled back to her quarters, quickly opened the door, entered and locked it.
She took the chair from the desk and propped it under the door knob.
Just in case.
Looking behind the books, she saw that the Sun key was right where she had hidden it. She replaced the books.
Hastily stripping off her clothes, she slipped under the blankets and was asleep before her head hit the pillows.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 08:17:45 AM
"We're coming up on her, Captain!" shouted the mate from the crow's nest. "Quiet about you, now." whispered Specks fiercely.

"But we're coming up on her fast." stammered the mate. "That show is too low in the water for it to be a ship!" exclaimed Specks. "Why, that's nothing but a decoy."

"She can't be far?" queried the mate. "Aye, that she can't. We'll make for Tortuga. I think the Governor there could do with a visit." replied Captain Kirst came up from down below. "5 points to Starboard and why are those lanterns lite?" growled the Captain. "Out with them now and no bells. You, in the crow's nest, will have to take another watch. We can't afford to lose time."
It was nighttime by the time Pearl awoke. The manor was silent except for the sounds of the ocean in the distance. "Ah, the sea." thought Pearl, "She needed to get back to the sea."

Pearl slipped from the bed. She was in nothing but her chemise. "How did she get this way?" she wondered. She hoped it was the dashing doctor and she hoped he had enjoyed the task.

She slipped off the chemise. "Who could sail with these long things?" Pearl thought has she grabbed a pair of trousers and a man's shirt from her husband's drawers. "These are very nice." she thought. "It's good to have some new clothes, even if they belonged to a dead man."

She looked around the room. "Ah yes" she sighed and reached her hand far underneath the large four poster bed she had been laying on. "There they are." she smiled as she brought forth her soft lambs skin boots. The boots were scuffed and spotted from the salt from the sea, but nothing else would do.

She went to the window and opened the shutters. She was on the second floor, but a bougenvilla had gripped the wall of the manor, climbing it's way to the second floor. It would be painful to climb down, but no more so than the hemp rope from the rigging of her ship. "Her ship, oh how she missed it."

Pearl threw a leg of the window sill and slipped out of the window. She grasped at the vine. Slowly, she made her way down the vine. Suddenly, her foot slipped. Then her other foot slippped. "Oh, Bugger" she thought. "Here I go." ~Bumpf~ Pearl fell the rest of the way to ground, landing in a Bird of Paradise. "Good thing I wasn't on that dreaded isle with the spiney plants." she mused. "That would have hurt alot more."

She got up and brushed herself off. An old long eared dog came from around the corner of the manor. He looked at Pearl and seemed to bothered to bark at a female. Pearl smiled. "Good dog." she whispered as she turned to escape the manor grounds. The moon was bright and Pearl couldn't help but skip a little has she made her way to the sea.
Pearl slipped into the shadows of town.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 12, 2008, 08:21:26 AM
The Bilge Pump Pub was alight with drunken sailors, merchants and pirates a plenty. "Time to recruit some crew." thought Pearl. She spied a drunken merchant coming out of the Pub. He started to smile a leary snear. Then his eyes rolled back into his head as he tilted his head back. "Boom!" the merchant fell over in a drunken heap. "Oh, he is way too large and noticable to be much help, but this cloak will help." Pearl smiled.

Pearl grabbed the cloak and wrapped it around her. "Hmmmm, the smell of Tortuga Rum." Pearl sniffed, "The merchant had good taste." Pearl slipped into the pub. There lying on the floor, in a drunken sleep, was a master sailor. "Ah, just what I need" thought Pearl. She grabbed the sailor by the ankles and dragged him from the pub. No one seemed to notice as Pearl continued down the cobblestones to the stables. There, Pearl hog tied and gagged the master sailor. "One down, five more to go." thought Pearl as she continued her way back to the Bilge Pump Pub.
As Pearl walked toward the door, it flew open and a tall scruffy fellow fell upon the street. Pearl smiled, "Ah, here's another crew member." as she grabbed the fellow by the ankles and pulled him to where she had hog-tied the other sailor. Soon, Pearl had both men tied up and sleeping their rum off like babies.
Pearl turned to go back to the Bilge Pump Pub. The two sailors stirred. Pearl whispered "Shhhh honey, go back to sleep. I'lls takes care of you." Both men snuggled closer together, thinking the soft voice had come from the person lying next to them. Pearl smiled and walked back to the Bilge Pump Pub. "Just three more!" she thought as she skipped gleefully down the cobbelstone street.
As Pearl approached the Bilge Pump Pub, the door flew open and yet another man staggered out the door. Yet instead of falling at Pearl's feet, the drunkard spied Pearl watching him. "Come here ye little maid" the man slurred. "I's in need of some bedding and you'll do just fine." he continued.

A snarl began to fill Pearl's face. She was not for some man's satisfaction. Men were for her satisfaction. "This one she'd make swabbed the poop deck", she thought. Just then Pearl saw clearly the man's face.

"Why, Jeremy Jacobs, you scruvy dog, how dare you speak to your Captain this way!" Pearl said in a low gruff voice. The man, Jeremy Jacobs, straightened up at the voice. His eyes wide with dismay. "I beg your pardon, Ms. Pearl." he stammered. "I didn't realize it was you, mum." Mr. Jacobs began to look around, "Where be your husband? he queried. "Lost to the sea and Davy Jones." said Pearl. "But I have his ship and I'm looking for good crew." she replied. "I believe you still owe us two more years of service, Mr. Jacobs." Pearl said in an authoritative voice. "Shall I call the constable, or will you be reporting for duty now? She queried in return.

"Jeremy Jacobs, reporting for duty, Miss" replied Mr. Jacobs as he saluted. Then he began to bow and as he did so, he threw up at Pearl's feet. Mr. Jacobs continued leaning over until he fell flat into his own vomit, passed out drunk.

"Things are looking up." thought Pearl.
The dawn was beginning to peak over the horizon. The sunlight filtered through the buildings and began to sprinkle down to the streets. Pearl's recruiting for the night was over. She would have to "recruit" more crew as the sun set for tomorrow. For now, she had to return to her "crew."

"To your feet, you scruvy dogs." Pearl growled as the men slowly staggered to their feet. "Get yer wits about ya, now!" She snapped. The men appeared confused. They looked at each other and then over to Pearl. The two new ones waved their hands at her as to shoo her away. Pearl leveled her pistol at them. "Ye be owing me debt, sirs, and you'll pay up with yer sweat or with yer lives. The choice is yers." Pearl said menacingly.

"Who do you think you are?" asked the scruffy younger one known as Goldie. "I'm Captain Black Hearted Pearl, and you will do yer time, sir." she replied. "It was yer husband who was Captain." replied Goldie. "My husband is lost to Davy Jones, but yer debt to him is still owed." replied Pearl. "What's in it for us?" replied the older one with a darkness of skin. "Treasure, Raphael, treasure." replied Pearl. "For I have the key."

Raphael's eyes lighted up with excitement. "Treasure, you say, I do believe we have an accord." Goldie, always trusting of his friend, Raphael, reached out to shake Pearl's hand in agreement. "An accord, we have."
Jeremy Jacob came up behind Pearl. Raphael and Goldie when to pull thier cutlasses when Pearl stopped them. "Gentleman, this is my first mate, Jeremy Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs, this is your crew." Mr. Jacobs looked at Goldie and Raphael. "Captain, this isn't enough for a crew." "I know, Mr. Jacobs, but I have faith that the Lord will provide." Pearl said smiling.

All men looked at each other and shrugged. They all had faith in Captain Black Hearted Pearl. She had never let them down before.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:15:06 PM
The morning sun broke over the horizon to the forward larboard quarter of El Lobo as the ship knifed through the sea toward Isla Muelle. Jack took a reading of the sun's position, compared it with the vessel's present heading, and made a slight course adjustment. As he lashed the wheel in place, he saw Josiah Briggs emerge on the weather deck. Jack smiled as he saw that the quartermaster was bringing more strong coffee.

"Your timing is excellent, Josiah. Thank you." He took the coffee and felt renewed at it's very aroma. "I'd say our friends bit on the bait! They should be halfway to the Havana by now, unless they turned back to their soft beds."

Briggs laughed. "Aye, Cap'n... I'd wager they turned for home and hearth. They'd be no match for the bawds in Havana! And I'd say we caught our own break in all this." Briggs motioned astern to the low, dark clouds scudding off to the west and north.

Jack sipped his coffee. "It's fortunate for us we've no business in Tortuga right away. I put us a day and a half out of Little Muelle Cay. We've got good winds and no company. I think we can reef sail a bit. No use straining the masts unneeded."

"Little Muelle Cay, Cap'n?" Briggs asked. "Not the island proper?"

"I've no desire to be clapped in irons by the Spaniards, Josiah." Jack leafed through the journal he'd been reading before Briggs arrived. "We'll settle up with them soon enough. Now, would you do me the favour of rousting my ever-so-mild bride, and bring her on deck? I'd hate for her to miss such delightful sunrise."

Josiah chuckled. "Aye, sir. It'll be a pleasure. Leastwise I know now to duck, not like before!"
Briggs went down to where Wench's quarters were. He knocked gently. No answer. He knocked harder. Then he pounded on the door. She finally heard it.
"Go away!" she mumbled. She snuggled deep into her blankets.
Briggs said through the door, "Cap'n requests your presence on the deck as of now."
She rolled over onto her back, throwing her covers off her face and looking up at the ceiling. Oh, that rum! Why did I drink so much of it?
Where am I again? Oh yes..on this god-forsaken ship of my soon-to-be-ex-nightmare-of-a-husband.
She rolled back over and snuggled down ever more so and said to herself, 'Tell me what to do? Uh..I don't THINK so!'
Briggs began to panic a bit. After all, when Captain Jack Wolfe wanted something, he got it.
Until now.
"Beggin' yer pardon, Cap'n Jack...what do I call you again?.....I really would prefer if ye come wi' me. T'would go so much easier fer the two o' us and...."
Wench groaned and muttered, "What part of 'NO' doesn't he understand?" She arose and wrapped a blanket around her.
Making sure the chain was in place, she cracked the door open.
"Go away. The sun is barely up and yesterday was the day from hell. I need my SLEEP!"
She slammed the door just as Briggs had stuck his nose in it.
Wench replaced the chair and she crawled back into bed. For emphasis she threw a candleholder at the door and yelled, "TELL THE CAPTAIN HE CAN GO----*CRASH*"
Her last words were drowned out by the sound of brass against oak.

She murmured as she went back to sleep, "No one tells Wench what to do...NO ONE!"

Only a scant few minutes had passed when the quartermaster returned to the weather deck, holding his nose.

"Does something smell, Josiah?" Jack inquired, barely hiding his amusement.

"Only the brimstone from that she-devil's... She damn near took me nose off! Harder to move than a fouled anchor, that one. And she say's she'll have none of your invitation. Leastways, I think that's what she screamed. In between throwing things about the cabin." Briggs looked like he'd tangled with a mongoose and lost.

Jack descended the 7 steps from the quarterdeck to the weather deck. "Well, at least she's awake. That's a start. The ship is yours."

He went to a barrel by the mainmast and took a short boarding pike, then sent one of the deck hands after a bowl of coffee. Briggs watched with a puzzled look on his face as Jack headed below with the pike and coffee. Jack winked and said "Josiah, you've known me 10 years now, and I still haven't been able to teach you how to handle a woman."

Briggs shook his head as Jack disappeared. "If ye didn't find every woman what Hell's spat back out, I'd pay more attention..."

Arriving at Wench's cabin, Jack placed the steaming bowl of brew at the base of the door so it's odour would seep into her quarters. He waited a couple minutes, then rapped on the door with the boarding pike. "Honour! Wake up, darling! We've been boarded by mad Turks, and I know how you love to kill things early in the morning!"

He sidestepped to the hinge side of the door, and rested the pike where the door met the frame, just above the doorknob.
She moaned, "Won't any of you let me SLEEP??"
The smell from the coffee wafted from under the door.
*Sniff* *Sniff*
Her hunger pangs were beginning to kick in. Oh, great! I haven't eaten in twenty-four hours. I certainly don't intend to eat weevil stew. Or weevil waffles. Or weevils au gratin. Or weevils almondine. Alright, Wench, don't make yourself retch.

Her head was still pounding from the hangover she was nursing. Rum was the only way she could have gotten through that day and into the night.
And now that one-month mistake of my life is pounding on my door? What was it he said about angry turkeys?
Who cares? And where are you going to put turkeys on a ship deck anyhow?
She pulled the blankets ever closer to her.

Still...the smell of that coffee....I suppose he's back on the quarterdeck and I could just slip over to the kitchen galley and pour myself a mug. IF there are any clean ones. She hastily threw a chemise on and held it away from her body. First thing I do when I get in a decent port is get some clothes that fit. Have I lost that much weight?
Wait...this isn't my chemise! She sniffed it. Cheap perfume! Must be a left-over from one of his doxy-for-a-day.
She put her boots on. You never know what slime is on the deck. Some of it even human-form.
She cautiously opened the door....
A broad, victorious grin spread over Jack's face as he heard Wench pad over to the door. "That's it, love, open the door just a bit for Ol' Jack" he thought. He adjusted his grip on the pike, ready to thrust it into the opening and catch the door chain. The knob turned, the door opened, and Jack struck! He thrust forward to break the chain before she knew what was happening... except for the simple fact Wench had already unchained the door. The coffee lure had worked too well.

The momentum of Jack's thrust carried him stumbling through the door, sending Wench sprawling backward against the bed. The pikehead wedged itself in the foreward bulkhead of the cabin, and Jack's head rebounded off the wall with a resounding thud. He shook off the impact and turned to see his reluctant wife staring at him from the bed like some wild-eyed Fury.

"Morning, love! I, um, brought you coffee! Oh, my. Has anyone ever told you you look like hell this early in the morning?"

Jack awkwardly tried to stand in front of the pike as he spoke. His attempt at a disarming smile faded into a mask of distress as he watched Wench's face turn red with rage. "Merde... Briggs got of easy, the bastard." he muttered.

Like any sane man in a similar situation, Jack made a break for the door...
"YOU CAME IN HERE TO SKEWER ME!" She yelled at his retreating form.
With a leap, she jumped up to slam the door after him. He had just cleared the door when it slammed.
Unfortunately for him, his shirt caught in the doorframe as she slammed the door. The momentum with which he propelled himself forward jerked him back against the closed door as if an invisible hand yanked him backwards.
He slid down to the floor but was caught like a bilge rat.
He knocked on the door.
"Honour, love...I um...seem to be caught in the door. If you could see your way clear to just..."
"Oh, dear, Jack darling....I am so sorry. I just have one thing to say...DEAL WITH IT!"
"But the shirt is silk and...."
"Oh, and so was that blue dress from Paris that your trollop for hire dribbled hollandaise sauce on!"
She put her lips to the keyhole and whispered, "I am sure one of your minions will come to rescue you...oh, but I dare say they will have to cut you out of it! Well, bye-bye silk shirt! You may just have to move on to muslin!"
She dusted off her hands and said, "Tell me I look like hell in the morning, will you? I don't think so!"
She took the pike out of the wall and put it in the corner.
'Next one who comes into my room uninvited becomes a shish kebab...'
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:16:23 PM
Jack sat on the deck, frustrated beyond belief. "Fine, my lovely Honour Bright! Bloody hell, what do I call you, now that we've firmly established that 'Honour Bright' is an alias? And what will it take to get your recalcitrant arse up on deck to discuss business?! Pretty please with sodding rum on top? Jesus H. Christ in a rowboat, woman! What will it take? We're a day and a half out from our destination, and you want to quibble over amenities?!"

He pulled his dagger from his belt, and sliced the front of his shirt. "Sorry about that, Dreamie. If that really was your name. It certainly described the experience..."

Jack stood and faced the door. "All the appetising food's in me bloody cabin. You've found it before, and you can sodding find it again, yeah? Otherwise, let your damned belly argue with ye a bit! You'll come around! And that was a nice shirt, I'll have you know! Besides, if you won't talk to me, you'll never find out what's in the..."

He stopped, and patted himself down frantically. The journal was still there, tucked into his belt.

"... in the journal that tells how to unlock the chest. By the by, darling; you've never tarried long enough to actually see said chest, have you? Hmmm. Good food, a resplendant chest, and my fine company. Fine. Stay cloistered. I think I'll have minted lamb for breakfast..."

Jack made a big production of sounding like he was walking away, and stopped. Turning, he saw Master Briggs at the end of the companionway, smoking his pipe.

"She does this to you every time, Cap'n" Briggs whispered. "Have ye learned naught about women?"
She was still fuming about the 'hell in the morning' comment. She looked in the mirror over the chest. Well, what does he want? I've been on this sailing vessel for the last twenty-four hours. No food. Too much rum...and my clothes are back in port. Thank goodness I left some behind.
She poured a pitcher of water into a basin and found her lavender soap. Washing her face she looked in the mirror again. That's better.
In the armoire was her red dress. Red, Wench? Before five o'clock? Isn't red what harlots wear? Oh, what do I care? These pirates have no taste and don't know about protocol.
She pulled the dress over her head, letting it cascade its way down her body and towards the floor.

Brushing her fair hair until it shone, she twisted it up and clipped it. Then she pinched her cheeks and bit her lips to redden.
Hell, indeed, Jack Wolfe!
She looked down. Stuffing and fluffing, she thought, 'a resplendent chest?' OH! He meant the thing that has the two keys, not...well, I'll show you a resplendent chest!
At least maybe I can get some decent food out of it. Something to tide me over until I can get to Isla Muelle.
She started to leave her cabin and stopped. On second thought, it wouldn't be a bad idea. Under the circumstances. She opened the dresser drawer and moved a few items. Buried under some chemises, she found what she was looking for. She picked up her sgian dubh and stuck it in her boot, the hilt barely being seen. You can never be too safe. Especially after what he pulled that night we were in that tavern in Tortuga....
Making sure her boots were laced up and everything was in place and where it should be, she took a deep breath.

Head held high, she marched down to the Captain's quarters. Knocking on the door, as he opened it, she said imperiously, "I'm here. Let's discuss business, shall we?"

He opened the door of the great cabin to find Wench there, haughty and full of bluster, and stunning. Jack blinked as he caught himself eyeing her up and down. She cleared her throat and shifted just enough to thump her boot heel on the decking.

"I can tell you fully intend to hold my faux pas against me. Fair enough. My appetizer shall be my own words. Please, darling, do come in."

Jack motioned for Wench to enter, and she did so with the aire of an Empress. The small dining table was packed with food; roasted lamb and chicken, boiled potatoes, fresh bread, fried apples, and assorted fruit. The napkins were of fine linen, the utensils Spanish silver inlaid with gold, and the plates made of Connemara marble. A large pitcher of rum punch served as a centerpiece. He offered to assist her into her chair, but Wench shot him a withering look and sat herself.

"You 'invited' me here to talk business, so, I'm here. Start talking." she said.

Jack smiled. "Wouldn't you rather eat first? This has to be better than what you netted on your 'secret' raid of the galley last night" he offered, carving off a large slice of lamb. He tore off a section of bread and took a bite, then held up the uneaten portion for Wench to see. "Look, no weavils!"

He knew about that night-time stroll to the kitchen galley? How did he know that? He must have spies on this ship everywhere. Bet it was that Briggs who ratted me out...

She tried to fight her hunger, not really wanting to give in. Good Lord, where did he find all that food? He must have a secret galley the rest of the crew doesn't know about. Either that or they all eat like this and he was trying to break me down with weevil fricasee.

"I'd rather talk business---" she looked longingly at the fried apples... Where on earth did he find them? "---and not be breaking bread with you, Jack Wolfe! I remember the last time I ate with you. You pushed my temper to the point where I had no choice but to pull your waistband and dump the creme brulee down your pants. I was sorry it burned you--but only for a nanosecond."

She folded her hands under her chin and rested her arms on the table. "As I understand it, you---" I'll just bet there is mint to go with that lamb, wouldn't you know? "----have a key, I have a key. Together we can unlock the mysteries of the chest with them."
He carved another slice of lamb and put it on his plate. She tried not to look at the food.

"So, you are agreeing---" Mmm...boiled potatoes. And is that butter with chives over there? She tried to focus on the porthole to avoid looking at the food. "-----to go halves on the contents, all or naught. Is this correct?"
She glanced around the room. Nothing has changed in it except my things are out of it. And it is so much bigger than that dinky little room I am stuck in....
She sighed and finally looked at the marble plates and Spanish cutlery.
"Alright, alright. Please pass me some of the fruit. BUT NOTHING MORE!"

She casually bent over to pretend to check her lacings on her boot but touched the blade to make sure it was there.
"Oh! And maybe some of that lamb. And a slice of bread...and for goodness sake, don't be stingy with that rum!"
She thought, 'I'm so going to regret this--but a wench has to do what a wench has to do.....'
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:18:08 PM
Jack sought to sate every gluttonous desire Wench might present. Food, conversation, and alcohol; she consumed it greedily, like a soul delivered to Nirvana. When her pace slackened, his smile broadened.

"Yes!" he said. "We both have keys; you the Sun, and I the Moon. And I possess the chest, itself."

Jack motioned to the starboard aft corner of the cabin, to an innocuous crate labelled "Sundries."

"In there, my sweet, lies riches of the Ancients. You follow me? If the legends prove out, we shall be rich beyond human measure. And I swear upon pain of Death, here and now, to go halvsies with you. No shares for my crew beyond the miscellany we find scattered at the site at Little Muelle Cay."

He produced a small book, unsettlingly bound in human flesh, and held it before Wench's bewildered eyes.

"This text tells us how to open yon chest." He motioned to the Sundries box.

Wench rocked back in her chair, with a look of utter digust on her face. "You brought me all the way out here, away from my life? Away from my... from my priorities, for a damned crate?" She reached for her boot. "Damn you, Jack Wolfe! I'll..."

"Oh, before you try and kill me, like at Tortuga, watch this." Jack said. He kicked the crate, and the sides splitered away, revealing a cast golden chest, inlaid with silver. It sparkled and shimmered in the lamp light. The chest was a good three feet in length, and almost certainly two-and -a-half feet in width. It stood a solid two feet in height.

"We open it now", Wench started.

"Tut, tut, love! No matter what we try, it won't work. We must follow the writings of the Journal." Jack admonished. He placed the moldy, tattered book on the table, but kept it close by. His right hand fell back against a gold-mounted pistol.

"Care to know what happens next, dearie?" he mocked?
"Jack, you don't scare me with that pistol. You never have, you never will. Not even that night you drunkenly pointed it at me. I'll never forget the look on your face when I kicked it out of your hand! Now, I suggest we get past all this. I may be married to you but this is a business arrangement and that is all it is."

She poured herself another rum punch from the pitcher. She leaned back in the chair and looked at him speculatively. He still looked really good even after their last argument before he sailed off eighteen months previously. She shook her head and said to herself, 'Focus, Wench. You need that dissolution of marriage if you are ever going to move forward. After all, that captain isn't going to wait for you to get an annulment forever...'

She crossed her arms and said, "So I suggest you put that pistol down and let us deal with this on a level of mutual trust. Once we share the riches, I fully expect to get an annulment and we go our separate ways."
He said nothing and she raised her eyebrow at him. "So yes, I do care to know what happens next. Do enlighten me, oh husband-of-mine-without-any-conjugal-rights".
Jack laughed riotously at Wench's bravado. "Still on that anullment, are we? Even though we shared diverse intimacies? Delicious and decadent as they were, I don't think the most pious Priest would grant you a confession, much less an anullment. Do what's right by you, dear lover. I'll not stand in your way. I'll not even ask his name."

He sat again in his high-backed chair across the table from Wench. "Here's the plan of attack, my dear wife who'd I'd not tough with a ten-foot pole." Jack bit back hard on that lie. He'd take her in a heartbeat, given the chance. "According to the Journal, we have to place the chest in an altar located within a cave on Little Muelle Cay. Then, and only then, will our keys work. We stand a full day and a half from our destination at full sail. I'll not add an ounce of canvas, since our pursuers bought our deception. So yes, my dearest. You get half the contents, no more or less. I have little use to force you into compliance. Dead, my men can search your cabin and find the required key eventually. Alive, your own self interest will prove a more powerful ally. Would you care for mint sauce with your lamb, dearest? It's from London, and it's quite delicious."
She stood up, her face flaming red. "Our past relationship has no bearing on an annulment. I can't believe you would have the bad taste to bring anything up! I want an annulment for the sake of it. I want to forget I was EVER your wife! Do you know what a shock it was to wake up and find you next to me? The real surprise was the marriage certificate, all signed, sealed and legal! So..I gave an alias. I still don't see why it is binding."

Her chest was heaving with indignation.
"You wouldn't touch me with a ten-foot pole? Thank you from the bottom of my heart! You can keep your damn mint sauce! You can wear it for all I care!"
She picked up the bowl and made a move to dump it on Jack's head. He caught her wrist and their eyes locked.
She never dropped her gaze, fury in her blue-green eyes. She whispered, "Free of you I will be! Just you wait, Jack Wolfe! You will be a chapter of my life, never to be opened again. I shall get my share of the treasure. Oh, that I shall! Consider it my reward for putting up with you for thirty-one days. And nights. Oh, why couldn't it have been February? At least I would have done three days less with you!"
She headed towards the door.
Pearl and her small crew started out of the stable. They were headed to the inlet where Pearl had earlier stashed her sloop. Pearl was leading the way when she rounded the corner and came face to face with.....
"Oh, Commodore Wellington." Pearl exclaimed. The pirates behind her looking nervous.

"Ms. Pearl, what are you doing dressed like this and surrounded by these men?" asked Commodore Wellington suspicously. "Do you need my assistance?" He stated beginning to pull his sword from the hilt ready to save the lady from the pirates.

"Oh, Commodore, I was really hoping not to have to do this....yet." said Pearl as she whirled around grabbing the cutlass from Jeremy Jacobs hilt and swinging it against Commodore Wellington's sword.

CLANG! The pirates behind Pearl parted like the red sea. Commodore Wellington's eyes went wide. What is this, he thought. CLANG! Pearl sliced again. Wellington responded without thought. Pearl could see that Wellington was surprised that it was her attacking him.

"Sir, I'm afraid to tell you that it's not these men you should be concerned with, it's me." Pearl yelled.

CLANG! Wellington's eyes grew into slits. Was this the she pirate he had been warned about? CLANG! She certainly seemed adquate with a blade, he thought.

CLANG! Pearl jumped behind a barrle. How she hated sword fighting. Pearl popped up from behind the barrel. CLANG! CLANG! Pearl pushed the barrel at Wellington causing him to tumble.

Pearl yelled at the crew, "Get yer bloomin arses to the boat!" Mr. Jacobs began directing the crew, "Ye heard the Cap'n, move yer arses!" Jacobs started running down toward to inlet where the sloop had been.

CLANG! Pearl attacked Wellington, trying to keep his attention from the direction the men were taking. CLANG! She had Wellington's attention again.

Pearl's blouse had started to come undone in the fight. "Why Ms. Pearl, I could give you a wonderful life, if you would let me." Wellington asked while eyeing her front.

Pearl looked down, seeing her bossum exposed, thought "I may not be the best sword fighter, but I have my advantages." CLANG!

"Sir, I do not want or need the life of a sedatary nothing next to a man. I need excitement, adventure and freedom. None of which you could provide."

CLANG! Pearl spied a barrel of molasses. The ants were beginning to crawl around it, looking for holes. CLANG! Pearl positioned herself near the barrel and the sea. Wellington, now entranced with glimpses of Pearl's soft creamy bossum flesh, was not aware of Pearl's positioning. CLANG!

"My dear, we WOULD have adventure. I would take you around the world on my ship." Wellington conjoled. "As your whore! Nay, I'm the Captain of my ship!" replied Pearl as she dumped the barrel of molasses at Wellington's feet. The slippery substance caused him to fall to the ground hard. Wellington cried out in pain as his elbow connected with the cobblestones.

Pearl turned a ran as fast as she could toward the inlet. With that howling from Wellington, he might be quickly found.

"To the sea!" Pearl smiled as she ran toward the inlet.
Pearl and her crew arrived at the inlet where the ship was. "She's gone up against the coral, Cap'n. We'll have to do repairs before we leave."

"We've no time for repairs unless you want to spend time in the brig for considering being a pirate." replied Pearl. "We'll have to make repairs while at sea."

Pearl and her men climbed aboard the ship. They were releasing the last line when around the inlet came a small boat. Rowing the boat was the doctor, dressed for fishing.

"Ahoy there" the Doctor shouted. "I've got some fish, yer welcome to some." Mr. Jacob's looked at Pearl. The Doctor couldn't see Pearl as she was too far to the other side of the deck. Pearl shrugged her shoulders and nodded at Mr. Jacobs.

"Aye, we'll take those smelly things off yer hands, if'n you'll help get us off this coral." replied Mr. Jacobs.

"Aye, that I will" said the Doctor. He was tossed a rope and a few of the sailors jumped into the small boat. One handed up a small satchel full of fish to Mr. Jacobs standing on the deck.

Mr. Jacobs held up the satchel of fish for Pearl to see. Pearl smiled and nodded. "Handsome, Supplies Food, comes with his own boat and he's good with his hands." thought Pearl.

The doctor and the other sailors began rowing the small boat. The sloop turned toward the ocean and with a crunch and jolt, she was free of the coral. The men continued to row until they were clear of the inlet.

Pearl whispered to Mr. Jacobs, who then called out to the Doctor. "Are ye up for a little adventure, sir?" "How long of an adventure are we discussing, sir?" asked the Doctor. "Oh, about 30 days" replied Mr. Jacobs. "Well, 30 days it is." said the doctor as he came aboard with the other sailors.

"Welcome aboard, Doctor" said Pearl as she stepped from the shadows on the deck. "Welcome to my ship, Scraping By. Aptly named, you wouldn't you say?"

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:20:11 PM
"Nicely done, Jack. Put your foot in it up to the damned hip, as usual" he thought. Wench's words stung as sharp as any steel, but he couldn't let her know. Not now. Not when they're this close to finding out what's in the chest. Business before personal feelings.

"Wait! I... apologize." he sputtered. "I was out of line, saying what I did. You are, after all, my guest, and I've treated you poorly. Please, sit and eat. I know you're hungry. And, like it or not, we are still partners in this enterprise. You get half, even if my cooper has to cut the bloody thing in two and melt it down."

Jack walked to his chair and sat heavily. "And you can have the damned annulment. No arguments from me." The words tasted like ash in his mouth. "So, go on. Have a look at the chest." He poured more rum for himself and watched Wench over the top of his cup as he drank.
She turned around at his words, 'Wait! I...apologize.'

An apology coming from Captain Jack Wolfe? Did I hear right? She relented and sat back down. In a calmer voice, she said, "I do believe I shall have a piece of the lamb. But please go easy on the mint sauce. And maybe some bread. But that is all. Oh! And some rum...thank you!" she said as Jack handed her a plate.
She ate like the lady she was and pretended not to be. Breeding will always tell. After all, no one knew where she really came from....or who she really was.

She glanced at Jack. There really is a fine line between love and hate. Love? Don't be silly! What the two of you had certainly was not considered 'love'. After all, he hardly crossed your mind in the last eighteen months, Honour....
She had used the name so much in the past few years she had grown very accustomed to it.
And he certainly acquiesced to her request for an annulment. Guess that is what he really wants too. I expected him to protest a little more.
A small voice inside of her said, 'Disappointed, Wench?'
She answered aloud, "Certainly not!"
Jack looked up. "Did you say something?"

She got up and walked over to the chest, running her hands over the smooth silver inlay.
What was REALLY in there? she wondered. The possibility of losing that captain that she left it all worth it?
Jack could almost heard the deep voice of his father. "Aye, Jackie boy! What be in yer head, lad? Woo her again? Have ye naught enough woe and heartache over this one? She bewitched ye, then worst of all, took yer money, ye git! I raised ye better, ye sallow..."

He banished the memory. The Moors call it the ibad, the "demanding memory", when your mind finds itself conjuring up conversations and recollections unbidden. Some ghosts are best buried forever, not carried about like a rude monkey.

He swallowed the punch, and it tasted suddenly bitter. Jack scowled, dismissing it as mischief from his long-passed father. He put the cup down.

"Run your lovely hands all over it, if you please. I'll be damned if I can find a single seam or pry point. It's as if no one wanted it opened ever again. But, we shall open it, Honour Bright. For we have the keys, and the will." Jack drained his cup, and looked at Wench perhaps overlong, then headed for the door. "We need more sail. I'll tell the Quartermaster..."

He felt a soft hand upon his shoulder, and found Wench's face tantalisingly close to his.
He turned around a little too quickly, their faces only inches away. She took a step back quickly.
"I just wanted to thank you, Jack." she said.
"Thank me? For what?"
"For not killing me----right away." she finiished lamely.
He looked at her dress, a look of puzzlement crossing his face. She looked down.
"What is wrong? Did I spill something on it?"
He shook his head. "No..just something about it...."
She suddenly realized. "OH! Well...this was the dress I was wearing when you first met me. Funny, isn't it? Of all the dresses, well, at least out of the few I have left here, this was the one I picked out."
She reached over and helped herself to an apple. She took a bite and offered it to him.
"Was it really only eighteen months ago, Jack? Seems like another lifetime you crossed my wake that night....."
She was right. He couldn't puzzle out why she would show such sudden sentimentality. Had she sniffed him out? Jack suddenly felt off his footing in his own game. Or was it a game?

He looked at Wench as Adam must have looked at Eve. Temptation in her hand and her eyes.

Jack stepped forward and took the apple from her hand. He regarded it, looking thoughtfully at the bite she'd rended from it. "Show me how it tasted," he said, and pitched the apple over his shoulder. He took Wench in his arms and kissed her deeply.
She felt herself giving in to those old feelings and emotions. If that was what it was. She kissed him back and felt her knees go weak. As always when he kissed her.
She broke away and her breath came in short ragged gasps.
"Damn you, Jack Wolfe. Just...DAMN YOU!"
Her face turned crimson. But was it a flush or a blush? Passion? Or

How could she ever tell him the captain she left sleeping in her bed two mornings ago was his former First Mate turned captain? And his best friend?
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:22:18 PM
Jack's head was spinning... from the almost forgotten taste of her lips, or the effects of the rum? "Now, now, love. I'll stipulate to earning a well-deserved place in Hell. Better parties, eh?" he said, almost purring. He started to close the distance between them, but Wench kept her face turned from his, her cheeks almost crimson, refusing to meet his eyes.

His suspicious nature began to stir, but Jack was never one to retreat at the first sign of adversity. "What's this? You're blushing like a schoolgirl! I'm ever so flattered..." he said, and reached to stroke her cheek. Wench pressed her hands against his chest, enforcing a soft buffer between them. Still keeping her eyes off his, she began to reply.

"You... damn it, Jack! I..."

The heavy latch of the door to the great cabin clacked loudly, and the door swung lazily open as an inebriated Josiah Briggs wobbled in. He was draining his mug as he saw Jack and Wench practically in a lover's embrace, and he nearly choked on his grog.

"Do you bloody mind, Briggs? Go raid the Surgeon's stores!" Jack growled.

"I think this concludes our business, Captain Wolfe. I see the chest is not a fanciful notion of yours but a viable commodity. So, yes, together we shall open it and share the wealth or whatever is inside. That shall be the end of the partnership. We get an annulment and we go our separate ways. I will wish you the best in whatever endeavor you may find yourself in."

Briggs stood there at the door with a dumbfounded look on his face. Jack glared at him.
As she put her hand on the doorknob, Captain Jack asked her casually, "Been meaning to ask you. Since you've been around--"
She said, "WHAT?"
"--not what you think I meant. I just meant since you have been different places...have you seen Cade Jennings around any of the ports?"
Her blood froze and she could barely get out, "Why would you ask that?"
"No reason. Just have lost contact with him, that is all...."

"Get about you scallywags. We have repairs to do. This dingy will make nice wood for our repair job. Thank you, Doctor for supplying us so." called out Pearl.

The Doctor still stood there with his mouth wide open.

"Ye might want to shut yer trap there, Doctor, flies might be nesting in such before too long." said Mr. Jacobs.

The Doctor closed his mouth firmly into a scowl. "Well, I see what you have become now." He said sternly.

"What I have become?" replied Pearl. "I have always been a P....independent merchant." said Pearl with a smirk. "A captain has to take some liberties if we're going to make a profit, sir." "You've just been pressganged into her majesties privateers."

 "... The last I heard, he'd gotten a ship of his own and set off on his own Account. A shame to lose a first mate of his stripe. A good friend, and a good pyrate. He saved my sorry hide in more than a few close scrapes." Jack chuckled. "And one of the few blokes I actually trust. If you do happen to run into Cade, love, tell him I send my best regards."

Jack bowed deeply. "If your appetite return, dear Honour, you know where to find me. And my table. We stand ready for your pleasure." He let the double entendre settle in. "And now, if you'll excuse me, I have ship's business to attend to."

Wench turned to leave, with Briggs falling in behind her. "Not you, Josiah!! Get your scabrous arse back in here. I'd like to chat a bit."
She unlocked the door to her quarters, her heart pounding. To ask about Cade Jennings, of all people! And then that bit about...well, it would be a cold day in hell when she ever became a centerpiece for Jack's table!

How could she tell Jack that she wanted her annulment to be free to pursue a possible long-term relationship with his former first mate?
She flopped down on the bed and looked at the ceiling. Why couldn't I have married a nice, decent man, had children and just died?
It was odd running into Cade a few months after she ran off. She was in Glenlivet, sitting at a table with some of her friends when Cade Jennings came strutting in, dashing as the day she last saw him on the deck of El Lobo del Mar.
She recalled the conversation she had with him on the deck the night before. They had been in Barbados for the month because El Lobo needed some work done on her hull. They were planning on sailing out the next morning.

Jack had too much to drink and had passed out in their room. She was restless and couldn't sleep. So she went on top of the deck to relax. Cade was there and in the course of talking, he told her he had decided to strike out on his own. He had a tip that a ship, The Gryphon, was ripe for the taking. He had the promise of a crew and he was going to tell Jack he was leaving as soon as they reached Port Royal.

One thing led to another that night and when all was said and done, Honour knew she could never sail one more day on the same ship with the two of them.

The next morning, Jack stumbled out of their cabin, unaware that she never did make it back there. She told him she had been thinking. She wanted to stay in port and look at some sugar plantations for a possible investment into their future. Jack had thought it was a good idea and had arranged to pick her up on the return trip in a few weeks.

No sooner had his sails set when she was able to secure a way out of Barbados with Captain Blake, a friend they had met up with in Barbados. She gave him a story and he agreed to let her sail back to Tortuga with him. To throw everyone off the track, she then procured another way to Glenlivet, no one knowing where she was or what she was doing.

When Cade showed up at the Bilge Pump Pub, she had a few ales with the now Captain Cade Jennings. He had asked about Jack and she told him she annulled her marriage. That seemed to work very well for Cade and they then instituted a standard arrangement that if Cade was in port, he always had a place.
It was a workable plan.
And it did work.

Until that day Captain Jack Wolfe himself walked into the Bilge Pump Pub.
Jack stood beside the great cabin's table, toying with the large knife he'd used to carve the lamb. He kept his back to Briggs, who fidgeted uneasily in the heavy silence.

"Cap'n, I'll just be headin' back to me bunk..." Briggs offered.

"Shut your mouth, you git!" Jack spat, jamming the knife into the tabletop for punctuation. He turned to face the quartermaster. "Do you have any idea what you just interrupted?!"

Briggs shook his head sadly. "It's worse than I feared, it is. That... that she-devil's done bewitched ye again, hasn't she?"

"Take care, Josiah. The rum's addled you brain more than usual." Jack tried to sound threatening, but his fraudulent denial rang hollow.

"As you say, Cap'n. My mistake." The wobbly quartermaster turned to leave.

"Heave to, there!" Jack barked, as he picked up the knife again. "I'm in no way through with you yet. You'll not get off that easy. Bring your worthless hide over here."

Briggs cautiously approached the table. Jack picked up one of the marble dining plates and shoved it roughly into his hands. Josiah flinched, expecting the knife instead of a plate. He looked down, dumbfounded, as Jack began piling the plate with food.

Astonished and relieved, he laughed, "Jack, God love ye! Here I thought ye were angry enough to flay me hide off!"

"I am," snarled Jack. "You get to serve this to our bonny guest."
Briggs cautiously and with great trepidation made his way to Wench' s quarters. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
"GO AWAY AND STAY AWAY!" was heard from the other side of the door.
"Umm..T'is me. Briggs. Captain Jack wanted me to bring you this here plate of..."
Wench flung the door open and Briggs looked up with dread.
But she smiled a glorious smile and said, "Please, Mr. Briggs! Do come in!"
Briggs looked around for another person. Then he realized she said 'Briggs'.
She nodded and stepped aside. Briggs hastily put the plate down and gave her a run-on sentence.
He took a deep breath and continued, "andwellitisabouttimeIbeleaving."
She smiled warmly and said, "Why, thank you very much."
Briggs narrowed his eyes. "OK, what did ye do wi' the she-devil? Where is the Captain's Missus?"
She looked at him questioningly. "I beg your pardon?"
He said, "Don't be a-playin' tricks on me mind! I dinna know ye had a twin!"
"But--I have no twin!"
He said suspiciously, "Then why ye bein' so nice t'me?"
She sat down and motioned for Briggs to sit also. "Because you saved me from a fate worse than death, Briggs! It coud have complicated things."

Briggs looked bewildered. "But Captain Jack be really upset wi' me. Thought for sure he would cut me up like a Christmas goose!"
She waved the notion aside with her hand. "He'd never do that. You are his right hand man."
Briggs said, "Don't be a-foolin' around wi' the Captain. I think he still has feelin's fer ye."
Wench laughed and said, "The only thing he has feelings for is what is inside the chest. Well, soon that will be settled and we all go our separate ways. Maybe richer, maybe wiser."
She offered Briggs a biscuit and he declined.
"I'd best be gettin' back on the deck, need to check things out."
He stood to go and said. "An' I be a-thankin' ye fer not be killing me."
She smiled, "You're welcome. And thank you for bringing me the plate of food."
Josiah Briggs put his hand on the doorknob. "Cap'n Jack be plenty sore I interrupted."
Wench laughed and said, "I'll bet he was!"

She looked out the port window at the sea. Another night and day and this will all be over, she thought.
But for some reason she couldn't get the thought of the way he kissed her out of her mind...and unfortunately the way she responded to him.
As always.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:24:40 PM
Pearl and her crew headed for Tortuga. The Doctor was found himself enjoying the sea air, hard work and of course, the view of Pearl. "She is a striking woman" thought the Doctor as Pearl stood there with her face to the sea breezes.

"Ah, this is where I am to be." thought Pearl. "Now, to get some provisions in Tortuga and then make for the sea to do some raiding." Pearl smiled. "The New Spanish king would have some lovely prizes leaving the for Spain soon. Wouldn't want to miss them."

Jack sat down and tried to clear his head. He couldn't stop thinking about her. Suddenly, the mystery of the ancient chest was not as important as it once was. He picked absently at his food. Above him on the weather deck, he heard the current watch strike eight bells. "Noon, already?" he thought. He stared at the chest. Within moments, his thoughts drifted back to Honour Bright.

"Stay on task, Wolfe!" Jack said out loud. He pushed back from the table and left the great cabin, striding purposefully down the narrow companionway to the steps that led to the weather deck. He put his head down as he passed the door to Wench's cabin, his heels striking the deck heavily as he fought the urge to stop.

He arrived on the weather deck in time to see Briggs climbing the steps to the holy ground of the quarterdeck. "That's strange," Jack thought. "The man's head is still upon his shoulders. What's she up to?" He made a mental note to keep a close eye on his friend and quartermaster as he climbed to the quarterdeck.

Briggs was standing at the aft taffrail, looking absently abaft. Ned Tomlinson, a young, lanky man from Cornwall, was manning the wheel. Despite his age, he was a talented sailing master.

"Master Tomlinson, how fare we?" Jack inquired.

"On course, Captain," Tomlinson replied. "We'll make landfall by evening next. I'd suggest we lay by until the following morning before we approach the island, as there's not a chart to be had of a safe approach."

"No common charts, lad. Once we make landfall, I'll take the wheel."

"Aye, Captain. I'd hoped you would. That little cay scares the hell out of me."

Jack laughed. "You're a smart one, young Ned. As you were."

Turning his attention aft, Jack approached the pensive quartermaster. Just as he was about to speak, a lookout called from the mainmast crow's nest.

"A sail! A sail! A sail, to larboard!" the lookout cried.

Jack took the glass from beside the wheel and examined the unknown ship. She was an East Indiaman, riding fat and heavy in the water. Her stays were loose as she attempted to beat against the wind. He lowered the glass and looked down to the weather deck, and the expectant faces of the crew looking back at him.

Stepping to the rail, Jack cried out "We have the weather gage, and more guns! Our prey's weighed low with cargo, and cannot run nor fight. So, I ask ye, gentlemen; have we a prize? What say ye?!"

The crew replied with a chorus of "Aye!!" Nodding approval, Jack barked "Then to your stations! Larboard guns; load half with chain, and the rest I want double-shotted with grape! Starboard guns; load half with balls, and the rest with langrage! Bowchasers, stand ready! Snipers, to the shrouds! Now, Master Tomlinson, steer us to. Show her our starboard guns on my mark. Briggs, stand by to show French colours to this doxy. The cay and chest will wait a while longer."
She heard his boots come down the hall. Her breath caught in her chest as she waited and she exhaled as she heard them pass by.
A little voice inside her said, 'Disappointed, Wench? You know you wanted him to break the door down and....'
"Nonsense!" She said to herself.
She listened out the port window. She heard the orders being given to load the guns. OH NO!
Does he really plan on..NO! I want off this ship!
She saw men running up and down the deck. She thought, 'Why can't he just get the treasure in the chest and let me go HOME? Cade must have left port by now. He was due to sail that afternoon. DAMN! He's not going to do this to me!'

She flung her door open in a fury. Men were scurrying back and forth.
Wench walked up to Captain Jack Wolfe and yelled, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR BLEEDIN' MIND? Stop it! Stop it right now, Jack Wolfe! I won't allow you to act out your piracy! NOT WITH ME ON BOARD!"
She stamped her foot. "You get me off this ship and you get me off THIS SECOND, DO YOU HEAR ME?"

Captain Kirst spotted the pirate ship on the horizon. He was patting himself on the back for disguising himself as an East Indian Trading company ship. Now the pirate would come to him instead of him chasing it. The new paint job was worth the effort of careening off the isle of Tortuga.

He rode low in the water after securing 15 more guns in the port. Lovely spanish models, most likely taken from one of the King of Spain's galleons. This would make his gun total now 75. Once he caught the Pirate Mad Jack, he would have to jetison some of these guns for speed.

A bemused look of surprise came over his face as Honour stood defiantly before him. "You won't allow me? The crew have spoken, love. And in this trade, no prey, no pay." He began walking ever so slowly toward her, backing her toward the mizzen mast. "Now, we are going to take that ship, most likely without firing a shot unless they resist. If the notion offends your tender sensibilities, you're more than welcome to hand over the Sun key and take your leave of us. You look like a strong swimmer, petticoats not withstanding."
For every step he advanced, she backed up one.
"Ow!" she said as her head struck the mizzen mast. Their eyes were locked in some sort of 'line drawn in the sand' conflict.
A look of defiance crossed her face again. Without breaking gaze, she reached under her overskirt and undid her drawstring. The petticoat dropped to the deck.
Still not looking away, she took her booted foot and kicked the petticoat high in the air. The delicate fabric wafted high in the sea breeze before landing on Captain Jack's head and swirling down around his shoulders.
She said evenly, "If you like it so much....THEN YOU WEAR IT!"

She turned on her heel and strode purposefully back to her quarters. She took the armoire and slid it in front of the door. Then she slid a chest of drawers in front of that. To top it off, she propped a chair under the knobs.
She looked out the port window onto the deck and saw Jack struggling to get the silken finery off him but it was tangled in his rapier. Honour yelled at him, "Please DO let me know when this is all over! I shall be in my quarters.....WASHING MY HAIR!"

She sat on her bed and crossed her arms in front of her chest. Not the oak one but her own chest. She yelled out the door again, "IF YOU GET YOURSELF KILLED, JACK WOLFE, DON'T COME WHINING TO ME BECAUSE I'M NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO YOU!"

She fumed, "MEN! Always have to play pirate, don't they?..."

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:26:13 PM
"Damn it!! For God's sake... #@$%ing Hell!!" Jack swore as he struggled to disentwine himself from Honour's arial petticoat attack. Her lacy underthings had entwined inexorably with the ornate basket-hilt of his sword. He unbuckled his baldic and let the whole mess slip to the deck. Looking about, he found his men staring at him, stifling their laughter.

"Well, what are ye looking at, ye dissolute gobs?! Why aren't ye at yer stations? Shall I flog ye all by me own hand? Snap to, and be handy!! The last to be ready shall wear these fine frillies!!" Jack shouted at his men. To a man, they scurried to their duty stations, eager to escape their captains wrath in times of action.

Jack turned back to his command staff. "You! Master Briggs! Do something with this bit of fluff!"

He flung the torn petticoats to the Quartermaster. Turning to the rest of his men, he barked "Carlisle!! Bring us closer to our prey. I want to reverse at the last moment, and spray a raking shot across her bow, then cut back to port, and bring our heavy guns to bear. The rest of you; stand ready the grapnels! Make ready the murder guns! I want this prize, and the Devil defy me to take her!!"

Catching the epithets hurled by his secluded bride, Jack went to the larboard rail and shouted over, "Oi!! Lovely bride o' mine! Shut yer cakehole, yeah? We're a bit busy up here! Either join me, and show yerself as the bold soul we know you are, or hide below decks in silence! Unless ye've got something to hide from the world, dear Honour Bright... Which I think ye might."

Jack turned from the side, and smiled to himself.
She sat there on the bed and bit her lip. Smooth move, Honour. Now he has your best petticoat and either the crew are taking turns wearing it or it is torn to shreds. She remembered the last time she was with Jack and he committed an act of piracy. How she got sick at the sight of all that blood and how she had to stitch up Jack's arm because there was no ship's surgeon.

She fought down the rising wave of nauseousness that was beginning to overcome her. No, I won't do it! I'm not a coward. But enough is enough!

It has to be somewhere. She rummaged around in the chest of drawers.
She checked the armoire.
Not there.
She reached under the mattress. Her hand curved around something. Could that be it?
She pulled it out and there it was.
The flintlock.

I have to stop him before he kills me or himself! She opened the door and walked with a determined stride to the top deck. There was Jack, looking all dashing. Damn him! It would be so much easier if he had a peg-leg and a parrot and no teeth.
But her bravado was fading from her.
She walked up behind Jack and pointed the flintlock. He turned around.
The weapon began to shake in her hand and she said in a trembling voice, "Don't make me shoot you, Jack. It stops. And it stops now."

Just then, a resounding sound and El Lobo shuddered violently.
El Lobo ground to a halt against an uncharted sandbar. In the haste to overtake their prey, no one, including the half-drunk Jack, thought to take proper soundings.

Jack's head stung as it bounced off the deck. Honour ended up sprawled across him, her flintlock skittling across the deck. "No!!" he howled. "Sails, drag to windward! Helm, hard starboard! Run out the larboard guns!! Anything we can afford to lose, see that it's lost!!"

Pulling Honour close, he looked deeply into her eyes. "Sweetheart, this really isn't this time for overt displays of affection." He jumped to his feet. "Briggs! Get her below and safe! And Hobbs!! Lose the cargo! All but the rum!"

The hull made a sickening sound as it drug languidly over the sandbar. She was dragging free, but at an agonizing snail's pace.

Jack watched as the East Indiaman sluggishly plodded it's way toward his ship. "Merde" he thought. "It just gets better and better..."
Her heart pounded as Jack had pulled her close but then roughly shoved her off him. Briggs yanked her up from under her arms and propelled her through the door of her quarters. A slam of the door, a quick turn of the lock.
She rattled the door and yelled, "LET ME OUT!"
She kicked the door. "OW!" as her booted foot hit oak.
She could feel the scraping from the hull as it groaned to free itself from its barred prison.
She sat down on the bed, frustrated beyond belief.
Then she realized something.
Jack's words. 'Get her below and safe.'
He wanted to keep her safe.

Did he still care for her? Did he even still love her? Was it ever love or just a mutually satisfying relationship?
She whispered to no one, 'Keep yourself safe, Jack.
Because she really did want to find the answer to her rhetorical question.

Jack judged the fat, slow East Indiaman a good ten to fifteen minutes out. "Master gunner! Reload the larboard guns! Double charge, half with balls, half with langrage! I want to cripple that sow with the first broadside!"

He pounded his fists against the quarterdeck rail. "Damn it! What have I done? Why couldn't I have just steered away from this prize, and not put her in danger?!" Jack thought. "Well, we're in it now, up to our necks. Either we win, or they die trying."
Honour tried to fight the rising panic in her. What if the crew dies? What if the ship sinks? What if I am stuck here and can't open the door and the cabin fills with water? And what if no one rescues me? Or worse, what if the other ship finds a woman on board?
I'm only twenty-one! I don't want to die!
Captain Jack Wolfe has messed my life up from the very first night I met him. DAMN HIM!
If only I had stayed in bed Not even going to think about that. Not now.
I just want to go back to Glenlivet.

She felt the guns being loaded. She also felt her eyes filling up with tears. When this is all over, who will be left?

Jack ground his teeth as he felt his ship, El Lobo del Mar, scud and scrape her way to the lee of the storm-created sandbar. Her timbres groaned in protest, but no calls of leaks or springs came from below. Our quarry hove steadily into sight. "Carlisle! My glass, please."

Taking the brass eyeglass from the helmsman, Jack strove to divine the true nature of the ship standing into them. To his dismay, the primary optics were cracked. Useless, except for the grossest of details. Through the cracks, he could see that the oncoming "merchant ship" was not as loose in her stays at merchants tended to run.

"Stand ready on the larboard guns, men! Strong hearts, and steady hands! Let them stand to, and give 'em hell when the word is given! We'll break free yet!"

Jack turned his back to the weather deck, praying that his men believed his words. Looking about, he saw Briggs climbing the step the the quarterdeck. "Oi! Briggs! What's in your head, man?!" He turned on the Quartermaster like a man possessed. "Get yer scabrous arse below and watch over my wife! Do you understand me, Josiah?! Move!!"

Mr. Briggs looked upon his Captain, and nodded agreement. In his heart, Josiah couldn't believe his captain of over 20 years was putting the safety of a woman over the ship. But, Jack has always been a fair an true captain. So, he went below to watch over possibly the one woman to show him some semblance of kindness in a very long time.

Jack looked out upon the oncoming East Indiaman. "That's it, love. Come closer. Come to Ol' Jack. Run in, and you'll ne'er catch us, God be willing!"
Honour looked out the port window, glimpsing the action. She saw the merchant ship coming towards them and Jack's command to 'stand ready on the larboard guns.'
Oh Lord, he's really going to do it!

She heard the tumble of a lock in the door. Hastily she picked up a bowl that had fruit in it. Dumping the fruit, she hid behind the door. As it opened, she raised it and just as it was about to crack down on the intruder's head, she caught it in time.
She put it down and looked at Briggs with concern. "I am so sorry! I--I thought you might be one of the crew members who decided to bother me while Jack was busy and I--I--what are you doing here?"
"Captain Wolfe sent me down here to watch over ye."
"Watch over me?"
"Aye. So no harm comes to ye. On account of the ship is about to attack and..."
Honour broke out in sobs. Briggs awkwardly put his arms around her and patted her on the back with a 'There...there....'

Trying to stop crying, she sobbed to him, "I'm so afraid of dying...Josiah."
She had never called him by his Christian name before.
"Mrs.--Honour---Captain Jack is the best. We shall prevail."
"And if we don't?"
"Then we give it our best shot and may the Lord have mercy on our souls."
That brought a fresh round of tears from her.
'If something happens and I don't make it, Josiah, will you do something for me?"
"Aye, Honour."
"Please tell Cade Jennings what really happened to me."
"Cade Jennings? Ye've been in touch with Cade Jennings? Haven't seen him since he decided t'go on 'is own account."
She wailed, "Josiah, I am so confused! I don't know what to"
"I'm not getting yer drift, Missy."
She looked up at Briggs with tears running down her face.
"Cade Jennings has asked me to marry him. And I don't know what to do now!"
Briggs stood thunderstruck. "You, ma'am, to be married to Cade Jennings? That bloody reprobate, 'ou betrayed Cap'n Jack?! 'ow could you? The Cap'n will ne'er say such, but he's mightily betrayed by Cade." Josiah spat upon the deck. "It pains me to say that man's name, ma'am. The crew knows the score, as they'd ne'er speak the name o' Cade Jennings unless in a blood oath!"

Briggs lowered his head. "Ma'am. I implore ye. Cade Jennings betrayed Jack over a minor difference of payment. Jennings sought to change the articles of payment, to tip them in his favour. The Cap'n resisted, stating that a fair gunner and passable navigator does not deserve greater shares than a Quartermaster. I can't argue with the just ruling of the Cap'n. Your betrothed, however much you love him, is a mutineer, and a foul and dissolute man. I stand here, as your guard. And I will protect you to the death. But Cade Jennings is a man to put to yer stern, ma'am, and not look back again. I'll kill 'im meself, should I get the chance."

Briggs stepped to the door, and locked it. He spun about, smartly checking his pistol and cutlass. "You're now safe and protected, good lady. I'll stake me on life on the matter" he stated.
Honour sat down on the bed and whispered, "No. No, it's not possible!"
She stood up, trying to absorb all of what Briggs said.
"Cade wouldn't do that. He couldn't! He's honorable. We only took up with each other in port after he thought Jack and I had an annulment. And that time on the deck was only..."
She shut up at that point, realizing she had already said too much.

Her head was swimming with new revelations. A traitor? Cade? No! He saved Jack twice. Why would Briggs feel this way? And why was Jack acting like they were still friends?

She looked at Briggs sadly.
"I thought you were starting to like me, Briggs. How dare you say such lies about the man I had planned on marrying?"

She pushed the thought far down that there was a problem.
She was already married.
To Captain Jack Wolfe.

She said to no one in particular, "I should have become a vestal virgin. Life would be so uncomplicated."
She turned to Briggs and with a catch in her voice, she said, "You lie. I shall never believe that about Cade."

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:27:33 PM
"If you think me a liar, mum, that's yer lot." Briggs offered. "I offer ye the truth. Jennings is a liar and a mutineer. Aye, he saved our good Cap'n's life more'n once. But that don't absolve the man from 'is foul deeds. Especially after he left Jack for dead after takin' 'is ship! That's 'ow he went off on 'is own Account... By thievin' a ship out from under Ol' Jack. I guess you need to be sussin' out where ye stand, ma'am. With what be right an' true, or with that rank bastard, Cade."

Josiah cocked his head, listening to the orders being issued above. "We'll be seein' action right ready, ma'am. If ye be believin' in God, or his kin, I suggest ye say whatever prayers ye got. Cap'n Jack will see us through, as 'e's done afore. I'll keep ye safe, ma'am; as safe as houses. That's what I swore to me Cap'n, and that's what I'll do." He turned and smiled at Honour. He steeled his eyes as her protector and guardian. Straightening his thick, uncomfortable buff coat, he prepared for the worst.

"Ye might want t' snug up behind me, ma'am. Not for me own pleasure, mind ye, but for yer own safety. I'm the Cap'n's man. No harm shall fall yer way, as what I can help."
Honour nodded wordlessly to Briggs. Her heart was pounding. And all because I had to go into the Bilge Pump Pub that day for an ale and some information on finding Captain Spleen.
Jack came back into my life to turn it upside down.
Once again.

Her mind was trying to sort out what Briggs had told her about Cade. Cade never mentioned Jack. But the opportunity never really arose as she and Cade didn't talk too much about the past when they were together.
Briggs looked out the port window and said, "She's bigger than she looked from afar. Best brace yerself, Honour Bright. Looks like we may be in for a rough time."

No sooner had the words gone from his mouth when the air reverberated with the sound of the guns.
The East Indiaman neither changed her flag nor answered hails as she stood in against us. Her only silent answer was to reef her sails and draw a parallel course to us. El Lobo continued to drag off the sandbar at glacial speed. If anything she was slipping starboard faster than the was forward. "Just a few seconds more..." Jack thought.

And then, he saw the last thing he'd dare nor thing to see. The merchantman began running out her guns, on not 3, but five decks. Their prey wasn't a fat merchantman, but a damned floating weapons platform built for one purpose - destruction.

Snapping into action, Jack began shouting orders. "Snipers! Remain aloft, look for officers and dispatch them! Yardsmen, back to the deck! Gunners, stand ready and true! Bo'sun, alert me at first matchlight!"

The seconds passed at an excruciating pace. Jack touched the wheelman on the shoulder, and handed him the ship's glass. "I'll steady the wheel, Mr. Carslisle. Take your young eyes and find their master."

Young Carslisle took the glass, and move to the rail of the quarterdeck. Jack closed his eyes tightly, knowing that he'd just condemned the lad to certain death.

Carlisle's voice was elated. "Cap'n Jack! I think I see 'im! He's just amidships... Cap'n?"

The top two gun decks of the East Indiaman erupted in smoke and a hail of metal. Mr. Carlisle's question went unanswered as his head became a fog of pink mist.

"Snipers!! Target amidships! Master Gunner, how damaged are we?!"

"Some damage to the fo'c'sle, sir! Most o' their shot went over and 'tween... We're in good shape! Is the word given, Cap'n?" The Gunner cried.

"Aye! The word is given, Gunner! Let's make our purchase off this bar!! FIRE!!!" Jack howled.

"Fire all!! All at once!!" shouted the Master Gunner. And with his command, the left side of El Lobo unleashed her fury, as double-shotted guns spoke in full throated voice. The ship heeled over a full 50° to starboard. The crew held fast on the halyards as bodies flew belowdeck, and El Lobo found herself suddenly free to navigate.

Jack struggled to his feet as his ship righted herself. "Steady us up, mates! Reload the guns! We're out of here!"

He looked behind at the merchantship, and realized at once that El Lobo had popped free not unlike a cork from a beer bottle. The merchantman fired her lower guns, but her every shot fell behind the pyrate. "Clap on all sail, and keep our heels to 'er!! Move!!" Jack commanded. And his crew responded to a man.

"Gunner, how many dead have we?" Jack inquired.

"Six, sir. The wheelman, a sailor, three of my men when a gun exploded, and one reported below." the Gunnery Master reported.

Jack's mind reeled. "One dead below? Gunner, you have the bridge. Keep up at a full run!" He didn't wait for an acknowledgment of his order. He was already in motion, flying down the steps and through the narrow companionway to Honour's cabin. Without knocking, he threw his shoulder against the door and burst in. Briggs had just regained his feet. Honour was still lying on the decking. Jack raced over to help Honour regain her feet.

"What.. what happened? Why aren't you on deck, doing whatever pyrate foolishness you claim to do?" she asked, a bit rattled and annoyed.

"I... I was afraid you were injured."

"No worries, Cap'n. Not a scratch on me" Briggs chimed in with cheery sarcasm.

Jack shot him a look. "Honour, you're not injured? Thank God! I'd never have forgiven myself had harm befell you!"
Honour stood up and took a quick inventory of her body parts. Arms and legs seem OK. She looked down and saw her bodice lacings had come undone. She seemed to be overly stuffed and fluffed.
With a red face, she tucked them back in. A smile played on Jack's lips as he watched her rearrange her person but when she looked up, she saw his sober face.
"I am alright. Everything seems to be present and accounted for."
She couldn't quite believe the look on Jack's face. Gone was the sardonic look on his face.
It was replaced with one of concern. Almost...tenderness?

'Watch yourself, Honour!' she said to herself. He always lived up to his name of 'wolfe' before.
Remember, this is the same man that somehow you woke up married to. The same man that pulled a pistol on you. The same man who held a knife to your throat not once, but twice. The same man that kidnapped you. The same man who....

She hesitantly reached up to touch his cheek and said in a halting voice.
"And you? You are alright?"
She quickly drew her hand away.

What am I doing? This isn't the way it is supposed to go....
"We are free of our sandy prison, and presently making all speed to our destination. We've lost six good souls, and taken some damage aloft. If our enemy cuts back with the wind to give chase, she'll foul on the same bar we did, but much worse. It she takes the long way about, we'll still outrun her." Jack looked deeply into Honour's eyes. "Thank God you're unharmed, darling. I'd feared the worst." He lingered until he heard the Quartermaster clear his voice for the second time.

"Aye! Mr. Briggs! Accompany me to the weather deck. I need to know just how badly we've been damaged, and to prioritize repairs."
Jack touched Honour's hair gently, and left her cabin.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:29:21 PM
She sat down quickly on her bed. For the second time, Briggs interrupted a moment where things got too intense. She exhaled a breath she did not know she had been holding.
She tried not to think of the six men who needlessly lost their lives due to the headstrong ways of their captain.

Was Cade like this when he was at sea? Did he put his men at risk to obtain treasure? She could not reconcile herself to the thoughts.
She laid down on the bed and pulled the covers up.
From the sheer nervousness of it all, she allowed herself to give way to the tears that were held back.
She was so confused. Jack....or Cade?
Which one was causing her confusion?
She was afraid of the answer she already had formed the question to.
It was Jack that was confusing her mind.
And her heart.

In her exhaustion, she fell into a deep sleep.

They'd gotten off very lucky. Minimal springing of the hull from running aground - nothing the pumps couldn't handle with only two men. Some of the sails would need repair, and the men had already begun the grim task of clearing away the debris of the exploded cannon.

The remains of the dead had been wrapped in sailcloth, along with two cannonballs per man. Jack walked past the fallen, in a slow review. He turned around after passing sixth and looked back across the bodies. He took yet another long pull on the bottle of rum he'd been numbing himself with throughout the entire inspection. Making one last pass, he poured a bit of the rum on each silent form. "Your last rations, mates. Drink up."

The rum did little to divert his mind from the matter most distracting him; Honour Bright. Jack regarded the nearly half-empty bottle with disappointment, then pushed it into the hands of a nearby crewman. "Right! Make sure this is properly disposed of. Smartly now, Mister... you know your own name. Off you go!" He made his way past the bewildered but happy sailor.

He had every intention of going back to his own cabin and catching a bit of shut-eye. But as he passed Honour's cabin, he found himself unable to go any farther. He put his ear to the door, listening for any movement within. After hearing nothing, he knocked softly. The door was ajar, and he slowly opened it to see her sleeping peacefully. The filtered sunlight gently lit her face as she slept. He crossed to her bed and bent down to kiss her cheek.
Honour stirred and then slowly opened her eyes at the feel of a soft touch on her cheek. She looked into Jack's brown eyes and could see the deaths of the young men had touched him deeply. Death, no matter how many times you had seen it, was something you could never quite get used to.
She felt moved at the sight of his face. He looked weary and sad. She reached up and touched his cheek.
The situation had been leading to this point since that day she crawled out on her hands and knees at the Bilge Pump Pub.

Putting a finger to his lips, she whispered, "Don't say a word, and we shall get along just fine...."

Her other hand drew him closer to her.....

Their lips met, and Jack's blood was instantly aflame. The comfortable familiarity of her kiss, coupled with the nearly rabid anticipation of this moment, to be with her again... The heat of their bodies rose and entwined. She drew him closer, so intimately; and Jack was instantly willing to succumb to her passion.

The Sun key. Even as Honour and Jack explored each others bodies, tearing at one another's clothes, Jack's mind went back to the key.

Where had she hidden it? "My God, her kiss is intoxicating," he thought. "I want her so much, but damn it! Where did she hide it?!" He continued to meet her passion, but nonetheless began to feel beneath her pillow and along the headboard, hoping to stumble across the key.

The search was fruitless. His frustration began to interfere with his previous intentions, and Honour picked up on it.

"No, Jack... We've been through so much... Let it go. Be with me, now." she implored. "Lie with me, and forget... What the hell are you doing?!"

Jack pushed himself up over his estranged bride, knowing full well he'd been caught. "What do you mean, darling? I'm your's, completely. Why don't you get on top, eh?"
"Why don't you get the hell out of my ROOM? ALL ALONG YOU WERE AFTER THE KEY!"
She pushed him off her with all her might and Jack landed on the floor.
Honour wrapped herself in the coverlet, her hair entangled around her shoulders and a sweat sheen on her body. Her chest was heaving with indignation and her breath was coming in ragged gasps. She jumped up and threw the door open.
She picked up a candleholder. The problem was, a candle was still burning in it. With hot wax.
Honour was standing there with it in her hands. The wax was beginning to puddle on the bottom. Jack quickly did a mental projectory of where that wax would be landing.
He backed up quickly.
The entire ship could hear what she was screaming at him. "YOU PERVERT! YOU--YOU DIRTY DOG!"
She took her hands and pushed on his chest with all her might. He flew out the door and hit the opposite wall in the companionway.
She slammed the door shut and locked it.

Jack stood there in nature's own, the tussle quickly dampening his ardor.
"NEVER!" she yelled.

She walked over to the porthole and tossed his clothes out. It took about thirty seconds for them to be consumed by the whitecaps. His boots were tossed out next.
"NOW make your way back to your quarters, Jack Wolfe!"
He pounded on the door. "Throw a blanket out, you $#@!@!!"

She propped the chair under the doorknob and dusted her hands off.

Who needs Briggs, anyhow?
Jack stood out in the hall, wearing nothing but what God gave him at the first, pounding on Honour's door. "Honour, love... PLEASE let me back in! At least give me back my breaches! Honour?"

He looked about, and found Briggs standing at the end of the companionway, smoking his pipe.

"Ye keep tellin' me you'll teach me how to 'andle women, Cap'n. Yet, I'm not convinced I'll survive yer teachings, sir. Seems I'll get me head taken off faster than not. Here! You'll be needin' this!" He tossed a wool blanket at his captain.

"Briggs, I'll thank ye not to mention this to a soul." Jack said, as he wrapped himself in the blanket.

"All depends, Cap'n. Next ship what comes along as a prize, I get made Captain, free and clear. Agreed?" Briggs posed, his face ringed in smoke.

Jack took a hard look at his quartermaster, and extended his hand. "Agreed." He silently avowed to make great pains to take a canoe or coastal sloop at the next available chance. Skulking back to the great cabin, Jack slammed the door behind him. "Damn it all, I'd just broken that shift of clothes in..." he thought.
Briggs stood there laughing to himself at the predicament his cool and collected captain had found himself in. She certainly could match him wit-for-wit. Maybe even had the edge on him.
He heard Captain Jack's door slam and reverberate off its hinges. Obviously it didn't go as well as he had planned.

Briggs tucked his pipe back into his pouch and sighed deeply. Do I dare go to the tiger's door? His curiosity could withstand no longer and he knocked.
A stream of unlady-like language came through the door.
He knocked again and said, "Honour? It's me. Briggs."
Briggs tried to hold his laughter back.
"I value my life. I'm alone."

She opened the door a crack and saw him. She let him in. Briggs tried not to laugh at the sight of her.
Her hair lay in a tangle down her back. Her lip coloring was smeared. Two bright pink spots appeared on her cheeks. She was wrapped in a coverlet and held a vase in one hand, ready to crack it down on anyone who crossed her.
Briggs said soberly, "Having a bad day, are we?"

She sat down on the bed and said bitterly, "He was only after the Sun Key. Damn him. DAMN JACK WOLFE! He hasn't changed. He never will."
She crossed her arms and tried to keep her coverlet from slipping down.
"When I get my share of the treasure, I intend to hold him to his part of the bargain. I get the annulment. Or I swear to God.....I'lll go back AS CAPTAIN JACK WOLFE'S WIDOW!"

She walked over to the porthole and looked out. Then she turned to Briggs and said defiantly, "I intend to go back and marry Cade Jennings. Nothing you can say will change my mind."

She hadn't really planned on marrying Cade.
But what better way to stick it to Jack Wolfe?

"Now, now, Honour, ma'am; if I may be so bold." Briggs started. She looked back at him, and nodded. "I shouldn't be here, much less give a care about your plight. Me first service be to the Cap'n and our good ship. But ye've taken to burthening me your fears and troubles, so I give ye this as advice. Cade Jennings is no better, nor worse, than Jack Wolfe. Difference is, Jack's been at this business a good bit longer than Cade. Given a square fight, Jack would no doubt win from certain treachery what comes with age and experience. But all in all, Jack's a good man, down deep. He's fought the fights, and lost more of himself then most men hope to ever gain. And despite his greed, I can see one certain thing in his eyes that I haven't seen before - he does care for ye, ma'am. I'd stake me life on it. So you think on it, Honour, ma'am. If you marry Cade, mutineer and worthless bastard that he be, you're no better off than ye be now. Better the devil ye know than the devil ye don't. I'll be leaving ye now, ma'am."

Josiah doffed his hat, and exited Honour's cabin, shutting the door quietly behind him.

Jack tried to lie down and seek some solace in sleep, but it would not happen. His mind raced about the Sun key, their present destination, and Briggs. That galled him the most - that Briggs would leverage such a situation to better himself... then he found himself laughing. What should a pyrate do, but avail himself of a profitable situation? After all, this is no Royal Navy ship. Jack would blow it to Hell before the RN would ever take her.

"Right. Enough of this falderall. If I can't rest, no one else shall." Jack fumed. He pulled on a fresh shift of clothes, drank a bit of claret, and left the great cabin.

As he made his way down the companionway, he came upon Briggs as the quartermaster was exiting Honour's cabin. "Well, nicely done, Mr. Briggs. Finished what I'd started, you opportunistic cur?! It appears I've trained you too well."

Briggs began to explain, but Jack raised his hand to silence him. "I have no desire to hear it, Josiah. You wound me deeply. We'll settle this later. As men of honour." With that, Jack stormed off to the holy ground of the quarterdeck, leaving Briggs in stunned silence. He couldn't believe it. His own Captain had challenged him to a duel.
Honour sat there on the bed, her pride wounded beyond belief. Still wrapped in her coverlet, she reached behind the books and drew out the Sun Key.
This was the cause of more misery in her life than she thought possible from a piece of brass.
She threw it against the wall with all the force she could, hearing it clatter as it hit the floor.
She flopped back on the bed and stared at the ceiling.

'What are you going to do, Honour?' she thought. 'Are you going to stay in these quarters until Isla Muelle nursing your hurt feelings? Or are you going to go out there and show the world you don't care?'

She dropped the coverlet, and went to the armoire. In it was a dress of soft butter yellow. Slipping it over her head, she let it flow downwards. Defty lacing up the front, she then selected a pair of boots in soft kidskin. Good thing I did leave some things behind. She slipped her feet into them and then selected from a box in the back a small necklace with a topaz gem. She fastened topaz earrings and then brushed her hair and held it back with a black satin ribbon.
Applying a few cosmetics, she looked in the mirror and was satisfied of what she saw.
She reached into the back of the drawer under some petticoats and found what she was looking for. She inserted the sgian dubh in her boot.

Honour held her head high and was ready to face the crew--and Captain Jack--as if nothing was wrong.
With her hand on the doorknob, she had one last thought.
She picked up the Sun Key and hid it back in its hiding place. She then withdrew a small box she had hidden in her pocket the day Jack decided to take her on the unnannounced 'cruise from hell'.

She slipped the diamond ring on her left hand, ring finger.
A little present from Cade Jennings.

Because after all, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:40:50 PM

Still seething as he reached the quarterdeck, Jack demanded to know their position. The new steersman, Jason Harper, reported that the lay 16 hours out of Little Muelle Cay. Jack nodded approval, yet still shot Harper a look that made the young man want to crawl under the wheel.

Dr. Gander, the ship's surgeon, approached. "Captain, we need you to say a few words over our dead. They're ready for you, sir"

Jack sighed. "Aye, Duckie, I'll attend presently." He hated this task above all others. Some small words would be spoken, the names read, and the bell rung. And each silenced soul would be spilled over the side. Yet, it must be done. He walked stiffly down to the main deck and took his position next to the litters carrying the dead.

"We consign these, our Honoured dead, to the depths. May God show mercy unto their souls." He spoke the words in a wooden way, their usual gravity falling flat. Each man's body was sent over the side, until all six were gone forever. Returning to the quarterdeck, he fished out the rum bottle he had stashed there. He took a huge swallow, and recorked the bottle.

To his surprise, Honour appeared on deck shortly after. She was done up in her finery, walking with an unusually haughty aire. Every head turned as she came on deck, and marched right up onto the holy ground. She looked toward the sun, running her long fingers through her golden hair. A glint of jewels on her left hand caught Jack's attention. He walked over to her and took her left hand in his.

"It's lovely! Matches your eyes. Strange that I don't remember giving this to you, my recalcitrant wife. Nice to know I still have good taste, even when I black out."

Honour withdrew her hand quickly from his.
"You didn't."
She let it go at that. Let him wonder, she thought maliciously.
She looked off in the distance.
"I came to pay my respects to your men. I was watching from the companionway. It was a shame. And so needless, Jack."
He looked at her and reached out to touch her cheek. She caught his hand and said quietly, "What just happened in my room? I hope the memory keeps you warm on cold, cold nights, Jack. Because that is the last you will see or touch my body."

She turned and walked away.

"How sad that you have warmer thoughts for dead men than you do for your own hubby!" Jack mocked. "So, I didn't put said bauble on your hand. Who did? And is that what all the annulment yammering is for? You've trotted off and betrothed yourself before ending our marriage? Like it or not, love, you're more of a pyrate than you want to admit."

He drank some more rum as he let his words sink in. "A simple question, if I'm to believe that ring real. What is his name?"

"And how sad that you have warmer thoughts for a piece of brass than me."
She walked slowly back to him. She was going to enjoy twisting the knife.
"And it is none of your business who he is. Look at every one of your friends and crewmates, Jack. Look at them and wonder if all those nights you passed out, I didn't find any of them a better man than you!"
She delivered the ultimate coup de grace. "At least he finishes what he starts."
She reached over, grabbed the rum bottle and took a deep swallow.
Tossing the bottle to him, she said, "Drink up, me hearty. Yo-ho."
As she walked off, she flung over her shoulder,
"Cheers, love."

Jack caught the bottle, and watched her walk away. Her words were like knives in his belly. Taking the last swig from the bottle, he threw the empty vessel over the side. "Jennings," he growled to himself. "I owe that mutinous dog a thing or two. The edge of my blade, for starters."

Honour walked back to her quarters and gently closed the door. She felt like she had been avenged. If so, why did she not feel good about it? She knew she had laid the lowest blow to a man. She sat down on the bed and thought, 'Never let it be said that he didn't deserve every syllable of it.'

She looked at the clothes strewn around the floor. Picking them up, she saw a few in tatters. She took them and flung them out the porthole window. Won't be needing them anymore...
She reached under the bed and grabbed the bottle of rum she had swiped from Jack earlier in the day when his back was turned.

Husband, indeed! When did he ever act like one? She wasn't a wife, she was a commodity. That is, when he wasn't pulling a pistol or a dagger on me, she thought bitterly.
And the ultimate rejection....
Honour took the rum bottle and uncorked it.

Yes, looks like a long night. What second better way to keep warm?

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:42:01 PM
Jack's face burned like a brand as Honour stalked from the weather deck to her quarters. He swore in his heart to take the life of Cade Jennings when next they met.

He laughed involuntarily, like the wind being kicked out of him. The realization struck him like a bolt from the blue: He'd been pining for Honour all this time! Of all the women he'd lain with, she held his heart. And the literal key to riches untold. She was suddenly, in Jack's eyes, the perfect woman. But the ultimate conundrum lay before him... to take the treasure what laid before them, or let her escape once more?

He snorted, to regain his composure, and narrowed his eyes at Briggs as the quartermaster emerged on the weather deck. "Josiah! I need you here." he yelled. Briggs stepped briskly, as if all were suddenly right. He was soon at his captain's side.

"Watch the ship, Mr. Briggs. I should hate that we miss our appointment on the sand come the morrow. Check your weapon and blade. You'll need them dearly."

With that, Jack stalked off for the great cabin. His heart was black, and he was sure no soul could lift it.

The gun crews busied themselves cleaning the cannons, making sure they were ready. One crew in particular payed special attention to the business conducted on the quarterdeck.

"Aye, Eli. Our moment is near!" Samuel Burgess, a Cornwall man, hissed. "As I told ye when we came aboard on that backwater island, we'll soon be masters here! Stick fast! And we'll be as kings!"

Elijah Meredith, a lad of Devonshire, followed the lead of his elder. He was frighted to the point of shaking, but he did as he was told. Even though he knew it meant mutiny.

Burgess' face was a masque of hatred. "28 days I been aboard this hulk, an' not one bit o' honest pyrating have we done! Ill used by Cap'n Jack we are!"

He stood from his post, and yelled out among the present gun crews. "So," Burgess said, just loud enough for the other gunners to hear. "'Ou's with us? I say we cut the throats of our 'commanders', take the Captain's sweet doxy for our own, and set off on our good and proper course? 'Ou be with us?" Burgess cried.

Meredith heard Burgess' words, but this young heart knew the wrong of it. Eli wanted no more than safe and sound passage to Port Royale. He busied himself by trussing up the gun, knowing full well that his lot was now cast as a mutineer.
Man after man looked first to each other, then back to Burgess, until 11 of them cast their lot with the mutineer by spitting into their palm and shaking the Cornwall man's hand. The rest of the men put their backs to the traitors and busied tehmselves with their duties. Their actions gave tacet approval to the mutiny, though they preferred to wait out the plot and cast their lot with the victors.

Burgess grinned triumphantly. "Aye, lads. We'll get this ship turned 'round right! A 'Devil's Dozen', we are, and the Devil take who don't stand their full measure... Ain't that right, Eli?"

The nervous boy nodded, but couldn't quite find his voice. The murderous look in the eyes of the men before him made his blood run cold. "Yeah... yeah, that's right." he stammered.

Burgess laughed as he looked back toward the quarterdeck. Briggs was oblivious to the cabal forming on the weather deck, as he was lost in his own thoughts. "This'll be easy as nickin' candy from a baby, lads. You four," Burgess said as he swept his hand from left to right, "you'll take the quartermaster in his quarters. You next four, you'll take the old man. And the last of us," he sneered, "we'll be taking the Captain's lady. And we'll ensure ye each a turn. Given she lasts that long!"

The mutineers laughed and jostled each other as they contemplated the plan laid out before them. Burgess looked like a maniacal demon in the lantern light.
The mutineers laughed as they heard Burgess' words. Even Meredith joined in the grunts and barks of approval. He'd never lain with a woman, and Honour was so beautiful...

His reverie was broken by Burgess slamming a wet gun swab into his hands. "'ere ye go, boy," Burgess mocked. "Slide this into your lady, and service her rightly!" The laughs of the men rang in Eli's ears, and his face burned. He did as he was told, but his thoughts went to cutting the throat of Samuel Burgess the first chance he got. Eli made a grand, nearly pornographic mockery of swabbing the gun, and it served to get Burgess back on topic.

"Aye, now... ye skilled groups have yer missions. We act on two bells after the change of watch. That be in 3 turns of the hourglass. Briggs will be fast asleep, and the rest of our quarry will still be ripe and ready. Show me a man, right now, what ain't ready for this adventure! Show me now, or I'll cut your throat meself once we take action!"

Every man steeled themselves before the lead mutineer, including the frightened Meredith. The die was cast. Burgess would be given the deck at the turn of the watch. And Hell would come with him.
Time seemed to slow as the mutineers pretended to go about their tasks. All eyes were on Briggs, when at last he turned the glass with his own hand. "Mister Burgess! The watch is yours. I'll be below, should anyone need me. Make it so."

With that, Josiah Briggs turned command of the ship over to Master Gunner Samuel Burgess. The die was cast, and the mutiny was on. "An hour more, me hearties! An hour more!" Burgess hissed from the Holy Ground. "An hour more, and we feast as kings!

The men knew full well that Burgess was exaggerating his position, but they didn't much care. They all felt ill used by Captain Jack, and not a one of them had made any coin at all under Jack's watch. And to think that he'd build wealth on their backs with no recompense to them? Seldom was a crew more ripe for mutiny.

Briggs paused at the stairway leading down to the weather deck. "Stand fast, good men! Take heart that Ol' Jack will show us the way! Riches be ours, lest ye fall into the wiles of others! Your choice, lads. Be wise!" With that, Briggs went below. Burgess stared over the railing with hatred in his eyes. The men watched the interplay between the two men, and their reactions were codified. The 12 mutineers remained staunchly behind Burgess, and the rest kept with the Captain.
Time passed achingly slow. Meredith busied himself at the guns, though his watch was technically over. He couldn't sleep if he'd wanted to. He looked to the other men, who jeered and jostled with him, in a brotherhood of deceit and hatred that galled him to his core.

The watch glass drained down, and the hour arrived. Burgess called from the quarterdeck, "We move, now!!" Cutlasses and pistols were brandished, and the mutineers made for the afterdecks as quietly as a bunch of munitous curs could manage.
Honour finished the bottle of rum and walked over to the porthole, pitching it out.
"Drink up, Neptune! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did." *hic*
She let her clothes fall and drop-kicked them into the corner, crawling into bed and pulling the covers over her head. Within moments, the rum had done its job and she fell sound asleep.

She was deeply into sleep but in the background of her mind she heard footsteps running down the deck.

She rolled over, pulled the covers back over her head and muttered, "Damn pirates! You'd think this was a tavern....."
Jack couldn't sleep. Rum wouldn't quiet his mind, so he decided for the delightful euphoria of khat. He chewed the African tree bark and reveled in it's bittersweet taste. The drug had just taken it's full effect when he heard a strange noise at the door, like the thud of metal against the bulkhead. Thankfully, khat is a stimulant. He shouldered his baldic and grabbed a pistol from the bookcase. Slowly, he approached the door. He could hear hushed voices beyond the threshold.

Readying his weapons, he whispered to himself "One, two, three... three and a half, three and three quarters... FOUR!!"
Jack yanked open the door of the great cabin, to find four men crowded into the narrow companionway before him. Foremost was the huge form of one David Wells, a Gloucestershire man, well over six feet tall. Jack's eyes were like saucers as Wells raised his boarding axe, with all intent of bringing it down on his captain's skull. Jack lunged forward to catch Wells' axe with his cutlass.

Left with naught but his pistol and his wits, Jack opted for the obvious; he kicked with every ounce of his being right into the crotch of Wells.

The big man looked down at Jack, and smiled. Jack's eyes widened as he looked up at Wells' grin as he whispered "Eunuch?"

Wells' eyes rolled up into the back of his head as he dropped like a sack of potatoes to he deck. The men behind him were in disarray as the big man crumpled.

"Aye!! Have at ye, ye scabrous dogs!!" Jack yelled, as he climbed over Wells' fallen body. As he charged, he fired his pistol into a gunner's mate, named Gilbert, and slashed hard against the neck of another, named Felix. He flipped the spent pistol over in his hand to act as a club as he chased the last of the four, named Fielding, down toward Honour's cabin. He drew heart as he saw two prone bodies outside her quarters, but snarled viscerally as a man named O'Keeffe dragged her out at gunpoint. Men could be heard running on the decks above, so Briggs had not yet been taken.

All parties drew up short at the entrance to Honour's quarters. Fielding turned and brandished a knife. "So, Cap'n. How you guessin' to get by me?" the man laughed. Jack shrugged, and clubbed the man over the head with the brass end of his pistol.

Jack immediately brought his cutlass against the broadest part of O'Keeffe's throat. "Now, ye worthless half-witted piss-ant dog," Jack hissed into the young man's ear. "How badly do ye want me to spill your bastard's blood all over this lovely woman's head? Let her go, damn you!"

O'Keeffe let Honour go, only to look square into the eyes of his Captain and smile. His thumb moved to the lock of his pistol. Jack looked to Honour and yelled "Drop!! Now!!" as he swung his cutlass hard against the neck of O'Keeffe. The young man's head spun off his shoulders before he could fire his pistol.

Honour had dropped to her knees, and caught the pistol before it hit the deck. She spun it about in her hands and leveled it at Jack's head. "Where there hell were you, you drunken bastard? They saw me in my bloody stays!!"
Honour cocked the pistol.
Jack's eyes opened wide.
She aimed the muzzle.
He started to speak, "But Honour, darling...."
She squeezed the trigger.
And fired.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:44:04 PM
Jack started at the sound and looked down at his chest.
No hole.
No blood.

A thud was heard from behind.
And a body fell. There went Barton.
"Got him!" Honour breathed.
Jack dove for Honour and fell on top of her.
Just then a cutlass slashed where Honour's head would have been. Jack reached into Honour's bodice stays and whipped out her bodice dagger, throwing it with sheer force.
"Hey! I told you my body was off-limits to you, you bastard!"
"Uuuh....! "
Canfield fell right on top of her. Jack pushed him off and in one fell movement, pushed Honour into her quarters, slamming the door behind her.
All he could hear was muffled swearing and the door being kicked repeatedly.
He went off in search of the other mutineers, determined no one..but no one...should ever take El Lobo del Mar.
Or Honour Bright.
Jack made all haste back to his cabin, wiping the blood off his cutlass as he walked. There hadn't been a gang coming after him, so the mutiny had to be limited to a few reckless fools. "I'll be damned it anyone takes what's mine while I draw a breath. Not my ship, not... never." he growled.

He entered his cabin, looking around to make sure he had no company. Opening his old sea chest, he retrieved an ornate double-flintlock that had belonged to his father. He checked the fittings, and quickly loaded both barrels. "I get the feeling I'll be needing your help, dear old Dad. Keep my aim true, if you're not too busy." he whispered. Rummaging around, he found a plain but very sharp dirk, and slipped it into his belt.

With a cold fury burning in his belly, he began the hunt of those who'd moved against him and everything he held dear.
"Ow!! Damn you, idiot! Careful with that cutlass!" Edward Freil yelped at his compatriot, Allan Covan. "If you had half a brain, you'd carry a pistol like me. Now, keep back!"

"And with your half a brain, careful you don't go shootin' yourself in the foot, fool." Covan mocked, but still backed off a few steps. "What makes you think Briggs is hiding down here in the hold? We were supposed to be checkin' his quarters, like Burgess said!"

Freil sneered. "Which is exactly why were here, and not where Briggs might expect us to be! We're outmaneuvering him, because I'm smarter than he is. Simple as that. Now, get that light over here."

"Brilliant scheme. Outmaneuver a sleeping man by knocking about the opposite end of the ship so as not to disturb his slumber. I'm dazzled."

Freil spun and pointed his flintlock at Covan's head. "Who did Burgess put in charge of us? Who? It sure as hell wasn't your silly arse, now was it? You listen to me, and don't forget it! Now, shut up and help me find Briggs."

Satisfied that he'd put Covan in his place, Freil turned and walked authoritatively into a stack of heavy crates.

Jack hung back in the shadows at the aft of the hold. "Very nice," he thought. "My day gets a bit easier."
Honour kicked and kicked the door but it wouldn't give.
'Damn English oak!" she swore. She hastily dressed in a pair of breeches and a long shirt that must have been Jack's. At least it smelled vaguely of rum and leather which meant it was his. Comforting, in a way. It kept slipping off her shoulders.
'Next time I get kidnapped, I make sure there's someone my size on board'....
She reached under, unlaced and threw her bodice stays off. Quickly she laced her boots up and packed her sgian dubh in it.
'No one takes ME without a fight!' she whispered to herself. 'Damn that Jack Wolfe! If he had just left me in port, I'd be all snuggy-bug in a nice cozy bed instead of being out in the middle of the deep blue.'
She felt her heart quicken as her inner voice said, 'And you are loving every minute of it and you know it, Honour. How many times a day did he cross your mind? Five? Six? Seven? More than that?'
She muttered to herself, 'You know, some day I'm going to find that inner voice and kick its little arse.'

Honour slipped her bodice dagger into bodice. 'CRAP! NOW what do I do?' She glanced at the boarding pike and thought for a second...'now, where would I put it?'
She hastily looked over the room. She'd already thrown all the vases and crockery at the door. Looks like I've used up the allotment Jack had given me. Candle wax? No, the wick is almost spent....
She took a deep breath. Too quiet out there. She said a quick prayer for Jack's safety. You know....just so he could get her back to port alive.
Because she had a bad feeling she didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell with this rabble.

Honour heard the doorlock being unbolted.
She hastily slipped the bodice dagger into the other boot. As she stood up, the door swung open.
She said softly, "It's about time!"

She looked up into the hard look on Samuel Burgess' face.
"Aye, me darlin'...I'd say you were right about that..."
Jack moved quietly as he stalked his prey, stealing over the ballast stones, lurking among the hogsheads, barrels, and casks stored in the main hold. Freil and Covan continued to argue with one another.

"Damn your sorry eyes, I've had enough of your noise!" yelped Freil. He grabbed a small lantern hanging on a nail in the hold and lit it. "You go that way," he ordered, motioning to starboard, "and I'll go this way." He motioned larboard. "Try not to get your silly arse killed, yeah?"

"Aye, I'll take the starboard side, fair enough." said Covan. "And watch your own worthless arse, lest ye find it at the wrong end of a blade!"

"Are you calling me out, ye sod?" barked Freil.

"If I call ye bastard arse out, it'll be on dry land. We'd settle it like men. At least I would. Get yer head about ye and set to finding Briggs. Enough rubbish! Off with ye!" Covan chided.

Jack was able to make great headway as the two men squabbled like fishwives. He followed Covan until they were at the starboard hull. As Covan turned, he found Jack's blade at his throat. The lantern played over the blade as it rested against the mutineer's neck.

"I should have kept a better eye on you and your friend when you signed on at our last port. Submit now, and I might show you mercy and maroon your worthless hide." Jack whispered.

"Never!" Covan yelled. In an instant, his blade was against Jack's. The battle was on.

Covan hacked and slashed like a man possessed. He knew his life hung on this fight, and he threw himself into it completely. Jack parried Covan's fury, waiting his prey out. He knew that Covan would soon be spent, so a defensive posture was the best strategy. Soon, Covan's arm weakened, and Jack took up the offensive.

Pressing his advantage, Jack beat Covan backward until the mutineer could retreat no further. Jack engaged him close, and spun the cutlass out of the man's hand. Jack pressed the tip of his cutlass against Covan's chest. "Renounce your master, and you might live." stated Jack. He looked right into Allan's eyes.

"Never! You aren't fit to captain this ship!" spat Covan. Jack's eyes darkened.

"Wrong answer." Jack said flatly. He lunged suddenly, driving his cutlass completely through Covan's body. He twisted the blade to make sure the deed would be be complete. Covan gasped and grabbed the blade as his life faded, and slumped to the deck, dead.

Jack withdrew his cutlass and wiped the blood from it on his sash. He regarded Covan's dead form with some small regret, and turned to pursue Freil. As he went to step forward, he felt the cold brass of a gun barrel being shoved under his chin.

"Well, well, Cap'n sir... Fancy meeting you like this!" Freil sneered. He cocked the pistol and grinned a greasy smile. "We were looking for Master Briggs, but I stumble across you! Killing you will be a joy, and quite the feather in my cap with Cap'n Burgess!"

"Burgess?!" Jack growled. "That worthless son of a -" His words were cut short by Friel jamming his pistol harder against Jack's jaw.

"Say goodbye, Jack Wolfe. Your time here is through." grinned Friel.

Jack closed his eyes and waited for oblivion. What he felt was the gun barrel drop away from his throat. He opened his eyes to see Friel's face twisted in a masque of confusion. The sound of a blade being withdrawn could be heard next, and Freil dropped like a sack of potatoes.

Behind the crumpling form of the mutineer, Jack could see the familiar face of his quartermaster, Josiah Briggs. "Now, Jack, about that duel you seem so hot after. Are ye willin' to listen to reason now, since I just saved yer Godforsaken arse again? What say ye?"

Jack felt his face burn red with shame and relief. "Josiah, my blood brother. Please forgive my foolishness! I was wrong to ever doubt your faithfulness. Please forgive me!"

"Aye, my Captain. I knew you'd come around. But that woman, if I may be so bold, gets you all twisted up like I've never seen!" Briggs smiled.

"From your mouth to God's ear, Josiah. Once this is over, I swear - "

Jack was cut off by a woman's scream from above. Jack charged off like a man ready to do battle with the Devil himself. Briggs shook his head and joined the chase.

"Where have I heard that before?" laughed Briggs as he ran after his Captain, ready to join battle with whatever lay before them.
"You? You're behind this!"
Honour's voice came in a whisper as she tried to calm the rising sense of panic that engulfed her.
He reached out to grab her by the hair.
"Damn right. I be the brains behind this and if the crew under new management, shall we say, have done what they were supposed to do, I am now the captain of El Lobo del Mar."
Honour shook her head and said, "No. You'll never take Jack Wolfe. You can't. He's MAD Jack Wolfe. He's too crazy to be killed. He--he'd never allow that to happen."
Burgess thrust his face next to hers. "Aye, do ye hear him anywhere? Ye think he'd allow me to get into this Holy sanctuary if he were still alive?"
"He's occupied elsewhere. You will never take this ship. NEVER, you hear me?"
Burgess sneered, "And ye know what that means? As I am the captain, ye now be the captain's wench. And ye do as I say!"
His dirty hand trailed down her cheek. She shuddered as his hand wandered southwards and across her chest.
He smirked, "Just checkin' ye fer weapons. Although I see ye have no place to put them."
Heaven help her if he found her sgian dugh and her bodice dagger that were tucked down into her boots.
If only I could reach them, she thought.....

His hand glided over her hip as a leer crossed his face. As he skimmed down her leg, she took her booted foot and ground it into his instep. Burgess yelped in pain.
He struck her across the face and barked, "Meredith! Guard the door! It's about time this wench learned who was in charge here!"
Meredith looked in fright from Burgess to Honour. "NOW or I wet my dagger with yer innards, whelp!"
Meredith ran out of the room.

Burgess grabbed her again by her hair and pulled her close to him, his mouth on hers. She fought the instinct to get sick. She extended her hand, her nails raking down his face, five long scratches on his left cheek.
He let go and put his hand up to his face. She aimed for his eyes but he caught her hands and pushed her onto the bed.
"That's going to cost you, trollop!"
He grabbed her roughly and as his hand clamped over her mouth, she bit down hard. He screamed and she grabbed the candle holder with a puddle of hot wax swirling around the wick. She flung it into his face.
He yelled again and Honour used that to her advantage as she leapt off the bed and made a break for the door.
She flung it open and as she vaulted her body through the door frame, Burgess grabbed her by the hair and threw her backwards.
She let out a scream.

Meredith ran as if all the hounds from hell were after him. He saw Jack and Briggs rushing up the deck.
Gasping, he shouted, "Quick! In her cabin!"
Jack and Briggs pushed him aside and ran as if someone's life depended on it.
Because it did.
Honour's life.
And that meant Jack's life, too.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:45:41 PM
Jack's eyes were flame. He elbowed Meredith hard in the face as he and Briggs stormed Honour's cabin. The boy crumpled in the corner, trying to staunch the blood flowing from his broken nose. Burgess drew his dagger and held it against Honour's throat as Jack drew his pistol and cocked it. Briggs stood at the ready beside his captain with his cutlass drawn.

"Let her go, you worthless son of a belch!" Jack growled. "So help me, I'll blow your brains all over this cabin."

Burgess laughed. "Try it, Wolfe. And your sweet doxy will draw her last breath." The oily man pressed his dagger harder against Honour's neck.

Honour swallowed hard. "Jack, you have two shots. Kill me if you must, but don't let this bastard live!" she hissed.

"Not an option, love. But die, he will." Jack swore. He felt Briggs' fist bump him in the back twice. Jack shifted his feet to signal he was ready for whatever Josiah had in mind.

"You now what your problem is, Wolfe? You've gotten soft. This silly wench has your head all twisted up. You've forgotten what it is to be a pirate." Burgess mocked. "I threaten her, and the Lobo is mine. That's not the Wolfe of all the stories. Drop your weapon, Jack, and I promise to be merciful."

The fire seemed to go out of Jack's eyes. He let his aim drop, and he sighed heavily. "Honour, he's right. I'm sorry, but I can't risk it."

Honour's eyes grew wide with disbelief, when she saw a smile play across Jack's lips. Briggs shouted "For glory!" as he dove to Burgess' left. Burgess twisted his body to follow Briggs, and Jack dropped to his knees and fired his pistol. The ball buried itself deep in Burgess' right shoulder, and the mutineer dropped his dagger. As the man grabbed at his wound, Honour tore herself from his grasp and fell into Jack's arms. Briggs pressed the point of his cutlass against Burgess' chest.

"Shall I finish him now, Captain?" Josiah asked.

Jack couldn't tear his eyes from Honour's. "No, my friend. We keep to ship's articles with these two. They put their marks to paper, and I intent to honour their pledge."

Briggs struggled to contain himself, but obeyed his friend and Captain. "Aye, sir. I know a length of rope that will suit our purpose nicely." Josiah took a half step back, but did not drop his blade. A small patch of crimson on the mutineer's chest showed just how close Briggs was to running him through.

Jack stroked Honour's hair. "Are you all right, darling? Are you hurt?"
Honour raised her hand to her cheek. A darkened splotch was forming across it where Burgess had struck her.
"I--I think I'm alright."
In the corner they heard sobbing. It was Meredith, curled up and crying because he knew the Fates had now spun his life-thread and were cutting it.

Honour broke herself reluctantly from Jack's embrace and knelt down next to the boy from Devonshire. She said softly, "Eli, did you honestly think you could best Jack Wolfe?"
He covered his eyes with his forearm and shook his head. "I had no choice. Burgess threatened to throw me overboard if I didn't cast my lot in with his."
Jack said grimly, "You are a mutineer and you know what happens to them that do not meet their end at sword or pistol."
He nodded wordlessly. "Aye. I do."
She couldn't help herself. Softly she said, "Jack--he's just a kid."

Briggs asked him, "How many of you were there?"
Eli shuddered, "Twelve."
Briggs said, "Think we got them all then."
Honour held her hand out. "I'll watch Meredith but please get that piece of garbage out of my sight."
She nodded towards Burgess. "I need a weapon, Jack. Please let me have your dirk."
"Are you out of your mind? I'm not leaving you here alone."
She said, "I would feel alot better if you and Briggs took this despicable dog to the brig and locked him up."
"Jack, I will be fine. Please let me handle this one," she said in a low voice. "Really. It will be alright."
Reluctantly Jack turned his weapon over to her.
He pointed his pistol at Burgess and said, "Let's go."
Burgess said, "I demand medical assistance!"
Briggs laughed, "Why? That ball in your shoulder will just help you sink a little faster."
Jack kept his pistol on Burgess and Briggs patted him down for weapons. Another dagger was found.
"Here, Honour. A spare."
She nodded and said gently, "Hurry back, Jack."
He gently drew her to him and kissed her. "Aye. I shall."
Burgess yelled, "Oh, get a room, you two."

Honour sat on the edge of the bed and scooted a chair out to face her with her booted foot.
"Eli, have a seat. Let's parley."
Eli sat down, blood splattering the front of his shirt. He looked down and couldn't meet Honour's gaze.
"Look at me, Meredith."
He raised his head. Tears welled in his eyes again.
"How old are you?"
Almost two years younger than me, she thought. She took a cloth and dipped it in a basin of water and washed his face. "I don't want you to squirm. Take this like a man."

She took his nose and moved it a bit to straighten it out. He looked at her with gratitude.
"I guess I can have a straight nose when I swing."
She sat down in front of him. "Not necessarily. I heard you yell for Briggs and Jack Wolfe. If they couldn't have found me, heaven knows what would have happened. And for that I thank you."
Eli looked down and started to cry again. Almost inaudibly, he whispered, "I'm so sorry, Miss Bright."
She looked away, unable to meet the misery in his face. She said quietly, "It's Mrs. Wolfe."
He looked at her incredulously. She explained, "No one except Briggs knows but I married Jack under strange circimstances eighteen months ago. We've been...separated."
"You? And..and the captain?"
She nodded and laughed self-conscioiusly. "Two souls that never should have been bound up with each other. But that is besides the point."
He wiped his eyes with his hands. She went to the armoire and gave him a shirt.
"Here. Jack may kill me for showing mercy to a mutineer. Eli, I can't promise anything. I really can't. I've seen Jack Wolfe in murderous rages before. And usually when I have, I've been the reason. He's not called 'Mad Jack' for nothing. But I am going to do my best to see you are spared. I am going to plead your case. I think setting you off in the next port and having you book passage back to Devonshire would be best for all concerned. Jack can never trust you and I can't say I blame him. I'll make sure you have enough coin and get a safe passage back to England."
He gave her a gratified smile. "Ye are an angel, Miss Bright."
She reached under the bed and withdrew a bottle of rum.
"I'll help you if you help me."
"How, Miss---Mrs. Wolfe?"
"Don't tell Jack I have this bottle!"
Briggs bound Burgess' hands tightly behind him. Jack shoved Burgess forward. "You know the way to the Surgeon. Don't make me drag you, dog."

"I've got rights!" Burgess bellowed.

"You go nothin', mutineer! Jack, why are we sparing this cur?" Briggs growled.

Jack laughed. "Why, he's going to be a right shining example," he said, grabbing Burgess by the collar and slamming the man's wounded shoulder into the bulkhead. Burgess howled in agony. "An example of what mutiny buys you on my ship."

Burgess stumbled forward, blinded by pain. The constant prod of pistol muzzles gave him plenty of incentive to keep walking.

"Josiah, I'm sorry." Jack said. "I doubted you, and I was wrong. I hope you can forgive me."

Briggs chuckled. "Jack, I've seen every one of your moods, or at least I thought I had. You care more for the Missus than you want to admit. But I think she got the message. Lord knows, the rest of did!"

Jack laughed. "Aye, Josiah. My hand is played."

"And I do forgive ye, Jack. But ye owe me a cask of rum!"

"Two casks, Josiah! All yours. And than you." Jack smiled.

They arrived at the ship's Surgery. Briggs opened the door and shoved Burgess through it. The mutineer stumbled to a bunk and sat down.

"Doctor," Jack said. "I'll need you to pack this man's wound, once I'm finished with him."

"Captain, the man's bleeding quite a bit! Shouldn't I patch him up now?"

"No. I have a question for him." Jack turned to Burgess, and walked towards him slowly. "A dozen men are dead because of your damned folly. Are there any more?"

"Wouldn't you like to know, captain mine?" taunted Burgess.

Jack slammed the butt of his pistol hard against Burgess' wounded shoulder, and used his other hand to grind it in. The prisoner tried not to cry out, but did despite his best efforts.

"ANSWER ME!! NOW!!" Jack bellowed slamming the pistol home once again. "ARE THERE ANY OTHERS?!! ANSWER ME, DAMN YOU!!"

Briggs stood back and coolly watched his Captain conduct the interrogation. He didn't have the stomach for the lengths Jack was willing to go to, but he admired Jack's ability to extract information.

Jack raised his pistol to strike again, and Burgess flinched hard. "No others!! They're all dead, save the boy! Every one! No more, please, no more!! Show mercy!! I forced Eli, I swear it! I forced him!!"

Jack Wolfe shoved his pistol back into his belt. "Doctor, you have a patient. I'd prefer he not go all toes up on us before sunrise. He has an appointment with the noose." He looked contemptuously at Burgess. "Ask God for mercy, you worthless son of a belch. I have none to give to the likes of you."

The surgeon went about cleaning and dressing Burgess' wound. "Hell of a job, keeping a man alive so he can be executed," he muttered. "Quit fidgeting! Or I'll kill you myself!"

After a few minutes, the doctor left his patient. "There! He'll live more than long enough for you to stretch his neck. He's released."

"Thank you, Doctor. Time to secure the prisoner, Josiah. To the bilges with him."

"Aye. No better holding place for shyte of his kind." Briggs agreed.

Minutes later, Burgess found himself chained in the bilges, awaiting his destiny with a length of hemp come sunrise.

Jack knocked softly at Honour's cabin door. "I'm here for the boy, Honour. Please open up."
Honour rose up and opened the door.
Jack stepped into the room. Honour stood there in his shirt, her hair in a braid but coming down in tendrils around her face. She had on boots and the hint of a sgian dubh in the shaft of the boot. Jack's shirt kept slipping off her shoulder. Self-consciously she hoisted it up.
A dark bruise was on her left cheek.
"On your feet, Meredith."
Eli couldn't meet Mad Jack's eyes. He kept his head down.
"Jack? May I speak to you in private?"
He nodded. He called up to the quarterdeck. "Briggs, I need you to watch the prisoner."

Jack led the way down to his cabin. He sat down in his chair and pushed the charts and maps aside. Reaching under the desk, he pulled a bottle of whiskey out.
"Can you use a drink, Honour?"
She said, "I've never needed one more than I do now, Jack."
He handed her a tankard and filled it generously.
Jack looked tired and worn out after the evening's attempted mutiny.
"Sit down, Honour."
She sat down. "Jack, what do you intend to do with Eli Meredith? The poor boy is scared to death."
"I know, but he was a mutineer."
"He was coerced into it."
Jack said, "Burgess told me as much. At least the stories are coinciding. I think I need to shackle him to the foremast until I decide what to do with him."
"Might I make a suggestion?"
"I'll listen to whatever you have to say. You proved your mettle when you shot Barton."
She shrugged. "Pure instinct."
He tried not to smile. "Well, you scared me to death, I must admit. So what is your suggestion?"
"I think all of us could use a decent night's sleep. Could you shackle him to a bed in Briggs' room? That way Briggs can get some rest, Eli Meredith won't be out in the elements and I won't be worrying about if he's getting wet or if he's comfortable."
"You have a soft spot for him?"
"I see one frightened young man caught in a situation he didn't know what to do. He has redemption, Jack. When we get to a port, I say give him coin and let him book a passage back to England. I daresay Eli Meredith will never set foot off solid ground again."

Jack nodded. "You are as smart as you are beautiful, Mrs. Wolfe."
She coloured at that. If it was the compliment or the name change, she didn't know.
Honour stood up and headed towards the door.
He raised an eyebrow. "Do you realize this is the first time we have spoken civilly to each other?"
Her hand was on the doorknob as she said over her shoulder, "Let's not get too used to it."

Jack placed his hand over hers. "Honour, please, do not be so quick to leave."

Honour searched his eyes, and released the doorknob.

"You're forgetting your whiskey," Jack smiled. He topped it of and handed Honour her glass. "To be honest, I rather enjoy quiet conversation with you."

Honour blushed as she sipped her whiskey. "Jack, since when did you become a romantic? Even if I were inclined to believe you, and I don't, I'd always be the third woman in your life after the sea and your ship."

The whiskey combined with fatigue hit Jack harder than he'd expected. He could see the weariness in Honour's eyes, as well.

"Perhaps it's best if we both turn in, love. We've a busy day ahead of us tomorrow. There's a bit of nastiness to take care of at sunrise. You might want to stay below until I send someone for you. But before you go, let us have a final toast, darling. To our prosperity."

They clinked glasses, and drank deeply. Honour smiled as the whiskey began to warm her bones. "Very well. I'll wait for your word. Good night, Jack."

"Pleasant dream, Honour. Until tomorrow." Jack watch as she left the great cabin and quietly closed the door.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:50:40 PM
Full of rum and the whiskey that Jack had generously filled a tankard with, Honour was feeling her way back to her cabin by holding onto the wall.
'Last time I ever party with two different kinds of spirits, ' she muttered to herself.
She knocked on her own cabin door and Briggs let her in.
"Briggs, how did THAT happen?"
"Sorry, Honour. He laid down and next thing I knew, he was snoring."

Honour looked over at the sleeping form of Eli Meredith. He was curled up in her bed on top of her covelet.
She gently brushed the hair of of his face and covered him with an extra quilt.
'Such a young kid,' she thought. Poor Eli was blackmailed into mutiny. He hadn't a clue on what he had been in for.
She turned to Briggs. "You're exhausted too, Briggs. I'll tell you what--I don't have the heart to wake Eli up so why not let him sleep here. We can lock the door from the inside and he can't get out. Besides, if he escaped, where is he going to go? I think Jack has his scared to death and he wouldn't dare try to spring Burgess. Not that he would anyways."
"You think that wise?"
"I'll take full responsibility for him, Briggs. You go back to your quarters. I would suggest you 'steal' a bottle of rum from Jack's secret cache--which is not so secret--and numb yourself into oblivion."
Briggs laughed lightly, "Like ye did, Miss Bright?"
She drew herself up and said, "He's in no better shape than I am, Briggs."
"Aye. Jack no doubt pounded the bottle pretty heavily himself. But if Eli is sleeping here, then where do you intend to sleep?"
She turned to hide her blush.
"I'll find a place."

Briggs took his leave. Honour looked at the sleeping lad. She tucked the blanket around him. She blew out the candle and locked the door.
Walking quietly down the companionway, she took her chances.
'What are you doing, Honour? Are you out of your mind?' she thought. But it was either that or sleep on the floor. And it was cold.

In his inebriated state, he left the door unlocked. She quietly slipped into the room.
The candle was almost burned down to the wick. She blew it out and kicked the whiskey bottle out of her way.
Crossing the room, she paused.
The moonlight cast its beams through the porthole, affording her just enough light to make out the sleeping form of her husband.
Funny, she thought. I never really think of him as my husband. After all, I never spent much time on the ship. Most of the time--a whole month--was spent in port in Barbados.

Jack was sprawled all over the bed. That figures, she thought. Even in his sleep, he's greedy!
She drew her chemise tighter around her, standing there trying to decide if it was worth it. The dampness from the floor was beginning to seep through to her bare feet.

She carefully drew the quilt back. Seems to be a very small space. If I can just lie quietly...I don't need to sleep. Just get some rest....

She slipped very quietly into the bed, pulling the covers up to her chin. All of a sudden, Jack rolled over and his arm fell across her body.

Oh, great! Trapped! She tried to slide down but she was pinned. She tried to lift his arm gently up but he seemed to grip a little tighter.

She sighed.
Oh, well.....may as well make the best of a bad situation. At least he is warm.
She snuggled closer.
After all, he's bound to roll over again...
It was her last thought before her eyes closed.

The mutiny had taken everything out of Jack. He had sat on the edge of his bed while the days events whirled like a cyclone in his mind. Twelve worthless crewmen dead, and a thirteenth to hang at dawn. He laughed out loud at that irony that would mark the end of Samuel Burgess. But his thoughts quickly turned to the ship. 6 dead in the encounter with the East Indiaman, and and now this. That left 21 of the 40 he'd left port with. They'd be all right, but there'd be not a hand to spare.

He took another deep drink from the bottle of whiskey, and the numbness he'd been looking for began to wash over him. He could finally relax. His wife and his ship were safe. His wife. How easy it had become to think of Honour as such, and not some necessary aggravation to endure and then abandon. As he relished the feel of more whiskey in his throat, he remembered when he first saw her that fateful day in Barbados. Wise beyond her years, and an untameable spitfire. Time had made her wiser, he thought, but her recklessness had become firey determination and independence. He couldn't help but admire her, but at the same time, there was something more than that at play.

He had finished off the last of the whiskey, and tried to carefully put the bottle down one one of the two sea chests beside the bed. To his wonder, the bottle became two, and both of them past through one of the chests and bounced in perfect unison on the decking. He pulled at his clothes and nearly got hopelessly tangled in his shirt, but managed to free himself. The bed threatened to duplicate itself before his eyes as the bottle had, so he fell onto it before it could finish. In moments, he was sound asleep. He never heard Honour slip into the cabin, and then into the bed beside him. But in his dreams, he was on the weather deck of his ship, holding Honour in his arms as they looked out to the horizon.


Before retiring for a well deserved night's sleep, Briggs had seen to it that the the bodies of the dead mutineers were collected and taken to the weather deck, and that the decks were cleaned. Once all the bodies were retrieved, the cooper set about weighting them with heavy scrap metal or chain shot. No canvas would be wasted on these dogs. They would be covered with a tarp until first light, when they would be dumped unceremoniously into the sea.

The bosun whistled a somber tune as he tied the noose Burgess would wear come morning.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:52:59 PM
The hours spun by as Jack and Honour lay together in sweet slumber's grace. The watch bell rung eight stokes, marking the start of the morning watch. Jack stirred from his slumber, knowing that his presence would soon be demanded on the quarter deck. His eyes fluttered open, and he breathed deep the morning air. He was befuddled at the scent of jasmine and that something extra, that something that spoke of a woman. That special scent of a woman that sends a man's head reeling. He stoked the pillow beside him, knowing quietly that Honour had lain with him through the night.

"Love, you needn't have slipped out so." Jack whispered. The first rays of morning light streamed through the cabin's gallery windows. He stretched, straining his aching muscles. He rose and pulled on a fresh shift of clothes, knowing full well the duty that lay before him.

Jack walked down the companionway, pausing at Honour's door. He rapped twice. "Honour, dear, I have a nasty bit of business to attend to. Please stay in your quarters until I send for you, if you please."

Within moments, he heard her reply. "Aye, I'll wait until you call, my husband."

He touched the door, wanting to open it and hold her in his arms. But the call of duty pulled him onward. As he reached the weather deck, he heard the last of the mutineer's bodies splash into the water. He cast his gaze forward to the foreyard, and saw his trusted friend Josiah with Samuel Burgess by his side. Young Mr. Meredith was in attendance as well, his hands and feet bound in shackles. The lad visibly trembled with fear, tears welling in his eyes. Jack laced his fingers behind his back as he walked at a mortuary pace toward the condemned man. He locked eyes with his friend Briggs, and nodded the signal that told Josiah to place the noose around Samuel Burgess' neck.

"Samuel Burgess! You are found guilty of inciting mutiny against this command and crew. You are hereby condemned to hang by the neck until dead, dead, dead."

"I have something to say!" cried Burgess. "I have a right to speak!"

"You have nothing, you scabrous dog! Say what you will to God, for my ears are deaf to you!" Jack spat. He took hold of the hemp rope that had been slung over the foreyard. Josiah took hold of the rope behind his captain. The bosun and three crewmen joined behind, taking a firm hold on the rough rope. Jack drew a full breath, and called to his men.

"Haul away! One and all!" With that command, Samuel Burgess was hauled 20 feet into the air by his neck. He kicked and struggled as his life was slowly strangled from him. Finally, his body twitched it's last, and he was dead.

"Tie that line off," Jack ordered. The bosun tied the hangman's line off to the foremast. "All of you! Look upon that man who hangs dead before your eyes! Look among you, and take note of the missing crew. They defied me, and are dead and gone! Pay heed to the lessons before you!"

He looked around the weather deck, and met every eye of his crew. "Gentlemen, you are dismissed" Jack said to his command crew. "And take the whelp below and chain him to a bed in the Infirmary. We'll make him someone else's problem when next we make port."

He looked out to the shoreline of Little Muelle Cay, and smiled.

"Oi! Drop anchor here! Ready the longboat! I'll bring up the chest to be loaded. Master Briggs, you have command. I have business ashore with my wife."

Jack went below, and rapped softly against Honour's door. "We've arrive at our destination, love. Time to produce the Sun key, darling."

He paused for a moment, and moved on to the great cabin to retrieve the chest, the Moon key, and the journal of Armand Lafourche.'Aye, I'll wait until you call, my husband.'

The words that escaped from her lips startled her as she heard them echo off the walls of the room. She walked over to the bookcase and removed the book of Japanese prints, removing the key from its hiding place. She turned it over a few times. It was spindly and of dark gold. She held it up to the light and examined it. Tapping it in her hand, she began to think back to that evening in Barbados.

It had been four months since that fateful night in Beaumaris, Wales. She had thrown things in a few duffel bags, saddled Taliesin and grabbed Muir her wolf-dog on her way out. As she kicked her heels hard into the white stallion's flanks, she galloped off into the woods under a blanket of darkness.
She only glanced back once at the manor house and what it contained.
Two dead men.

"Gentlemen? Lay your money down!"
She had been in the port of St Lawrence in Barbados for about a month. Working as a tavern wench, she also knew how to work her way with the gambling house. Sometimes dealing cards, sometimes even playing and coming out on top more often than not.

The words reverberated around the room. She jumped out of her seat and yelled hotly, "I am not! You just happen to be a poor player and worse loser! And I can think of a few other things you are probably terrible at!"
He hauled back and slapped her across the face.
She put her hand up to her cheek in shock. Recovering rapidly, she withdrew a ruby-inlaid bodice dagger from its sheath inside where she always kept it.
Quickly she pointed it at him and said, "You can either go with your face sliced vertically or horizontally. But I guarantee your nose will suffer."
Their faces were only a few inches apart. He sneered. Still looking in his eyes, she threw her dagger down.
And nailed his foot in his leather boot.

He let out a scream of pain and the house 'protector' was there in an instant. She said with disdain, "Take this detritus out of here and make sure he never comes back."
Within five seconds, the brigand was escorted out. Face first.

She walked over to the bar and poured herself an ale. Sitting down, she put the cool tankard to her cheek to keep the bruising down.
"Amos! Your sword, please."
The barkeep drew his sword and she took the blade to look at her face in the reflection of steel. Wonderful, she thought. It will be a honey of a bruise.
She heard soft laughter behind her. She turned and there he stood.
Captain Jack Wolfe.

She cooly said, "Think it was funny?"
"Not at all. I was just admiring your....spunk."
She closed her eyes against the pain and winced a bit.
"Let me see that," he said.
She gingerly took the tankard away from her face and he touched it.
"Aye! That renegade struck you fiercely, for sure!"
She said quietly, "Occupational hazard."
"You work here?"
"I don't exactly hang around here for my health."
"That ale won't help much with the pain."
He signalled to Amos.
"Whiskey. And keep it coming."
"I'm not sure of this..."
"Trust me."
"Your name, please. I don't drink with strangers."
"Captain Jack Wolfe of the El Lobo del Mar. Ported this morning."
She extended her hand and said, "Honour Bright. Tavern wench at your service."
He took her hand, kissed it and said, "Miss Bright, I do hope to see much more of you while I am in port..." 

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:57:26 PM
As Jack approached the great cabin, he noticed that the door was ajar. He silently cursed himself for not locking it before going topside. He drew the dagger from his belt, took a deep breath, and shoved the door open to confront the intruder.
There was his opponent, sitting leisurely in the middle of the room... taking a sunbath. Ship's cat "Little Puddin'" looked at the ship's master for a moment, and yawned. Jack laughed, enjoying the momentary respite from the day's burdens.
He fetched the golden chest from it's resting place and set it on the table. While it wasn't too heavy to lift and move, but carrying it through the jungle unaided was out of the question. He retrieved Lafourche's journal from the writing desk, then rummaged around in his sea chest until he found a tarry cloth pouch. Inside it was the Moon key.
When Jack turned back to the table, he found that Little Puddin' had abandoned his ray of sunlight for a perch on the ornate chest. The sleek gray cat pawed playfully at the pouch, his jade eyes glittering at the prospect of a new toy. Jack smiled and stroked Little Puddin's neck, and his thoughts drifted back to the events that set this long, strange trip into motion.

Jack Wolfe and his mate, Josiah Briggs, were in a Barbados tavern drinking to their latest good fortune; a fat Dutch merchantman loaded with calico and spice bound for St. Maarten. It was a pity that they'd had to burn her, but the VOC had agents everywhere looking for their "preemptively salvaged" vessels.

"YOU CHEATED!" boomed a drunken voice from behind them. The two men turned to see the loudmouthed sot squared off with a strikingly lovely young woman. She refused to back down even though he was head-and-shoulders taller, and she snarled a retort that they couldn't quite make out.

But the brute obviously did. He slapped her hard across the face, but she still defiantly stood her ground. Jack put down his cup, and stood to draw his pistol and intervene on her behalf. Josiah put a steadying hand on Jack's arm. "Careful, now, mate. Are ye sure ye want to be stepping in to this squall?" Briggs asked. Before Jack could respond, the drunk howled in pain. The patrons began cheering as he was escorted out of the tavern face first by two very large men. Jack's eyes were locked on the captivating spitfire as she walked to the bar.

"The storm seems to have passed, my friend. But I'd be remiss in me duties as a gentleman if I didn't pay my respects, yeah?"
Josiah laughed and topped off his captain's cup with rum. "Careful, now, Jack! She looks like more than a handful, even for you!"
Jack downed his drink. "Maybe you're right. I'll trust you to auction my effects before the mast," he smiled. And with that, he sauntered over and introduced himself to the lovely Honour Bright...
Honour gazed at Jack but there was pain in her eyes. The brute had struck her harder than she had thought.
She asked the handsome pirate, "Are you sure the whiskey will help better than the ale?"
He smiled disarmingly at her and said, "As sure as I am standing here, luv."
Amos set two shot-glasses in front of them.
"Keep the bottle here," he said to Amos and winked. Honour looked over at the card-table and sighed.
As her head was turned, Jack whispered to Amos, "And bring another bottle and keep it hidden."
Amos grinned and nodded.

She turned her attention back to Jack.
" just made port?"
"Just this morning. I need to do a little..unloading."
"Really! And what could that be?"
She cupped her chin in her hand and gazed up at him from under long lashes.
Before he could answer, Briggs came over and sat down. Jack scowled at him.
Briggs said, "Time to be leaving, Jack me boy..."
Jack turned his attention back to Honour and she gave him a dimpled smile.
"Not yet, Briggs. I'm occupied. I would be derelict in my duty if I didn't make sure this young lady was alright."
Briggs frowned and whispered, "She looks to be alright. She looks to be more than alright."
Jack said, "If ye want to play nursemaid, then head back to the ship."
Briggs turned and said out loud to no one, "That one be trouble with a capital T. Can see it in her eyes, I can..."
The tavern door slammed behind him.

Jack laughed, "That takes care of him!"
"He seemed a bit put out."
"Nay, luv, he just worries about me."
"He must have good reason. What did you say the name of your ship was again?"
"El Lobo del Mar."
She put her finger to her lips and with a quick intake of breath, said, "El Lobo del Mar? Why, she is a legend in these waters! None is said to outrun her!"
Jack beamed with pride. "Aye, that would be my ship, love."
She took a deep drink of the whiskey, reveling in the warmth going down. She was beginning to forget about the bruise on her cheek.

"My, my! " she said. "I hear bits and pieces of tavern gossip that echoes through this port. A Dutch merchant ship was overtaken a few days ago by--dare I say?--pirates. The Captain--what was his name again?--oh, yes! Pieter de Witt. He was at the magistrate's office filing a report for the VOC on the burning of his vessel, the Stad Utrecht. Seems he and his crew were set adrift in a skiff and were rescued three days later by Portuguese fishermen.
Jack gave her a wide grin and said, "I wouldn't know a thing. And besides, I was almost a completely innocent bystander."

Honour laughed and said, "That's good to hear! I wonder what booty the vessel was carrying."
Jack leaned forward and poured another whiskey for Honour and himself. "Oh, I imagine the usual. Calico. Spices. Coffee. Wine. And twenty-seven chests of gold and silver guilders."
"Tw-tw-twenty-seven chests of guilders?"
Honour was astonished. Jack lit a pipe and took a deep draw on it.
"Now, did I say THAT?" he grinned.
She laughed and said, "I'm sorry. No, I didn't hear that at all! My, it is getting awfully warm in here."
Jack smiled devilishly and said, "More whiskey, my dear?"
Jack poured another whiskey. "I daresay you are beginning to feel better already."
She raised an eyebrow and said, "Indeed. I feel just fine. In more ways than one."
She leaned closer to him and ran her finger up and down his arm and whispered in a husky voice, "And I daresay I am going to feel alot better very soon. VERY soon."

Jack began to melt into her irresistible allure. The heat of her breath on his ear as she spoke the words "VERY soon" made more than the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He looked her squarely in the eyes. "What be your aim in all of this, darling? I'm not some young seaman, ready to believe the enchanting words of a landlocked doxy with honey on her tongue and gold in her eyes. Tell me true; is it me, or is it the prize I carried in?"
Honour's face flushed crimson. "Jack Wolfe, you bastard!" she declared. "How dare you question my intentions! I may work the tables in a tavern, but I'd never come scraping after the likes of you!"
She stood her ground, her nose less than an inch from Jack's. Never dropping his gaze from her eyes, he cocked his head and grinned.
"Fair enough, darling. I believe you." His lips came dangerously close to hers. "Forgive me for being a cynic. Goes with the territory, as it were." He couldn't tear his gaze from hers. He was drawn in, unable to escape, unable to resist.
"You're still a bastard, Jack Wolfe." she whispered. "A dangerous, magnificent bastard." With that, their eyes closed, and their lips met in a passionate, searching kiss.
"There's one more thing ye need to be knowing, my darling," Jack exhaled, barely able to catch his breath. "I know of a treasure of unspeakable wealth, and I know where it lies... Are ye interested?"
Honour's eyes became ablaze with desire. "Aye!" she exclaimed. "Lead on!"

The next events swirled like an uncontrollable storm of passion. More drink, coins scattered on the bar, the heat of their passions growing ever wilder, the world fading away as Jack and Honour sought to become one.
The memories became a blur for Jack. There was the passion that went out of control in the tavern, being sent across the lane to the magistrate's office, and banging on his door until he answered. Both Jack and Honour imploring him that his services were needed straight away.

"Oi! Open up in there! You have a wedding to perform!" Jack howled. Honour clapped her had over his mouth. "Pssst! Who the hell would want to marry your sorry arse, ye stinkin' pyrate. Unless it be me, of course..."
The magistrate's door bolt clanked, and the door swung slowly open. The judge emerged from the shadows.
"The hour is late. What service may I provide you?" he scowled at the drunken pair.
"We wish to be married, your worship," Honour blurted. She looked at Jack, and elbowed him playfully in the ribs. They both dissolved into laughter.
The judge was nonplused. "Fine. we can do it right here. You, sir!  What is your name?"
Jack looked back at the priest blankly. "Um, John Michael Wolfe, your honourableness."
Honour got a case of the giggles. "You really haven't done this before, have you?" she snickered. The judge's patience was wearing thin.
"You!" he snapped. "What be your name?"
Panic overtook her. She searched the ether, and finally met the tired man's eyes.
"Honour Bright, your worship," she declared.
"Honour Bright?" echoed the judge. Jack offered a shrug.
"Then, by the power vested in me by the Crown of His Majesty, William III, I pronounce you... wait. You do have a ring to make this good and proper, right?"
Jack searched his frock frantically. Finally, he produced a gold trinket, and tried to attach it to Honour's blouse.
"You're sodding out of your gourd, ye stupid git!" she exclaimed. "What manner of wedding piece is this?!" She regarded the ungainly trinket of gold. It was an ugly thing; a disc of gold with arms reaching out.
Jack met her eyes. "Darling, I swear I'll get you an honest ring."

The ceremony. The vows. The kiss. Making love until they were both utterly exhausted. They fell asleep, still entangled in passion's embrace. Good God, what had they done?!

The sunbeams were starting to drift through the window in Honour's room above the tavern. She rolled over in her bed and absent-mindedly stretched out. She A body? She opened one eye and....whaaat?
A man? She peered over the sheet, seeing the back of...someone. Very fearfully she lifted up the sheet over her body. Her face flamed hot.

Then she looked down at the floor and saw a trail of clothes that led to the door. Except the order they were in, they were shed hastily on the way in, not out of the room. Next to her side of the bed was a puddle of silk. She kept looking from under the the body next to the discarded silk....back under the sheet and to the body again.
Honour tried to move as far as she could to the edge of the bed. She quietly leaned on her elbow, keeping the sheet up around her chin. Her head pounded from the whiskey and she rubbed her temples. The body rolled over and she looked upon the sleeping face.
It was the pirate from the tavern the night before.
Captain Jack Wolfe.

Bits and pieces of the night before started to reconnect in her mind. Alright, so this isn't like it is the first time I have had company in my bed, she thought. We'll just say it was great and nice to know you and if you're ever in port again.....
Inexplicably, she felt really good. Better than she should have. In spite of the fact that her head was pounding from too much whiskey.
She carefully wrapped a sheet around her and got up. As she passed the dresser, a piece of paper caught her eye.
She picked it up.
A marriage license.
Two names were on it.

John Michael Wolfe.
Honour Bright.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 04:58:45 PM
It felt suddenly chilly to Jack. Without opening his eyes, he reached for the bed sheet, only to find it missing. He opened one eye. 'Oh,' he thought. 'Women always do that sheet stealing thing. Time to face the music...'
He rolled over and felt the bed beside him. 'Hmmmmm. It's still warm,' he purred lustfully.

He opened his eyes to find a glowing yet perturbed young woman before him. She held a crumpled piece of paper in her hand. He smiled, and tried to shake his memory as to her name. "Good morning, my lovely!" he offered. "Don't tell me... You're name's Reneé! No, um, Rina! No, no, that's not it! Rhia..."
Her face was crimson with rage. "No, you idiot!! Read it! It's all there in official print!" she bellowed as she threw the crumpled document in his face. "And I'll ask you to never try and 'remember' that name again!"
He unfolded the document she'd so graciously presented him. 'Blah, blah, blah, Holy Matrimony, blah, blah, John Michael Wolfe and Honour Bright'. Jack looked at her suspiciously. "What kind of bloody name is 'Honour Bright'?"
She balled up the sheet and threw it at him. "It's my damned name, you oaf!" she hollered.

Jack pulled the sheet from about his head, and regarded her nude form standing fuming before him.
"Ah, well, that makes all the difference in the world, love! Why don't you bring your lovely self back into bed, and we can discuss things further, yeah? And I do recall your name, but 'Honour Bright' suits you somehow. That's good enough for me. So, what's it to be, darling wife? You, standing there, naked to the world yet somehow unappreciated? Or here in this nice, warm bed, fully appreciated by me?"

Honour thought for a moment, and all things being equal, Jack Wolfe wasn't that disgusting. In fact, he had a certain allure...
She got back into bed, and Jack threw the sheet back over them like a matador's cape. She climbed astride her unintended husband. "You'd better make this count, you bastard," she whispered, as she settled onto him.
"As always, darling," he replied. Their eyes locked, and they kissed deeply as yet another round of passionate lovemaking began.
When all was said and done, Honour laid back against the pillow trying to catch her breath from the ardent kisses.
Jack looked at her with smoldering dark eyes. She was both afraid and drawn by the fire they had stoked in each other.
She whispered, "You certainly don't give a woman a chance to think, do you, Jack?"
He laughed throatily, "Faint heart never won fair lady, yeah?"
She looked at him warily, "Where do you get the 'lady' idea, pirate?"
He chuckled, "Woman, I have been savvy to the ways and means of both doxies and damsels. And you, my dear, are no mere tavern wench."
She turned away and murmured, "You are mistaken."
He put his finger under her chin and turned her head so she couldn't tear her eyes away from him.
"I think not. You have all your teeth. They are white. You don't jump on your food and drink like you shall never see another morsel or another tankard again. Your dialect, Welsh though it may be, belies an educated gentry. You stood up for yourself against that brute yet not in a slatternly way. But as one with smarts and wits."
She jerked his hand away and said, "You are mistaken. My mother was a housemaid and my father was a stablehand. I am the result of too much ale and moonlight. Father was long gone by the time of my birth. Mother died when I was a child. I was raised in an orphanage. End of story."
Jack regarded her thoughtfully. "Aye. If you say so, wife. Wife! Ye gads! I now have one."
"You never had one before?"
He laughed. "Never got caught before. luv. You?"
She looked away and pulled the sheet around her. "No."
He looked askance at her. She's lying, he thought but decided to let it go.

Jack stood up and reached for his clothes. He pulled the shirt over his head. Ripped. Damn!
As he put his boots on, he looked over at the woman who was now his dearly beloved. Her arms stretched over her head, the sheets swirling around her. Her hair laid in a tangle around her shoulders and her eyes reflected some sort of dreamy afterglow.
He gave her a grin and she put her hand up.
"Oh, no, you don't!"
He laughed and took her in his arms, giving her a passionate kiss. Then he headed towards the door.
She said indignantly, "And where do you think you are going?"
"Back to my ship."
She took the marriage license and threw it in his face again.
"Guess again. You think you can just...just....just....and then LEAVE?"
Jack shrugged. "Never been an issue before."
She said darkly, "You've never come up against Honour Bright."
He retorted, "And you have never tangled with Captain Jack Wolfe, doxy!"

She jumped out of bed, the sheet tangled around her. She raised her hand to slap him and he caught her by the wrist. With the other hand, he reached over and whipped the sheet away from her. She glared. Their eyes met and suddenly they were right back where they started again.

As she succumbed to the depths of their passion, she whispered huskily in his ear, "So, tell me about this treasure...."
Honour's touch was like a narcotic for Jack. Every scent, every taste effected him like never before.
"Hmmmmmm? The what?" he asked as he nuzzled her neck.
"The treasure, lover. The one you were going to tell me about. Remember?" she purred. She slipped her hands around his neck and dropped his frock coat off his shoulders. Her hands moved to his belt, and with one deft tug, it fell to the floor.
Jack chuckled softly. "You want to know about the treasure I've been chasing?" he whispered in her ear. "You know those chests of guilders I brought in? They might as well be sailcloth in comparison."
His waistcoat fell next.
Honour's brilliant blue eyes widened. "That's right, darling. Imagine a chest of solid gold, containing the wealth of a lost people. And I'm going to retrieve it. So, might I interest you in coming along for the ride, dear wife of mine?"
He felt her hands rake upward along his back, and his already torn shirt ripped the rest of the way through.

Honour's eyes narrowed in a feral, intensely sexual way as she slipped back into bed. Jack's eyes drank in her beauty as she lay before him.

"The boots are mine, lover. I'll trust you know how to shed those trews and find your way into bed with me," she called, like a Siren.
He could only hope to fill her every desire, and she, his...
She slowly woke up, the twilighted dusk fading the shadows from the walls.
"Jack? Jack?" she whispered. He was sound asleep.
She sighed and reached over for a blanket. Wrapping herself in it, she lit a candle that was on the dresser. The shadows immediately came to life.
She walked over to the wash basin and pitcher and filled it. Reaching into the drawer, she found a bar of soap and washed up. She peered into the mirror on the washstand. She looked closely at her face. A blush was on her cheeks. She brushed her hair and yawned.

She poured herself a glass of wine and sat in the chair, staring at her bed. She could scarcely believe nor comprehend the enormity of what she had done the previous night before.
She was a tavern wench yesterday. Today the bride of a pirate. She shook her head as if to clear it and achieve an understanding.
On the dresser was a brass object. She picked it up and examined it. This was a key. Jack had tried to pin it on her as a sign of their pledge to each other.
Like it would take the place of a gold ring.
She opened the drawer and threw it in. Worthless piece of metal! And ugly.

She drew the blanket around her and tucked her legs up under her. What a shock to wake up and find herself married. She looked over at her new husband sleeping in her bed.
A wave of guilt swept over her. She felt disloyal to the memory of the only man she swore she would ever love. She ran her fingers through her hair, deep in thought.

Spying the marriage license that was crumpled on the floor, she bent to pick it up. Smoothing it out, she looked at it. It certainly looked legal. She hardly remembered filling it out. Damn whiskey!
The date was right. That early, early morning.
John Michael Wolfe.
Honour Bright.

Suddenly it occurred to her. The name.
Honour Bright.
She hardly knew the man who was now her husband. The only thing that she knew at this point was his name and his ship. Not where he was from. Not even his age. She did know one thing. He could really hold his whiskey. And he was good in....
She pushed that thought out of her mind. That doesn't count. Not really.
She sat back and closed her eyes. A thought occurred to her and a smile came to her lips. A loophole in case she should need it.
Because when it all came down to it...
Who was Honour Bright?

She slipped back into bed to get some sleep. Shivering, she curled up next to the warm body in her bed.
As he woke and reached for her once more, she put her hand on his chest and whispered.
"Not again. Not till you tell me about this treasure."
Jack redirected his hand from the curve of Honour's hip to tenderness of her face. "Fair enough, darling. Here's the full truth about the treasure I'm after. On the island of Isle Muelle, there dwelt a people called the Kala'anok. They built a glorious civilization until the Spanish came along and drove them out. They encapsulated their entire wealth into a golden chest, and devised a mechanism that prevented the Spanish from opening the chest unless they had both he knowledge and the key to reveal it's secrets. Kind Ferdinand's hordes never sussed out the solution, but the gentleman I seek, Armand Lafourche, did. The chest is in my possession, and in the next few weeks, I'll have Lafourche's journal. Then, we'll both be rich beyond our wildest dreams. So, what say you, dear wife? What else would you like to know?"
She bit her lip in concentration.
"It seems a little far-fetched. I mean, a journal? Why doesn't this Armand LaFork-"
"Whatever. Why doesn't HE go for the treasure himself?"
Jack laughed as he buried his face in her neck and traveled downwards. Honour pulled his face up to look in her eyes.
She repeated, "Why is HE not the one to go for it himself?"
"Because he is as crazy as a loon."
"You're kidding?"
Jack laid back and folded his hands behind his head. "I kid you not. He had the journal bound in human flesh."
Honour covered her mouth with her hands and fought back nauseousness.
"Hu--human flesh?"
"I told you he was crazy. Anyway, I found out where he is. In Antiqua. So I am sailing to Tobago to talk to the head of my smuggling operations and then on to find Armand LaFourche and buy the journal from him."
"But what if he wants to split the treasure with you instead of selling the book outright?"
Jack chuckled as he caressed her skin. "Now, darling, he is not to know I have the chest. I am telling him I am looking for it. He will want a king's ransom if he suspects otherwise. And speaking of chests...."
Honour jumped out of bed and dragged the sheet with her.
He sighed and propped himself up on his elbow. "You know, that sheet does absolutely nothing for you, love."
She opened the dresser drawer and pulled out the brass key.
"Is this the key?"
Jack shook his head. "No, it is one that I have under lock and key on El Lobo del Mar. That is just a trinket that I picked up in St. Maarten. It was thrown in a chest with some...."
He shrugged. "It was a little different. I was going to trade it for an ale. Why spend the guilders if I don't have to? A smithy could melt it down and use it to fashion another key."
She held it up to the candlelight.
"Ugly thing, isn't it?" he said.
She looked at it carefully. "It's all spiky and scratchy looking with a hideous face on it. Looks like an Aztec sun."
She threw it back into the drawer. "And that--THAT!--is what you decided was your token of 'the holy bonds of matrimony?' An ugly piece of brass that is all tarnished."

Jack smiled at her and patted the place in bed next to him. She ignored him.
"Ah, such a petulant look, my sweet. I swear upon my sainted mother's grave that I shall have a gold ring slipped on your finger before the end of the week. I just need to sort through some Spanish treasure on my ship and--"
She drew the sheet around her tighter. "You intend to give me...leftovers? From your ill-gotten gain?"
Jack couldn't help but laugh. "Consider it my salary from my job. I swear, there is this lovely one with three emeralds--"
"Emeralds? How did you know that emeralds are my favored gem?"
"A wild guess."
She murmured, "It is almost as if you can see straight to my soul, Jack Wolfe. As if my every thought was there exposed..."
He raised his eyebrow, laughing low. He got out of bed and swept her in his arms.
"And are you ready for a sail upon El Lobo del Mar? As I said, I need to meet with Cade Jennings in Tobago. He is there setting up another smuggling operation and then he will return to Barbados. A good sort, I think you will like him. And, dear wife of mine, think of it as a honeymoon cruise. Combining business with pleasure, yeah?"

She thought of her job as tavern wench and the prospect for excitement. However long they loved. Love, she wondered. Hardly. But there was something of a draw...
She hadn't felt that way since that day two years ago.

Suddenly she thought of those twenty-seven chests of gold and silver guilders and what they were worth.
And what she may be entitled to as Captain Jack Wolfe's wife.
She wrapped her arms around him and whispered, "I heard Tobago IS lovely this time of year..." and backed him up against the wall.
She looked at him and asked, "How old are you, Jack?"
"Thirty-four. And you?"
She laughed and said, "I turned nineteen in April."
Jack's head hit the wall with a thud.
He started laughing and couldn't stop.
"What is so funny?" she asked.
He thought of what Briggs would say. 'Cradle robber' would be the kindest thing.
"Nothing, my sweet. Nothing at all. Now...where were we?....."
Their passions satisfied for the time being, it was time for them to address another shared need - hunger. The afternoon sun shone down from a crystal clear sky as Honour and Jack emerged from the Inn. As they walked arm-in-arm down the street, Honour began fidgeting with her dress.
"What's wrong, darling? Need to go back upstairs? I'm sure our room's still available," Jack teased.
Honour shot him an exasperated look. "What are you, a pirate, or a rabbit? And I thought you knew your way around a corset," she laughed. She finally managed to get her clothing adjusted, and she noticed Jack smiling at her.
"I never claimed knowledge of how they go on, love," he smiled. "Come along, now. We have a ship to attend to!"
"I thought we were going for something to eat?"
"What better place to eat than where the cook works for me? Besides, I have a few people I'd like you to meet."
"Jack, I'm not sure..."
"Oh, pish-tosh, darling. It'll be fun! And I can't wait to show you off," Jack beamed. He took Honour gently by the hand, and they continued onward to the waterfront.

At the entrance to the docks, Jack spotted Briggs giving orders to some of the men bringing supplies to the ship. "Mr. Briggs! A moment of your time, if you please!" he called. Briggs quickly finished talking to the dockworkers began walking towards Honour and Jack. His pace slowed as he recognized the lovely young woman on Jack's arm, but not the odd smile on Jack's face.
"Josiah! Come here, my friend! You remember..." Jack began.
"Aye! The feisty lass from the pub last night. So good to see you again." Briggs interrupted. "Umm, Cap'n, the men are still fittin' out the ship. I take it they get another night ashore, as per..." he nodded in Honour's direction, "... the usual arrangement?"
Honour's face flushed red, but not with embarrassment. "How dare you!" she started.
"Mr. Briggs! Hold your tongue for two moments and allow me to introduce to you Mrs. Honour Wolfe!"

Briggs looked as if he'd been slapped. "You mean... you... and she..." He pulled off his hat and began wringing it like a rag. "Oh, sweet mother's love. I knew I shouldn't have left that pub! Uh, beggin' your pardon, ma'am. Mrs. Cap'n. I, ah..."
Briggs blinked. "Aye, sir?"
"Go. Ship. Now. Quickly."
Briggs nearly fell twice in his haste to extract himself from his pit of faux pas.
Jack smiled sheepishly at his fuming bride. "That went relatively well, don't you think?"

Honour turned to Jack, two bright spots of red on her cheeks that spread down to her neck and beyond.
"You think that went 'well'? My God, Jack! What is he like when he is perturbed?"
Jack slipped his arm around her waist and drew her to him. As he kissed her neck, he whispered, "Forget about Briggs for now, love. He's just a bit--startled--by the news. But I can tell he's happy for me. Us."
She pulled away and frowned. "Oh, I'd say he's beside himself."
Jack laughed. "Yes, well, Briggs will come around. Now..let me show you the captain's quarters."
She gave him a smile and said, "Yes, well, don't get any ideas. I am starving. For food. I haven't eaten since last night."
With a wicked grin, she added, "And I've burned up quite a few calories."

Jack opened the door to the cabin. As Honour attempted to walk through the door, Jack grabbed her around the waist and said, "Oh, no you don't! I do believe it is my duty to carry you over the threshold, as it were."
She put her arms around him and kissed him as he lifted her up.
Behind them, they heard a slight choking noise. Jack turned around and said, "Briggs! What are you doing here?"
Briggs' face coloured. "I need to discuss a few things with ye, Captain."
Jack sighed and said, "Very well. Let me get the bride situated and then I shall be there."

He set Honour down and she took in the captain's quarters. The great cabin was spacious, about 25 feet wide and 12 feet deep. There was a large bed to starboard. The coverlet looked to be of a soft silk. Her eyebrow raised as she detected a woman's touch in the surroundings. Could it be that Jack had 'previous company' that was a little deeper relationship?
A 6' oak dining/meeting table was in the middle of the space. To the side was a 3' wide desk, messy with charts and instruments. On the forward bulkhead there was a huge bookcase, stuffed with literature, maps, and charts. Two evenly spaced oil lamps hung from the overhead. Plenty of shuttered windows to provide light most of the time, whatever direction the ship was heading.
Jack took her hand and kissed it. "I shall not be long. Just long enough to get Briggs straightened."
"You mean straightened out?"
Jack laughed and said, "Whatever!"
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:00:16 PM
He headed up to the quarterdeck where Briggs was standing at the rail looking off into the horizon. Jack leaned against the rail and crossed his arms.
"So, Josiah, are you not going to congratulate me on my nuptials?"
Briggs blasted, "Jack, what was in your head? Were ye so full of whiskey that ye weren't thinking?"
Jack's face turned a bit red as he said, "You want to know the truth, Josiah? She wouldn't!"
Jack said, "She said we had to be married first."
Josiah looked dumbfounded. "A tavern wench that was a VIRGIN?"
At that Jack was a bit uncomfortable. " guess she wasn't after all. But she was serious and said she wouldn't until we were properly wed. So...I wed her."
"You married her. You married a wench just to bed her? JACK WOLFE? Just who was doin' the seducing, Captain? Her? Or you? Because what it is looking like, is that ye were roped in."
"Well, I wouldn't exactly say that...."
Josiah said darkly, "I should have stayed with ye, I should have. I saw the looks between ye. Just how much whiskey did ye drink, Jack?"
"Well, I think I quit counting after the third bottle..."
Briggs retorted, "I hope that little bit o' heaven on earth was worth it, Jack."
"What do you mean?"
Josiah said hotly, "I mean to say is she worth all that booty we took from the Dutch merchant ship? dangnubbit, Jack! Twenty-seven chests of guilders..."
"Maybe she just wants the calico..." Jack interjected.
Josiah slammed his fist down on the rail. "If ye were a doxy, would ye want calico or guilders?"
Jack's jaw tightened as he said in a low voice, "Choose your words carefully, Mr. Briggs..."
"Think, Jack! THINK! Can ye buy guilders with calico? Because if ye had guilders, ye can buy all the calico ye want!"
"Well, somehow I can't see Honour wearing calico..."
Josiah added, "And the guilders may be the lesser of your troubles."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean to tell ye, that as yer dearly beloved, she may now be entitled to a share of the booty we take from here on out!"
"She wouldn't do that..."
Josiah walked off but flung over his shoulder, "I'd put that crate under lock and key. And never--EVER--tell your glowing bride about it."

Too late.

"Josiah, you worry overmuch." Jack pandered. "There's more than enough baubles and nonesuch in my cabin to keep her from a crate marked 'Sundries'. I'd wager she's more interested in my desk than some ordinary box."
"Aye, Jack," Briggs sighed. Josiah felt in his bones that Jack was making a grave mistake, but he'd not buck his captain and friend.
Jack drank in the salt air, and felt renewed by it.
"Josiah," he spoke in a low voice. "I will thank you to address my bride with the proper respects she's due from here on out. I've not disclosed one bit of information what would make her wise to the Ancient's treasure."

Jack sighed heavily and turned toward his friend. "I'm not a young man anymore. I've well breached thirty, and you know what that means for a man like myself. Settling down, perhaps, should the Account prove too taxing. Death, should I be too slow. What fate awaits, me, Josiah?"
Briggs' eyes darkened. "You, Captain Jack Wolfe," Briggs announced, "are the commander of this ship and crew! Aye, we've been friends for nigh on 20 years. And this is the first time I've heard you ever express doubt in your abilities. Where be your head, Captain, mine? Are ye a captain of men, or a lubbard husband?"

Briggs' words hit Jack like an avalanche. Jack caught his breath, and snapped his eyes open.
"Mister Briggs, you will never address me in such a fashion again! I am your captain, and will be for the foreseeable future! Aye, we've been friends for many, many years. But I'll be damned should you tell me which way my heart should turn! Honour touches me like none other, Josiah. I wish you could understand. But that's the extent of what I'll explain of myself.
Jack drew a ragged breath.
"Now, see to the crew. We're setting sail for Tobago come first light. I want to know how Jennings is coming along with the smuggling operation there. And let me know should we sight prize sail. I'd like a prize or two before we finish the next four day's travel."

Jack went below without waiting for acknowledgment from Briggs. He reached the door to his cabin, and hesitated. "What are ye doin', Jack?" he thought. He shook his head hard, and shrugged off Briggs' warnings.
He knocked twice, turned the knob and opened the door. Honour was sitting on the bed, with a curious look on her face.
"Is everything all right, Jack?" she queried.
"We're headed for Tobago, my darling. We'll set sail come the morning. If we're lucky we'll take a prize or two before we make landfall at my nest. For now, settle back. My crew are at your beck and call."
Jack sat on the bed beside her. "I've sent for food. Roast piglet and potatoes. We should have it within the next hour or so. May I get you something to drink?"
Honour stood up quickly, just about knocking Jack off the bed. "Set sail? In the morning? I can't! I have to go back to my job as tavern wench. And I have no clothes with me. I left them in my room."
Jack said, "No, you don't. You're Mrs. Jack Wolfe now, you don't have to do anything about that tavern wench job. And as far as clothes...."
Jack walked over to the armoire and opened it. "There are plenty of clothes in here for you."
Honour's face turned red and she walked over to the armoire.
"Are you out of your mind?"
Jack looked surprised. "Is there a problem?"
"Problem. You want to know if there is a problem?"
She grabbed a dress and threw it on his head. He swatted at the silk that swirled around his shoulders.
Her face flamed. "You expect me to wear a dress that belonged to one of your--your----your--"
Jack ripped the silk away from his face and said, "Friends of the female persuasion?"
"More like one of the strumpets for hire! Look at this dress! Cheap! And the smell! Roses? And cheap ones at that! And this one!"
She picked up one in a hideous purple. "She must have been eating without the use of any utensils!"
She shook the dress at him. "Besides her lack of taste, she dribbled food on this one."

Jack was taken back. "Hell, it's only clothes..."
She crossed her arms and said, "I refuse to wear any dress that belonged to another woman. Particularly one who..."
"Pretty uppity for a tavern wench, aren't you, love?"
She clammed up. No need for him to know what her background really was. It would only lead to questions.
Questions that she did not want to answer.
He put his arms around her and nuzzled her neck.
"And what would you REALLY like, my love? We have an hour before the roasted pig and I---"
"I want to go shopping."
"Shopping. If I have to go to Tobago, I need new clothes. And there are a few things I want to pick up in my room."
"I'll go with you then."
She kissed him and said, "Now, darling, you would just be bored out of your mind waiting for me to shop. I'll be back within the hour. The shopkeepers know my size."
"A tavern wench? How would they know your size unless you frequented them."
She felt her face getting red. "Well, some of them come into the tavern with their husbands. They have taken a liking to me. And being of a smaller size, they used me for their 'model' to try the dresses on."
She looked at him, hoping he bought the lie.
He sighed and said, "How much do you need?"
She mentioned a modest sum. Jack gave her double and said, "Buy what your heart desires, luv. Meanwhile, I shall look through the booty for that ring with three emeralds I promised."
She gave him a deep kiss and then smiled. "I shall be back with an hour. Then I shall be ravenous!"
She gave him a grin but closed the door before he could detain her further.

As she walked through the ship, she felt someone's eyes on her. She turned in time to see Briggs hurriedly looking back over the deck. His face was grim.
Oh, well. Let Jack deal with him.
Honour walked into the tavern. Amos looked up.
"This is a relief! After all that whiskey you consumed with that pirate, I was going to have the boys search the harbour for your body if you didn't show up! What the HELL have you been up to?"
Honour sat down and sighed. "It's a long story, Amos. But I think I shall be taking a leave of absence."
Amos exclaimed, "Just like THAT? No notice? You can't be serious. All the vagabonds and rogues who traipse through that door always ask for you. You'd better have a good reason for leaving me high and dry, dearie."
She held out her hand.
Amos frowned. "At what?"
"OH! Well, there's supposed to be a ring there."
"I got married last night."
"Married. YOU??" Amos stumbled over the words.
She raised her eyebrow and retorted, "Is it that incredible that someone wanted to marry me?"
"No. Just never expected you to end up with Captain 'Mad' Jack Wolfe, of all people."

It was Honour's turn to be surprised. "You know him?"
"Know him? Everyone knows him! He's a legend in the Caribbean. Rumoured to front alot of the smuggling operation and black market trade in these waters from a remote location. Some say St. Maarten, some say Antigua. Trinidad...Tobago..."
Honour cupped her chin in her hand. "You don't say. And now I am Mrs. Captain Jack Wolfe. How about that!"

Amos poured her a tankard and one for himself. "And I imagine you are the first to tame him, too. How did you do it?"
She smiled mostly to herself and said to Amos, "Let's just say I had something that he wanted."

She went upstairs to her room and picked up a duffelbag. Peering inside, she saw a fortune in jewelry and coin. The same with the second bag. She then went to her armoire and pulled out armfuls of dresses and gowns.
She threw them on the bed and then began folding them carefully in several trunks. Crimson velvets and azure silks. Vibrant greens and yellows. Into three trunks they went. She sat on two of them to close them.
Keeping the third one open, she emptied the dresser drawers. In back of the top drawer she found the brass key. She looked at it closely. It looked like a rendition of the Aztec Sun god Huitzilopochtli.
She hefted it in her hand. A bit on the heavy trade it in on that gold ring with the three emeralds.
She put the key in her pocket and continued to pack.

When she was finished, she went downstairs and over the bannister, she called, "Amos? May I borrow Lucas for about an hour?"
Amos came over to the stairs and said, "I guess so. What for, though?"
"I'd like to have him deliver these three trunks to El Lobo del Mar. My husband--didn't think I would ever utter those words again!--and I are sailing for a bit. Think of it as my honeymoon, Amos."

Honour took one last look around the room. She had buried the two duffel bags deep in the bottom of one trunk and covered it with a black velvet cloak. Lucas came to the room and said, "Amos said ye be leavin' us, little lassie. I shall sorely miss ye."
She gave him a hug and said, "As I shall miss you, Lucas. But you never know what happens in this life. You take what you can when you can and move on."
He grinned and said, " 'eard ye bagged a big one, Missy. Ye be Mrs. Captain Jack Wolfe, ye be!"
She looked under the bed one last time and pulled out a pair of boots. Wonder who they belong to?
She shrugged and handed them to Lucas.
"Here, Lucas. Wear them in good health!"

She walked downstairs and Amos stood there with a woebegone look on his face. He faltered a bit as he said, "I am going to be missing you, wench. A lot of good times here."
She gave him a hug and said, "Don't look so sad, Amos. I shall be back for plenty of visits. I may even someday buy a sugar plantation here."
"To raise little pirates?"
"Perish the thought, Amos! Perish the thought!"
She opened the door and headed back to the ship.

And wondered what awaited her in Tobago.

Jack emerged on the weather deck with his arms full of the dresses Honour refused to consider wearing. He was humming a tune as Briggs approached him.
"Cap'n, your wife went ashore a few minutes ago, in a bit of a hurry, if you catch my meaning. And what's all this ye be bringin' topside?"
Jack's eyes narrow as he thrust the bundle into Josiah's arms. "She's gone shopping, you git. Honestly, Josiah. The more I try to teach you about women, the less you remember. Backslide much more, and you'll be a right ready candidate for the Royal Navy."

Briggs spat out a bit of lace that found it's way into his mouth, and he stuffed the dresses into a barrel. "Jack, you trust this woman, having known her naught but a single night? You're the most distrustful, suspicious man I know? What were they serving last night, absinthe?"

Jack turned to face his first mate, with weary eyes. "Josiah, must we go through this same tired exercise every time we meet? Honour is my wife, and she will have every respect commensurate of her station. So tell me true, old friend of mine. Can you accept this fact, or not? There are plenty of ships coming and going from this lovely harbour. Care to sign on with one of them?"
Briggs brow furrowed. "Of course not, Cap'n. I should be happy for ye, after all these years, and all those lovely... well, you know."
"More for the rest of the men. At least now, they have an honest chance," Jack laughed. "So, where are the plans Jennings' provided for the new operation in Tobago?"
"Are ye still serious about setting up a smuggling hive on the Spaniard's doorstep?"
"Briggs, think about it! Aye, the Spanish Empire is expanding like mad. But economically, they're overextended. Their far-flung outposts need the goods we can provide. If we control the choke point of the "Galleon's Passage" between Trinidad and Martinique, we have the pick of all the major traffic to and from the Spanish Main, which we can provide to the good citizens of Trinidad for a considerable profit. With Spain back on their heels, it's our time to strike. You know as well as I that Jennings can move goods and slaves better than most, and for a good profit. Now, where be those plans?"

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:02:20 PM
Honour reached the docks, Lucas in tow with two other men carrying her trunks.
"Missy, which ship is the one?"
She pointed to the largest one. "That one there. El Lobo del Mar."
She reached down and petted her companion since she was a young girl. "Muir, look! Are you ready for an adventure?"
The wolf-dog barked and she laughed.
"Alright. I get to introduce you to Jack. And you had better be on your best behaviour or I shall leave you with Amos. Not that you wouldn't mind. He spoils you rotten anyways."

Honour walked across the gangplank, the three men following her. As she led them down the companionway and towards the captain's Great Cabin, she paused. She heard voices.
All of a sudden, Honour felt out of place. Like a guest on her husband's ship. Quietly she knocked on the door.
"Come in."
She opened it and saw Jack and Briggs poring over huge sheets of papers and maps. Briggs looked up, his finger still on the map and pointing to a spit of land.
" if we come in on this side, we can..."
Jack had left Briggs in mid-thought as he crossed over to Honour, putting his arms around her and kissing her.
"*AHEM* Briggs was clearly annoyed. Jack looked over his shoulder and said, "Hold that thought, Josiah."
To Honour he asked, "Did you get everything you need?"
She smiled and said, "I surely did. I picked up only a few things and the seamstress had some dresses she had used as samples that fit me perfectly so I struck a good bargain with her."
She did not want to reveal she had the dresses from her previous marriage. And if she had her way, Jack would never know about the past. Or who she really was.
A tavern wench named Honour Bright suited her just fine.

She disengaged herself from his embrace and said quietly, "I think your Mr. Briggs is eager to get back to your maps. I'll just unpack."
She turned to Lucas and paid him in coins.
"Thank you, Lucas. And thanks to Sam and Henry for helping."
Lucas gave her a grin and tipped his hat. "Aye, Missy. Barbados just ain't gonna be the same without ye."
After they had left, she opened the trunk and then opened the chest drawers. Jack's things were already in there. She asked, "Dear, are you using these drawers?"
He smiled up at her and said, "Not at all. Just move my things over there."
Briggs was incredulous. No one was ever allowed to touch anything that belonged to Captain Jack Wolfe.

Briggs said tightly, "Now, as I was saying, Jack---this harbor is shielded on this side by----"
"Honour, darling, do you have enough space?"
She said, "I think so."
She walked over to the armoire and flung open the doors. Opening up one trunk, she began to shake out the clothes and hang them up. Jack watched her.
"CAPTAIN!" he said forcefully. Jack tore his eyes away from his wife.
"Oh! Sorry, Briggs. Where were we?"
"As I said BEFORE WE WERE INTERRUPTED, is that the harbour is secluded enough for Cade Jennings to--"
"Honour? Did you get anything to eat in port?"
She shook her head no. "I wanted to eat dinner with you."
He reached over to the wine rack. "I have a nice Madeira here for dinner and---"
Josiah rolled up the maps and forcefully picked up the plans. "Another time, perhaps, Captain."

Briggs slammed the door as he walked out. All he heard as the door closed was Jack whispering and a woman's soft laughter.
Josiah stomped back to his quarters, maps and plans under his arm and breathing fire.
'Damn, Captain Jack Wolfe. She's done bewitched you, she has.'
Briggs was fit to be tied as he closed the door to his cabin. "Damn it all," he muttered. "An operation this important, and he couldn't care less about the sodding details. Bewitched for certain, he is.
Briggs was used to Jack's exasperating style of playing things fast and loose to the end, but never like this. He looked at the stack of charts on his desk and sighed heavily. Reaching into his sea chest, he pulled out an onion bottle filled with rum and set about settling his nerves.

Jack poured the Madeira as Honour began putting away her things. "Briggs seemed mightily angry with you, Jack. I interrupted an important meeting, didn't I?" she asked.

He smiled and served Honour her drink. "No, darling. I interrupted a briefing Josiah's been sweating over. He'll get over it."
"What was it about, if you don't mind my asking?"
"No, not at all! We are in the process of setting up the most elaborate smuggling operation ever seen. And we're going to do it right under the Spanish Empire's nose."
Honour nearly choked on her wine. "You- you're going to what?!"
"It's really quite simple, as I've tried to convince Josiah four times already. The Spanish have spread themselves far too thin to even feed or protect their colonies. Trinidad is a prime example. We establish a base on Tobago, since Spain can't even be bothered to establish a garrison there. There's a cove called Castara I rather fancy. We make our services known to the right people. The good citizens of Trinidad come to our base and buy our goods at a reduced price, and it's their problem as to how to get it back home past all the Queen's men."
Honour sipped her wine as she listened intently.
"And just how are you planning to obtain the goods to sell to the fine colonists of Trinidad?"

Jack smiled slyly. "It's a big ocean, love. And lots of shipping traffic on the Galleon's Run between Tobago and Barbados. I'm sure we'll find something."
Honour's eyes widened. "Jack, you don't expect to do any piracy when we are on our honeymoon cruise to Tobago, do you?"
"Certainly not!" he lied.
"That's good. I've seen enough of piracy and what it can do to a man to last a lifetime."
"How so?" he said in reply.
She didn't want to tell him the whole sordid business of what transpired two years previously. It was in the past. Best to leave it there. A memory to take out and wrap yourself around when the nights are long and cold. She hoped that a life with Jack would erase the memory. Or at least dull the pain of a memory pushed far down.

She took a deep breath and forged ahead. "Working in a tavern in a port town in Barbados, I have seen men in search of fortune and what it can do to them. A fortune found, a fortune lost with the toss of the dice or the turn of a card."
Jack poured her another glass of Madeira. "Love, I know what I am doing. After all, I have those twenty-seven chests of guilders. And that is just one encounter."
Before she could protest, there was a knock at the door. Jack crossed the room to answer. The cook, a man named Jameson, came in with a tray, setting it on the desk. On it was a roast piglet with potatoes and greens.
"Thank you and that will be all, Jameson."
Jameson barely glanced at Honour. After all, what was one more doxy? She wasn't the first overnight guest the Captain had. And wouldn't be the last. This one was really young, though. Not rode-hard like most of the wharf trollops. He touched his fingers to his cap and backed out.
Honour sat back on the bed. She had changed into a deep crimson silk gown that showed every curve of her body. Her feet were barefoot and her hair in a braid down her back. Jack kicked off his boots and pulled the table to the edge of the bed. He handed her a plate of Connemara marble heaped with food on it.
She protested, "Jack, I am not one of those dock workers who eat everything in sight!"
He took in the sight of his wife. Around her neck was a delicate silver chain.
"Been meaning to ask you, love, about the chain on your neck."
He gently touched her neck and lifted the chain. "I know my metals, darling, and that is Brittania silver. A gift from an admirer?"
She took his hand and removed it from her chain. "Maybe. Does it bother you?"
Jack shrugged. "I'm not crazy about you wearing a chain given to you by a former lover but it is becoming to you. In time, I shall replace it."
She blushed. How could she tell him that it belonged to her mother? She told him her mother was a housemaid. There would be no way she would have had a chain like that. Jack must never know what her past really was.

As they sated their appetites, Jack gathered the dishes and put them outside the door to the cabin. He offered Honour some fresh fruit of grapes and apples. He poured her another glass of wine.
"Jack, enough of the wine. My head is starting to spin."
She leaned back against the pillows, the goblet of Murano crystal in her hand. The red colour of the Madeira refracted through the crystal and cast a warm glow onto her face.
Jack stretched out next to her and produced something from underneath the pillows. He took her left hand in his and gently slipped a ring on her finger. She gasped.
It was a band of the finest Spanish gold. A large emerald was centered, flanked by two smaller ones. The brilliance of the green was spellbinding.
"Oh, Jack! It's so beautiful!"
She extended her hand to admire it. The delicacy of her hand and the exquisiteness of the jewels were astounding. He took her hand and kissed it.
"Does that make up for the brass key I tried to give you?"
She threw her arms around his neck and drew him to her. "More than makes up for it!"
She then frowned. "But, Jack, I have nothing to give you."
He laughed softly and said, "My dear, you have given me more than you know. Tell you what I will do..."
He took the ruby ring on his right hand and transferred it to his left hand. "This shall be my wedding ring. Every time I look at it, it will be a reminder of that wild night."
She blushed. He reached up to her braid and took the ribbon from her hair. The braid fell apart and her hair cascaded down around her shoulders. She caught her breath as he buried his face in the waves of her hair.
And at that moment, all others were far, far from her mind. If they even existed at all.
Save for the memory of one she buried deep in her heart.
She pushed that memory deep down to revel in the moment.

The morning sun streamed in through the gallery windows and illuminated the slumbering couple. Jack's eyes opened abruptly, and he tried to gently extract himself from his bride. She stirred, her brilliant blue eyes locked onto his.
"Where are you off to, darling?" she inquired.
"We're setting sail for Tobago, love. Briggs is already on deck, cracking the whip. It's terribly bad form for the captain to not be on deck as we set out. Do you care to see what it takes to get a ship under way?" Jack posed.
Honour's face lit up like a lantern. "Of course I'd want to see our ship get under way! Give me a moment to make myself ready."

Jack pulled on his clothes as Honour fussed about her appearance. How does one improve upon the exquisite?
After several minutes, Honour turned from the mirror.
"What do you think? Too much?"
"No, of course not, love," Jack offered. His eyes narrowed as he heard the anchor cable being reeled in. "Come with me ,darling. There's work to be done."

They came upon the weather deck to find it abuzz with activity. Jack strode with authority up the stairs to the holy ground of the quarterdeck, with Honour in tow.

"Master Briggs! To what do I owe the honour of my ship being taken out without so much as my say so?" Jack queried.
"Ummm.. .well, sir... Ye did say we were to set out at first light. And it bein' dawn and all, I figgered that I'd carry out your orders despite your disposition, as it were."
Jack squirmed a bit, tossing a glance back at Honour, then to Briggs.
"Aye! You supposed correctly. You know the heading and destination, aye?"
It was Josiah's turn to squirm. "Not exactly, sir. You didn't bother to share the specifics with me when we last met."
Jack rolled his eyes in disgust.
"Right where you were pointing on the map, Josiah. Castara. Jennings is already established there, ready to put our smuggling operation into action. All we need is inventory. Or have you become too thick to suss it out on your own?" Jack replied acidly.
Honour shot a puzzled look at her husband. She didn't care much for Briggs, but she was troubled by her husband's condescending tone.
Briggs' face reddened. "Of course not, Captain sir. You're right, as always. Castara be our destination, and we'll make her shores in record time."
"As I expected, Master Briggs. Carry on, my friend. The ship is yours."
Jack clapped his trusted friend on the shoulder, and turned to walk away. Briggs tipped his hat and said "Always an honour, Mrs. Wolfe."
Honour smiled as best she could, and followed after Jack.

As they reached the weather deck, Jack turned to face his lovely bride. "You think me quite the martinet, don't you?"
Honour stammered for a moment.
"Umm, well, I don't know how things work on a ship, of course. But you were quite hard on Master Briggs. Unreasonably so, I think."
Jack smiled.
"I'm hard on my dear friend Josiah because he's better than he thinks he is. I don't get to skate, so why should he?"
"So, you really like him?" Honour asked. "Your tone was so harsh!"
"This is a pyrate ship, my love. I have no idea what vessels you're used to, but all these men are individuals. They act as a crew by my force of will alone. If I show softness to one, then all is lost."
Honour looked deep into Jack's eyes, and she understood. Harshness was a necessary evil in his world. She just hoped he never turned that harshness toward her.

"Keep a weather eye out for sail, Master Briggs! Our holds be far too light of swag for my liking! "
"Aye, Cap'n!" Briggs called.
Honour gave Jack a worried look.
"So, we're to go a-pyrating? Surely you're not serious!"
"Honour, my darling, you married a pyrate. What were you expecting? Welcome to our little den of thieves, love. And you're their Queen," Jack pronounced as he swept his arm toward the bow of the ship.

Honour took a few moments to drink it all in. She looked on as Jack gave a seemingly endless stream of instructions to the crew, who quickly set about their assignments. Within minutes, the rigging was in place, the sails filled with the morning wind, and the ship began to gracefully glide toward the mouth of the harbour.
Once satisfied that his crew were settled and the ship well in hand, Jack turned his attention back to his bride.
"You must have a million questions in your pretty head," he said softly. "What would you like to know?"
He was right. Her head was buzzing with questions, but she decided that she'd best start learning about her husband's enterprise and the men he trusted with their fortunes... and his life. "Tell me more about this Jennings fellow we're going to meet. Is he a fellow captain?"
"A captain?" Jack smiled. "No, darling. Cade Jennings is, you might say, my apprentice. We met ten years  ago in Port Royal. I was leaving the pub late one night on the way back my ship, and I heard someone behind me draw a sword. I turned to find a snot-nosed boy of 13 standing there, rusty sword in hand, trembling like a leaf. I drew my sword, expecting him to run, but he stood his ground. Claimed he wanted to become a pyrate, or die by the hand of one. Being that I'm rarely in the mood to snuff a perfectly good powder monkey, I brought him aboard. Quite the little thief, young Cade. A pyrate's pyrate in the end. And the best smuggler I've ever seen."
Honour burst out laughing. "A powder...monkey, did you say?"
Jack smiled at her and pushed the hair out of her eyes. "A powder monkey is the lad that brings gunpowder to the gunners. Cade was quick and he was agile. Never saw a kid climb ropes like he did. Took to the sea right off."
"What of his family?"
"Father died when he was seven. His mother remarried and had died six months previous to our meeting. His stepfather used to beat him so he took to the streets. They were originally from Suffolk and he ran away to Devonshire. That is where he learned his street-smarts. Hanging around the ports and pick-pocketing drunken sailors. He was good. But he wanted adventure. So....I took him on."
She linked her arm with Jack's and walked with him to the quarterdeck.
"And he became the son you never had."
Jack laughed, "Hey, I'm not so old I can be put out to pasture, you know. He's only eleven years younger than me. I may have been a hell-raiser but...."
She silenced him with a kiss. "He sounds like a very interesting person. But about this pyracy, Jack. I am not comfortable with this. I promise me you won't kill anyone."

Jack was beginning to realize that even though Honour was a tavern wench, she didn't really have the grip on what the pirates were all about. There was something about her that belied the savvy the rest of the port doxies had. Aside from the fact that she had a cultured air about her.
He drew her into a kiss and said, "My love, I shall do my best to ensure that the vessel we encounter will surrender peacefully."
"But, Jack, don't you feel any regrets? I mean, after all, you are STEALING."
"Honour, just WHAT do you think I DO for a living?"
She shrugged. "I never really thought it through, I guess. I thought you were a privateer. I thought you took on opposing vessels for the glory of England."
He looked off in the distance and gazed at the horizon. "I'm the only 'glory' I am interested in. This here is a pirate ship and you had better get used to it."
She was taken back by the steely tone of his voice. She had nothing to say.
"Excuse me, Jack. I'm going back to the quarters. I will leave you to your....occupation, then."
She strode off the deck purposefully and entered the Captain's quarters.

He couldn't be sure...but could it be that the door slammed?
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:03:48 PM
Jack watched her march off below and felt... confused. Apparently he'd said something wrong, but what it might have been escaped him. "Master Briggs?"
"Aye, Cap'n?" Briggs could hardly contain his amusement.
"Did she just... was that... she's in a bit of a snit, isn't she?"
"Ye may have been a bit blunt with the lass, Cap'n. Perhaps a softer tone is in order, her bein' new to this life and all."
"Ah, I see. Sage advice, Josiah. Thank you. I'll look after things while you talk to her," Jack replied.
Briggs stared at his friend.
"Jack, I meant you should talk to her. Seeing as how ye married her, remember?"
"Oh. That's right. The ship is yours, then. I need to see if my cabin still has a working door."

Jack made his way aft to the great cabin. The door was shut, but still on it's hinges. He knocked softly, then entered. Honour was sitting on the bed, staring at her wedding ring.
"Honour, I seem to have upset you, and for that, I, um, apologize. I took it for granted that you knew my stock and trade. We are a nation unto ourselves, and our fortunes and freedom are our own."
"I had thought that you served a nobler purpose that your own greed. I was mistaken," Honour said quietly.
Her answer rankled him, but he help his temper.
"And what 'nobler purpose' should I be serving? The Crown? Risk my neck so King William can grow fat while I starve and my ship belongs to the prats of the Admiralty? No thank you, love. This arrangement suits me fine. Even you had heard of my reputation in Glenlivet, no? What do you think happens to the heart of a captain of an overloaded, undergunned merchant ship when they see my flag? They'd rather give up than risk the wrath of pyrates. More often than not our prizes are taken without a shot fired from either side. We do the same work as the privateers, darling. We simply do it better, and for better pay. Without the annoying diplomatic and bureaucratic entanglements."

Jack sat beside her and took her hand in his, and met her eyes. "Darling, why would I want to risk putting you in harms way? Or our ship and crew?"
Honour looked up at Jack with her blue eyes, trying to will the tears away that threatened to spill over. She took a deep breath and said in a halting voice, "I didn't think that far in advance, Jack. I--I just didn't really think beyond...beyond..."
Jack stroked her cheek gently and said, "Yeah. I know. Regrets?"
She broke out in a smile and shook her head. "Not so far, darling. But I do have issue with being known as Queen of the pyrates!"
He laughed and said, "Well, let's just say you are the Captain's woman and therefore you are 'untouchable' as far as the crew is concerned."
She traced her finger on his lips and whispered in his ear, "Is the crew taken care of and the ship underway?"
He breathed softly, "Aye, Briggs has the ship."
She smiled wickedly, locked the door and said, "Aye, my Captain! Your wish is my command."

Briggs stood on the prow of the ship, taking a deep draw on his pipe. He gazed out over the horizon, his face a mixture of shock and amusement to see his friend and captain so completely taken in by a tart.
At least that was what Briggs perceived her as. She worked in a port town in a lively tavern. He and Jack had observed her. She was light on her feet as regards the advances of the men who frequented it and savvy in a way that showed she knew how to handle them. What else would she be? No lady of quality ever would be seen in such an establishment.
And the method she used to obtain a ring on her finger...well, Briggs certainly took his hat off to her on that one. He bet that was one Captain Jack Wolfe never saw coming.

A clearing of the throat was heard behind Briggs. He turned and said, "Something on your mind, Davis?"
Jacob Davis, a gunner's mate, stood next to Briggs.
"Me and some of the crew are wondering what is up with the Cap'n? Bringing a woman--and a young one at that!--onto the ship? T'ain't right. T'ain't right, at all."
Briggs looked back over the sea. "He's the captain. It is his ship. What he says is the way it is."
Davis exploded, "But t'bring a woman on the ship be courtin' disaster for the crew and the well-being of the ship! We be takin' a vote and--"
Briggs tapped his pipe on the rail and sighed heavily. "There will be no votes taken on this vessel. Captain Jack Wolfe is not only captain of El Lobo del Mar, he is the owner. Lock, stock and barrel."
Jack arrived on the quarterdeck just in time to hear Davis' outburst and Briggs' reply. "Take his advice, Mr. Davis. If you can't abide with that, you may still be able to swim to shore. Doubtful, but you're a young man. Feel free to step off any time." He stood smiling at the anxious young man.
Davis looked in stunned silence at Jack, and then to Briggs. The quartermaster stepped to one side and motioned to the briny deep with a sweeping gesture of his arm. He stammered, "Beggin' your pardon, Cap'n Wolfe. I wasn't knowin' that you were the lord and master of this ship..."
"Now you find yourself better educated, don't you?" Jack interrupted. "Back to you station, Davis. No sense overtaxing your brain anymore this evening." Davis smiled nervously and beat a hasty retreat to the weather deck.

Jack walked to the forward rail of the quarterdeck and rang the watch bell four times. He waited patiently as the crew assembled. Finally, he addressed them.
"Gentlemen, no doubt you're wondering about my gentle lady guest and why she's set sail with us."
The throng grumbled in the affirmative. One voice rang out "That, and 'ow much's she's costin' ye!"
Jack smiled as the men laughed. "Quite a dear penny, I can assure you! She's my new wife."
The men stared at their captain as if struck dumb. "You heard right. And you'll afford my bride every possible courtesy. Am I understood?"
The crew reluctantly acquiesced.
"Wonderful! Extra rum, all around! We're celebrating!" Jack proclaimed. The men's faces lit up as they cheered, and the fiddler struck up a tune. He turned back to face the skeptical Briggs. "See, they're good with it! No worries."
"Aye, until the rum's finished..."
"Oh, cluck-cluck, Josiah. You're always seeing the bleak side of things. Why do you think we laid in more rum before we left? I'll be below..."
Honour emerged from the Captain's quarters. Three days without seeing the sun was beginning to get on her nerves. Never mind the fact that she was on her honeymoon. Jack had gone to the navigator's quarters to go over some charts so she took the opportunity to walk around the ship.
Briggs looked over and shook his head to himself. Soft-looking. Not cut out for a pirate's life. How long before she would rope Captain Jack into a life of domesticity? What if she decided babies was what she wanted? Birthing and squalling brats had no place on a pirate ship! But then, neither did a woman.
"Something I can help you with...Mrs. Wolfe?"
"Hmm..? Oh! I'm sorry, I have a hard time getting used to that name.
'Uh huh,' Briggs said to himself.
He looked over at her. 'That's no tavern wench, or my name ain't Briggs. Looks and walks too high-class for a common trollop.'
Honour bent down. "Oooh, what a cute little kitty!"
Kitty? L'il Puddin' was a fighting machine!
She picked up the ship's cat, turned him on his back and cuddled him like a baby.
Briggs rushed forward and cautioned, "Mrs.'am..I wouldn't do that if I were you. That there cat becomes a wildcat when he is laid on his..."
The cat started to purr.
She crooned to the cat, "Ooh, what a sweet little puddy! Is you momma's widdle bay-bee? Of course you are!"
The cat looked at Briggs through squinted eyes as if to say, 'YOU never did this to me!'
She hugged the cat close to her and...
"Ma'am! Please! He will scratch...."
The cat licked Honour's cheek and she giggled.
"...your eyes out."
Briggs spat his tobacco and glared at the cat. Honour gently put the cat down and Briggs hissed under his breath at the cat, "TRAITOR!"
The cat entwined and rubbed against Honour's skirt.
"Mr. Briggs! If I may have a request?"
He just stared at her.
"Could you have the cook make up a picnic basket lunch for the Captain and me? I'd like to surprise him with a picnic on the upper deck. Maybe a lobster with drawn butter? Oh! And strawberries in champagne. Some chocolate for dessert, too! Ta!"
He muttered darkly, 'You want the ship moved a little to the left, too, Miss Prissy?'
She looked back. "I'm sorry, did you say something?"
He said, "Did you want to set any mood with the light that is left, Mrs. Wolfe?"
She grinned and said, "No, Mr. Briggs. Just see that we aren't disturbed!"
He watched her go towards the cabin, a self-confident sway in her walk. He shook his head and said to himself, 'Lady? Tobago is gonna eat you up alive! Especially when SHE finds out Jack took a bride...'

Jack finished confirming their course and went topside to take his pipe. He leaned on the gunwale and savoured the taste of the the fine American tobacco he'd acquired from that red-faced English captain off Hispaniola. He felt his muscles unwind as he stared out over the miraculously blue water of the Caribbean, and contemplated his new station in life as a husband.  His reverie was shattered by the sound of familiar footsteps behind him.
"Aye, Josiah? What nigh-on Biblical calamity has you vexed, my friend?" Jack sighed.
"Jack, ordinarily I'd never bring a problem like this to you..."
Jack caught himself before he bit through the stem of his pipe.
"... but it's about that wom- I mean, your new bride, lovely as she is." Briggs fidgeted as his captain and friend took one last long draw on his pipe, then tapped out the rest of his bowl on the gunwale.
"The ship is still afloat, I haven't heard any explosions in the past 2 hours, and no slimy monsters have tried to drag us down to the proverbial Locker, so what can she have possibly done that distresses you so?"
"It's... it's the cat, Cap'n."
Jack blinked, started to speak, then blinked again. "Excuse me, Josiah. Did you say 'the cat'? Did she skin him and make earmuffs?"
"No, no, worse than that, Jack. She..." Briggs' voice dropped to a hissed whisper, "...she tamed him!"

Jack regarded his longtime friend with a look that is usually reserved for doctors in loony bins.
"What do you mean, 'she tamed the cat'?  Josiah, you've made it painfully clear that you don't care for Honour, but really! To invent such nonsense that she tamed an already docile cat? What'd she do? Make him purr louder? Did he show kindness to a rat? Shed a tad less on anything dark blue or black?"
"Cap'n! Ye know I'd never invent anything against your fair bride! That bloody cat's insane!"
"Josiah, that peaceful little moggie has only two natural enemies in his entire world; rats, and you! Have you ever noticed that the only time he ever shows you any affection at all is after he's rolled in fish guts?"
"Um, now that you mention it..."
"Josiah, let it go. We'll be moored at Castara morning after next, and you can stop worrying about Honour for a few days. I'll need you to concentrate on the new operation there. Concentrate on the particulars you need to work out with Cade. Let me worry about the bloody cat, yeah? And my wife?" Jack requested.
"Aye, Jack. If ye don't mind terribly, I'll retire a bit early.
"Fine idea, Josiah. Sleep well. And you owe me a fresh pouch of tobacco!"

Josiah shuffled off to his cabin. "The whole bloody world's gone mad. First the Cap'n, then the cat. Who's next? Cade? Lord knows that witch woman's off her twig already..."
The rest of the sail to Tobago went without incident. Briggs was confounded by one thing. He leaned over the rail and said to Davis, "Can't understand it! That cat from hell follows the Captain's---" the words stuck in his throat but he got them out, "---wife all over the ship. Ne'er seen nothing like it. Bewitched the cat, too, she has!"
Davis laughed, "She's not so bad, Josiah. You just don't like the idea of Captain Jack taking his attention elsewhere. When you two were in port, didn't bother you how many women the Captain took up with. You accepted it. What's changed?"
"This one. He's SERIOUS about her. She's lasted a week now."
Davis clapped him on the shoulder. "There's always hope, Josiah."
"How do you mean?"
As Davis turned to go, he said, "Maybe she'll be gone by the time the moon is full again."
Josiah said darkly to himself, "Then life can get back to the way it's supposed to be. Next thing you know, Captain Wolfe will be knitting little booties!"

As Honour laid in Jack's arms, she yawned and asked, "What time shall we reach Tobago tomorrow?"
Jack kissed the top of her head and said, "Around the ninth hour. It's a grand place, Honour. You will like it. Honour...? Darling....?"
All he could hear is the rhythmic breathing of her. He kissed her again and soon he fell asleep.

She sat up in the bed, the sheet clutched around her. The tears were streaming down her face.
Jack immediately jumped up and scrambled for his sword before he realized his bride was in the throes of a night terror.
He reached over and grabbed her shoulders.
"Honour! HONOUR! Snap out of it!"
She slowly began to come out of it, her body shaking.
Jack looked at her and tenderly cupped her face.
"Honour...?" he said softly.
She got her breathing under control and the shaking began to subside. She said in a halting voice, "I--I guess I had a nightmare."
He gathered her into his arms and stroked her hair.
He quietly asked, "Honour, who is Madoc?"
She drew away from him, and laid back on the bed. She whispered, "I don't know. It was a--a bad dream. That's all it was."
He held her tenderly as he felt her body begin to relax again. Before he knew it, she had drifted back to sleep.
But Jack laid there awake, staring at the ceiling.
Who was Madoc? And who was he asked to spare?

He began to realize that maybe he didn't know his wife at all.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:11:30 PM
El Lobo del Mar made port just as Jack had said it would, in a timely fashion. He saw to the docking and then came back in to get his bride. The crew was given shore leave, Briggs volunteering to stay with the ship with a minimal crew.

Jack and Honour stepped off the ship at a little village on Castara Bay. It was a typical port town.
Jack took her hand and they made their way to the outskirts of the little port.
"Here is where we need to meet Cade," he said.
She looked up. It was a timbered-and stuccoed tavern. A sign swinging up overhead said, "Le Lupe".
She said, "The Wolf."
He laughed and said, "Precisely. This office of sorts is fronted by a tavern."

He held the door open. As they entered, Honour's eyes tried to adjust to the dimness inside. Jack went up to the bar and smiled broadly at a dark-skinned woman whose head was swathed in a tignon.
"Bonita! Comment allez-vous, chéri?"
The woman ran from behind the bar and said, "Ola, Captain Jacques! It has been a while, oui?"
Jack returned her embrace. The woman skeptically looked over at Honour and gave her a glance that made Honour uncomfortable.
"And who is this?" she said coolly with a tinge of malice.
"Ah, Bonita, this is Honour."
The woman extended her hand in greeting but there was no warmth in her eyes.
"Welcome to Castara."
Honour attempted a smile all the while giving a questioning look to Jack.
He turned to Bonita and said, "Two tankards of ale, please, Bonita."

As he led her to a table in the back, Bonita drew two tankards and put them down. She gave Jack a slight squeeze on his neck and moved on.
"What did I ever do to HER?" Honour asked.
Jack chuckled, "Bonita is a bit---proprietary, shall we say? After all, this is my tavern even though she runs it like it is hers."
"And why didn't you introduce me as your wife? I could understand on the ship but this is dry land, Jack."
"Bonita is a"
"In love with you?"
Jack snapped his fingers. "That's it! And I don't fancy her fashioning a voodoo doll in your likeness, love."
Honour looked dubiously into the tankard, not liking the feelings of jealousy that the situation arose in her.
She saw a door in the dark corner. Bonita had disappeared behind it. Within a few minutes, a man came out.
He was of medium height, in his early twenty's. His hair was tied back with a silk ribbon and his shirt sleeves were rolled up.
He deftly crept up behind Jack and put his finger to his lips, cautioning Honour to silence.
In a low voice, he said to Jack with his hand clamped on his shoulder, "You're under arrest!"
Jack jumped up, cutlass in hand. The man jumped back and laughed.
"You're slowing down, old man!"
Jack grinned and embraced the man.
"Cade, someday you will lose. And I will feel so bad. For about ten seconds!"
Honour looked quizzically at the two of them.

Jack leaned over and kissed Honor on the cheek. "Darling, I'd like you to meet Cade Jennings, my right hand man on shore. Cade, please meet Honour Bright."
Honour was startled by the use of her maiden name but said nothing. But inside she was furious. Just wait till I get him alone, she thought.
Cade laughed and said, "Jack is flattering me with praise so I won't give away any secrets."
Cade was what would be called--dashing. No other word for it. His hair was light brown streaked with gold and his eyes were a deep grey-green colour.

Honour extended her hand. She felt an almost electrical charge between the two of them. Cade took her hand and kissed it, saying, "Welcome to Castara Bay, Miss Bright."
Jack grinned and put his arm possessively around Honour. "Cade is the son I never had."
Cade threw his head back and laughed.
"Aye! Provided ye started at ten, Jack!"
Jack laughed ribaldly, "And who says I didn't!"

Honour finished her tankard and said, "I should leave the two of you to your business."
Jack handed her a key and said, "Here, love. My rooms are first door on the right. I'll be up in a bit."
She only nodded, hurt that Jack still didn't want to own up to the fact that he now had a wife.
She took the key without a word. But as she left, she felt someone watching her. As she looked over her shoulder, she saw Cade Jennings staring at her.
She quickly mounted the stairs.
'Why didn't I stay in Barbados?' she thought.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:14:25 PM
Jack stole a dark look at Cade, then at Honour. She ducked her head and continued up the stairs. Cade's gaze lingered. Jack elbowed his protegee hard in the gut! "Oi! What are you about, ye young pup? Staring after my wife like that?"
Cade looked hard at his mentor. "She, she's your what?"
Bonita's head snapped around and she gave Jack a look that straddled heartbreak and hatred.
"Um, yeah," Jack stammered. "Honour Bright, is indeed, Mrs. Jack Wolfe."
He cleared his voice, and took his place atop a table. "Everyone, please take note! Miss Honour Bright is indeed my wife, Mrs., um, Captain Jack Wolfe! Give her all due honour, and whatnot. Now, dangnubbit, Cade, close your mouth and help me down! That's it!"
Jack looked around and announced triumphantly "Drinks all around! Cade's buying!" He leaned into his student and asked quietly, "That's all right, isn't it?"
Cade clapped Jack on the shoulder.
"You're a lucky, and most unlucky man. Lucky for what retired upstairs, and unlucky for what is staring at you at this moment."

Jack grinned at Cade, then looked over at the bar, and Bonita. Her dark, haunting eyes pierced him with an anger that he'd never known.
"Cade, tell me true. Given the omission of the delightful Bonita, how many of you wish me dead?"
"Now, Jack..You know whiskey makes you morose. Make your peace, and have a chat with Bonita."
Jack turned and looked hard at Cade. "Make my peace? You intend to kill me?"
Within the blink of an eye, Jack's pistol was cocked and leveled at Cade's head.
"Answer my question!"

Suddenly, he felt Bonita's unearthly quieting hand on his shoulder. "Now, quiet, child. Dere bein' no need for no violence now, understand? Young Cade, he got too much livin' for you! You be givin' dat pistol to me, lest Bonita be flexin' her ways in manners you not like too much... you know what I say. Much better I flex them ways what make you feel like..."
Jack spun, and found Bonita's succulent lips scarce millimetres from his, and his pistol was gone from his hand. "Bonita, darling. I'm... I'm a married man now. Flex as you may..."
"I'll flex as I like, witty Jack!  How quick you forget, when a younger woman pass by?" Bonita snaked her hands behind Jack's neck.
"Um, exactly how old are you, darling?" Jack inquired.
"Dat ne'er been no concern of yours, 'til now. You ask Bonita now, why?"
"Um, well, it never came up. I always thought you ageless..."
"Ah, Bonita know why. You got you a new, beautiful young bride. You think Bonita just gonna step aside and let dis happen?"
"Well, I was hoping..."
"Guess again, Jack. Dis not gonna pass easy. You and I, we share too much, too often, too deep. Go. Enjoy dat new bride you bring to us. But carry dis wit' you before you go..."
Bonita shoved Jack away, and produced a handful of sheep's knuckles. She cast them upon the bar, and drew a long, unnatural breath.

"I see darkness ahead for you, Jack. Two will betray you. Two, so dear to your dark heart. Dey will cut you to de quick, and cause you such joy and pain. Your heart will break three times. One, you will kill, but in de strangest of ways. De other will bring you joy and riches, but only after much strife. One will break my heart, and end Bonita's time here. Dat will wound you deepest. You go upstairs, and pay attention to dat new bride you took so quick, so out of fashion. You bring her to us, and expect her to take up de life we enjoy! Shame be upon you, Jack! We accept anyone what take up de Account on they own accord. But to force her among us! Has she taste battle? Has she taste death? Do she know what she need to know to be de wife of a pyrate? You gave her none of dat! Shame be upon you! Look at what I cast, and know you bring it upon you own head!"
Bonita took a final look at the sheep's knuckles, spat upon them, then stalked off. Jack's blood chilled.

"Oi! I'll take it under advisement, love!" he called, nervously. He couldn't shake the chill from his bones. He knew all too well that Bonita's visions were chillingly accurate. He'd relied on them too many times for the many successful prizes and sackings he'd taken over the years. Now, she predicts crushing failure and soaring success. At what cost?
Jack looked back at his favourite son. Cade raised his cup to his mentor and yelled, "What are you dallying here for? Give that new bride of yours a rousing Tobago welcome!!"
Heartened, Jack smiled and ran up the stairs to his room where Honour awaited.

"Two will betray you."
Bonita's voice echoed from nowhere as Jack's hand touched the doorknob.
"Piffle. Utter nonsense," he whispered, as he opened the door.
Honour sitting was by the window, gazing out at the quiet harbor town below. There was a sadness in her eyes as she looked his way. "What's nonsense, darling?"
"Ah, nothing. Just talking to myself."
Jack slipped in and locked the door behind him.
"Settling in all right, love?" he said nervously. He started cautiously rummaging about the knickknacks on the shelves as if one of them might spring on him like a mousetrap. "I... I, ah, corrected my previous misstep..." he picked up a silver comb and used it to slowly open the lid of a small snuff box. "... Told them all about our marriage and how you should be treated with every due respect."
He turned and tried to smile as if he weren't scared of finding one of Bonita's poppets tucked into a dark cranny.
Honour walked over to Jack and laid her hand on his arm. He jumped a mile.
"Jack, you are acting awfully nervous. What is going on?"
He put the snuff back and looked for something stronger. His stash of khat had to be there somewhere....
He turned to her and said, "Just trying to lose my sea legs, that is all. Always jumpy the first day on shore."
"You look like you are expecting the Devil himself."
He looked at her hard and retorted, "What is that supposed to mean?"
She was taken back by his harshness of tone. "No-nothing."
He softened and put his arms around her, drawing her close.
"Sorry, darling...just got alot on my mind. But it is good to see Cade. What did you think of him?"
She took a deep breath and said evenly, "He seems like a very nice man."
Jack searched her face for any sign of.....anything.
'Two will betray you. Two so dear to your dark heart.' The words echoed in his mind.
He tilted her face towards his and said, "I love you, Honour. Never forget that. I am also not a man to be trifled with. Never forget that, either."
She encircled his wrist with her hand and said, "Jack. You-you're hurting me."
He said, "I'm sorry, love. You were looking out the window and looked so wistful. Care to share your secrets with me?"

How could she tell him that the view from the window reminded her of a time she was with....him?
She put a smile on her face and said, "I was thinking of how I would like to explore the bay. It looks beautiful. Do you think we could?"
Jack drew her to him. "A wonderful idea, love. Why didn't I think of that?"
Her smile dimpled as she said, "It will be nice, just the two of us. No Briggs with his disapproval. No crew hovering around. I swear, it was really hard to relax knowing they were just outside the door. Now we really CAN have our 'honeymoon.' "

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:18:33 PM
Cade stared at the sheep's knuckles on the bar and looked over at Bonita who sat in the corner. He walked over to her.
"Bonita? Care to explain that little drama you played out for Jack?"
She looked at him and her eyes glittered with bitterness. "Dat be for me to know and you to find out, young Cade. You be the son he ne'er had. He be taking a bride of tender years. Mebbe ye be replaced? Jack have sons of his own, beget dem on dat woman he take. Pay heed, Cade Jennings. Ye play a dangerous game dere. Jack not one to be fooled. He know. He know what you capable of. Dat woman off-limits to you. Best ye remember dat."
Cade felt his face colour. "Now you are talking nonsense, Bonita. That voodoo mumbo-jumbo may work on Jack, but not on me. I have no interest or designs on his wife. And I'll thank you not to be putting any wild notions in his head."
She grasped him by the arm and hissed, "You know it be true. I see the look you be giving dat woman. Dat...dat CHILD! She no woman for Jack. Jack needs lusty woman."

Cade sat down at the table where Bonita sat. "Bonita, you are just as surprised as I am that Jack showed up with a wife. Your sheep's knuckles could read anything you want it to and..."
She jumped up and put her face close to his. "NO! Ye not know the ways. My tia she taught me. An' she taught me tres bien, she did! Bones no lie. You see. BONES NO LIE! Ye watch where ye be steppin, young Cade. And where ye be sleepin'. Dat all I say to YOU!"

Jack and Honour walked arm in arm along the sands until they came to a smal cove. Honour sat down and took her boots off, then hiked her skirt up and waded into the water.
"Jack, the water is so warm!"
"Aye, usually is this time of year."
The cove was surrounded by high cliffs. There were palm trees lining the beach. Honour breathed deeply the salt air.
"This must truly be paradise!" she said.
Jack looked over the horizon. He said softly, "It truly is, my love."
She looked back at Jack and grinned. She came back to shore and began to unlace her bodice. She flung it off. Jack raised his eyebrow.
"Dare I ask what you are doing, my love?"
She dropped her skirt and said, "I am going swimming."
"Swimming. Now?"
The chemise dropped next and she looked over her shoulder and winked.
"I surely am."

She dove into the surf, then surfaced, her hair streaming down her back and her face glistening with the drops from the sea.
She smiled at him and beckoned him with her finger.
He grinned and stood up to remove his shirt.
"Well, when in Rome. Or Tobago. Or..wherever.."

They never heard the twig snapped as they were observed from the darkness of the shade. A hand reached out to the pile of shed clothes and cautiously removed a small article of clothing from the pile.
A small article that could prove very useful....
As the two lovers laughed and splashed about in the warm sea water, they were oblivious to the eyes that watched them. The slender hand reached out from the underbrush once again and stole one more small piece of clothing. At that very moment, Honour looked back toward the beach.
"Jack," she said hesitantly. "What's that over there by our clothes?"
He wiped the salt water from his eyes and looked to where she was pointing. All he saw was some movement in the brush.
"What did you see, love? Someone trying to catch a peek?" he joked.
She splashed water at him. "No, silly! It looked like a huge cat, with spots all over it."
"Oh? You've never seen a jaguar before?"
"No! It was so beautiful! But it was almost as if it were watching us."
"You've seen a rare sight, darling. Jaguars are very elusive. I wonder what brought her down here?"
"Why did you call it 'her'?" Honour asked. "In fact you call so very many things 'her' or 'she'."
"I hadn't thought much about it. Force of habit, I suppose. I'm so used to referring to ships in the feminine, it spills over to other things."
"That's something I've always wanted to know; why do sailors do that? Say things like 'she's a fast ship.' Why not call it 'he'?"
"Because, my love," Jack smiled, "A ship, like a beautiful woman, costs a fortune to keep in paint and powder!"
"Oh, you devil!! Take it back!" she laughed.

Bonita emerged from the heavy foliage behind the tavern. In her hand she carried Honour's hair ribbon and one of the leather lanyards Jack used as a makeshift garter for his breeches. She made sure no one had seen her, and she slipped through the tavern's back door.
She went to a shelf and moved a couple of wine casks aside. Reaching into the space, she retrieved two small poppets; one representing Honour, and the other, Jack. Placing the dolls back to back, she began to wind the ribbon and lanyard about them.

"Wit' dese cords, I bind toget'er dey spirits, and hold apart dey hearts. Dey lives, dey be forever entwine, forever connected, but never share as man and woman." She clutched the dolls and touched them to her forehead, then spat on them. "Too much Bonita gave you, Jack Wolfe. Now we see how de great man do wit'out her!"
"Mmmm, that was nice!" Honour stretched out in the warm sand and closed her eyes.
Jack pulled her back to him and kissed her deeply.
"Jack, no! We really need to be getting back. The sun is starting to set and if there are jaguars around..."
He caressed her cheek and said, "Jaguars rarely, if ever, attack humans."
She sat up and reached for her chemise. "I don't intend to put that to the test."
She threw his shirt at him. "I suggest you get dressed."
She stepped into her chemise and skirt, then looked for her bodice.
"How did it get over THERE?"
Jack laughed. "Well, when you flung it off, it hit me in the face and I guess I just kind of threw it in that direction."
She looked around. "That's strange. I thought I had my hair tied back in a ribbon."
"I thought you did, too. I remember you taking it out ever so slowly and then tossing your hair..."
She held her finger up. "Hush. Don't get your blood up. We've had enough romance for one afternoon."
He searched around. "I seem to be missing a lanyard. This IS odd."
Honour looked up. "Oh, look! A scarlet tanager. I will wager if you look in his--or her--nest, you will find my ribbon and your lacing!"
He pulled his boots on and then put his hands on her shoulders. She smiled and leaned back into him.
He buried his face in her sea-scented hair and whispered, "Then let's consider it gone for a good cause!"

Jack suddenly pulled away. "Ow!"
Honour asked, "What happened? Did you step on a shell?"
"No. Just a tightness in my chest. Ah, seems to have gone away. Let's go back to the tavern. I'm sure you must be hungry by now. I know I am."

They walked into the tavern. It seemed a whole new crew of buccaneers, swashbucklers and pirates had entered since Honour and Jack took some time out for themselves. Jack seemed to know them all. Cade Jennings was deep in conversation with another man. Jack said to Honour, "Excuse me, love. That is Captain James Blake and I must talk to him."
Honour looked over and did a double take. James? HERE? She looked around for a corner to disappear into. If James thinks we are going to take up where we left off, he is sadly mistaken.

Jack walked over to the two men. Honour sat at a corner table hoping to be inconspicuous. Bonita came over with a tankard of ale for herself and sat down uninvited.
Honour wished she would go away. She got a very uncomfortable feeling around the dark woman. It was as if she could see right through to her very soul.
Bonita eyed the young woman and said coolly, "You marry Captain Wolfe sudden. You not know him long. How you do dat? What juju you use?"
Honour paled. "I didn't use any juju."
Bonita appraised her over her mug. "I feel strong force wit' you. You have power. Dat why you have husband so fast. You use charms?"
Honour said, "I have no idea what you are talking about, Bonita."
Bonita laughed in a way that made Honour uncomfortable. "You not what you seem. You bind Jack wit' spells. He not thinkin' clear. That not be our Jack Wolfe."
Honour tried to keep her voice steady. There was no way that Bonita could know about her Druid training.
"Bonita, the plain and simple fact is that Jack Wolfe fell in love with me. We got married. And I would appreciate it if you could accept the fact and not cause any trouble."
As she turned to go, Bonita whispered, "You bind to him but you not be one. You NEVER be one. You see. Bones no lie..."

A chill ran down Honour's spine but just then Jack came over with Cade and James Blake.
James Blake had a startled look on his face but before he could say anything, Jack said, "Honour, darling, I would like you to meet Captain Blake. James, this is my wife Honour."
Honour stood very quickly and held out her hand. Before James could say anything, she said, "How do you do, Captain....Blake, is it?"
James raised his eyebrow at her and said in return, "Very nice to meet you."
To Jack, he said, "Married! YOU? You old sea dog! She reminds me of a woman I knew from Beaumaris. Miss--I mean, Mrs--Wolfe, I don't suppose you have a sister there, do you?"
Honour's face coloured and she said, "I'm afraid not, Captain. My family is from the Shetland Islands in Scotland."
James tried to keep a straight face as he kissed her hand. "A thousand pardons, Mrs. Wolfe."
He whispered as he let her hand go, "Shetland Islands, my arse!"

Honour turned to Jack and said, "Darling, I have a headache and I think I am going to retire to our room."
Jack kissed her cheek and said, "Aye. I won't be long, darlin'. Keep the bed warm!"
She heard their robust laughter as she ran up the stairs. Slamming the door shut, she sat on the bed and began breathing hard.
Maybe this whole Tobago thing wasn't such a good idea. Maybe this whole wedding thing wasn't such a good idea either.......
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:19:40 PM
Jack watched his lovely young bride climb the stairs once again with uncomfortable haste. He turned and shot a look at Bonita, who almost met his eyes, then went about clearing tables. His attention turned to Blake.
"How about you explain yourself? You caused my bride quite the unwarranted fluster. What's in your head?"
Blake was taken aback as he felt a pistol rammed hard up against his ribs.
"Um, wait! Have a care, Jack! I was mistaken, I swear!"
"Let's keeps it that way, mate. This port attracts far too many doxies to slake even your thirst, my friend. Turn your attentions once more to my wife, and your crew will be electing a new captain. Savvy?"
"You're a hard man, Jack. And luckier that you realize. I'll give you that. Aye. I was out of line. Pardon my foolishness." Blake withdrew, and Jack returned his pistol to his belt.

"Well then, gentlemen, and captains all! Time to get down to business, yeah? Here's how our operation works." Jack announced.
Cade shot him a confused look, and nodded hard in the negative. Jack smiled back at him with a grin that said "Shut up and learn, boy."
"Here's how we intend to serve the hungry populace of Trinidad, since the Spaniard seems incapable of caring for his own. I've secured a most friendly relationship with the English governor of Barbados, so anyone sailing under my commission may take fair harbour there. Think about it, brothers. Between this good place and Barbados, those what choose to in my fleet own the Galleon Run. We can throttle all commerce from Spain and the United Provinces, and exact a high price from a hungry populace of Trinidad. All I ask is that, in deference to Our Friend, the Governor of Barbados, we let most every English ship pass."

The muttering of those gathered changed from approval to noncommittal. "Aye, I understand your concerns. Rest assured, I've not turned Loyalist on you. But If we do not let most, and I repeat for those too dim to get it the first two times, most of the Crown's traffic to pass, we lose our position and protection here from the good Governor of Barbados. Is everyone tracking now?"
The mood of the room changed. Honour heard the hubbub downstairs, and cracked open the door just enough to hear better.

"Fine! Very well, then! This is how things will work. Any prizes taken by those who chose to sign on will be brought here to Castara, and condemned by our Court of Admiralty, headed by Captain Cade Jennings." Cade's head whipped around, and he stared dumbstruck at his mentor. Jack winked at him. "Once their value have been assessed, they'll be auctioned off on these very grounds."
"Yeah? And just who's here to buy said goods?" a voice yelled out.
"A very good question!" Jack replied. "Our buyers will land at the port of Scarborough, roughly 30 miles to our south. They'll pay a fee of 2 reals a head to travel the road to Castara. Once they've made their purchases, they'll pay 8 reals per mule, and 12 reals per mule cart to haul their merchandise back to Scarborough. We stay clear of the Spanish port authority, and our customers get a fair price, as established by them. And we all get a fair profit off the lot of it. Transport fees, less overhead will be fantastically profitable for all of us. The monies will go into a common pool and be shared out equally."
"What are the terms, Admiral Wolfe?" a voice jeered.
"Aye! Admiral! I like that! Do I get a bigger hat?"

The crowd laugh, but quickly settled down. Briggs gave his captain a very unsettled look. They were supposed to work all this out on the trip over, but Jack had been too busy with his new bride. What on earth would he say?
"Fair enough. The Company's share is twenty-five percent, with fifteen percent going to the captain and crew of each respective vessel. The rest goes to overhead and 'gratuities' to the Governor of Barbados to allow our operation to continue. Whatever is left at the end of the month will be put in a common fund and shared out equally, man for man."
"Twenty-five percent?! You're mad! I'd get better margins turning privateer!" a voice yelled.
"Let's examine that, shall we? As a privateer to the Crown, you don't own your own ship. You'll owe fifteen percent to the Crown, ten percent to the Admiralty, and another fifteen percent to the syndicate what owns your vessel. Admiralty Court fees will run you another twelve percent plus legal fees for the legal condemnation of your prizes. The your get to share out whatever pitiful pittance is let to your hungry and mightily pissed off crew, who will most likely jump ship at their next opportunity, and blacken your name as a poor and worthless captain. That's if they don't mutiny and cut your throat in the middle of the night. Besides, how can you rely on a privateer's commission, since we are mostly English subjects and we're not presently at war with anyone? Or is starvation your goal in life?"

The rabbles voices moderated, and turned more to the affirmative.
"So, my brothers, who'll sign on? I'll even forgo the bigger hat!"
Laughter erupted from the congregation, and they lined up at a small table Briggs had set up as a clerk's desk. They eagerly and greedily signed on for their chance to further decimate the economies of the Dutch and Spaniards.

Honour closed the door and crossed the room to lay across the bed. She flung her arm over her eyes and took a deep shuddering breath.
James! What is James Blake doing in Tobago, of all places? And why of all people did he have to be friends with Captain Jack Wolfe?
Her mind drifted back to another time, another place. She had managed to make her way to the King's Falcon in Barbados and secured a job as a tavern wench.
Tavern wench! If her father only knew. But then, she reasoned, he threw me to the wolves to begin with. Otherwise, I would never have ended up there, she thought.

She had only been working there a few weeks when a handsome captain came into the tavern.
She walked up to him as he sat down at the corner table, his back to the wall.
"Something I can get for you?" she asked.
He looked up at her with deep brown eyes and grinned. "An start out with." He constantly looked out the window.
"Are you expecting company?" she asked.
"Company?" he laughed. "You are new here, are ye not?"
She blushed and retorted, "Something amusing about that?"
He shook his head and said, "Nay. I never heard it put quite that way. But yes, I am expecting company."
"Shall I tell him you are here if and when I see this individual?"
He looked at her and blinked. "Such high-class words for a tavern wench."
She glared at him. "What makes you think a tavern wench has to speak in one-syllable words?"
He laughed and said, "Point well-taken. I am waiting for a man named Captain Wolfe but I don't see him. His ship has not ported."
She came back with his ale and he beckoned to her. "Not much business yet, and I'm in need of company."
She opened her mouth to retort a reply and he held up his hand.
"Nay, I am not taking ye for a doxy. Just some intelligent conversation."
She suddenly smiled and held out her hand to him. "My name is Honour Bright."
He kissed her hand and said, "And I am Captain James Blake of the 'Dark Vexation', just ported this morning."
"Where are you from, Captain Blake?"
"Please, call me James. Ireland. Wicklow, to be precise. And you?"
"Originally from Wales. A town near Beaumaris."
"Very pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Bright...."

Honour got up out of the bed and poured a basin of water from the pitcher. She washed her face and then peered into the mirror.
'You sure know how to arrange things,' she whispered to her reflection.
She opened the casement window and breathed deeply the salt air, trying to clear her mind. The sea breeze wafted through the window, her silk nightdress swirling around her body. She could see the palms swaying in the moonlight.
Nervously she ran her fingers through her hair. I can handle this, she thought. After what happened in Beaumaris, I can handle anything.

It lasted two weeks. She remembered their last night together. They had spent the night in her room above the tavern. He held her close and kissed her.
"If you're ever back in Barbados...." she whispered.
"Aye. I know..."
Before the morning dawned, he was gone.

She pulled the coverlet down and slid into the bed.
'It was before we ever met', she thought. 'Jack need never know.'
Out loud she whispered softly, 'God willing....'
Jack smiled as Cade, still looking dumbfounded, made his way through the busting tavern crowd. "Captain Jennings! Are you forgetting something? New captain buys the house a round!"

A loud cheer went up, and the party shifted into high gear. Jack used the opportunity to slip off to the side and approach the brooding figure of Bonita. "Since when did you become allergic to celebrations, love? You've been the proverbial wet blanket all evening."
"You never learn, never once in all the time I know you. So many changes in a time so small? What be chasing you so hard that you must turn the world upside down?"
"Nothing wrong with a bit of change. I think the smuggling operation will be a great success, and Cade has earned his station."
Bonita smiled knowingly. "Always the businessman, and always so careful to talk about only what he want to talk. You know the changes I speak of. That woman. You do not know her, Jack."
"Well, that's what this little honeymoon is for..."
"Hear me, Jack Wolfe!" she hissed. "Dat woman who share your name and your bed, she is not what you think! She is strong in the Old Ways, but she will not admit to it."
Jack gave Bonita an incredulous look. "So, you're telling me that my new bride is, ah, what's the word... oh, yes! A witch? Honestly, Bonita!"
"I feel it in her, Jack. I tell you so you know that she tricks you!"
He looked upon his old and trusted friend with a look of disbelief tinged with pity. "Why are you doing this? Wait, never mind. I may be daft, but I'm far from stupid. It pains me that you chose this time to play me for a fool."
He turned on his heel and started up the stairs. "Cade! See to it our new partners have another round. This one's on me!"

Jack climbed the stairs and quietly entered his and Honour's room. Honour stirred, and smiled at him. "Is the party over already?" she asked.
"No, no, it's still going strong. I merely lost interest. Too many things on my mind, I suppose. Too many strange conversations for one evening. Most I can easily dismiss, but one in particular has me puzzled."
"Oh? What was it about?" she asked. Please, please, please do not let it be about James...
"I can hardly believe I even listened to such foolishness."
Her stomach tightened, but she hid it as best she could. "What has you in such state, Jack? You know you can tell me."
"Believe it or not, darling," he laughed, "Bonita says you're a witch."
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:22:53 PM

Honour drew the sheet closer to her and gave a brittle laugh.
"A witch. ME?"
Jack took off his shirt and threw it over the chair.
"Aye. You. I personally think she has gone 'round the bend."
"But----but what reason did she give for that outrageous observation?"
Jack sat on the edge of the bed and pulled his boots off, kicking them under the bed.
"Some nonsense about 'old ways' and tricks. Bonita thinks you tricked me into marrying you. Can you believe it?"
He dropped his breeches and flung them in the corner.

Honour was bewildered. It had been three years since she ran away from the Order of St Brigid's. No one but Marvos and her father knew that she was there. Not even Madoc or Rhys. And the only thing she had ever learned was how to raise the mist.
She thought back to the leather-bound book she had buried deep in one of the trunks she brought onboard El Lobo del Mar. No doubt Gwydion was still looking for the book. And her.
Could that be what Bonita had sensed? The book?

She tried to give off a casual air.
"Bonita has very strange ideas, love. I sensed that in her as soon as you introduced us."
Jack pulled the sheet down and slid into bed.
"Well, it was the way she was brought up. Her tia--aunt--was a very powerful priestess and taught Bonita everything she knew."

Jack punched up his pillow and put his arm around Honour. She pressed her body closer to him as if for protection.
Jack kissed the top of her head and said, "You're trembling, darling. Are you cold?"
The curtains were blowing into the room. She said, "Just a bit. The night air is chilly."
He held her close and said, "Always is once the sun goes down. And don't worry about Bonita. She has uncanny powers of observation but this time I know she is wrong."
Honour tried to toss off the notion of being a witch. "I have never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life, Jack! A witch, of all things!"
"Although she may have something there...."
Honour jerked back from Jack. "What do you mean?"
He pulled her back to him, kissing her neck as his hands caressed her. "You certainly have bewitched me."
She whispered into his ear, "I have been found out as that was my plan from the beginning. And you are under my spell."
She looked him in the eyes and said, "And I do so love this island for a honeymoon, my love."
He kissed her passionately, and said, "Welcome to Tobago, love...."

The morning sun streamed into the room. A gentle breeze carried in the perfume of a myriad tropical flowers. Jack stirred and woke to find that he and Honour had barely moved from the way they'd held each other after making love. He smiled and gently brushed a strand of golden hair from her face. She drew in a soft waking breath and smiled, her eyes fluttering open to meet his.

"You've got that look in your eyes again, Jack Wolfe." she whispered.
"And what look is that, darling?"
"That look of wanting to lie abed with me, but knowing that duty calls."
"Oh, that look! Am I that transparent?"
"As Italian crystal," she smiled, and kissed him softly. "Go. Play captain, and I'll join you later. I still need a bit of rest after last night."
"As you wish, my wife. But mind you; if I come back and find you still in bed, I'll be obliged to join you."
Honour pushed him away playfully. "Keep dreaming, you tarry sailor! Out of my bed! Go, go and make us rich!"

They laughed and talked as he dressed. They kissed once more, and he opened the door to leave.
"Oh, Honour, did I mention that there are scorpions on this island?"
"No, you never did. I think I'd remember such a thing," she replied worriedly.
"Yeah, well, just the same. Be careful. I'd hate for one to crawl into bed with you."
Honour yelped and threw the covers off, and stood up on the bed looking for any possible unwanted guests.
"Ah, now that's a sight that will carry me through," Jack laughed.
Her eyes grew wide as she realized he'd played a prank on her. "Oh!! That's it! Out with you!!" she laughed, and threw a pillow at his head. Jack ducked out and closed the door, smiling happily.

As he walked down the stairs, he saw Cade and Briggs sitting at a table looking over some charts and papers.
"Well, well! The last time I saw him smiling like that, we had a galleon's worth of swag in our hold and a burning Spaniard to our rudder! What brings you down from Heaven, Admiral?" Cade joked.
"I wanted to make sure your new commission hadn't gone to you're head, Captain, sir!" Jack quipped. He looked around the room, and noticed something was amiss. "Oi, where's Bonita? I'm starved."
"I saw her walking down by the shore early this morning," Josiah replied. "Damned if I know what that wild woman be up to, nor where she intends to do it."
"Fine. She's been right moody of late. No matter. Cade, fetch me that bowl of apples, if you please."
"Pulling rank, are we?" Cade asked.
"Damned right, and step quickly! Honestly, Josiah, why did I ever promote him?"
"What, like ye ever ask anyone before ye go and do it?"
"Good point. Ah, thanks, mate." Jack bit into a juicy red apple before continuing. "Now, gentlemen. Down to business..."

Honour laid in the bed, smiling inexplicably. Well, alright, so she knew why she was smiling but she couldn't quite figure out why she should be feeling so exceptionally--content.
She closed her eyes and stretched her arms above her head, yawning.
She leaned over the side of the bed, looking under it.
No scorpions!
She put her feet down on the floor and got up. Grabbing her dressing gown of silk, she walked over to the French doors and opened them.

The view of the azure sea and the palm trees framing the yellow sand was breath-taking. While she had gone back to sleep, Jack must have brought a bowl of fruit up and left it on the dresser.
Taking a mango, she bit into it, deep in thought.

She had only been married to Captain Wolfe a week. A week! Her first marriage had lasted six months. Six long, tedious months.
She felt she knew Jack better than she did Madoc. She shuddered at the thought of him. If it hadn't been for Rhys keeping her sane...
She pushed the thought of the other far down into her soul. This is not the time nor the place to be bringing that memory up from the depths, she thought.
I'll think about that later.
Some day.
Some day when it doesn't hurt so much.

She inhaled deeply the blossomed air with the underlying sea breeze. Just a glorious day to be alive and
Was she in love?
She wondered. It felt..different than it did with Rhys.
Maybe because I am older, she reasoned. After all, I AM nineteen now.

She threw on a chemise and quickly laced a waist cincher. No need to bother with a skirt. She tied her hair up in a ribbon and headed down the stairs.

Jack was talking with Briggs and Cade. They had maps and charts unfurled. Briggs was pointing to an area. "Now, if we port over on this side..."
Cade replied with, "Yes, but there are shoals over here..."
Jack queried with, "What about over...."
The three of them looked up as Honour reached the bottom stair.
Briggs said stiffly, "Good morning, Mrs. Wolfe."
Cade smiled and nodded.
Jack walked over to her and kissed her cheek as he touched her ribbon.
"Dressed rather informally, are we, love? Not fitting the station of a pirate queen."
She laughed and said, "I intend to go to the cove and maybe pick some of the fruit there. Or catch myself a macaw!"
Jack laughed uproariously at that. "And what do you intend to put him in? Your chemise?"
She coloured at that. "Alright, so I will forego the parrot. But I intend for you to catch one for me before we leave."

She waved and walked out. Looking back just once, she saw the men resume their consultation on the charts.
All but one.
Cade Jennings was watching her leave. As she caught his eye, he turned to the charts on the table.
Odd, she thought.
Very odd.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:26:09 PM
"Mister Jennings!!" Jack repeated. "I'll agree, my wife is quite fetching, but I'll kindly thank you to get your head off a swivel where she's concerned! Kindly turn your attention back to the business at hand, or, by God, I'll discharge this pistol under the table into your inattentive guts. Are we square, boy?"
Cade fought to swallow his panic and embarrassment. "Aye, Jack! I'm sorry. I couldn't- I didn't..."
"Best ye shut yer stammerin' gob, ye horned up fool," Josiah advised. "There be two pistols trained again' ye. I know where me bread be buttered."
Jennings drew a deep, faltering breath. "I meant no offense, Jack. Please know that."
Jack fixed Cade with a withering eye. "Appreciation of my wife, I'll allow. Take it much farther, and I'll carve your heart out. Remember that."
"Aye, Jack. That I will." Cade offered.
"Fair enough. Josiah, stow your piece. We've more important work to accomplish here. Now, a blind man could see we've taken hold of the Galleon Run. As long as our ships keep sweeping between here and Barbados, we own riches beyond belief. In 2 days, I'll set out for Barbados the settle our agreement with Governor Wheatherby Mings. His letter of marque will cover all our ships and their aggressions against the Spaniard."
"But what of the runours of peace?" Cade asked.
"Rumours suit me not, boy. Show me a signed treaty, and I'll consider a different tack. Even then, I'd most likely ignore it. We're not but simple pyrates, eh, Josiah?! What do we know of treaties?" Jack laughed.
"But you spoke of a letter of marque from Governor Mings! I'm confused, Jack!" Cade protested.
"Let me spell it out for you, Cade." Jack growled. "You obviously haven't been following. That's why I've asked you politely to keep your eyes off my bride. I'll ask you keep your mind off her as well! Now, Governor Mings will issue a letter of marque to me, which will cover any ships what's signed on under my flag. As much as I despise it, that makes us privateers. Mings gets his cut, English interests are served, and the citizens of Trinidad get their goods, and possibly, a bit of gold. Not likely, but we'll leave that out there as a tease. Still confused, mate?"
Cade thought hard bout the plan laid about before him. "No. You've made it crystal clear. I just never though I'd be selling out to the Crown."
"That's the glory of it," Jack offered. "The Crown thinks they own us, but we get to do as we please. Their ambassadors get to plead ignorance to the Spaniards about our actions, and it all gets tied up in bureaucratic mayhem. I figure we can ride it out for a good 5 to 7 years until they crack down on us good and proper. By then, we'll be too rich to care."
Briggs and Jennings agreed to Jack's proposition, and smuggling operation's plan was finalized.

Jack finished off his tankard of rum. "Excellent, gentlemen! Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be chasing after my darling bride, wherever she may be off to. Oh, and Cade; show a bit of attention to Bonita. Perhaps your young bones might provide her with some diversion. She does know some interesting... well, never you mind. You'll find out soon enough." With that, he meandered out the door.
Cade looked quizzically at Briggs.
"I'll not confess to a thing," Josiah smiled.

Captain James Blake looked around.
A coconut bounced onto the ground and rolled at his feet.
"HEY!" he shouted.
He looked up.
"What are you doing up THERE?"
"I'm stuck, what do you think?"
He chuckled and shielded his eyes.
"Honour Bright, you get yourself into the most unusual predicaments!"
The voice from up the tree yelled, "IT'S MRS. WOLFE! AND HELP ME GET DOWN!"
"Wait right there, I'll be up to help."
"Where am I going to go?"

James defty shimmied up the tree. When he got to the palm fronds, he burst out laughing.
"HOW on God's green earth did you manage THAT?"
Honour was hanging there by her waist cincher lacings which had caught on the back of two fronds and she was swinging free.
She said tightly, "Just get me down without dropping me on my...."
"Alright, alright. Let's see....just move this lace that way...and that lace this hold onto the fronds so you don't drop....oh, dear!"

Honour was thrown to the ground and landed on a pile of the fronds.
James climbed down and jumped the last ten feet.
He swept into a bow and said, "I trust you had a soft landing!"
He helped her up and asked, "No broken bones?"
She checked all over and said, "No, I seem to be in one piece."
James said quietly, "Good. Your husband would not be pleased and would probably run someone through out of temper."
"Surely you jest, James. He's very loving and wonderful to me."
James stopped in his tracks and looked at her incredulously. "And have you ever wondered why he is the foremost revered pirate in the Caribbean?"
She shrugged and said, "I didn't know that he was."
"He's absolutely brilliant. His campaigns are a success and his pillaged holdings are beyond belief. Some say he gets inside information and is blessed by unconventional means."
"What do you mean?"
"Word around the ports is he has help of a supernatural kind."
"James, will you PLEASE stop speaking in riddles?"
He sighed and said, "Some people say Bonita is a witch. A voodoo practitioner and Jack is the recipient of her wisdom."
She burst out laughing. "Voodoo? Bonita is nothing but smoke and mirrors!"
James shrugged, "Just repeating what I hear."

They walked on the shore in silence, Honour picking up a few shells.
James broke the silence and said, "Why did you go off with him? Why not wait for me?"
"You never asked, James. And we didn't know each other long enough."
"How long did you know Captain Jack Wolfe?"
Honour's head was down and she whispered something.
"What, Honour? I didn't hear you."
She brought her face up and her face was blushed. "I said, 'five hours.' "
"Five hours? Am I hearing right or did you say 'days'?"
She said hotly, "I couldn't help it. It's something that I--we----can't explain!"
James smiled wryly, "I must say you held out for the top dog, as it were. Tell me, Honour---is the reason you married him measured in millions?"
She raised her hand to slap him but he caught her hand and raised his eyebrow.
"Did I touch a nerve, love?"
She jerked her hand away. "I told you. I can't explain it. And I shouldn't have to."
She looked up and saw the darkening sky.
"Looks like rain. I'm heading back. You can walk with me if you want to but no more chastising. This is now a closed subject."
He said, "As you wish, Mrs. Wolfe."

"By the powers, what are these men thinking of when they named their ships?" Jack asked out loud to no one as he reviewed a list of the captains and ships that had signed the roster. "I mean, really! The Victorious Secret!? Disarm them with laughter, I suppose. Oh! There you are!" he called as he spied Honour and James walking together. "James! Have you seen the names of some of these ships? Wait a moment... what be the name of your vessel?" He looked through the list. "Ah! The Dark Vexation! Much more better."

"Aye, Jack. If I may ask, what has you in such a cheery mood today?" Blake asked.

"She's stand right next to you, mate. Or have you fallen suddenly blind? Hello, Honour, dear. My, you have a lovely pair of coconuts!"

"Oh!" she gasped, and realized he was speaking of the two coconuts she'd knocked from the tree. "I found them lying on the ground and I thought they looked interesting." she offered, with a slight blush to her cheeks.

"That they do. But I digress. James, how much does your ship draft?"
"About 85 tonnes."
"With ballast, or without?"
"If you're agreeable to carrying no more than 2 months food and water, I'd like you to take a lead role in the operation. You're a fine captain, and I trust you have a fine ship and solid crew. What say you?"
"Just like that?"
"You have a problem with me trusting you, James? Where's your head?"
"Nowhere! I mean... yes! Aye! We're ship shape and Bristol fashion, ready to sail!"
"That's more like it." Jack smiled. "Now, if you don't mind, I'll escort my wife the rest of the way. That is, if you don't mind terribly."

Blake looked at Jack as if he'd suddenly grown two heads and six parrots. "No, not at all," he nearly stammered. "Mrs. Wolfe, I've enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for your company. Captain Wolfe, I'll tend to my ship." James walked off down the path to the wharf, shaking his head and mumbling to himself.

"Honour, I have a question for you."
"Yes, Jack?" Secretly, she worried he was about to start asking hard questions about her being with James.
"You're the wife of a pyrate now. There may come a time, forbidding all, that you may need to defend yourself. I'd like to teach you how to handle a blade, if you'd like. To tell the truth, I'd sleep easier if you did."
Jack's honesty surprised her. "I would love for you to teach me, my husband. But I need to change!" Honour looked at the sky. "It looks like rain. Do we have time?"
He looked up at the clouds. "Aye, we've all the time in the world."

They walked back to the tavern, chatting about everything and nothing. "I'll be right back down. Please take care of these for me?" She handed the coconuts over to Jack. "I promise I'll only be a moment!"

Honour started up the stairs, and Jack called after her, "I'll happily take care of your coconuts, whenever you ask!"
"You're a bad man, Jack Wolfe!" she laughed. In a moment, she disappeared into their room.

"She have no idea what truth she say, Jack Wolfe!" a voice snapped harshly behind him, accompanied by the slam of a pick being driven into one of the coconuts.
"Bonita! I didn't notice you appearing out of nowhere, like that." He gazed uneasily at the coconut she'd stabbed all the way to the handle of the pick.
"Milk dese I will, like you milk everyone you touch."
"I sense a touch of bitterness on your part, dear."
Bonita drew the pick from the coconut and had the point scarcely an inch from Jack's eye in a flash. "You de one what have no idea now." She slammed the pick on the countertop and stalked off.

Jack drew a heavy breath and tries to shake off her threat. He crossed the room to an innocuous looking door and, after digging for a key, unlocked it. He opened it to reveal an impressive arsenal.

He started looking for a suitable sword when he felt a tap on his shoulder. "What the blue blazes...!" he yelped, and spun around to find a surprised Honour standing before him.
"What's gotten into you?" she asked?
"You've got the cat-like quietness, don't you! You caught me lost in thought, looking for a suitable blade. That's all," he lied.
"Oh, my lord, look at all this!" she marveled. "Can I pick my own, please?"
"Do you know the first thing about swords, love?"
"I know what I like! And I like... this one!" She grabbed an intricately wrought rapier with a gold inlaid basket.
"Oh, you don't want that. Too long and too unwieldy on the deck of a ship."
"But, I like it!" she pouted. "It's impressive, and I think it looks good on me."
"Oh, all right. When you put it that way," Jack laughed. He fitted her with a belt and a frog for the scabbard. He helped her on with the belt and got the sword hung neatly on the left hip. As he slung on his halberd and cutlass, he caught her switching her blade to her right hip.
"Here, now! What are you on about? Put that back!"
"But I like it over here! It looks better."
"Are you left handed?"
"Um... no. Why?"
"How do you intend to quickly draw your sword when it's on the wrong hip?"
"Oh. Fine." she acquiesced, and shifted the rapier back to the correct hip.
"Follow me, you dangerous fashion plate, you," he teased.

They went out the back of the tavern to a groomed area that resembled a fighting ring. He stepped behind her, and placed his hands on her hips.
"Is this entirely proper?" she teased.
"We're husband and wife, love. It's all proper!" he whispered in her ear. "Now," he said softly, "draw your sword."
She drew the rapier and held it tight.
"No, love, not like that. It's not a meat cleaver. Oh, fine, it is, but a bit more refined. Here, hook your forefinger through that section there - that's it! See how it feels more balanced? That's my love!" He stepped around in from of her and drew his sword. "Now, I want you to forget about your hand. The sword is your arm. Focus on the tip. The tip is everything. Your enemy gets inside the first 8 inches of your blade, you've lost the advantage. Now, slowly, deflect my blade."
He moved his sword about, slowly encroaching on her blade. She focused intently and, to his surprise, deftly defended herself.
"Excellent! You're a near natural to this. Now, I presume you can dance, yeah?"
"Of course I can dance!" she chided. "Why, can you? I though we were here to learn about swords, not waltzing."
"Now here comes the real elegance of swordplay. Your foot work. If you can dance, you've got the proverbial fighting chance. Keep in mind what I said about the tip. You seem to understand defending yourself, now let's see if you can attack with the same aplomb!"

Jack fell into a defensive posture, and teased her forward. "Come on! I can dodge your best! Attack the tip of my blade.."
Honour took a few tentative strikes, then, feeling a bit of confidence, she struck his sword with a resounding ring. Suddenly, Jack found himself truly on the defensive. She seemed to lose sense of time and place when astonishingly, she closed her eyes and swung even harder.

"Honour! Wait! Oi! Open you eyes, if you please! Stop!!"
Her blade never slowed, and Jack set himself to disarm her. He drove her blade into the sand, and stepped aside as she yanked it back and swung with lethal force straight into the bark of a palmetto tree. She struck the tree four more times when finally, on the fifth stroke, the rapier lodged fast in the tree.

She jerked hard, but the blade wouldn't budge. Jack slipped in behind her and slid his arms long hers. "Honour! Calm down! Easy, easy, love! That's it! You're fine, you're all right. Just... stop killing my tree, yeah? What happened to you?"

Honour opened her eyes, and her breathing slowed. "Oh, my God, what have I done? Are you all right, Jack?" she exclaimed.
"I'm fine, love. The tree, I'm afraid, is mortally stricken." He walked up to the wounded tree and tried to pull the rapier out. It was stuck fast. "Here, grab hold of the hilt and pull when I tell you."

Hounour grabbed the hilt and set herself to pull hard. Jack set his shoulder against the tree and pushed hard. "Now! Pull!" he grunted.

She dug in and yanked with all her might, and the sword popped free. She went splaying backward in the sand. Jack ducked out from under the wounded tree, and stared as it sagged, heaved, then made a sickening popping sound. Within moments, it toppled over.

He turned to his prone wife and helped her to her feet. "Congratulations, darling. Your first kill." Jack looked into her eyes with mock disapproval, then burst out laughing. "Apparently, this sword suits you, Mrs. Wolfe! It's yours!" He hugged her tight. "Here. Scabbard this before we lose any more foliage."

Honour looked at the fallen tree, and her eyes began to well. "Jack, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to do that! What have I done?"
"I'd say you're off to a fine career as a woodcutter, love. Hey, it's a tree! No worries, darling. We've plenty more."

Honour's eyes grew wide, and she burst into laughter. "I did that? Can you forgive me? You are all right, aren't you?" She fell into Jack's arms, dissolved into a case of the giggles.
"Everything's still attached, sweetheart. The tree, not so good." Jack couldn't help but lose himself in her laughter.

As they embraced, a crack of thunder rumbled across the island, and the skies opened up in a torrential downpour. Honour squealed and ran for the tavern. "Oi!" Jack yelled over the rain. "You're sweet, but you won't melt! Wait for me!"

They entered the tavern, both soaking wet and leaving a trail of water on the floor. Honour shivered as they walked across the floor. To her relief, Bonita was nowhere in sight.
"So...where is Miss Gloom-and-Doom? Looking for an eye of newt?"
Jack grew serious. "Darling, Bonita's ways are not to be made light of."
Exasperated, Honour replied, "Jack, are you serious? You honestly believe that she is magical and all-knowing?"
He was uneasy. He glanced over to the countertop and saw the two coconuts slashed and hacked to pieces.
"Let's forget about Bonita, shall we, for the moment and get into some dry clothes."

In their room, Honour wrung out her hair over a basin and Jack had taken off his wet clothes and had put some dry breeches on. His muscular chest never failed to send a shiver of delight through Honour. Even the few scars he had, he wore well.

He opened a cabinet and pulled out a bottle. Pulling the stopper, he filled two glasses with the amber liquid.
"What is this?"
"It's brandy. A little something to take the chill off you and relax you. I must say, your swordplay was superb for one so new to it. One would think you had been doing this for years."
She gratefully took the glass.
"Maybe you are an excellent teacher."

She willed her hand to stop shaking. She had been hoping to appear as a novice. How could she ever tell him she had been trained in swordplay since she was thirteen? Marvos, her mentor at the Order of St Brigid, had patiently taught her. To explain how she learned would bring up a time she was trying to put behind her. Gwydion was foremost in the past she was trying to forget.
She was taken aback by the ferocity of her 'attack' when she slashed the palmetto to death. The sword in her hand had taken her back to that night two years ago. The night that set her on the course that ended with her arrival in Barbados that dark night.

Jack smiled at her as he unlaced her bodice and threw it in the corner. He deftly tugged at her drawstring skirt and in one fell swoop, it dropped. He took the empty glass out of her hand and set it down on the dresser.
She began to shiver, not so much from cold but from anticipation.
Jack put his arms around her and drew her close.
"Cold, darling?"
She whispered, "Just a little..."
He kissed her and picked her up. "No mind. I know plenty of ways to keep you warm..."

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:29:41 PM
Honour laid there contentedly, her arms around Jack and her blonde hair trailing over his chest. Jack said, "If only one of my friends could see me now. He never would believe it!"
She raised her head. "What do you mean?"
He pushed her hair back from her face and said, "One of my drinking comrades in Port Royal. We both vowed we would never be tamed and domesticated by a woman, be it doxy or damsel, wench or lady!"
She propped herself up on her elbow. "This sounds like an interesting tale, Captain Wolfe. Care to enlighten me?

"He was a good friend. Surpassed by none in his daring and he was second only to me in his holdings. Shame about what happened to him."
"What do you mean? Is he in gaol? He give up the account?"
"No, he's dead."
"I'm sorry, my darling. It's hard to lose friends. Taken out by the Spanish? Smallpox? A mutiny?"
Jack shook his head ruefully. "None of those. It was senseless."
"Don't leave me in suspense. What happened to him?"
"He was murdered."
Honour put her hand to her lips and said, "How terrible! In a duel?"
"Not exactly. He never had the chance."
"What do you mean?"
"He wasn't weaponed."
"It hardly seems fair, Jack. A man should have a fighting chance."
Jack chuckled a bit. "Well, he wasn't wearing his clothes either."
Honour pulled back and asked, "What...?"
Jack drew her back to him and held her. "No, he was run through for the simple crime of being in the arms of another man's wife. A lord, no less!"

Honour could feel the blood leave her face and she fought to keep her voice even. "A--and what was the name of this friend of yours?"
"Rhys Morgan of the Neptune----Honour! Are you alright?"
She had jumped up and ran to the privy closet.
He got up and knocked on the door. "Honour! Are you sick?"
She came out, looking pale and tried to give him a smile.
"I'm sorry...I must have gotten sick from drinking the brandy on an empty stomach."

He guided her back to the bed, covering her up with the quilt and putting his arms around her, he said softly, "Rhys Morgan is never far from my mind."
Honour mustered up all the courage she could to forge ahead. "And--and what of the woman?"
Jack sighed. "No one knows. When the man's son came home, he found his father dead against the wall with a bodice dagger in his heart where it would be if he had one. Rhys was in the bed, stabbed through. The safe was emptied of the jewelry and gold coins. The woman herself was gone. It was as if she vanished into thin air."
Jack kissed her again and as his hand started to caress her, she said, "Jack, I'm really tired from the long day."
He said, "I guess you have had a full day. Goodnight, love."
She barely whispered, "Goodnight."
Moving over to face the French doors, the tears began to trace down her face. She buried her face in the pillow, hoping her body wouldn't be wracked with sobs.

A wound she thought was healing had been torn open again.
She prayed that Jack would never find out the truth.
That she was the woman to blame.

The next morning was cool and overcast. Jack awoke to find Honour still in a fetal position, clutching the covers. He was concerned over her taking ill so suddenly. Something was amiss, but no simple answer presented itself. Quietly, he rose and closed the window to keep the chill from her. The gentle click of the latch was enough to wake her. She opened her eyes, and immediately noticed the look of concern on his face.

"Good morning, darling. How do you feel?" he asked.
She put on a cheery smile, trying not to think about Rhys or Jack's friendship with him. "I'm feeling much better today. Really. It was silly of me to go without eating like that."
"All the same, I's just as soon have you rest today. We'll be setting sail for Barbados tomorrow, and you'll need your strength for the passage. It wouldn't do for the captain's wife to be weak from the vapours, now would it? I'd hate for you to be off your game when the opportunity to irritate Briggs presents itself," he smiled.
"Jack, really. I'm fine. The last thing I want to do spend the day on a beautiful island cooped up inside! You know how I love the sand and the salt air. Please?" she pouted.
"As usual, I can deny you nothing," he sighed, as he began pulling on his clothes. "But grant me this; take your time getting up. I have business with the ship that should take no more than a couple of hours. I'll have a tray of food brought up so you can eat and dress at your leisure."
"You're not sending up that horrid woman, are you?"
"I promise, I'll have one of the servants come up. Anyone but Bonita." He fetched a dressing gown from the armoire and laid it on the bed next to her. He leaned close and kissed her lips tenderly. "I'll be back as soon as I possibly can. Josiah most likely has everything in order, but I need to inspect it myself."
"Hurry back, darling," she smiled. "And tell Josiah I've had a wonderful time buying trunks and crates of pretty things he'll need to find room for!"

Jack laughed and blew her a kiss as he closed the door. As he descended the stairs, he looked about the tavern for a servant, but none could be found. He shook his head and set about filling a tray with fresh fruit and meat. Finally satisfied with the selection of food he'd selected, he started up the stairs just as the front door opened. In walked Cade, who gave his mentor a bemused look.
"Have you added serving wench to your many titles, Jack?
"As a matter of fact, Mister Clever Arse, I was just fetching my wife a bite to eat before I go check on the ship. But since you're just milling about this morning being cheeky, do us a favour and run this up to her. I'm late enough as it is. And you know how Josiah gets."
Cade took the tray, with a slightly puzzled look on his face. "Aye, Jack. See you in a bit." He took the tray up to Honour's room, and rapped quietly on the door.
Honour stretched out on the bed and then grabbed the dressing gown that Jack had left next to her. Arising, she slipped her arms through it, drawing it close to her. She padded over to the French doors and opened them up, inhaling the sea air. The sea was in a tempest, almost as if it were angry at someone. The waves crashed down on the shore and the sky was grey. Everything took on a less-than-friendly air.

She sighed and closed the door, shivering. Maybe there won't be the opportunity to go to the shore before we leave. So what do I do? Go downstairs and hang around the tavern? Bake apple tarts with Bonita? The thought of the woman sent a chill through her.
'Nonsense!' she said in an undertone.

Honour pressed her forehead to the window and peered out at the palmetto tree that she had decimated with the rapier. She couldn't believe the ferocity with which she attacked it. She had closed her eyes and instinct had taken over. Just like Marvos had taught her. How could she have ever explained to Jack that she got her training in a most unusual academy? That she was at one time under Gwydion's tutelage. Instruction into the Old Ways.
The ways of the Druids.
And that the woman he called his wife was at one time destined to be an enchantress.

Honour walked over to the trunk that she had brought ashore. Lifting the lid, she sorted through her clothes until she found at the very bottom what she was looking for.
The book.

She opened up the leather cover and inside it were inscribed all the secrets of the old Order.
Secrets that never should be revealed, let alone taken to ink and paper. Honour ran her fingers over the words. It was this book--this stolen book--that set Gwydion after her. Along with the theft of his horse Taliesin. But she didn't care. She had a new name and a new identity and he--along with Madoc's sons--would never find her.

A knock was heard at the door. Hastily she buried the book under some fine linen. She rose quickly and cautiously opened the door, half expecting to see that witch Bonita.
"Oh. My goodness, Mr. Jennings!"
She instinctively wrapped her dressing gown closer to her.
"Good morning, Mrs. Wolfe. I seem to have been the one pressed into service to deliver your breakfast. Your husband was late in his duty to his ship and as I was the only one in the tavern..."
Honour gave him a smile and said, "Please! My manners seem to be lacking. Do come in!"

Cade came into the room. "Where would you like this?"
She took it out of his hand and said, "I'll take it right now. Foolishly I forgot to eat since breakfast yesterday.
Please, won't you have a seat?"
Cade sat down, a bit nervous he was in a room alone with Captain Wolfe's wife and she was in a dressing gown. But sit down he did. Who was he to refuse an invitation?

Honour helped herself to a peach and some grapes. She offered a pomegranate to Cade which he took.
"Mmmm! I just love peaches! And fresh biscuits, too."
"Bonita made those this morning."
Honour reluctantly put it back. "I think I shall pass on the biscuits. If she made them, there may be ground glass or arsenic in them."
Cade laughed. "They are fine. In fact, everyone in the tavern had some this morning."
"Then I shall help myself to them. But if anything happens to me, be sure and tell my husband that it was the biscuits!"

Cade couldn't help but smile at the light-hearted way that Honour had. She looked so young with her hair tied back in a blue ribbon, tendrils framing her face. Her dressing gown was of sky blue and she was barefoot. Her dimpled smile was infectious and she made Cade feel at ease. If only she wasn't married to...

"... and I hope to come back to Tobago really soon. Hello? Mr. Jennings?"
Cade snapped back, his face blushing. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Wolfe. You were saying...?"
"I was saying that I was really sorry about the palmetto. I guess I got carried away. Will you see that the tree gets replaced? For Jack?"
"I certainly shall. For your sake."
Honour's smile wreathed her face, and she said, "Thank you, Mr. Jennings. You are a dear."
"Please. 'Mr. Jennings' sounds so formal. Call me Cade."
"Very well...Cade. My goodness, will you look at the clock on the mantle! I've been sitting here chatting for an hour and keeping you from your work! And I should get dressed and make some plans. I want to plan something special for Jack, seeing it is our last day here."
Cade picked up the tray and said, "Aye. I need to finalize plans for the smu---I mean, for the trade that Jack has outlined."
Honour laughed and said, "I know a bit about it, Mr...Cade. It is smuggling, pure and simple. After all, I AM married to a pyrate!"

Cade caught himself staring at Honour's brilliant blue eyes, and felt the heat rise in his cheeks. She was easily the most beautiful and radiant woman he'd ever seen. And she was the wife of the man who'd he come to look upon as a father-figure. How could he covet his mentor's wife?!

"Aye, ma'am. That you are. I'll be running this tray down for you. I hope you have a wonderful time here, what it being your honeymoon and all. I'll be leaving now." Cade offered incredibly clumsily. He retreated, only to catch a glimpse of Hounour framed in the window. He shut the door and screwed his eyes shut.

"No, no, no! Jack gave you everything you have, you stupid git! There are plenty other women... why her?!" he mulled to himself as he descended the stairs. He crossed over to the tavern's bar and shoved the tray across it's surface. He turned to mull his plight when he found himself face to face with Bonita.

"Dance in your mind, does she not? Tempt you, don't she? Make you want her, no matter de consequence? D'at be her evil, that which already consume Jack, and make you doubt him." Bonita hissed. "Already you plan, in d'at dark heart you hide away. You plan to take for your own! D'at way lie darkness. But you already set you feet d'at way, so I not try to dissuade you. Have her, you will, but at a price you not want to face. De price be you immortal soul.

Cade tried to wrench his eyes from her, but he couldn't. Her words rang in his head like the bells of the Apocalypse. His heart cried out in disbelief, yet he could not escaper her.

"Jack have his own fate, and she play dearly into it. He toss Bonita aside, for d'at child! He not know what he cast away! He be know as the greatest pyrate what ever sail. Pah!! He no longer worth my favours. You! Bastard child what he call his 'next in line'!"

Cade felt his feet raise a full 3 feet off the floor. "Aye! You have my undivided attention!"

"Your mentor, and him grand design... distance yourself. D'at woman? Your death, it lie with her. Not that I can stop you. Not that I can stop any of you. It be what it be," she laughed hollowly.

Bonita turned, and Cade fell like a sack of potatoes to the floor. He jumped immediately to his feet, but Bonita, as usual, was gone. He tried to collect himself when he heard Honour's door open. She was singing sweetly to herself, a song of everything and nothing. Bewildered and confused, he ducked out the back of the tavern.

Jack strutted about the dock as he checked off the last of Briggs' inspection points.

"All is in order, as you made clear, Jack. Plenty of swag for the Governor of Barbados, and plenty of munitions should we encounter prey, as alway."
"Josiah, what are you doing?" Jack queried.
"Pardon me?"
"I mean, what arrrrgh ye doing?! Acting like some suffering dog?! Speak plain! Is the ship ready, or not?"
"Aye!" Briggs exclaimed. "Ship shape, and Bristol fashion! I was just hoping there'd be no surprises."
"Surprises? None that I know of." Jack mused. "Oh! Now that you mention it, Honour did do a bit of shopping," Jack lied.
"Did she now, sir?"
"Aye. Quite a bit, actually. Can we lose about 25 tonnes of cargo? Give or take?"
The blood ran from Josiah's face. "Umm, 25, er tonnes, Jack? Have ye lost what few wits ye have left? What of the Governor's share?!"
"Oh! Quite right. Can we make up the deficit if we eschew our larger guns? And their powder and shot, of course."
Josiah's face went white a sheet.
"Mother and child, Jack! What the bloody hell?! Have ye really lost your mind this time?!! What's this woman done to ye?!"
Jack burst out laughing. "Josiah! ! Calm yourself, my brother! I was having a bit of fun at your expense! No, don't lighten our load one whit. In fact, stow on more case shot and langrage. I feel a prize int the wind."
Brigss smiled wanly. "Aye, Jack.. Thy will be done. But I have a question, if ye don't mind awfully."
"Of course, Josiah. What worries you?"
"Well, that dog of hers..."
"Aye, what of Muir?"
"Ummm, he peed on me boots."
"Oh! That's what I've been smelling."
"Aye. Jack, I have a powerful bad feeling about your wife. I thing that after all these years, I've earned my peace with ye! She... Damn it, it's nigh on unnatural the sway she holds over these beasts! First, the cat, and now her wolf-dog... Jack, the men be whispering she a witch!" Josiah whispered.
Jack's eyes darkened, and he clutched his long-time friend by the collars. "Damn you, Josiah!" he spat. "Damn you, and anyone who would think such of my wife!! Spread the word, and you'll be the first to suffer by it! Any man who would speak out thusly against my wife will receive not fewer than 40 lashes, given by my own hand. Are we clear, Mister Briggs?!"
Briggs stared gobsmacked into the eyes of his friend. "Aye, Cap'n. The word shall be given," he offered.
Jack faltered, and turned from his friend. "I'm sorry, Josiah. I don't know what came over me. But the order stands. Please make everyone aware." he said, and walked down the gangplank.
"Aye, Cap'n." Josiah answered. "They'll know."

Jack hurried along the path back to the tavern. "How many more people will call my wife a witch?!" he pondered. "Damn them for breathing! What am I to..."
To his amazement, Muir cam bounding down the path towards him. He kneeled and accepted the sweet puppy kisses Muir felt eager to bestow. "What is it, boy? What do you want?"
Muir slapped the ground with his front paws and ran off down the path. Jack jogged in pursuit, and found Muir and Honour waiting for him a short distance from the tavern. Suddenly, everything felt right again. He rushed to Honour and swept her up in his arms, as Muir barked and jumped with them.

Bonita stood at the door of the tavern, and watched bitterly the display unfolding before her. "Enjoy it while ye will, Jack."

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:36:47 PM
Honour tried to catch her breath as she laughed.
"Jack, darling, you only left me a few hours ago!"
He held her and then drew back, brushing the hair off her shoulder and caressing her cheek. "Aye, but it seems like forever, love."
Muir continued to run back and forth. Jack rubbed behind the dog's ears and asked, "And what has him in a tizzy?"
She reached behind a palm tree and picked up a basket. "We, my dear, are going to have one last day to ourselves. We are going on a picnic."
Jack frowned. "Honour, sweetness, pirates don't go on picnics! We plunder, we pillage, but we don't picnic."
She smiled, "Today you aren't a pirate. Today you aren't Captain Jack Wolfe. Today you are John Michael Wolfe and you are my husband. Tomorrow we have Briggs frowning and disapproving but today it is just us. Mr. and Mrs. Wolfe. And their dog."
Jack lifted the lid and picked up the corner of the cloth. "Smells good. And what did Bonita pack for us?"
She playfully slapped his hand and said, "That woman didn't have a thing to do with this. I have cold meats and cheese and bread. And frosted cakes for dessert. And----" she reached behind the tree again and picked up a bottle of wine "---I hope you don't mind that I went down in your wine cellar and took a bottle of claret. I figured if it was yours, then it technically is mine. And this is what I wanted. I found a secret place I wanted to show you anyways."

Bonita sat at the tavern bar and continually threw the bones. "This be right! Bones no lie. Bones never lie. Tia Elena say so. Always right!"
The bones continued to form the same pattern. The leg bones of the chicken bones always ran parallel and the breast bone touched each of them, slightly between the two. She sat there in satisfaction and said aloud to no one, " They lives run parallel. But never cross again. She touch each. She keep apart yet touch. She no love. She never love. She poison! Jack no listen. Jack never listen. Jack remember. Mon Dieu, he remember but it be too late. Too late for all. D'at child-bride taint. D'at child poison! Not what she seem. Jack no listen. Jack pay de price."

Honour took Jack's arm and led him down a path that paralleled the shore. Abruptly she turned them to the greenery and then she climbed over a large rock. She pulled her skirts up and tucked them into her waistband. Jack followed. Within a couple moments, after climbing up a small, narrow path, Honor stopped suddenly and swept her hand over the area.
"Voila! Is this not paradise or what?"
They stood in a small grotto. Overhead, a waterfall spilled over the shale and pooled in a small stream. The trees formed a canopy. She spread a cloth down and sat cross-legged on the ground. Muir ran to the pool, barking at his own reflection.
Honour produced two crystal goblets and handed Jack the bottle.
"Would you do the honours, my darling husband?"
He grinned and after opening, he poured it into the wine glasses.
"Honour, you are up to something. We may only have been married ten days, but I can read your mind. Now..what is it you are angling for?"
She looked down and said, "Am I that transparent?"
She looked up and there were tears on her lashes. "Jack, I--I'm afraid to go back to Barbados! I have a bad feeling about it."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm afraid something bad will happen before we get there. I can't help it. Please! Can we not stay here? Can we not live here? Surely with all the treasure you have, we can--
Jack cut her off. "What are you saying?"
She took a deep breath.
"I want you to give up being a pirate."

Jack finished his sip of wine and took a deep breath. "I knew you'd ask this of me one day. I didn't expect it to come within the first fortnight, though. Can't we slow down a bit and enjoy things before I'm hurled into the jaws of domesticity?"
"Jack, please don't make light of this." The tears were beginning to well in her eyes.
"Forgive me, darling. I can see how serious you are. And it makes it all the more painful that this is one wish I cannot grant you. Not now."

She stared at him in disbelief. "You mean you won't grant it. Not even for my sake?"
"No, I mean I can't. Too much is in play right now, and we'd never be safe here."
"Why not? We have everything here! We're away from the rest of the world, and you have a veritable army of loyal men surrounding you! How is that not safe?"
"What makes you think those men are loyal to me, love?"
"I've seen it! They adore you. They do whatever you ask, even the other captains."
Jack smiled wanly. "Honour, those men are loyal to what I can bring them. They're as loyal as wild dogs to the town butcher. Only less honest about the relationship. No, if I were to step away here and now, they'd turn on me in a heartbeat."
"How can that be? What about the oaths they swore to you? What about the Code?"
"I hate to break it to you, but the 'Code' is a fairy story. Made up by whoever writes those halfpenny books about pyrates back in England. The oaths they swore? Those were to the Company, not me. If I dissolve said Company, their oaths are meaningless. All the money we took from that Dutchman wouldn't begin cover what they'd expect in payment. Even if I could pay them off, it would only be a matter of time before the Spaniards or worse come snooping around. No, my love, we have to go back to Barbados."

Honour was trying desperately to comprehend what Jack was telling her. "You're- you're a prisoner of all this, of your own device? That means... I'm a prisoner, too. Why didn't you tell me this before?!" She was suddenly filled with regret at having been so impulsive as to marry a pyrate. Jack began to feel regret as well, at having put her in such danger.

"Because," he said quietly, "Before now, I never thought I'd have a reason to try and get away."
"This is all too much! What do you mean, 'get away'? You just told me you can't!"
Jack took her in his arms. "Barbados, darling. It's a big place! I have friends there we can trust. We can disappear, and leave this life."
"Are you serious? You really mean..."
"Yes. I really mean it. Especially if it means keeping you safe, I believe it's time to retire. No more running. I've been running all my life, and it's beginning to wear on me. It's as if that's all I know how to do anymore."

His words caught her off guard. No more running. It suddenly all made sense, why they seemed such kindred spirits. They'd both been running the better part of their lives. She now had a much better understanding of the man she called husband. She wrapped her arms around him and buried her face against him, not knowing if the tears she cried were out of fear or relief.

"I know you're worried about the crossing, but it's our best chance," he told her. "It will be a faster sail back, at least a day shorter. What could possibly happen?" He pulled back just enough so his eyes could meet hers, and he gently wiped away some of her tears. "It's our best chance, my love. Will you take it with me?"
She nodded wordlessly. When she found her voice, she said, "Aye, my husband. You know better than I. And I'll put my life in your capable hands."
Jack said soberly, "I wish you wouldn't put it that way, Honour. That is a heavy responsibility for a man like me. But yes, nothing will happen to you. And we shall put down roots. We shall settle somewhere."

Honour stood up and stretched her back. "I shall always remember this as one perfect moment. A hidden grotto, nothing but the smell of fresh air and the earth. A very heady aroma. It reminds me of...."
She stopped suddenly. Jack said, "Of what, Honour?"
She shrugged and said, "Of happy days of my youth."
She had a flash of the weekend she spent in Cardiff with Rhys. That too had been a perfect day. Like this one. A guilty feeling rose up in her. She didn't know if she felt unfaithful to Rhys' memory or to Jack. Time to push it down again till it finally would surface no more....

She looked at the waterfall and she smiled. Without a word, she stood, loosened her chemise and let it drift down in a silky swirl.
She walked over to the waterfall and stood under it, her hair streaming down her back and the water glistening off her skin. Jack looked over at Muir . The wolf-dog looked at him questioningly. He laughed, "She'll be the death of me, yes, pup?"
The dog gave a sharp bark and then laid down with his paws over his nose.

They laid on the grass, the picnic blanket covering them. Honour pulled away from Jack and propped herself on her elbow, her fingers trailing over his chest.
"Jack, I have been thinking..."
Jack yawned. "Honour, I already said I would seriously consider giving up this life when we got to Barbados."
She said carefully, "Barbados has some fine sugar plantations. I am willing to hazard a guess that we could buy one of them and settle down to a life of raising sugar cane."
Jack gave a quick snort of laughter. "Me? A gentleman farmer?"
She started to talk rapidly to make her pitch. "Barbados is the richest of all the European colonies in the Caribbean region. The prosperity of Barbados is regionally unmatched. And don't forget the other commodities like rum, molasses, and Falernum. And it would be a perfect place to settle down and raise children and...."
Jack jumped up, taking the cover with him. "Hold it right there, Mrs. Wolfe! What are you talking about? You mean ba---ba---ba---"
"I believe 'babies' is the word you are looking for, Jack. But eventually I thought we might start a family. A little captain..."
"Whoa! When I said 'I do' that night, I didn't say I wanted a replica of me calling me 'da-da'. I just thought we were in for a bit of fun."
Honour looked at him with hurt in her eyes. "A bit of fun. Is that all I am to you, Jack? A commodity in itself? Like your rum casks? Like your silks and guilders and Madeira wine?"

She grabbed the cover back from him and wrapped her hurt in it.
Jack softened and began to realize his bonny bride was little more than a child herself.
He said, "We'll talk about all this when we reach Barbados, love. Alright?"
She just nodded. She turned to quickly wipe a tear that trailed down her cheek before Jack could see. Perhaps children of her own would wipe Rhys' memory off her soul. She did love Jack. They were both searching for something in their lives. She prayed it would be the same thing.

Pulling her chemise back over her head, she grabbed the cover from Jack and stuffed it into the basket.
With a brittle smile, she said, a bit too brightly, "Shall we go back? I am sure you have business to attend to and I have some packing to do before tomorrow."
She started to walk back. Jack hurriedly put his shirt and breeches back on.
Muir nudged Jack's hand and Jack scratched the dog behind the ears.
"Holy shnikeys, Muir...babies!"
Bonita unlocked the door to the room that Jack and Honour shared. She stood there, her hands on her hips.
Surveying all, she felt feelings of anger and resentment well up in her. Honour's silky finery was scattered all around the room. A pair of Jack's boots were cast under the bed. The dresser had a vase of wildflowers.
The bedcovers were thrown back, showing rumpled sheets. Honour's scent of jasmine was in the air.

Bonita picked up something lacy that laid on the floor. She stood in the center of the room and closed her eyes. Clutching the fabric to her forehead, she whispered, 'Montrez-moi ! Montrez-moi où elle l'a des charmes cachés...'
The French doors suddenly flew open, banging into the wall. The curtains blew and rippled into the room. Bonita's skirt whirled around her like a dervish. She opened up her eyes and strode to the dresser, her hands out in front of her. She walked around and suddenly she stopped in front of the trunk that Honour had brought on shore with her.

Bonita knelt down and ran her hands over it. She smiled to herself and tried the lock. It would not give.
"What the hell are you doing in this room?"

She whirled around and came face to face with Cade. She assumed a lofty attitude and said haughtily, "Jack leaves his room a mess. I do my job. I clean it."
"Since when?"
"Since he marry dat child-bride of his who ne'er clean a room in her life. Tavern wench? HA! You not think Bonita not know something not right there?"
"Bonita, your jealousy is getting the best of your judgement."
"Dat were you be wrong. I show you. Come downstairs."

Cade reluctantly went downstairs with Bonita. She took him over to a table in the corner and she lit two black candles. Cade asked, "Wh--what are the candles for?"
She just shook her head and the candle's flame reflected in her eyes, her pupils on fire.
She said, "Sit."
He did so with great trepidation. She withdrew a deck of cards and laid them out.
"I be using these since my tia Elena give them to me. Always de same. Always when I lay dem out, dey read the same."
She turned a card over and exclaimed, "Look!"
She turned over the Lovers card.

She said bitterly, "Always her. Always dat child bride. It be a temptation of de heart. A choice of potential partners. A single lifestyle be sacrificed and a relationship gained or one partner chosen while another turned down. Heed dis well, Cade Jennings! She make a choice in de future but it not made lightly. Like Adam and Eve, the Lovers card mean impulse dat drive us out o' de Garden. Curiosity. Well, she be curious 'bout Jack's life. Once she have stepped passed de threshold, there be no returning to the Garden."

Cade shook his head and said, "Bonita, I'm sorry but no card can read what is going on in a person's mind."
She arched her eyebrow and said, "Fool ye be, Cade Jennings. I return to de deck. And look!"
She turned the next card and came up with the Magician's card.

"Dis be Jack's card. Always have been the card of Captain Jack Wolfe! See here. Dis card point to talent, capabilities and resources. Its message tap into one's full potential rather than holding back especially when dere be a need to transform something. Dere be choices and directions to take. He may be a beneficent guide, but he not necessarily have our best interests in mind. He may also represent the querent’s ego or self awareness. He also represent the intoxication of power, good and bad."

Cade stood up. "Bonita, you are making this up as you go along. It can mean anything you want it to."
She said darkly, "You stay right dere, you be next, Cade Jennings. Den maybe you believe Bonita!"
She slowly turned over the card. Cade could not take his eyes away and stared in disbelief.
"A...devil? What does THAT mean?"
She gave a sharp bark of laughter. "Ah! Now de young pup o' dat wolf want to know what de devil card mean!"
She leaned forward and hissed, "It mean our bondage to material things rather any evil person. It be an obsession or addiction to fulfilling our own earthly base desires. It mean money and power, one who be persuasive, aggressive and controlling."
Cade laughed uncomfortably, "You must be mad, woman! That fits Captain Jack Wolfe. Not me."
She then leaned back in her chair, crossed her arms and said, "De Querent understand dat de ties that bind are freely worn, and you be only enslaved if you allow de abuse to go on."
She delivered the final barb. "You, Cade Jennings, you. YOU! You be de snake in Jack's little Garden of Eden."

Cade stared at her. His arm swept across the table, scattering the cards all over the table and onto the floor. He put his face inches from Bonita's and whispered hoarsely, "You damned witch."
He turned on his heel and walked out the door, the laughter of Bonita following him out the door.
It was near dark when Honour and Jack walked up the slope to the tavern.
"Jack! I--I'm sorry. I didn't see you there."
Jack said, "Cade, where are you going in such an all-fired hurry?"
"One of the ships docked and I have to see what they have netted on their 'fishing expedition.' From what Captain Parnell said, it was a successful trip. Spanish wine, some Belgian lace. Silks from Persia. And there is a rumour that the captured ship's hold contained alot of Aztec gold."
Jack clapped him on the back and said, "Then get to work, Cade. I must say, I do have every faith in you. In spite of my riding you unmercifully."
Cade looked at Jack and saw the captain did have a look of pride on his face. Cade felt miserable and guilty in view of what Bonita had just predicted for him. Impossible! A snake in Jack's Eden? Never!

Cade looked over at Honour. She had her arm linked in Jack's. Her wet hair hung down her back and a few tendrils around her face. She was barefoot and carried a basket. Her chemise clung to her damp body. She smiled at him but he could sense there was a wistfulness in her that became apparent. Like there was an underlying distress.
She said softly, "I do hope we shall see you in the morning, Captain Jennings, before we leave."
His face turned red and he said, "I shall make it a point to say goodbye."
Jack looked from Cade to Honor and then back to Cade. He said, "Then off you go, Cade. See you in the morning."
Cade tipped his hat to Honour and said, "Ma'am."
Jack put his arm around his wife and said, "I swear, sometimes I just can't suss him out..."
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:39:35 PM
They entered the tavern to see Bonita picking up her cards and putting them back in the leather box she kept them in. Jack noticed the black candles and hoped Honour didn't see them. Bonita said darkly, "De tavern is closed for food, Jack Wolfe. You be wantin' food, you be gettin' it yourself."
Honour found herself instinctively drawing closer to Jack. The sooner they were out of Castara, the better she would feel. Bonita's presence sent shivers down her back. Like two opposite magnetic fields they were.
Jack said hurriedly, "No need for any food, Bonita, dear. Honour and I had our fill already. We are going to retire for the night. We shall see you in the morning."
Bonita suddenly smiled, "Aye. Dat ye shall. I want to be sure to say 'goodbye' to de great Captain and his lovely bride."
They turned and headed up the stairs.

Once in their room, Honour dropped her wet chemise and reached for her dressing gown. Jack opened the French doors.
Honour sniffed the air. "Do you smell that?"
Jack said, "What do you mean?"
"How do you know what patchouli is?"
Honour was trapped. She could never explain that at the Order, she was studying herbs and plants for potions. She thought fast. "Well, when I worked in the tavern, a pirate came in with the most luxurious silk and showed it to me. I noticed the smell and asked him about it. He said the silks were packed with the herb to ward off moths."
He put his arms around her and said, "Sometimes your knowledge surprises me, darling. Strange, though. I always associated the scent with Bonita. She wears a scent like that. But she knows better than to come into the room. Must be something outside wafting in."

She let out the breath she had been holding. Yes, she knew about the herbs. And the pirate was no lie. But the pirate was Captain James Blake and the silk in question was silk he left her as a going-away present.
Only he was the one going away. Jack would never know that very silk was the dressing gown she now wore.

She tilted her face up to meet his and put her arms around his neck, drawing him close to her. "I think I shall miss Castara Bay. It has been a wonderful honeymoon, darling."
He picked her up and carried her over to the bed and chuckled, "And it isn't over yet, love."


As she laid there in Jack's arms, her head on his chest, she listened to his rhythmic breathing as he drifted off to sleep. She willed herself not to cry. It was their last night on shore and she was filled with trepidation at the crossing back to Barbados.
'If we can only get back to Barbados safely, I know I can convince him to give up this life. Perhaps even a new life in the New World. I heard the French are planning a port on a very wide river...and it would be a chance to start a new life. No more running. For either of us. And it would be just the thing to erase Rhys' memory from my heart...'
She snuggled back into the crook of his arm and soon she too was asleep.

Jack awoke to the delicate scent of jasmine. He slowly opened his eyes to find Honour smiling up at him as she traced slow, lazy circles on his chest with her fingertip. A cool breeze wafted over them, causing Honour to shiver slightly. He pulled her close and stroked her silken hair. "Don's fret, darling. As long as I draw a breath, I'll be there to keep you warm."
Honour never lifted her head for fear that he'd see the sadness in her eyes. "Please don't tease me, Jack," she said quietly. "How can you keep such a promise when I know full well you'll be off a-pyrating?"
"How many sugar plantation owners and gentleman farmers have you heard of that go sailing off on the account when they have a wife and family to care for?"

She stared at him in utter disbelief. "Who are you, and how did you get into my bed? Where is my husband? I warn you, he is positively the most fearsome pyrate in the entire Caribbean!"
"Maybe he got a better offer, and decided to take it," he smiled.
Honour was overcome with shock and joy. "You... you what? She climbed atop Jack and began showering him with kisses. She paused momentarily as wicked smile played across her lips. "Oh, you really are my husband!"

"Easy, Honour!" he laughed. "I have to warn you, there are some minor provisions..."
"Provisions?" She gave him a dubious look. "Like what, exactly?"
"We have to buy out land near the water."
"Granted!" She leaned close to kiss him.
"And... I get to keep a boat."
"A boat? Just how big of a boat?"
"A simple fishing boat. One mast."
"No guns?"
"No guns. I'd hate to scare the fish."
"Granted!! Shall we seal our agreement?"
"I suppose we we could shake hands or something."
Honour shifted her body, and seductively brushed her lips against his. "Or," she whispered, "you could shut up and make love to me."

"No! Careful with that! Jack!" Honour shouted.

Jack looked out the door of their room to see two of his crewmen wrestling the last of Honour's trunks through the tavern door. "Oi! What the lady said! Easy on the door!" he called down.

She turned from the railing with an incredulous look on her face. "Oh! You meant the chest, didn't you? Sorry about that, darling," Jack winked at her.
Honour slipped her arms around his waist. "Captain Wolfe, would you be so cavalier about things if I parked your ship the way your crew handles my luggage?"
"'Dock'. It's a nautical term."
"Which means...?"
"Um, 'park'." He kissed her on the forehead. "No more talk of scuffing up the hull! It's bad luck," he teased.

"That's the last of it all. Would you care to eat before we go aboard?" he asked.
"No, I'm fine until we set sail, thank you. Leaving port seems to give me a nervous stomach," Honour lied. What she really wanted was to be of the island, away from Bonita, and done with the crossing to Barbados as quickly as possible. No matter how Jack reassured her, she was still filled with dread.
As they descended the stairs, Muir appeared at the door and barked insistently.
"It looks like someone's anxious to get under sail!" Jack laughed.
"I know exactly how he feels," she said quietly.

The couple walked along the winding path to the dockyard, talking about everything and nothing. Muir jogged at their side, occasionally running ahead to nip at a colourful butterfly. Without warning, the dog pricked up his ears and ran off into the jungle.
"Muir! Muir, no! Come back!" Honour cried. She put her fingers to her lips and gave a piercing three-note whistle but he wouldn't respond. She grabbed the hem of her dress to chase after him, but Jack gently restrained her.
"He's probably off after a lizard or some other wee beastie. I'll fetch him, love. No use you tearing that new dress of a bit of folly." With that, he took off after the wayward Muir.

"Bloody hell, that doggy's a fast one!" Jack panted as he ran. "Muir! Oi! Here, boy! Damn it, slow down! Muir!" he yelled. He heard playful barking just ahead, and to his relief he spied the wolf-dog in the clearing ahead.

Standing beside Honour's pet was Bonita.

"Bonita!! What in blazes are you doing out here?" He was relieved to see that Muir wasn't eating anything.
"Your little wife seem to have lost somet'ing," Bonita smirked. "An' was Bonita to miss de great Captain Jack Wolfe before he set sail on anot'er grand adventure? You never leave wit'out saying goodbye before. You forget you manners now you a married man?" she asked sarcastically. "Why you in such a hurry to leave Castara and Bonita? Could it be dat pretty little bride you bring among us carry off more dan you heart, but you head as well?"
Jack was taken aback and more than a little intimidated by her accusatory tone. "Of course not!" he snapped. He shoved down the urge to become defensive as best he could. "Really, Bonita. You've been sullen and out of sorts ever since we arrived. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were jealous."

She shot him a look that made him want to run.
"Jealous?! Tell me dis - when have my bed ever been a place you not welcome? Name me one time!"
Jack stammered, feeling for all the world like a trapped rabbit.
"Dat because it never happen, Jack Wolfe!" She drew a deep breath, then waved her hand dismissively. "But you have chosen and made you bond wit' anot'er. De Great Captain want what he want. It matter no more to me.

He almost laughed with relief. "So, you're good with it then?"
Bonita looked at him momentarily in disbelief, then chuckled despite herself. "If dat ease you mind, den yes."
"Always good to have the blessings of a friend," he smiled nervously.
She gave him a dark smile as she pulled her black lace shawl around her. "Speakin' of blessings, come wit' me."
"Go with you? Where, exactly?" He looked around furtively, praying to himself that no other surprises were about to stroll, or worse, toddle, onto the scene.
"Are you in such a hurry to get back to you little wife dat Bonita cannot read for you? It always were our tradition, no?"

Jack's eyes lit up. Her readings had always shown him where and when to strike, and how successful he'd be on his cruises. She had never been wrong, not once, and he'd become fabulously wealthy because of her talents.
"A reading? Of course, yes! You know how important tradition is to me, darling." He stepped closer to her, emboldened by her seeming change in demeanour. "I know I can depend on you for the turn of a friendly card. Please, lead on."

The dark woman looked into his eyes, then turned and walked to a large rock. It was roughly the size of a tree stump, and conveniently flat enough on top. She knelt before it and produced her worn deck of cards from a pouch at her waist. Jack knelt on one knee opposite her as she shuffled the deck. Muir laid down beside him and rested his head on Jack's boot.

"As always, wit' our 'tradition', t'ree cards I draw, and t'ree only," she intoned. "Dese cards, dey show de way of your voyage. Dey show what will be."
He watched eagerly as she closed her eyes and drew the first card. It depicted ten interlocking swords suspended over a sinking, ruined ship.
"This must be good, yeah? I'm the swords, defeating my prey?" he said with barely contained excitement.
Bonita shook her head solemnly. "No, Jack. You are de ship."

"How in blazes is that possible?" he gasped.
"De swords, dey be forces beyond de control of anyone. Dis be de card of sudden disaster. De card of Karma." Bonita's normally dark eyes narrowed to the point they appeared black on black.
"Not funny, Bonita. Not one bit. I know you've been upset with me, but I thought we were past all that. Aren't we?" He tried to settle himself. "The card has to be wrong. Draw again."

She sighed impatiently. "Dis next card eit'er confirm or negate de first. Den we see who know de cards better; you, or Fate." Closing her eyes, she drew again and laid the card face up before Jack. It depicted a massive tower being blown apart by lightning and cannon fire, and people at it's base running from the falling debris.
"Let me guess. I'm neither the lightning nor the cannons?" he asked dryly.
"De Tower represent all you have built over de years, Jack. Everyt'ing you have gain by trick and wickedness, dey cannot be held or sustained." Her eyes grew sad as she continued. "De ones dat find shelter and comfort near you will be injured as well..."

"Enough of this charade!" he growled, more in frustration than anger. "You've obviously stacked the deck in some pitiful attempt to manipulate me. Goodbye, Bonita." He got up to walk away. "Muir, come!"
"Damn you, Jack Wolfe!" she spat. "Bonita be many t'ings, but she never a cheat! De cards are what dye are, even if you refuse to believe what dey tell you." She slammed the deck down on the rock. "You call me - after all dis time and all we share - a cheat and a liar? Den draw de last card for you'self. Do it! Unless you afraid." She sat back with her arms crossed, seething in anger and hurt. As he watched, a small tear appeared in the corner of eye and trailed down her cheek.

In all the time he'd known her, he'd found her to be many things. But a liar was not one of them. He did his best to keep up an air of suspicion, even though she was right. Jack Wolfe, the infamous and feared pyrate, was indeed scared of what the next would reveal. He reached down and cut the deck, then cut it again. When he glanced up briefly to gauge her reaction, she closed her eyes and turned her face away. He bit his lip and turned over the third and final card. What it showed him made his blood run ice cold.

Even he could clearly read it's meaning. A man and woman facing one another, but not touching. And towering over them, keeping them from one another--the Devil.

Jack's mind reeled. With a look of confusion and fear on his face, he slowly stood and tried to force something resembling a pleasant smile. "Thank you for such a lovely time, Bonita. It's been thoroughly... interesting. If you'll pardon me, I have a ship to take out. Time and tide, and all that. See you soon." With that, he turned on his heel and walked away as fast as he could without breaking into a run. "Muir!" he called without breaking stride. The dog cocked his head as he watched Jack race-walk into the jungle, and followed after.

Jack looked back over his shoulder to make Muir was following and that Bonita was out of sight, and broke into a dead run. He wanted off the island and on the open seas as soon as possible. "Damn, damn, damn! Overreaching your grasp again, you silly git!" he chided himself as he ran. "The cards said it - the smuggling operation will fail! I've got to get Honour to Barbados and away from this life!" Muir had caught up to him finally, and stayed beside him as they ran.

"Muir! Jack! Where are you?!" Honour called. "Oh, they've been gone too long. Something's happened, I just know it!" She was about to whistle for Muir again when he and Jack exploded out of the treeline and slid to a stop in front of her.

"Jack, what on earth is wrong? You act as if the Devil himself was after you!"
"More than you know, love."
"Nothing, nothing. Just thought it would be fun to run with Muir. Now, let's be off." He took her by the arm and nearly pulled her off her feet.
"What's gotten into you? We have plenty of time to get to the ship."
"Sorry, darling. Just anxious to get back to the sea." He hooked her arm and tried to ease her none too discreetly into a doubletime step.
"Jack - Stop! Tell me right now, what is the hurry?"
He took Honour by the shoulders and looked gravely into her eyes. "I can't tell you. Now come on."
"I'm not taking a single step until you be honest with me!"
"How's about I tell you once we're safe-once we're off the island?" He winced at his verbal misstep.
"You were about to say 'safely', weren't you? Jack, what's happening? Is someone after you? After us?"
"Honour, all I can tell you is that we have to get away from here as far and fast as we can. Yes, we're in danger. No, I can't say anything else about it. Can we please go now?"
She could see the haunted look in his eyes.
"All right, Jack. I trust you."
"At least I've got that going for me..."

Jack, Honour, and Muir arrived at the docks in near record time. Briggs spotted them from the deck as he directed the ship's final preparations. "Cap'n's here early! Step it up, ye laggards!" Something bothered him about their behaviour, so he looked again. "Somethin' powerful wrong is eatin' the both of 'em, that's for certain," he said to himself. "Shift it, dogs, and and be quick about it!"

"Hounour, you and Muir go on ahead and board. I'll be with you shortly." Jack kissed her cheek and smiled to reassure her.
"Please hurry," she whispered.
Cade walked up just as she turned toward the ship, and they very nearly collided.
"I'm sorry, Honour. I mean, Mrs. Wolfe. Please pardon my clumsiness," he smiled broadly.
"Mr. Jennings," she replied as she stepped past him, with Muir obediently by her side.
"Good day, Mrs. Wolfe..." he offered, more than a little confused. "Jack! How are you? Ready to sail?"
"Yes, yes, ready and anxious." Jack answered hurriedly.
"Is everything all right, old friend?"
"Aye! Wonderful! Well, Take care of things while I'm away, yeah? No burning down the tavern!"

He clapped Cade on the shoulder and leaned close to the younger man. "Meet me in Bridgetown in a week or two's time. No questions, mate. Just do it!" he whispered, then hurried to the gangway.

"Aye, Jack! You can... count on me." Cade trailed off. "I swear, I can never quite suss him out."

"Mr. Briggs!"
"Aye, Cap'n! We're near ready to sail, within an hour or -"
"Now. We're sailing now."
"What's the bloody rush, Jack? The tide's not full in yet."
"Captain's prerogative. They have lovely cheesy biscuits in Bridgetown, and I'm hungry. Oi!! Make ready to cast off!!"
"Jack, for the love of..."
"Josiah, I'll explain later. Right now, I want this ship moving."
Briggs gave him bewildered look. "Aye, Jack. Thy will be done. You heard the Cap'n!! Put your backs into it! Cast off those lines!!"
The crew hurried about their tasks at a frantic pace. Jack watched for a moment, then turned his attention to Honour who was waiting near the steps to the quarterdeck.
"Cap'n!" Briggs called. "What about a few words to the crew?"
"You always give a short talk to the crew when we set off, Jack. It's tradition!"
"I've never cared much for tradition," Jack replied sadly. He took Honour's hand and they climbed to the quarterdeck.

Honour walked to the aft rail and looked out over the island. As her gaze traveled down across the docks, she saw Cade looking back at her. He tipped his hat to her and bowed slightly, never taking his eyes off her. She returned his wave, and turned from the rail to look at Jack. Her husband was at the forward deck rail, looking out over the dominion of his ship. He seemed so secure and in control now, completely different from the panic she'd seen in his eyes just a short while ago.

"Full canvas!! Get us under way!" Jack ordered. The sails unfurled from the yards and filled with with the wind that he was sure would carry them to safety. As the ship began to move forward, he turned back to his wife and joined her at the taffrail. He looked back at the dock and waved a salute to his friend and apprentice. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a figure standing on the beach close to the where El Lobo was docked.

It was Bonita, watching the ship pull away. She was standing at the water's edge in a calico dress with her black lace shawl blowing about her in the breeze. That's when Jack noticed the pennant flying from the ensign staff above his head, and it dawned on him what he was seeing.

Bonita's shawl was moving opposite the wind.

"Honour, do you see that, over on the beach?"
"See what, darling?"
He looked back to find Bonita gone.
"Never mind. It was probably nothing."

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:40:37 PM
Honour gently laid her hand on Jack's arm and took a deep breath. The salt air seemed to revive her somewhat and calmed her nerves. Certainly it seemed to do that to Jack. He put his arms around her and she laid her body against his.
"How soon before we are in Barbados, Jack?"
"Four days unless we catch a really good wind. Then we may make it in three."
She murmured, "The sooner we get to Barbados, the better I shall feel."
"Did you say something, love?"
"Hmm? No. Just...thinking how much I missed home. I'll check on the land as soon as we get settled into port. We can stay at my room for a few days until we decide where we want to live."
"Why not just stay on the ship when we port?"
"Under the watchful eye of Briggs and your crew? Jack, we have only been married ten days. The room at Castara Bay was delightful, no one to bother us."
"Or hear us."
She blushed and laughed lightly. "Well...that, too."

The two of them stood in silence, watching the island of Tobago fade into the distance. Jack breathed a sigh of relief. "Never thought I'd be that happy to put Castara Bay to my rudder."
Honour turned to look at her husband. "Jack, you need to tell me what it was that haunted you so. What happened out there while you were fetching Muir?"
Jack lied, "The Spanish Crown's agents were spotted and I know there may be a small price on my head. I just wanted us to get out of there as fast as we could. Cade would know how to handle them. After all, to all of Tobago, Cade Jennings is just an innkeeper."
"Do you think Bonita would turn you or Cade in?"
Jack looked over the horizon and shook his head. "She hates Spain even more than I do. She would never turn any of us in, no matter how much she ha--no matter how much they offer."

Just then, Honour felt something entwine around her legs and jumped. She looked down to see Li'l Puddin'.
Jack laughed, "Ah, there is Mister Briggs' favorite furball!"
Honour bent down and scooped up the cat and cradled him in her arms. She subconsciously started rocking him, back and forth.
Jack looked at her and said, "Honour, what are you doing?"
"Hmm? Nothing. Why?"
He shook his head. "Is it an instinct with all you women? You get a little thing in your arms and you start rocking it like you had a wee bairn or something."
"I didn't realize I was doing that."
"Aye, well, don't! You make me nervous with that--that maternal whatever you call it."
Li'l Puddin' looked at Jack through slitted eyes and buried himself deeper into Honour's embrace. Muir sat next to her with a quizzical look on his face. Jack reached down and scratched him behind the ears. "She's not ignoring you, boy."
Honour put Li'l Puddin' down. He spied something and ran off to catch it.

"Jack, I'd like to go to our room and unpack a bit."
Jack looked over and saw Briggs standing by the quarterdeck.
"Aye, by all means, darling. I shall like to confer with Briggs anyway. Point of direction, ship's business, all that rot. You go on, I shall be there in a bit."

Honour watched her husband walk over to his best friend and clap him on the shoulder. The two of them walked off. She turned to her best friend and said, "Shall we go, Muir?"
He ran ahead of her, seeming to know where they both belonged.

She looked and saw that her trunks were stored in a corner. She opened the first one and there on top was something she didn't recognize.
It was a lavender lace shawl.
"Oh.....MY!" she gasped.

She carefully picked it up. A note fell from its folds.

In appreciation for a lovely morning chat.
Your humble servant,
Cade A. Jennings
Jack watched as Honour disappeared below decks. He felt a twinge of regret at having lied to her about his real reason for fleeing Castara. But he knew in his heart that he'd done the right thing, and that he'd do it again if it meant keeping her safe. He looked out over the weather deck as the crew busied themselves stowing the cargo they'd so hastily lashed down earlier. The salt air and bustle of shipboard life were like a balm to his frayed nerves. The most tangible safety he'd ever known were within the confines of his wooden walls. He was staking everything that those walls would protect them from what he'd seen in Bonita's cards.

"The crew's gettin' the last bits squared away, Cap'n." Briggs said, interrupting Jack's reverie. "I figure things should be right and normal shortly. That is, as normal as it ever gets on this ship. Runnin' from a perfectly tranquil as if it were Davy Jones himself rose up to swallow us all. Right peculiar, some might say..."
"Subtle as a cudgel, Josiah."
"I'm just sayin', Jack. What by God's blood has you in such a state?"
"Something terrible is going to happen at Castara," Jack said in a heavy whisper. "Something devastating."
"What manner of 'terrible'? Have the Spaniards found out about our running trade there? Or did that poppin' jay Barbadian governor sell us out? I never trusted that damned prissy peacock..."
"It's both. Or neither," Jack replied, his frustration showing. "I really don't know."
"I don't follow. Jack Wolfe ain't one to run without good reason."

Jack turned and looked Josiah squarely in the eye. "On the way to the ship, I ran into Bonita."
"Sweet mother and child! What bilge did that witch woman fill you head with?"
"Answer me this, Josiah. Can you name me one single time she's been wrong?
Briggs bit his lip as a troubled look came into his eyes. "You know full well I can't,'cause she never is. That accursed Sight of hers ain't natural. Scares the hell out of me."

"She saw the coming destruction of Castara," Jack whispered. "She saw me losing everything if I stayed."
Briggs stared slack-jawed at his friend. "What about the others? What about Cade? He's the closest thing you have to a son, leastways what you know of!"
Jack looked out over the waters ahead. "Acceptable losses."
"I've seen you get cold, Jack. Colder'n most. But never like this."
"I'm doing what I have to, Josiah. Protecting my own, Cade included. He's accounted for, if he chose to listen. The rest are more than capable of fending for themselves. If they weren't, they'd be dead already. Or worse yet, moneyhouse clerks. If I'm out of the picture, as it were, perhaps they'll have a fighting chance."
"Some would say you're tryin' to outrun Fate."
"And what would you say, old friend?"
Briggs looked around thoughtfully at the ship and her crew, and the sea beyond. "Cap'n know what's best for his ship and the crew what cares for her, says I. And them cheesy biscuits sound pretty good right about now."
"Thank you, Josiah."
"I'd say we've got things well in hand here," Briggs offered. "If you'd like, I'll keep an eye on these laggards for ye while you check on that bride of your's."

Jack smiled and nodded his appreciation, then made his way toward the great cabin and Honour.
Honour tried the shawl on. So soft, so delicate. A bit of an intimate gift from someone not her husband. She picked up the note and smoothed it out.
Cade A. forward of you! She couldn't help but smile.
She laid it to one side and dug deeper into the trunk.
And there it was.

A book bound in leather, its pages brown of parchment. Its contents contained the secrets of an ancient and some said extinct order.
But I know better, Honour thought.
It contained magic.

She sat back and caressed the cover, remembering the day she took it. Gwydion had turned his back on her and sold her out to the Order. Their relationship became known and she was to be punished.
By death.
Raven had slipped her the key and while the council of the Order were discussing what was to be done, she scarred the door and left. She took Gwydion's horse to flee. But before she left, she took one last thing that he cherished.
His book.

She heard the sound of footsteps. As they paused by the cabin door, she hastily hid the book beneath the folds of her chemises in the trunk. She shoved the lavender shawl beneath a few garments.

"Honour, darling? Are you settled in?"
He entered the room just as she closed the lid.
"Aye, my husband. Just looking for...ah! Here it is!"
She produced the hideous key that Jack had given her on their wedding night. He laughed and said, "You still have that horrid piece of shine?"
She turned it over in her hand and said, "Yes, although I don't know why."
She threw it in the trunk and stood up. "Should you not be on the quarterdeck supervising your crew?"
"Briggs generously offered to watch over while I check on you.
"The same Briggs that breathes hellfire and damnation whenever I show my face in his direction?"
"Aye. That's his way of saying you are a bit of alright."

There was a scratch on the door and Honour opened it. Li'l Puddin' dashed in, jumping on the bed.
Jack laughed, "He usually only comes in here late at night. And then sometimes only to deposit his latest catch on the bed for me to praise him."
She shuddered. "I hope he doesn't do that for my benefit."
She stroked Li'l Puddin' on the head and sat next to him. "Is you a good widdle Puddin?"
Jack winced. "Honour, darling, he is a ship's cat. Not the spoiled pampered pet of royalty!"

He reached over to pet Puddin' and was rewarded with a hiss.
"Well, that is a first! My dear, it seems Li'l Puddin' has succumbed to your charms."
She sat on the bed and picked up a piece of yarn, trailing it back and forth, watching the cat swat at it and jump. Jack laughed and sat down next to her. Puddin' stopped and glared at Jack through narrow slitted eyes.
He jumped up and said, "I guess I am perceived as the 'enemy' now. You, darling, have a new protector."
He leaned over to kiss the top of her head and Puddin' glared at him for interrupting their little game.
He shook his head and said, "Turncoat!"
He walked towards the door and said, "I'll be back around lunchtime. Anything I can get for you, love?"
She looked up from playing with the cat and smiled, "Just you."
Honour spent the morning going through her chests and putting a few things in the chest of drawers. She hung up a few dresses. The rest stayed in the chests. 'No sense unpacking when we shall be leaving the El Lobo. And hopefully for good.' she thought.

Jack came in with two bowls of beef stew and bread on a tray.
"It smells marvelous, Jack. I didn't realize how hungry the sea air can make one."
"It's the cook's...HOLY HELL!"
At that moment, Li'l Puddin' decided to take a flying leap off the chest and landed right in the bowl Jack had just handed Honour. Beef and gravy went flying everywhere----on the bed, on the floor and all over Honour. She sat there, her hands dripping gravy off the ends. Gasping for breath, she shook her fingers, drops of gravy staining her dress.
"PUDDIN'!!!" Jack yelled.
All that could be seen was Puddin's tail as he dashed out the door.

Honour was at the washstand, pouring water into the basin and using a towel to clean off the spots on her dress. Jack was picking up the crockery and scooping up the beef stew with a spoon.
"He really didn't mean it, darling." Jack apologized for the cat.
He heard a sound coming from Honour, her back to him.
"Honour? Honour, don't cry. When we get to Bridgetown, I'll buy you a new dress."
She turned to face him, tears running down her cheeks. She sat down on the bed and gasped, "That had to have been the funniest thing I have seen in a long time, Jack!"
It was then that he realized the tears were not from distress.
She was laughing so hard she was crying.
Jack chuckled, "Aye, well, I guess I can still afford to buy you the new dress."
Jack spent the rest of his day on deck, conversing with his men, consulting his maps and giving directional orders.
Honour spent the afternoon playing with Li'l Puddin', reading a book and throwing a ball for Muir. She looked out the port window and saw nothing but water.
"Muir, when we get to Barbados, I'll make sure you have plenty of room to run. I know it's not much fun for you on a ship."
"I couldn't agree more!"

She laid down on the bed, Muir sleeping on the floor next to the bed. Before a few minutes had passed, she was asleep herself. Cautiously, the cat crept back in. He climbed onto the bed and stared at her lovely face. Li'l Puddin' batted a strand of her hair on the pillow, then began to knead. He kept kneading and kneading.....

It was dark out when Jack finally came into the cabin. He smiled down at his young bride curled up and fast asleep. There on the pillow next to her, with his tail curled around her face and under her chin was the ship's fearsome cat.
"You traitor! Are we now competitors instead of co-conspirators?" he whispered affectionately. Puddin' stretched out as if to welcome Jack into the vacant space next to his bride.
Jack gently kissed Honour and stroked her hair back and then he had to laugh.
Her hair was a knotted mess.
"Oh, you wicked kitty! Looks like you attempted to give Mrs. Wolfe a new hairstyle!"
Honour stirred and then woke up. She smiled and said, "It's about time you got back here."
She sat up and stretched and ran her fingers through her hair.
"What the....?"
He laughed, "It looks like Li'l Puddin' has decided your hair needed a change."
She walked over to the mirror and reflected back was tangled and snarled. "I didn't even feel him do that. I must have been really tired." She opened the dresser drawer and took out a comb.
"Ow! Ow! Ow!"
Jack walked over to her, put his arms around her and reached over to get a brush out of the drawer. He led her back to the bed and gently began to brush her hair.
"Mmmm...Jack, that feels wonderful! You can brush my hair anytime."
"As you wish, my sweet."
"Tell me a bedtime story."
"Oh?" he smiled devilishly.
She threw her dressing gown onto the chair and slid into the bed.
As he lowered his lips to kiss her, she put her finger to his lips.
"First things first, husband of mine."
"And that would be...?"
"Tell me how Puddin' got his name!"
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:41:47 PM
"A bedtime story story then. How could I possibly resist?" he teased.
Honour propped herself up on her pillow and snuggled into the covers. She stole Jack's pillow and hugged it. "Tell me positively everything!" she said with childlike excitement. "Don't you dare leave anything out, not one bit!"

Jack quietly marveled at her ability to be a confident, worldly woman one moment, then playfully childlike the next. The latter was a quality he had lost from himself long ago. "Fine, then. 'How Lil' Puddin' Got His Name'. Chapter One," he intoned loftily. Honour giggled. "We had put in at Nevis after another successful cruise..."
"Oh, not another boring pyrate story," she sighed teasingly as she whacked him with his pillow.
"Oi! Pyrate cate, pyrate story. Now hush. Where was I?"
"A-pyrating," she said through a mock groan.
"Ah, yes. Nevis. We'd gone ashore to celebrate our good fortune and spread some of our newfound wealth."
"On drinking, gambling, women of dubious-"
"Have you always been this talkative during other people's stories? Remind me never to take you to the theatre. May I continue, or do you still have a few things to add?"
"Oh, all right. I'll behave. But I won't like it," she pouted, her eyes full of mischief.
"Whatever shall I do with you, Mrs. Wolfe?"
"Hurry up with the story and you'll find out, Mr. Wolfe."
"That's all the incentive I need." He laughed and leaned close to kiss her, and she stopped him by gently poking her finger in the middle of his forehead.
"Ah! The story?"

"Aye, the story," he sighed. Honour hugged his pillow and rested her chin on it. Puddin' peeked over the pillow at her, then laid down at her side. "We were walking back to the ship sometime after midnight..
"Of course," she quietly interjected, stroking the cat behind his ears.
"... when, as we passed by an alleyway, we heard a sound like a baby's cry. It was so clear and insistent that we decided to see what the matter was. We soon found ourselves at the rear of a tavern or something like that. Someone had set out a large pail of pudding to cool in the night air, and a tiny, hungry kitten had discovered it and fallen in."

"Heavens!" Honour said worriedly. Puddin' rolled onto his side and lazily batted at her fingertips.
"The little fellow could scarcely keep his face above the pudding, and he was too small to climb out. Would have been a goner if we hadn't happened along. So I pulled him out of his predicament, wrapped him in a kerchief, and he ate pudding all the way to the ship. Wee beggar's belly was so swollen with what he'd eaten, he scarcely put up a fuss when I rinsed him off. He's had a taste for anything with cream ever since."

Honour laughed as she sat up. "Such a wonderful story! And you," she said, scooping Puddin' into her arms, "are le chat extraordinaire!" The cat laid back in her arms, purring loudly. He opened one eye and gave Jack a ridiculously self-satisfied look.
"Um, Honour?"
"Yes, my husband?"
"You're doing it again. The cradling thing."
"Of course I am! He's got your nose, after all."
"Aren't you the clever one, darling. I'd swear he's got your ears."
She shot Jack a surprised look, then set Puddin' down on the bed. "Run along, baby. Momma needs to teach your father some manners."

The cat hopped down, crossed over to the table and jumped up on it. He laid down facing the bed with his paws crossed.

Honour pulled back the covers and patted the bed.
"With an audience? Have you no shame, woman?"
"I married a pyrate, didn't I?"
"Good point."
Their lovemaking was a whirlwind of passion, alternating between tender and torrid, sweet and sultry. Almost desperation on Honour's part, like she never wanted to let Jack go.
Their passion ebbed and flowed like the ocean tides. When it was over and Jack held her in his arms, she sighed contentedly. It was the first time she felt she had found a place for herself in life in over two years.

"Hmmm?" she murmured drowsily.
"Are you happy?"
"Blissfully. And you?"
She could feel Jack grin in the dark. "Need you ask?"
He hesitated and then asked, "Honour....the others."
"What others?"
"The other men."
She held him close and whispered, "Next to you, they could never hold a candle, darling."
But all he could hear is her soft breathing as she slept.
He stroked her hair but a part of him wondered....
Did she whisper the name 'Rhys' at a most inopportune time?
No, surely must have been something else.

The next morning, she stirred and reached over for Jack. The space was empty. In a brief moment of disorientation, she bolted in the bed. She saw Jack quietly putting his boots on.
"Wh-what are you doing, Jack?"
"Getting dressed. I do that sometimes, when I have to be places. I can't spend all my time---" he pointed to the bed---"there."
He moved over to her and embraced her. She kissed him on the neck and he disentangled himself from her embrace. "No, darling, it won't work. Not this time. This is a pyrate ship and I am a pyrate captain and much as I would like to stay, it just isn't possible."
She flopped back on the pillows. "Even the cat deserted me!"
"Aye, but only temporarily. Puddin' shall be back. It's time for breakfast for him. A nice juicy mouse smothered in cream and---"
Honour put her hand to her mouth and turned a lovely shade of green.
Jack said quickly, "Or most likely just a bowl of cream."
"How many more days till we port, Jack? Are we on schedule?"
He chuckled, "First time a pyrate ship has ever been run on a timetable. But yes, today is Tuesday, so we shall be in Barbados Thursday early afternoon at the latest."
She snuggled back into the covers. "For that I shall be delighted. I know of a man--Monsieur Picou, that was planning on going back to France and wanted to sell his land and home. It's a French Creole cottage with a huge wraparound porch on all four sides and a pigeonierre and then there is a gazebo and it's painted white and--"
Jack hurriedly kissed her and said, "Yes, yes, my love, whatever you want and now I really must go on the quarterdeck. It's my job, you know. There is fresh fruit in the bowl on top of the chest. Ta', love."
He slipped into his frock coat and left before she even had a chance to tell him about the fireplaces in each room.

Honour lazed about in bed for another half hour and got up only when Muir scratched at the door. He had taken Jack's shirt and dropped it at her feet first.
She rubbed his ears and laughed, "Yes, Muir, he's a bit of alright, I agree. Now go find him. But don't get under his feet."
She grabbed an apple and some grapes and looked around the room. For a pyrate, he certainly was tidy. She bit into the apple and regarded his chest of drawers thoughtfully. As she chewed, she continued to gaze at it.
Just who ARE you, Captain Jack Wolfe?

She opened the door and looked both ways in the companionway. No sign of Jack. She went back into the room and sat in front of the dresser, popping a grape in her mouth. She casually kicked the dresser. Well, maybe a bit harder than she should. Darn it, the drawer seems to be stuck. Well, I guess it would be the kind thing to fix it for Jack, yes?

She took her sgian dubh and wedged it between the front of the drawer and the chest. Very delicately she slid it back and forth until the drawer moved forward. Son of a gun, it really DOES work!

Assorted articles of clothing. Papers....PAPERS! She drew them out carefully and smoothed them out . A deed for land in Antigua...a deed for the tavern in Castara Bay...what is this? she wondered.
She drew an oval object out. It was a metal frame with a hinged cover. She opened it and saw a miniature.
It was a miniature of a woman.

Honour gazed transfixed on the portraiture of this unknown woman. She had long curling brown hair and dark brown eyes. Around her neck was a delicate gold chain with a single pearl pendant. Honour looked closely at the woman's face. She had a patrician nose and a mouth that promised mirth. She held her head high, her chin in a determined tilt. A woman who had her place in the world and was satisfied with what she was, exuding confidence. But one thing Honour saw reflected in her eyes.
The woman had the look of a woman in love. Honour had seen that look on women before. That gleam in their eye that no one could ever deny.
She wondered if she ever had that look people noticed when she was with Rhys. Did she have it now?
She looked up at the mirror over the dresser. And what she saw startled her.
Because undeniably, there it was.
That gleam.

Honour looked further in the drawer and came across a small cedar chest. She opened it with great trepidation.
Inside was the gold chain with the pearl pendant.

And a small gold ring.

She closed the box slowly, her emotions in a turmoil. Had Jack been married before even though he denied it? Was she an old sweetheart that he had planned to propose to, hence the ring?
Her mind was swimming with notions.

She stuffed the box and miniature back into the drawer and sat back down on the bed. It was then that she realized she didn't even know when her husband was born. She walked over to the porthole and looked out to a sky of blue. Too nice of a day to stay in the cabin.

She dressed in a simple skirt and white blouse, then donned a pair of boots. Time to get to know a bit of the crew.
Maybe one in particular...

She brushed her hair out and tied it back with a ribbon. Walking down the companionway, she climbed the stairs and stood at the rail, observing what was going on around her as she pretended to look out onto the sea. Jack was nowhere in sight.
Honour walked over to Josiah Briggs who was conversing with the helmsman.
"Pardon me, Mr. Briggs. Have you seen my husband?"
Josiah almost said, 'Who?' until he realized she meant Jack. He imperceptibly shook his head as he still could not believe that Jack was now a married man. Married and to a young lass, no less!

"He's in the map room with the navigator going over some charts for future expeditions."
"Yes, after we gather supplies in Barbados."
"When did he tell you this?"
"When he left with the navigator."
"I see."

She turned on her heel. He called after her, "Miss---Mrs. Wolfe, he won't be too long. You want me to send him down to you?"
Her mind was reeling. He was still going a-pyrating? Surely Briggs misheard him!
She flung over her shoulder, "That is quite all right, Mr. Briggs. I don't intend to sit in the room. I'd like to explore the ship on my own."

She climbed up to the upper deck and sat in the sun. The sea air was calming her nerves but her mind was trying to assimilate it all. Perhaps Briggs was wrong. Maybe he assumed Jack would still be commanding El Lobo. That had to be it. Jack is all set to become a sugar plantation owner.

Muir found his way to the top of the deck, assuming his play bow posture. She reached over and pet the wolf-dog, then tossed a ball he had given her. Right behind him was Jack.
"Ah, there you are, darling! I only have a few minutes but Briggs told me you were up there. Enjoying this fine day, I see. Good!"

She smiled as best she could. "Aye, Jack. The sun is wonderful. I just couldn't stay in the cabin any longer. Too many memories. Do you know what I mean about memories, Jack?"
He kissed the top of her head and said, "I remember last night, if that is what you are referring to!"
She sighed and said, "Yes, I guess that is what I meant."
He gave Muir a bone to chew on and said, "I shall be busy with ship's business but tell you what, love. I get all this straightened out and turn the ship over to Briggs. He knows it so well anyway."
He turned and went downstairs.
She sat there wondering if Briggs would be forthcoming.
No, men stuck together. They always have, they always will. That was one thing the tavern taught her.
A small voice inside her said, 'And have you told Jack everything about YOUR past?'
She said out loud to no one, 'Shut up.'

Towards the late afternoon, she went back to the main deck. There Briggs sat enjoying his pipe.
"Mind if I sit with you a bit, Briggs?"
He eyed her suspiciously but said, "No, ma'am."
"Nice day."
"Yes, ma'am."
"You don't like me, do you, Briggs."
"Ma'am? I have no reason not to."
"But you don't like the fact that he is married, do you?"
Briggs treaded carefully, "It is not for me to like or dislike, Mrs. Wolfe. As long as the captain is contented and commands his crew, that is what is important."
"Has it ever bothered you before?"
"Sailing with a wife? I mean, a woman?"
Briggs took one last draw on his pipe and stood up.
"I had best be returning to my duties on the quarterdeck."
He tipped his hat, "Ma'am."
She frowned. 'That didn't go so well.'

She headed back to the great cabin to sort through her trunks, read a book....and maybe take another look at the drawers before Jack got back.
'Working on mysteries without any clues, that's what it is.....who IS that woman?'
And she felt a twinge of jealousy.
How well do I know the man who shares my bed? Will I ever?
She sighed and opened up the door, determined to find out about the man she married.

Whatever it took.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:42:53 PM
Ship's business had consumed Jack's attention into the evening. He felt a bit guilty about Honour's being left on her own for the lion's share of the day. Their closeness while at Castara had spoiled him to having her near. He was a man wedded to two women; his wife and his ship. No use worrying about balancing the two, he thought. Once they settled in at Barbados, he'd only have to worry about one.

Dinner had been brought to the cabin not long after his arrival. He and Honour chatted about the day pleasantly enough, but he soon noticed that she seemed unusually distracted. Before long, her attention was focused on picking at her food.

"Do you not care for the chicken, love? I can send for something else if you wish," Jack offered. "And I killed Briggs over tea."
"What?" she said, snapping out of her thoughts. "Oh, no. The chicken's fine, really. I'm just not very hungry tonight. You and Josiah had tea? That sounds nice."
"You've been preoccupied all evening," he said as his brow furrowed with concern. "Pray, tell me, Mrs. Wolfe. What is worrying your mind so?"
"It's... everything has been such a whirlwind for us, Jack. It's all happened so quickly that I'm only now starting to comprehend -"
"Settle down, sweetheart. I have nothing to hide from you. What do you want to know?"

"Everything," she blurted.

"Everything? That's a tall order. Could take all night, but I'll give it a go. First, the World came into being," he started.
"Jack! Don't mock me! I'm serious. I know nearly nothing about you outside of tavern stories and our scant time together. Where were you born? Have you any brothers or sisters?" Honour cringed inside at how the words tumbled out of her, but there was no going back.

"Ah. There it is, then." He took a mouthful of claret and slowly swallowed it. You want that particular everything. It's been a long time since I've thought about the past. Even longer since anyone's cared to ask. Let's see what I can remember." He refilled their glasses and sat back in his chair.

"Where to start?" Jack mused. Honour gave him a stern look. "All right, all right. From the beginning, then. I was born in July of 1667, in Hampshire, near Portsmouth, the youngest of three children. My parents were Charles and Edith. My father was a master shipwright. He not only built ships, he designed them. He would have loved this one. Taught me a lot about what makes a proper vessel."
He took another sip of wine before continuing. "My sister, Victoria, is a musician. She was still in London, last I heard. My brother, Thomas... ah, Thomas. A gentleman of the Royal Navy, that one. He never has approved of my career choice. Then I never cared for his. A fine man."
"You sound very proud of him, despite your differences," Honour said quietly.
"I am! And I pray we never meet on the sea." He poured himself another glass. "But enough of all that. Where was I? Oh, yes. You're probably curious as to how I came by all this?"
She sipped more of her wine, and Jack immediately topped it off. "It had crossed my mine," she smiled.
"My father died of typhus when I was 18. So like many others, I signed aboard a merchant ship, carrying goods to the West Indies and sugar back to England. Everything was as good as it ever is on a merchantman. Endless work for nearly no pay, and I sent most of the money back home to Mum."

His eyes grew sad as he continued. "When I turned 23, that's the year the wheels fell off. I got word that Mum was sick with consumption. She died before I could get home to see her." He got up from the table and went to the dresser, and unlocked the top drawer. "Bloody hell. What's all this?"

Honour's heart jumped. She'd left something out of place, and he'd noticed. She just knew it. "Jack..."
"That's one thing you'll learn about being on a ship, darling," he interrupted. "No matter how carefully you arrange things, the sea finds a way to change it round. Nothing stays quite the way you left it. I'm sorry, what were you going to say?"
"I - I can fill your glass, if you like." That was close. Too close.
"Thank you, yes. Here it is." Jack brought out a necklace with a single pearl pendant, and a miniature portrait. He set them down gently in front of her. "The portrait is of Mum. She's the one that gave me my love of the sea. Granted, she'd never approve of this life, but not many do. So's the pity. The necklace was a gift from Dad for their 15th wedding anniversary."
"They're charming, Jack. Your Mother was a lovely woman," she said as she handed them back.
"Dad always thought so." He put the trinkets away and locked the drawer. "Damn! Waylaid again. The wine's making my thoughts wander a bit. Anyway, I got wind of a better paying job when our ship was ported at New Providence. The rum flowed freely, as did the ink to the roster. The first day out, the captain welcomed us all to the Account. We were now pyrates, whether we liked it or not. Less work, much better pay. Turned out I had quite the affinity for this way of life. I rose through the ranks, such as they are, got my own ship, and the rest is history."
"I hope you don't mind my asking, but when did Bonita come into the picture? You said you'd been friends quite a while." She hoped he missed the note of jealousy in her voice.
"Oh, I'd say seven years ago, give or take. Odd duck, that one. And more than a little spooky when she wants to be. Very secretive, but just as generous. No one knows where she came from, or how old she is. I suppose we'll never know" He drank some more wine and smiled. "So, that's my story. Feel better?"
"Yes, I do. Thank you, Jack. It helps me understand you a little better." She really did feel better. The portrait was of his mother, not some secret previous wife. A wave of relief washed over her.

"Wonderful! I'm glad it sets your mind at ease. Now, your turn," he grinned.
"What?" Honour nearly dropped her glass.
"Your story, my pet. I'm dying to hear it. Just who is Honour Wolfe?"
She laughed a little uneasily.
"Jack, I told you. My mother was a scullery maid and my father was a stablehand. She was only sixteen. Her name was Branwen. And she told me my father's name was Dafydd. I always liked her name. Branwen Bright. She told me she named me Honour because 'Honour Bright' is an oath of assurance and fidelity. After I was born, she stayed on in the household and raised me. I wore hand-me-down clothes from the daughters of the manor where she worked. They were benevolent but I was taught my place.
Mother died of fever when I was ten. I remained on with the house and stayed until I was sixteen."
"Why did you leave?"
Her laugh had a hollow ring to it. "Because I refused to let the lord's son bed me. He cornered me one evening in the library where I was dusting the books and I racked him. And I left that night because he swore to make me pay. I worked my way as a tavern wench through the countryside and eventually ended up in Barbados. And that is where you found me."

"When were you born and where?"
"I told you the when but being a man, I guess you forgot. I was born April 4, 1683. So therefore I just turned 19. I was born in Llanwddyn, Wales. And that is all there is. An uneventful life."
"Why did you go to Barbados?"
She reached up and kissed him. "Have I ever told you that you ask too many questions?"
He put his arms around her and drew her close to him. She knew that fire in his eyes.
He whispered to her, "Then shut me up."

The moonlight shone through the louvered windows. Jack slept soundly next to her, his arm resting over her body. She carefully disentangled herself from his embrace. Quietly she arose and put her dressing gown on, wrapping it tightly around her. She peered through the slats and gazed at the moon.
She told so many lies in her life she was afraid she was even beginning to believe them herself.

'Just who is Honour Wolfe?' Jack had asked her.
How could she tell him that she was not Honour Bright Wolfe. How could she ever tell him that she was really Rhiannon Conaway Castlemaine?

She laid her head against the window frame and thought back to her mother. That was one thing she didn't lie about. Her mother was Branwen alright. Lady Branwen Conaway. Wife of Lord Rhodri Conaway. Mother to four daughters, Rhiannon being the youngest.
She did not remember the day her mother died. How could she? She was only three. She had heard that she ran from her mother in play. Her mother ran after her, slipped and hit her head on a rock by the pond, drowning because of the ensuing unconsciousness.
Rhiannon lovingly touched the silver chain she wore around her neck and kissed it each night. Tonight she stood by the window and tenderly caressed it. It was all she had of her mother. Megan made sure she had something.

Lord Conaway had adored his wife. And blamed Rhiannon for her death. She was always a headstrong little girl that when she took without permission Lord Conaway's stallion Goliath out for a joyride into the woods where there was quicksand, he decided to find a place for her.
He surely did.
The Order of St. Brigid.

Honour sighed. Was it so long ago? Not really. A mere three years that she fled the Order. And all Gwydion's fault.
Her teacher and mentor in the art of enchantments.
And her first lover.

Tending the sacrificial fires of the Order of St. Brigid required the services of a virgin. Well, Gwydion saw to it that she no longer qualified. When it was found out, he didn't stand behind her.
'Well, yes he did,' Honour reasoned. 'He stood behind me. And pushed.'
As the penalty was death, she remembered the sad look in the eyes of Gwydion's father. He and the other priests were debating her fate when Raven slipped her the key.
She escaped.
And with more than her life.
She took Gwydion's prize possession.
His horse Taliesin.
And even worse.
She took his leather-bound book of enchantments.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 05:45:47 PM
Her mind drifted back to her homecoming. Her father was having none of it. She remembered his words to her.
'You may stay here. For now. Until we can work out a mutually beneficial solution to this problem.'

She shuddered at the 'solution' to the problem. Within a week, she was married to Lord Madoc Castlemaine.
Bastard extraordinaire and known privately to Honour as 'Old Vinegar Veins'.

Lord Castlemaine. A man who appeared to be an upstanding member of the realm but in truth was a cruel and ruthless man.
Rhys Morgan was her saving grace.

She glanced over at Jack sleeping so peacefully. Even with his checkered past, could he ever forgive her for what she had done?
She had been the cause of Rhys Morgan's death.
Rhys. Friend to Jack Wolfe. Friend to all he met.
But it was worse.

Rhiannon Conaway Castlemaine murdered her husband.

She fingered the chain around her neck as she reluctantly let her mind go back to that fateful night.

It was supposed to be safe. The coast was supposed to be clear. Madoc was supposed to be in London.
Supposed to, supposed to, supposed to.....

The servants were not around. Those that stayed at the manor were in their quarters. Rhys had climbed the trellis to her room.
A trail of clothes would have told the story. And it was not like it was the first time. In a lover's embrace, out of the corner of her eye she saw the door slowly swing open.
And there he stood.
And he was weaponed.

She remembered letting out a scream. Rhys turned around and saw the sword. Madoc yelling. And his accusations which were hard to deny as the proof was right there.
"Please, Madoc! Please!" She remembered begging. She reached out to touch his arm in supplication. He threw her hand off, his eyes ablaze with fury.
"Madoc, please let him live! Don't add murder into it! Please! For me!"
Madoc sneered, "For you. FOR YOU?? You think I want the entire shire to know I was cuckolded by a PIRATE? And the very one who has been storing his ill-gotten treasures in the caves on MY property?"
And before she and Rhys knew what had happened, Madoc thrust his sword, running Rhys through.
The rapier then came towards her. She dodged at the last second and the blade pierced the pillow. With lightning fast reflexes, she reached over at the side of the bed and found what she was looking for.
Her bodice dagger with the pearl inlaid handle.

As Madoc withdrew the blade and raised it again, she threw the dagger. In her adrenalin-rushed drive to survive, the aim was true.
It found its mark. Madoc was thrown back against the wall from the sheer force of her pitching. He said not a word but a look of incredulity crossed his face. He slid down the wall and pitched forward.

She turned to Rhys. She could see there was not a thing she could do. The blood.
Oh, the blood!
Rhys was still breathing but it was shallow. She gathered him in her arms. He gave her a wan smile.
"Ah, Rhiannon, I always thought I would die at sea. Going down with my ship. Never for the crime of being in the arms of a woman."
He coughed and she could see that the wound was fatal. The blood was saturating her hands and all down her body.
He whispered, "I know it's fatal, my love."
Rhys' life force was ebbing quickly. The tears were flowing down her face as she said softly,
"Rhys. Rhys, please. Don't leave me. I love you."
She held him close.
As he drew his last breath, he touched her face and whispered, "I love you too, Rhiannon."

She cradled his head to her cheek and burst into sobs. The only man that had truly loved her was now dead. She looked over and saw Madoc lying on the floor. She felt nothing for him. Not even loathing.
She knew the vengefulness of Madoc's sons and if they didn't take her before the magistrates, she would surely face the wrath and punishment at their hands.
There was not a thing she could do for Rhys.
She dragged herself out of the bed, emotionally numb. She took cloths and wiped the blood off her hands and body. She then took a pitcher of water and filled the basin. The water continually turned red. She kept filling and pitching it until it became clear. Quickly she dressed in riding clothes.
She then walked over to a safe and emptied it into a cloth bag. She never realized how much was in there. Madoc underestimated me, the bastard, she thought bitterly. He always opened the safe in her presence and she committed the combination to memory in case she ever needed it.
This was the time and she needed it.

She then went into the drawers and emptied them of the family heirlooms and jewels. Shoving them into another bag, she looked around and took anything that was of value and could be carried. She then took her clothes and shoved them into a duffel bag. She took her cloak and wrapped it around her shoulders.
Looking at Rhys's body on the bed, she felt the tears slide down her face. She brushed his hair out of his face and kissed his lips that were still warm.
"Good-bye, my love. May God have mercy on your soul. I love you."
She didn't even bother to look at Madoc.

She tossed the bags out the window and then threw her leg over the sill. She looked down. About twenty feet. She climbed down the trellis as far as she could, the thorns scratching at her and catching at her hair. Finally there was about ten feet left. She closed her eyes and took a leap.
Landing on the ground, she picked up her bags and quietly went down to the stables.
There in the last stall stood her pride and joy.
Unfortunately it was Gwydion's pride and joy too.
A horse named Taliesin.
Not stolen.
Just borrowed with no intention of returning.

She saddled and bridled him up. Throwing the bags over the rear of the horse, she then whistled quietly for her wolf-dog Muir. Muir came out from under the hay and jumped on her.
"Hello, Muir. Looks like we are going on another adventure."
She climbed the gate of the stall and jumped on Taliesin's back. She then patted her leg and Muir took a leap. She caught him as he was in mid-air.
She put him in front of her and their mutual heat warmed each other. Their breaths fogged in the night air.
"Ready, Taliesin?"
She reined him towards the door. As he cleared it, she kicked in with her boots. Hard.
Taliesin reared slightly as if in agreement and cantered forward.
Her hair streamed behind her as she galloped towards the woods.
Away from Castlemaine Manor.
And into her new life.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 06:09:54 PM
Honour drew a deep sigh and looked again at her sleeping husband. She was beginning to think there may be life after Rhys Morgan.
True, she and Jack had a most unusual start to married life but the more she knew of him, the more he reminded her of Rhys. Until she no longer compared him to Rhys.
Jack stood on his own merit.

She walked over to the bed and drew the covers down. She carefully slid back into bed so as not to disturb Jack.
He was half-awake when he mumbled, "Everything alright, love?"
She snuggled closer to him and put her arms around him. "Yes, darling."

Or they will be.
As soon as we settle in Barbados.
And with that thought, she drifted to sleep.
Honour awoke to the wet, familiar nose of Muir nuzzling her hand. She smiled and scratched the neck of her longtime companion as she yawned. Sunlight fully illuminated the multicoloured glass panes of the gallery windows. It was then she realised Jack was already gone. "He must have gotten an early start," she mused. She could hear the watch bell ringing from the quarterdeck above. 1, 2, 3... 4? She'd slept until noon!

She dressed quickly and made her way with Muir to the weather deck. The sky was a deep turquoise with hardly a cloud in sight, and a brisk wind filled the white sails above her. The salt air cooled and invigorated her. She couldn't remember a more beautiful day. Everything felt right with the world.

"Good boy, Muir!" Jack called from the quarterdeck. "We thought you were going to lie abed all day, darling. It's far too perfect a day for that. Come join me up here, would you? I'll have a plate and tea sent up for you. How do you feel about making a day of it?"

Honour joined Jack and Briggs on the quarterdeck, and she shared a plate of smoked meats and soft bread with Muir. Briggs kept a watchful eye on the crew as they went about their tasks. Jack entertained his bride by teaching her about the various portions of the ship and their functions.

"Voile, voile!! Navire devant et au-devant de nous!" came the excited cry of the lookout from high above the weather deck.

"What's he on about, I wonder?" Briggs asked.
Jack turned and gave him a puzzled look. "You signed him on. Didn't you notice he was French? What's his name?"
"He didn't say much. Not as much as a peep, actually. But his friends vouched well for him. Called him "Le Cancrelat", I think.
Jack rolled his eyes as he extended the perspective glass. "Your friend the Cockroach just espied a sail ahead, bearing toward us. Let's see who wants to chat."
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 06:11:56 PM
"Jack, is something wrong?" Honour asked worriedly.
"Nothing of any import, love. Seems we've got some company. Probably a packet ship or a small merchantman."

He looked through the glass and quickly made out the approaching vessel. She was the same size as El Lobo, painted black with red trim. The sun glinted off the ship's gilt appointments. No flag could be seen, but her full sails were emblazoned with the Burgundy Cross. Jack recognized her instantly.

"There's only one ship fitted out that brazenly, Josiah. The Mercedes."
"Sweet Mother of God! Mendoza?"
Jack's eyes were pure fire, but his voice was icily cold. "Call the men to Quarters, Mr. Briggs."

Without hesitation, Briggs picked up a small drum slung by the wheel and pounded out a steady beat. "To quarters!! To quarters!! Clear these decks for action, ye lazy slugs!!" he shouted.
Jack's voice was the next to ring out. "Hands to the braces! Stand by to strike the main course and raise topgallants! Make ready all guns!!" He turned to face the approaching enemy ship. "It's about time you showed your face, Colonel," he said quietly.

The crew launched into a frenzy of activity at the call to quarters, the order to make the ship ready for battle. Anything that wasn't critical for fighting or maneuvering was stowed away or lashed aside. On the lower decks, temporary bulkheads were knocked down and secured. Guns were rolled back so their crews could ready and load them. Half barrels with water for swabbing the guns and putting out fires were dragged into position, and powder and shot were brought up from the magazine and placed in reach of the gunners.

Honour stood transfixed as Jack's rowdy and seemingly undisciplined crew transformed into a synchronised living machine. She was startled when Jack took her firmly by the shoulders and fixed her eyes with his. Gone were his easy smile and quick laugh, replaced by a grimly determined mask that truly frightened her.
"Honour, darling, I need you to go below to our cabin and stay there. Do not come out until I send for you. Please do this for me."
"But, why? Jack, what are you---no!! Tell me you're not attacking that ship!" she cried.
"Settling an old score," he said gravely. He put his arms around her and kissed her. "Always know that I love you," he whispered in her ear as he held her close. Her tear-filled eyes searched his for answers, but found none. "Josiah, please see that she makes it safely below."
"Come along, ma'am. Please." Briggs urged her gently.
Honour reluctantly allowed him to escort her from the quarterdeck. She looked back at her husband, but he had already returned his gaze to the enemy vessel.

For the first time since that fateful night Rhys died, she felt helpless and alone.

Once inside the companionway, she tried again to get answers. "Josiah, why is he doing this? Who is Mendoza?"
Briggs sighed heavily. "A man what should've been sent to Hell long ago. A man Jack has too many reasons to hate. Colonel Diego de Castille y Mendoza."

They reached the great cabin, and Briggs set about shuttering the gallery windows. "Y'see, Colonel Mendoza was responsible for the flow of commerce between Spain and her colonies along the Main. Jack was havin' too easy a time plunderin' the Spaniard's treasure and supply fleets, or so the Spanish Crown thought, seein' as how they nearly stretched Mendoza's neck for not bein' able to 'contain the problem.' Finally, Jack's luck ran out the same day ol' Mendoza's picked up. Ended up in a Spanish prison house, he did. Tortured at Mendoza's own hand on and off for nigh on two months, he was."

Honour's face went ashen at the thought of what her husband must have endured. "Dear Heaven above us! How did he manage to escape?"

"He finally struck a deal with some of Medoza's men who didn't care much for the Colonel's heavy hand. They busted him out and helped him commandeer Mendoza's own flagship, El Corazon. Tale is that Mendoza was so outraged by the insult, he swore a blood oath that if he ever crossed paths with Jack again, he'd fight him to the death. And Jack is all too willin' to oblige him."

"Over a ship?! Why didn't Jack just leave it where Mendoza could find it? Don't tell me. He burned it out of spite?" she asked.

"No, ma'am. You're aboard her. Now, I'd best be gettin' back above decks and help Jack. It's about to get plenty rough."

Colonel Diego de Castille y Mendoza coldly examined the ship now know as El Lobo del Mar through the spyglass. She was not as he remembered her, and what he saw made his blood boil.

Her forecastle had been cut down level with the main deck, and the stern had been chopped to a mere fraction if its former height. The ornate woodwork that once adorned the gunwales had been stripped away, and her intricately carved figurehead, a perfect likeness of his deceased wife and soulmate, Mercedes, replaced with a snarling ebony wolf.

Pirates typically cut ships down in this fashion for the additional speed and cargo space they could gain. Mendoza understood this, but understanding did nothing to lessen what he saw as a desecration and personal insult. "What have those animals done to you, mi Corazon?" he whispered. "I swear, Wolfe, you will pay for this."

Mendoza had compensated for the material loss of the flagship he'd built in memory of his wife by building an exact replica and naming it after her, but the psychological wounds would begin to heal only after he either recovered the original vessel, or destroyed her and the man that had taken her from him. The desire for revenge had completely consumed the colonel. And he would have it at any cost.

Captain Javier Vega was a loyal and cautious man. He enjoyed the station and generous salary provided him by Colonel Mendoza, but the nobleman's overbearing nature and continual interference in ship's business irritated him no end. He found Mendoza's sudden interest in the newly sighted ship more than a little worrisome.

"Steady on, Sr. Guitano," Vega ordered the sailing master. The sooner we make Maricaibo, the sooner we enjoy our pay, no?"
"Si, Captain. Steady as ordered," Guitano smiled. He thoroughly enjoyed serving with Captain Vega, but like most of the men, he much rather the Colonel had stayed ashore tending to his mansions and politicking. The last thing any ship needed in his opinion was a lubberly martinet mucking up the works.

"A word with you, Captain," Mendoza sniffed.

One thing Vega could not stomach was being talked down to by anyone. Mendoza never spoke to anyone any other way. "Si, Colonel?" he replied, trying to unclench his jaw.
"Intercept that ship. Take it, or destroy it. I care not which."
"Colonel, we are far too heavy with cargo to engage in battle, much less give chase."
Mendoza's face clouded with impatience. "As usual, I must think for everyone around me. Lighten the ship. Starting with the least valuable cargo, of course."
Vega ground his teeth in frustration. "As you desire, Colonel. Lieutenant Santos! I have instructions for the quartermaster."

Lieutenant Hector Santos, the captain's assistant, dutifully approached the quarterdeck. "Si, Captain? Your orders?"
Vega descended the steps to the main deck, out of Mendoza's hearing. "Please tell Quartermaster Diaz to begin dumping cargo," he said quietly, "starting with the heaviest nonessentials."
"But those would be the luxuries Colonel Mendoza purchased for his home in Maricaibo, Captain," said Santos. "Are you sure you want to anger him so?"
"He's just as soon have us toss over our food and powder to make ready for a fight. What do you think we should do?" Vega replied.
Santos smiled and nodded in salute. "I'll have him begin right away, sir."

Vega ascended once more to the quarterdeck and observed his prey and the weather for a short time. Finally, he spoke. "Sr. Guitano! Bring us 6 points to starboard. I want to overtake that ship, but keep us to windward of her! I want command of the wind in this fight. The rest of you, to quarters!! Make ready for engagement! All crews to your guns!!"

The more experienced crewmen sprang into action. But for a few seconds, the younger men, many of them on their first cruise, froze like confused deer. The stories about hunting pirates and glorious battles against the infidel enemies of the Spanish Empire they'd heard all their lives suddenly rang hollow as fear overtook baseless courage. Chided by their elders, the young men went to their duties, though not with the enthusiasm they imagined they'd have. Vega watched his men, and silently recited his customary prayer before combat.
Briggs emerged on the weather deck and squinted as his eyes adjusted to the light.
"Josiah! I need a favour from you, dear friend," Jack called.
"Aye? And what be that?"
"You know that discarded figurehead we have in the hold?"
"Aye! The one Mendoza had made of his lady?"
"That would be the one," Jack smiled."
"Oh, you've got not but mischief in your head," Briggs grinned.
"See that it's brought on deck, Master Briggs. And trice it up to the foremast. Should the men take a liking with what paint's available, tart her up as they please. Good and bold."
"Lookin' to piss Mendoza off to a fare ye well?" Briggs asked.
"Commensurate to her reputation, I assure you. But we don't have enough paint for that, do we?" Jack laughed. "Helm!! Put our heels to that ship. Half sail."
"Half sail, aye!!" cried the helmsman.
Briggs ran up the steps to the quarterdeck. "Half sail? Are ye daft? Do you want Mendoza to catch us?"
Jack winked at his friend. "Oh, yes. Yes, I do."

"They're running! They're running!!" cried Guitano.
"All sail!!" yelled Medoza. "Turn to... what is it? Larboard! And fall in behind! Run down that ship!"
"Belay that!" countered Captain Vega. "It's a trap, it has to be!" He turned his attention back to Mendoza. "This is still my ship, and I command her!"
Mendoza fixed his gaze on Vega. "You forget who owns this ship, Señor Vega. And I say you are unfit to command her. You are relieved and stripped of command."
"I'm... what?" Vega was struck dumb by this twist of fate.
"Relieved and honourless. Now get below before I have you dragged there," Mendoza growled.
"Si, Colonel Mendoza. The ship is... yours." Vega spat. "And God help us all."
"You heard me! Clap on all sail, now!! Chase that bastard Wolfe down, I order it!! Twenty thousand reals to the man that drags Jack Wolfe before me so that I might kill him!!" Mendoza bellowed.

The crew did their best to comply to Mendoza's orders. Men ran aloft the ratlines and pulled loose the sailstays. Canvas unfurled and filled with wind. Guitano tried his best to hold the ship on course, though he heard the mainmast creak and pop under the strain of the wind. With every passing moment, the masts were weakened by the overloading stress of too much canvas exposed to the wind. "Dios mio," he whispered. "Por favor, hold together, cara mia! We cannot take this too long!"
The Mercedes accelerated toward El Lobo, threatening to quickly close the gap between the two ships.

"Here they come!" Briggs cried as he watched two men install the freshly painted figurehead into the mastwork.
"They've taken the bait! Keep those sails braced, prepare to take in the main courses and hoist topgallants!" Jack ordered. "Mister Briggs! Make ready to drop the starboard anchor on my signal. Be sure to take an ax with you."

Briggs nodded once and headed for the forecastle, and the capstans used to raise and lower the anchors. He stopped momentarily to retrieve a boarding ax, hefted it approvingly, and continued on his way. "This may not be the craziest thing you've ever done, Jack," he grumbled. "But it's damned awful close!"

Jack took over the wheel from the helmsman and watched as Mendoza's ship continued to close. "Just a little closer, you devil. That's it... that's it... and... NOW! Rig sails for engagement!" The sails topsails and topgallants were hoisted fully as men feverishly gathered in the main sails. They could now maneuver with ease and still make good speed, which El Lobo quickly gathered.

Mendoza peered through the perspective glass to try and see what was happening aboard his former ship, and more to the point, try to catch a glimpse of Jack Wolfe. He got his wish when he trained the glass on El Lobo's quarterdeck. He was finally close enough to see the face of the man he'd sworn vengeance on. But why was Wolfe point up? He lifted the glass in the direction the pirate was pointing. It was the original figurehead of his wife, painted up like a two-bit trollop.

Diego's blood boiled when he saw what they'd done to the likeness of his beloved. "Fire at them, now!" he very nearly screamed. "1,000 [/]reals to every man that helps sink that accursed ship, and 10,000 reals to the man who kills Jack Wolfe!"

Guitano swallowed hard, knowing full well his words would only enrage Mendoza more. "Colonel, we aren't in range of the muskets yet. All we have are the two bow guns until we can turn our side to her."

"I don't care! Are you deaf as well as stupid? Fire them!" Diego roared.
"Si, Colonel. My apologies. Bow chase guns, fire!!"

Within moments, the the forward guns spoke, their smoke obscuring their view of the target for a few seconds. The smoke soon dissipated enough for them to see both rounds splash harmlessly into the sea. Mendoza cursed and slammed his spyglass to the deck. He turned to Guitano, his face beet red. "Get us close to them. Close enough to blast every ounce of shot we have into them. Do I make myself clear enough?" he growled.

"Si Colonel. We will find more speed," Guitano lied. Mercedes was already pushed to her limits. He was surprised her masts hadn't already snapped.

"Look at that!" Jack laughed. "The good Colonel has fired a salute in our honour! It would be ungentlemanly of us not to return so cordial a gesture! Stern chase crews!! Make your target and fire when ready!!" This ought to get Mendoza's last goat, he thought. The four guns fired in quick succession, volleying grape shot at the Spanish ship. Musket ball-sized rounds pelted the forward deck, riddling her bowsprit sail with small hole and sending crewmen diving for shelter.

Honour paced nervously within the confines of the great cabin. Jack seemed certain she would be safest there, but she felt trapped. Any time she'd been in danger before, she'd managed to find a way to escape and hide. Not this time. To make matters worse, she realized she wasn't afraid only for her life. She feared for her husband's as well. She tried to keep herself calm by focusing on the sounds of the sounds of the ship; the creaking of timbers, the call of the crew as they worked the lines, and most importantly, the sound of Jack's voice as he directed what seemed like incomprehensible chaos. She slowed her breathing and tried to let the fear fall away from her, just as she'd been taught.

A new sound interrupted the familiar pattern. Two dull thumps. Were they being fired upon? Had the battle begun? She braced herself for the worst. But instead of what she could only imagine as the sounds of battle, she heard laughter! Had that terrible ship broken off the chase? Maybe Jack had a change of heart and decided to run for Barbados and their new life together...

The decking under her feet shuddered violently. Her ears rung with a thunder worse than any she'd ever known. In terror, she dove onto the bed and covered her head with pillows. "No, not like this. Not like this!" she pleaded. But the destruction she thought was imminent did not strike. SHe uncovered her head and listened. Everything seemed normal again, save the smell of freshly spent gunpowder. "We shot back? He's really going through with this madness," she said sadly.
Honour sat on the edge of the bed, her heart pounding in her chest. She fought down the urge to get sick. Suddenly she heard a whining and scratching at the door.
'Muir! Oh my God, how could I forget Muir?'
She ran to the door and flung it open. Her beloved companion practically leaped in her arms. Standing in the doorway was the ship's cat, Li'l Puddin, eyeing her balefully. She picked him up and cradled him.
"Puddin', Jack would never forgive himself if you got hurt."
The cat reacted nervously, trying to squirm out of her arms. She kicked the door shut with her foot.
Muir was hiding under the bed.
"That's the best place for you, Muir. You will be safe from any shells or balls under there. I just may join you."

Li'l Puddin' paced back and forth, meowing. Honour tried to stem the rising panic in her.
'You've been through this before, haven't you, Puddin'?"
Honour opened up her armoire and quick as a flash, the cat jumped in. Honour shut the door on him.
'At least you will be safe there, kitty."

She sat on the bed again, touching her silver chain.
'Please, Mother, watch over him and keep him safe. This may be my last chance for happiness.'

She tried not to cry. All her dreams of a new life in Barbados were going up in smoke.

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 06:13:42 PM
"Well, come on! Have you the stomach for this, or not?" Jack grumbled impatiently at the pursuing ship. Despite his grousing, this was the part of a sea battle he enjoyed most. Employing strategy and deception to gain every tactical advantage possible. Confound them with your brains and you'll stand a better chance of conquering them with your guns.

"Oi, Cap'n! She's makin' 'er move to windward, runnin' out 'er larboard guns, she is!" one of the foremastmen in the rigging cried.
"Open the starboard gun ports, but do not run out the guns yet!" Jack ordered. "And everyone, make fast your positions!"
"Starboard ports, righto!" the master gunner answered. "Stay sharp, lads, to a man. He's got somethin' up his sleeve besides a bottle o' rum this time, I'm thinkin'!"

Mendoza watched El Lobo's gun ports swing open one by one along her right side. Wolfe is making the mistake of fighting us broadside for broadside, he thought. "Fire as we come along side! I want nothing left of that abomination or it's captain!!" The crew cheered heartily, each one thinking of how fat their pockets would soon be once the pirate lay a burning hulk. The Colonel gloated over how easy the chase had been. Yet another victory was at hand. He was a little sorry, though, that the pirate hadn't made more of a fight of it.

Jack watched carefully as the Mercedes began her bid to overtake his ship and gain the important windward position from which to fight. Her sails shifted and finally set as the Spaniard committed to their course.
"Larboard guns, run out and prepare to fire! Mr. Briggs, loose the anchor to 10 fathoms and hold there! The gun crews hastily opened the ports and shoved the guns into position, as 3 men freed the starboard anchor and let it fall into the sea. Briggs stood by the capstan brake and stopped the anchor's descent at the requested depth. Jack let go of the wheel as the sudden drag created by the anchor and its thick hemp cable as they hauled it through the water made El Lobo veer hard to starboard, cutting across the path of the onrushing ship. Men clung to the rails and rigging to keep their footing.

Master Guitano didn't wait for the surprised Mendoza to say anything. He fought the wheel back to larboard, fearing that a collision at their present speed would doom both vessels. "Starboard guns, make ready and fire!!" he yelled.
"What do you think you're doing?!" demanded Mendoza.
"Making sure we don't all die," Guitano replied though clenched teeth. Mercedes resisted, but ultimately began turning back inside the pirate's course. They were going to pass dangerously close. Below decks, the gun crews scrambled frantically to lash down the larboard guns and respond to their new circumstances.

"Cut the cable, now!!" yelled Jack.
"Back off, boys, lest ye lose somethin' you're fond of!" Briggs brought the axe down hard, cutting more than halfway through the woven ropes. He swung again, and the anchor was free. One of the men had to duck away as the severed cable, no longer under the tremendous stress, came flying back and slammed into the gunwale next to him. Briggs grunted in satisfaction and handed off the axe. "What are ye standin' around for like a bunch of lost pups? Get movin'!" he barked as he headed back to the quarterdeck.

Jack adjusted course to ensure the Mercedes would be squarely in the reach of El Lobo's guns. He now commanded the weather gage, and Mendoza's ship was traveling too fast to do anything about it. Now it was Jack's turn to inflict pain on his old nemesis, and he would do it at pointblank range.
"Fire as they pass!" he ordered.
"Fire all!" Briggs echoed.
"All guns, make your target!" said the master gunner. "And FIRE!!"

Smoke, flame, and metal erupted from El Lobo. Cannonballs smashed into Mercedes' starboard side even as her crew struggled to get their guns into place. Shards of wood and debris sprayed throughout the gun deck with hellish force. Tho guns were blasted fully from their carriages, maiming and killing anyone unfortunate enough to be in the way. One of the barrels slammed into the foremast hard enough to dislodge it from its footings. Chain shot slashed though rigging and sails, fouling the Spaniard's ability to work their ship. The few guns they'd been able to run out fired in response. Because of the speed they carried, only a couple rounds found their mark near El Lobo's forecastle, the rest going wide. Mercedes sail past, wounded, her crew shocked.

"Starboard guns at the ready!" Jack called. "We'll cut back and give 'em another! Haul away, and put your backs into it!"
"Herd them ahead of us, and pick 'em apart by hit and run?" asked Briggs.
"Seems like the thing to do on such a pleasant day, don't you think? If Mendoza thinks he's going to best us with a crew of cowhearted regulars, he's sorely mistaken. They're likely huddled below decks praying or some such. I doubt we'll see much of a fight out of them."
Briggs gave Jack a puzzled look. "We'll be givin' them quarter, then?"
"If there's anyone left after we finish Mendoza and his pretty ship, they can swim along side us to Barbados."

Colonel Mendoza picked himself up off the deck and tried to comprehend what had just happened. How could it be? How could he have been duped by that heretical pirate? He looked down on the weather deck and watched as the crew shook off the blow they'd been dealt. They went about making what quick repairs they could to restore maneuverability and keep their ship in fighting order. Other crews might well have panicked, abandoning their posts and anything resembling military discipline in hopes of saving their individual hides. But these seasoned, highly paid veteran mercenaries were well acquainted with the heat of battle. Defeat was worse than death in their minds.

"Why did we sail past them?" Mendoza demanded. "Turn us around so we can fight!"
"It doesn't work that way, Colonel," answered Captain Vega as he climbed the steps to the quarterdeck.
"I relieved you, Vega," Mendoza spat.
"And now you're going to get us killed," Vega said calmly.
"How dare you..."
"Because I don't particularly feel like dying today, Señor. And I pray to God you don't either. Now, if you haven't noticed, the pirate is winning. Is that the result you are working for?"

Vega's defiance would have earned him a solid flogging under normal circumstances. But he was right. Mendoza wanted to see Wolfe dead more than anything, even if he had to swallow his pride for a little while.
"Fine," the Colonel said. "Station."

Guitano could scarcely contain his smile as Captain Javier Vega resumed command. "Welcome back, amigo."
"That remains to be seen, but thank you," said Vega quietly. "Now for a proper fight. Splice the forebrace and tie off! And reef those courses!!" he ordered. The crew redoubled their efforts now that a real man of the sea was giving the commands.
"Hold us on this heading, Señor Guitano. Let's find out if this Anglo dog is as clever as he pretends. Gun crews at the ready, and hold!"

Mendoza was still fuming. "And this foolishness of slowing the ship and sitting here like dull-witted sheep will accomplish what, exactly?"
"Very simple, Colonel," Vega replied. "I intend to bring the Wolfe to us."
Briggs surveyed the wounded Spanish ship through the spyglass. "Looks like we hit 'em good, Jack! They're takin' in sail, holdin' a steady course. Y'know, I never figured crossin' swords with that beast Mendoza would be so... anticlimactic."

Jack finished setting El Lobo on a parallel course with her sister. "Would you rather this had been a protracted artillery fight, Josiah? I wish you'd told me sooner, so I could have let them catch us."
"I'm likin' this just fine," laughed Briggs.
"In the spirit of sportsmanship, we should run run up our colours, don't you think? Just in case Diego is unclear about our intent," Jack mused.
"You'll be wantin' the red one?"
"Aye. It suits my mood."
Briggs took a blood red flag, the signal that no quarter would be given and none expected, from a deck locker and hauled it up the ensign staff.

"Gunners, take your aim!" Jack called out. "And 100 extra pieces to the crew what hits her magazine!" The crew cheered, and a feral smile played across his face. "Be of good cheer, Diego. You're about to square an old debt."

"They are almost in range, Captain," Lieutenant Santos announced. "And they've raised the bloody flag!" Mendoza paced the weather deck below like a nervous cat, his blood pounding in his ears.

"Have Ramirez's guns crews concentrate fire on their masts and rudder. Carry the order personally. We'll see if that flag still flies once we show our teeth," said Vega. Mendoza's orders had been explicit: destroy El Lobo and her master at all costs. But Javier was willing to gamble on the Colonel's generosity should he manage to bring Wolfe aboard Mercedes in chains.

Santos hurried to the master gunner with the revised orders. He used what passed for military formality to avoid the gaze of the Colonel. Normally, Santos avoided the gun decks entirely, but the deafening roar there was far preferable to another of Mendoza's tirades. Ramirez's report came even quicker than Vega had hoped. "We have our targets, Captain!"
"Excellent, excellent!" Vega answered. "Musketeers, get aloft!! Guitano, take us closer after the broadside. Ramirez, fire at will!!"

Ramirez watched his prey carefully, and timed the swells to better his gunner's accuracy. He caught the rhythm of the ship on and the water, and gave the order. "And... now! FIRE ALL!!" With that, Mercedes threw her full fury at El Lobo del Mar in the form of ball, chain, and bar.

Jack turned from the gunwale to speak his orders. "Starboard guns, fire when ready!" To his surprise, it was not El Lobo's guns he heard first. He whirled back to see smoke and muzzle flashes burst from Mercedes' gun decks, just as his own ship's weapons began their barrage. Whirling chains tore at El Lobo, gouging her masts, hacking at her rigging and sails. The heavier bar shot did double duty against both ship and crew. He felt the familiar thud under his feet of balls striking the hull near the stern as the Spaniard tried to shoot away his rudder. But the sound of class and wood shattering from and errant shot made his heart lodge fast in his throat.

The Spanish ball had just caught the starboard aft corner of the ship at the level of the great cabin. Honour ducked down beside the heavy bed, which shielded her from the worst of flying bits of wood and glass the cannonball had scattered in it's wake. She stayed there for a while, huddled and trembling, waiting for the next wave of unholy thunder and destruction. It wasn't long, however, before the urge to run and his became more than she could bear.

She lifted the bed skirt and looked underneath. Muir had wedged himself as far underneath the bed as he possibly could. When he saw her face, he whimpered and started to crawl out of his cubbyhole.
"No, Muir," she said as soothingly as her shattered nerves would allow. "Stay here, and be safe." Her words were as much a prayer as they were and instruction. The wold-dog's ears fell a bit, and he laid down with a heavy sigh. Her eyes welled with tears as she left the bed to cross to the armoire and check on Puddin'. The door was ajar, most likely knocked open from the impact of the cannonball. When she peeked inside, Puddin' lifted his head and made a noise that clearly conveyed his annoyance at having his nap interrupted.

The absurdity of it all nearly made her laugh. But survival was foremost on her mind. She bit her lip hard, and slipped out of the great cabin. The shouts of the men were horrible and terrifying. As she emerged from the companionway, she saw her husband's ship transformed from an idyllic transport into a killing field. Men were being dragged off to the forecastle in hopes that their tattered limbs could somehow be saved. In desperation, Honour dove underneath the canvas of a longboat. But despite her fear, she couldn't help but peek out and watch the mayhem unfold about her.

"Shore up our starboard defenses, you sorry sons of whores!!" Jack bellowed. "Prepare to return fire! Musketeers, get your worthless arses aloft, double time! Look! She's closing in as we speak! Firepots at the ready! Damn me if we'll be taken!!" he howled.

Honour scarcely recognised her husband. He was like a fury, bellowing orders and slamming his fists against the gunwales. She was overwhelmed by his force of will as he commanded his crew.

Jack ground his teeth as he watched his crew respond slower than he'd like. No human could ever match his expectation in battle.
"Damn it all, Jack! And you, too! They're doin' all they can!" Briggs countered.
"Then carry them all to Hell! I want action! And I want it NOW!! Target that ship, and send it to the Devil what spat it forth!!"
Briggs looked hard at his friend. "If this doesn't work, Jack, you've consigned us all to Davy Jones Locker."
"A risk I'm willing to take, Josiah. The order is given!"
Briggs looked his captain hard in the eyes. "You heard the Captain!" he yelled. "Fire all!!"

Jack looked out over the weather deck as his crew fought like madmen to get their guns in place and throw a devastating broadside against the Spanish ship. Their previous effort had crippled the Spaniard, dropping her foremast and dismounting the majority of her guns. Their next volley left Mercedes a broken hulk. Captain Javier Vega watched his dreams of glory fade before his eyes as Guitano cradled him in his arms. "I nearly had him," Vega coughed. "I nearly..."

Guitano closed his captains eyes. "You nearly got him. Your family will know you served with honour," he whispered.

El Lobo delivered her final devastating broadside against her enemy. Colonel Mendoza tried to mount the steps to the quarterdeck, only to have a dismounted gun barrel roll up on his legs. "Musketeers," he cried. "Fire!! Clear their deck!!"

Jack watched as his guns tore into the Mercedes. "Yes!!", he yelled. "That's what we want!! Firepots away!!" he bellowed. Even as he spoke, he caught an odd motion out of the corner of his eye. He turned and focused, to see Honour's face peering out from under the longboat's canvas.

"Honour, what are you doing?!" he yelled. She wanted to explain her reason for being up on deck, but she could only stare in horror as Jack was spun to the deck by a Spanish sniper's shot.

"JACK!!" she screamed.

Could it be? Had she just watched her husband die?

Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 06:19:45 PM
She rushed out from under the canvas and felt a ball whiz past her ear. Jacob Davis yelled, "GOT HIM!"
Honour looked up in time just to see a Spaniard fall from the rigging of The Mercedes and into the sea.
She threw herself down on the deck next to Jack and cradled him in her arms.
Briggs rushed over to see the blood on Honour's dress and on her hands. He ripped Jack's shirt open and saw where he had been shot.
"Honour, he's been hit in the shoulder. Get him out of here and down to your quarters NOW! The Mercedes is out for blood and Mendoza wants the Captain dead!"
The blood drained from Honour's face. "But he needs the doctor. NOW!"
Jack came to and groaned. Honour patted his face. "Jack? Oh, Jack, my darling. You've been hit."
Jack managed to say, "Briggs, the ship is yours. Get us out of here and have Duckie take care of the men."
Honour looked over her shoulder and said, "You'll do no such thing! YOU GET THE DOCTOR AND YOU GET HIM NOW!"
She was on the verge of hysteria.
Jack whispered, "Get me below to our cabin, Honour."
Briggs helped Jack stand. "Briggs, put that heaving hulk of Spanish manure to our rudder and get us away as fast as you can," he said.
To Honour he gasped, "What the HELL were you thinking of, Honour? You could have been killed or worse  had they boarded us. I told you to stay in the cabin and not to come out until I called for you."
She started to cry.
"A cannonball landed on the bed. Muir is under it and Puddin' is in the armoire. I panicked. I had to get out of there. I was afraid I'd be trapped or blown up."
"BRIGGS! OVER HERE!  I NEED YOUR HELP!" Dr. Gander yelled.
Briggs draped Jack's arm around Honour shoulder and said, "You need to get him down to the Captain's cabin."
"But there's glass everywhere!"
"So clean it off.....I'M ON MY WAY, DUCKIE."
Jack leaned on Honour and said, "Just get me down to the cabin and we will take it from there."
Honour supported Jack's body with her own, which wasn't very easy since she was not a big person. He clutched his shoulder with a torn rag which was rapidly turning red with blood.
Half-dragging him, she slowly led them back to the great cabin. Jack's complexion was turning ashen and he looked about to pass out from the pain.
Bumping the door open with her hip, she was able to get  set him on the chair while she shook out the coverlet. Then she guided him onto the bed. He moaned, sweat running in  rivulets down his face.
Honour slowly removed the cloth and gasped. The blood continued to flow out.
Jack grasped  her hand and said rasply, "You need to dig the bullet out."
She paled. "Me? Jack, I know nothing about pistol wounds!"
He was taking shallow breaths. "It's the only way. I'll talk you through it."
"Why can't I run to the deck and get Dr. Gander?"
Jack shook his head. "The wounded men come first. Sorry, Honour, but that is the code I live by. If you don't do this, you very well could be a widow by nightfall."
Tears filled her eyes and she fought back the rising tide of panic.
"But I'm afraid, Jack. What if I make it worse?"
He managed a wan smile. "How is that possible? Death is probably the ultimate outcome."
She nodded, fear in her heart. "Aye. I'll do it."

He laid back against the pillows and said, "The shirt needs to come off."
She took her sgian dubh and began to slice through the silk.  It lay in tatters.
Jack said quietly, "In the cabinet there, get two bottles of rum."
"Aye. You have to aenesthetize and sterilize."
She retrieved them and took the cork out.
"Now fill a tankard up and help me drink it."
She lifted his head up and helped him get it down.
"Honour, I'm going to need more periodically through this whole thing. Now in the top drawer over  there, you will find a small knife in a brown leather scabbard."

She looked and there it was.
"Good. That's my darling. Now...pour the rum over the knife to sterilize it."
With trembling hands, she held the knife over a basin and poured it over the blade.
"Now what, Jack?"
Jack had been holding some cloth over the wound, compressing it. "It needs cleaned and then you have to dig for the bullet."
Honour looked at Jack with horror-filled eyes. "I--I can't do this. I can't, Jack!  I'll hurt you!"
He tried to smile and said, "You think I'm not already hurt? Love, this is the only way. Now give me another tankard of rum. And put a splash of that Irish whiskey in it too."
Having taken a few more tankards of rum and whiskey, Jack closed his eyes and instructed her next.
"Now...pour some of the whiskey into the wound.
"B--but, Jack, that will sting!"
He tried to focus on her face as the spirits were taking effect. He commanded her, "DO IT!"
She jumped. He had never used his 'command' voice on her. She poured it on the wound. Jack gritted his teeth and said, "Now the fun part."
"What? I can get Dr. Gander now?"
He shook his head. "You need to insert a knife into the wound and find the bullet."
"WHAT?" she shrieked. "Jack, I can't do that!"
His wound started bleeding again. "Honour, if you don't, I most likely will bleed out and then it is over the side in a canvas sail and a cannonball for me."
She took a deep breath and ran her fingers nervously through her hair. "You will talk me through it?"
"Certainly. Just go slowly and listen to everything I say."
She nodded wordlessly and sent up a prayer.
"This is going to be the hard part for me, " Jack said. He closed his eyes and said, "You need to take the sterilized knife blade and insert it in the wound."
Honour put her hand to her mouth and whispered, "There has to be another way..."
Jack shook his head and said hoarsely, "Honour, darling, you need to work quick. If I pass out  from pain or too much spirits, I can't direct you. Are you ready?"
She nodded.
"Good. Now carefully insert it....AAAAHHH!"
Honour felt the tears fill her eyes and one trailed down her cheek. "I'm so sorry----"
"Not your fault," he could barely get out. " find the bullet. You will feel metal on metal. Gently slip the tip of the blade beside the ball and use the tip to slowly roll the ball back up through the wound tract and then...."
"Jack? JACK!!"
He couldn't hear her. He was unconscious.
In about five minutes of probing, Honour felt a distinct scrape. Sweat was running down her back and she couldn't even brush her hair out of her eyes. If she lost the ball, she would have to start all over again. Mercifully, Jack was in oblivion.
The ball slowly rolled like a cannonball on an uneven deck. Because the wound entrance was ragged, the ball wouldn't pop out.
'Oh, please, God,' she prayed. Jack was still blacked out. She could barely see the ball.
There was only one thing left to do.
She had to remove the ball with her fingers.
She took a deep breath and carefully inserted two slim fingers into the wound track. She was thankful Jack was not conscious as she would never have been able to do it if he were looking at her with pain-ravaged eyes. Carefully grasping the ball, she extracted it.
She sat back and held it between her fingers, dazed and surprised at the size of the ball. Hearing Jack moan, she realized he was coming back to consciousness.
Honour took cloths and wiped his face down. He opened his eyes and groaned.
"Am I...dead?"
She felt the tears trailing down her cheek as she wiped  them away with the back of her hand.
"No, my love, you are quite alive. But Jack, the blood is starting up again."
He took a shallow breath and said, "In the washstand below in the cupboard, you will find cotton. You need to pack the wound."
"Shouldn't I get Dr. Gander to take a look?"
He tried to smile and said, "Another tankard, if you don't mind. Darling, you are almost done..."
She poured a generous amount of whiskey and held his head up so he could drink it.
He laid back against the pillow and said, "You need to insert the cotton in the wound as far as you can. I-it's called packing the wound."
She bit her lip and inserted it in with the blade and then continued until Jack said, "Enough. My darling, you did it. I can see why I married you. An angel of mercy..."
He lapsed back into unconsciousness.
She washed his face and covered him up with a blanket. He was still ashen but his breathing had become slow and steady.

Honour walked out to the companionway as Briggs was coming towards her. "How is Captain Wolfe? Is--is he....?"
Honour said shakily, "He's asleep and the bullet is out and..."
Honour then made a dash to the rail and promptly got sick.
Briggs stayed a respectable distance behind until she turned and said, "I--I'm sorry. I don't usually get sick."
She then leaned with her face to the wall, her arm covering her eyes and she sobbed as if her heart would break.
"It's all my fault. If I had stayed where I was told, he would have seen the sniper and he wouldn't be wounded."
Briggs, moved with pity for the young lass,  took her in his arms and gently rocked her and awkwardly stroked her hair.
"Ye saved the Captain, Missus, and fer that the crew of El Lobo thanks ye."
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 06:36:56 PM
Honour stayed at Jack's side as he slept until exhaustion finally overcame her. She couldn't rid herself of the image of her husband falling to the deck. She'd gone through what seemed like a thousand "what if" scenarios in her mind. What if she'd stayed put? What if she hadn't distracted him? Was it really her fault that he was hit? Sleep took her at last, and gave her a bit of peace.

Some time later, a soft knock came at the door, followed by a rattle as the latch turned. She stirred from her sleep, straightening a bit in her chair. "Thank you, Mr. Briggs. But for the fourth time, I'm not hungry."
"I'll let our good Josiah know the next time I see him," a man's voice replied. The gentleness and refinement of his voice startled her. Honour tried to collect herself, but he stopped her. "Now, now. No need getting up on my account," he reassured her.

"You're Doctor Gander. I remember Jack pointing you out to me on Castara."
"Jack's never been one for social propriety." The doctor bowed slightly in mock formality. He looked to be around Jack's age, but there was a wizened, almost sad quality to his eyes. "Dr. Drake Gander, at your service. And you must be the resourceful Mrs. Wolfe," he smiled.
"Please, call me Honour."
"All right, then, Honour. And you must call me 'Duckie'. It's a pleasure to finally meet you, even under these less than desirable conditions. How is our patient faring?" he asked as he placed a small wooden box on the table.
"Resting, but fitfully. He's said a few words in his sleep, but I couldn't make them out."
"No doubt a combination of the liquor and the pain. Otherwise I'd write it off as another one of his nights in town. How are you bearing up, my dear?"
His question surprised her. "I'm sorry?" she asked. "I wasn't injured."
"A person can be wounded in more ways than the physical. You've endured and survived things today that no lady should ever have to. Aside from refusing food, how are you."
"I am exhausted," she admitted reluctantly.
"As well you should be! I'll leave you something to help you sleep once I'm done here." Duckie left her side and sat on the bed beside Jack. "Now, let us see the handiwork of the Captain's personal physician, shall we?"

Honour felt oddly at ease, and more than a little charmed, by the doctor's bedside manner. How on earth did a gentle soul like him end up on a pirate ship? He seemed to know Jack almost as well as Briggs did.

Duckie went about examining the wound dressing she'd made. "Very nicely done. Very nice, indeed. As much as I dislike having to disturb your work, we should change this dressing. There's more packing and gauze in my box, if you wouldn't mind. Oh, and there's a small jar as well."
She found herself blushing at his praise for what she'd done, as well as some pride. She'd had to call on everything she'd been taught by the Order, with a healthy dose of improvisation. She retrieved the items and handed them to the doctor as he needed them. He started with the clay jar. When he opened it, the pungency of the paste within made her eyes water.

"What in heaven's name is that? It smells horrid!"
"It's a concoction I learned from some Carib Indians several years ago. They use it to treat knife and arrow wounds, but it works equally well on gunshots."
"You- you spent time with the Carib's? Aren't they supposed to be..."
"I was around them for just short stretches of time. They're much more hospitable on a full stomach. The packing, if you please?" He finished troweling the salve into the wound, then carefully placed the packing over it. Within a few minutes, the dressing was changed.

"You did a remarkable job removing that ball, Honour. That was a deep wound. The average, inexperienced practitioner wound have made a real mess of things. I'm quite impressed." said Duckie.
"Thank you," she replied, hoping he wouldn't ask more probing questions. "I suppose when it's one's own husband in your hands, one tends to be more careful."
He looked at her thoughtfully. "I suppose that's true. In any case, we're all fortunate you were on board to care for him, no matter where you received your training. You saved his life, you know."
Honour's face clouded, and she could feel the tears well in her eyes. "More like nearly got him killed, you mean."
"Come again? How do you figure that?"
"He told me to stay here. I couldn't, and when he saw me up on deck, he turned away from the Spanish ship. That's when he was shot. If it weren't for me, he'd have seen the musketeer and avoided the fire."
Duckie stepped closer and took her hands in his. "Honour, listen to me. It's obvious by gaping hole in the corner that you weren't safe here. And you say that Jack turned away from the ship when he saw you?"
"Yes. It all happened so fast..."
"My dear, if he hadn't turned when he did, that ball could easily have buried itself in his chest or his head. Thank God you were there when you were. Looks like you saved your husband's life twice today." He reached into the box and retrieved a small vial of laudanum. "This is to help you sleep. No more than two drops under your tongue. Now dry those tears and try and get some rest. We'll talk more later."

As he picked up his box to leave, Honour's curiosity got the better of her. "Doctor, exactly why to they call you 'Duckie'? It doesn't quite make sense, especially given your last name."

Duckie smiled. "This is a pirate ship, Honour. Not a lot of what goes on makes any particular sense. Some things take hold, and some go by the boards, and no one really knows for certain. Now, get some rest. I'll have some food sent down for you. You don't have to eat it, mind you. But staring at a full plate seems a bit silly, don't you think?"

"Thank you for everything, Duckie. I do appreciate it."
"Don't mention it. Now, pleasant dreams, Doctor Honour," he winked as he closed the door.

Honour set about sweeping the glass and splinters out of the cabin. She looked around. Jack's collection of books was untouched. The only thing the cannonball seemed to hit was the wall next to the bed where the galley windows were. It was a miracle she and the animals were not hit.

She looked under the bed. Muir was sleeping soundly. There was a scratching at the armoire door. She opened it and Puddin' hopped out and went his merry way. There was a knock at the door and one of the men stood there with a tray.
"Doc said to send this down to ye, ma'am. He said t' be sure t' eat some of the fruit t'keep yer strength up. Somethin' about blood sugar. Whate'er that be."
She took the tray out of his hands.
"Thank you."
The crewman looked over her shoulder. "How be th' Cap'n? Heard ye fixed him up."
She said, "He will be fine. Please tell the crew that until the Captain is functional, that Mr. Briggs will be in charge."
"Aye. Give our best t' Cap'n Jack, ma'am."
"I shall."

She took a bite of an apple and just couldn't face the thoughts of food. She shook out the blanket and covered Jack up with it. The men had nailed a few boards over the hole to keep the wind out.
Jack continued to sleep but his colouring was better. He moaned occasionally when he moved his shoulder.
Honour walked over to look out. She could see the sky filled with stars.
How could the heavens look so peaceful after the conflagration on the high seas? She rubbed her temples, the start of a headache from the day's stress.
She washed her face and slipped into a fresh chemise. Checking Jack's breathing once more, she closed the door and made her way to the upper deck.

The ship was eerily quiet. Just the groaning of the riggings. Splinters of wood were everywhere and the sails were tattered, their strips fluttering in the night breeze. Honour glanced up and was surprised to see a startling sight.
It was a huge carving of a beautiful woman. Or it had been at one time. The carving had a haughty face with flowing black hair.
And something else.
An overabundance of red paint applied to its cheeks and lips.
That face looked garish under the the light of the full moon. Almost as if it were sneering.
Honour's attention was riveted to it.
A voice behind her said quietly, "Lovely woman, wasn't she?"
She turned to face Josiah Briggs.

"Briggs, what is the meaning of this--this thing?"
Briggs lit his pipe and took a deep draw on it. Pointing with the stem, he said, "That be Mercedes de Castille y Mendoza. Wife of Diego."
Honour stared. "Wh--why is she painted up like that?"
Briggs chuckled. "It were Jack's idea. Something to twist the knife into Mendoza."
"Good God," she whispered.
Briggs leaned over the rail. "Aye. He knew that would provoke Mendoza to no end. Bad enough that Jack stole his flagship. Carved her up almost unrecognizable and then gave her the Spanish name of The Sea Wolf. But to desecrate his beloved was the final insult. And that is what provoked the fury of this attack."
"What happened to the Mercedes, Briggs?"
"Right after the last volley, before Jack got hit, we did damage and they limped away."
"Do you think Mendoza is dead?"
Briggs shrugged. "Don't know for sure. Maybe some day we will find out. But I didn't feel the tremors of the sea when Hell spat him back so I don't know."
Honour sighed. "I'd best get back to my husband."
Briggs touched her shoulder and said awkwardly, "Ye done right good, young missy. Better'n I expected. Ye'll be a true pyrate's wife yet."
Honour felt her eyes well up with tears. "That is what I am afraid of."

She walked back into the great cabin. Carefully so as not to disturb Jack, she pulled the covers back and slipped into bed next to him. Suddenly she began to shake as a reaction to all that had happened. She drew herself closer to Jack and felt the warmth of his body next to hers.
All of a sudden, an irrational fear surged through her. The sensation startled her.
It was the fear of losing him.
She laid her head against Jack's chest and whispered, 'Forgive me.'
But it was not to Jack she whispered it.

It was to the memory of Rhys Morgan.

Cade stowed the last of his belongings in what could only euphemistically be called his ship's great cabin and gave an expansive sigh. "Fine. I'll just keep taking ships until I find one I'm not too tall for," he thought aloud. He sat at the table going over the charts and manifests for the upcoming voyage, but his mind kept wandering back to those incredible blue eyes that danced when she laughed. Honour's eyes. The eyes of the woman who, as fate would have it, was married to his friend and mentor. He tried to push her out of his mind, but to no avail. Why on earth had a woman of such grace and beauty cast her lot with Jack confounded him. Everyone new that no sooner had a bit of gold crossed his hand that it would be pissed away in the taverns or stews before the next sunrise.

He picked up a sheaf of papers and rummaged through them; bills of lading (some false, some not), a list of repairs to be made whilst under weigh, a fresh commission from Governor Culley (blank, as usual), and a letter. If the scrawling on the envelope didn't reveal enough about the sender, the wax seal of a wolf's head removed all doubt.

"My Dear Cade,

By the time you find this Note, Honour and I shall have safely completed our Passage to Barbadoes, with the Full and earnest Intent of building a New and happy Life in this place. Doubtless this comes as a complete Surprise to you. I myself am only now beginning to grasp the Enormity of it all.

I am, my Friend, truly happier and Content than I have ever Known, more than I can possibly express with the written Word. And as you are the closest Soul I should ever consider claiming as my own Blood as a Son, it is imperative that you hear this from Me, as tavern-stories are scarcely more reliable than those of the most Trustworthy politician.

When you have made ready your Ship and Crew, you must join us for a while in Bridgtowne as soon as possible. There are certain legal Instruments requiring your Attentions, for the purpose of reducing my Stake in the Castara Co. to no more than 15%, with the Balance and full Control of said company to be transferred to Yourself, effective immediately.

We expect to receive You within the next two Weeks.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Capt. Jennings.

Capt. J. Wolfe
Mrs. H. Wolfe"

Cade stared at the letter in disbelief. Jack Wolfe, the man who, he was certain, never had a waking thought that wasn't part of a scheme to relieve someone else of their wealth, was walking away from a successful life of piracy? For a woman? "Women serve a great many delightful purposes," he remembered his mentor saying on many occasions. "The least of which is their maddening talent for relieving you of your money, no matter how delightful the distraction." But Cade could understand how this time, things were different. He tried to ignore the pang of envy he felt at Jack's having found that one woman who could change his mind. Luck would have it that's she'd be the one Cade couldn't stop thinking of.

He read the letter over again, and found himself increasingly bothered by it's tone; relaxed, with no sense of foreboding, and certainly none of the panic he'd seen in the man's eyes only a few days ago. Had someone discovered Jack's plan? Or had Bonita filled his head with tales of another one of her visions? It wouldn't be the first time he'd thrown meticulously detailed plans to the winds because of "fresh information." Bonita was always the source, though Jack played it off as his own uncanny intuition.

He was going to find out what was afoot, and he knew the perfect person to ask.

Jennings left his ship in search of of Jack's dreadlocked oracle. After over an hour's search, he found her kneeling in the sand of a sheltered beach. She was gathering shallow clay dishes from near the water, scraping the salt left there by the evaporated sea water into a jar. Cade set his jaw and walked purposefully toward her, the letter clutched in his hand.

"An what bring young Cap'n Jennings lookin' for Bonita, when he supposed to be makin' him ship fit to sail?" she asked without looking up from her task, in a knowing tone that completely unnerved him. "You know how anxious Jack get when he have to wait for anyone."

So she seemed to know where Cade was headed and why. "Been going through my quarters, have you?" he demanded, slapping the papers in his hand.

Bonita looked up at him with hardened eyes. "Dere be nothing aboard you ship day I would need or want. Dis island, she have eyes and ears, and she tell Bonita everyt'ing I need to know."

"Then you know of Jack's decision to give up the sea for Honour?"

"Dat little piece of paper tell you such a t'ing?"

"In his own hand."

She gave a derisive snort. "Jack Wolfe is a pirate by choice, and by him nature. Him little wife, she turn him head and maybe, maybe even him heart. But him soul... day always belong to de sea."

Cade's face clouded over for a moment. "Ahhhhhh, dere it is!. De golden-haired one, she turn a head other t'an Jack's, just as I t'ought"

"Nonsense!" he protested. "She's my best friend's wife, after all. I'm concerned for both of them."

"De heart, it want what it want," she said, her damnable knowing smile never fading.

He felt like she was reaching right into his mind, groping in all the dark corners. "In his letter," he said, hoping to change the subject, "Jack said he expects me to meet him in two weeks. But as he was leaving-"

"He were frightened, an' told you to hurry so as to meet him in two days, no?"

"Did you have a hand in his state of mind?" Cade shot back.

"Every time Jack embark on a new journey, he ask Bonita to read for him," she answered, her demeanour becoming evasive. "It were our way of t'ings."

"Tell me, then. I've never seen him in such a state. What did you tell him? What did you see?"

She turned to face him, and fixed him with her dark eyes. "People t'ink dat Fate be somet'ing dey can run from. Dey are mistaken. No matter how hard dey run, dey are running toward they fate, defenseless as a babe."

Cade swallowed hard. "You mean, he's thrown himself and Honour straight into..."

"It have already happened. If you care for dem, as you say, den you are needed. Go. Now."

He gave Bonita a bewildered look, then ran for the docks as fast as his legs would carry him.

Bonita watched the young man charge off in hopes of helping his friends. A smile slowly spread across her face. "Dat's right, young Cade," she said softly. "Run to play your part in they fate."
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 06:38:55 PM
Jack awoke in the dawn's breaking light. He looked over at the small form of his wife curled up next to him, her arm around his waist and her head on his chest. Her blonde hair spilled into her face and lent her the air of an angel fallen to earth. Jack tried to move, his shoulder throbbing. He tried to stifle a moan. Honour's head jerked up.
In her sleep-laden voice, she said, "Jack? You're awake."
He groaned, "I was hoping it was just a bad dream. But the pain is a sharp reminder I can scarcely remember what happened. So...what happened?"
"You don't remember anything?"
He said quietly, "I remember seeing you look out from under the canvas on the longboat. Then excruciating pain. Now here I lie with a bandage, dressing and a pain that is out of this world."
Honour said, "You were felled by a Spanish sniper in the riggings. Davis picked him off."
Jack closed his eyes. "Remind me to give him an extra portion of booty next time we pre-emptively salvage a vessel."
Honour looked up puzzled. "But you aren't doing that anymore. Remember? We are going to buy Monsieur Picou's sugar plantation. Five hundred acres with a house and cabins for the hired help."
"Hired help."

Jack got up and immediately sat down. "I guess I am a bit dizzy."
Honour reached over for her dressing gown. "It's because you haven't eaten for twenty-four hours. You had all that whiskey and rum on an empty stomach."
"Not to mention blood loss."
He tried to peek under the bandage and Honour smacked his hand. "Leave it alone."
She handed him some fruit and a biscuit.
"I need to find out how the ship fared."
"No, you don't."
"Excuse me?"
Honour replied, "You need your rest."
Jack said crossly, "My crew needs to see their captain up and about. Good Lord, Honour! It's a flesh wound."
"A flesh wound? A FLESH WOUND? It was a flesh wound that I had to dig for the bullet. Do you think that was fun for ME?"
"And do you think that was a rollicking good time for ME? I swear, the next time I run into the Mercedes, I'll send that bastard to hell where he belongs!"
"There won't be a next time. Jack, we planned on starting a new life together in Barbados. With a house and a pigeonnaire and a veranda and big windows and babies and...."
She was suddenly silent.
So was Jack.
She said sadly, "Was it all a lie, Jack? Something to pacify me with in Castara?"
Jack said nothing.
She said softly, "I see. A man will say anything to get a woman flat on her back. Even 'I do.' Well, go. Go and play pirate with your friends."
Jack said briskly, "I need to see what damage and loss of life we have sustained. We'll talk about this later."
She said determinedly, "No, we will talk about it now."
"Later. I have a ship to run."
He opened the door and made his way to the quarterdeck.

But not before he heard the sound of a nice piece of porcelain thrown against the door.
Ah, too bad. It was from the Ming dynasty....El Lobo may have carried the day, but she'd be battered and bloodied doing so. The weather deck fared scarcely better than his own cabin. A large section of the larboard gunwale had been patched with a network of lumber and rope. The two guns that should have been there were missing.A quick scan of the masts showed that they weren't carrying half of the half the canvas they should be.

His ship was now a wounded crippled thing, easy prey for a lesser foe with a mind to make a name for himself.

"It was matter of time, I suppose," a voice came from behind him on the quarterdeck. "Master Briggs, here's your money. I should have known better than to wager against his stubbornness."

Jack turned to see Dr. Gander drop some coins into Briggs waiting hand. "weed puller bullheaded as they come, doctor. Just like I said. Good to see you up and about, Jack."

"I'm sure you mean that from the bottom of your purse," Jack replied sarcastically. "What be the state of my ship?"

"We handed that blackhearted bastard a right proper pastin', we did," Briggs began.

"I'd assumed as much, give that none of us is in chains. My ships, Josiah."

Briggs drew a heavy breath. The carpenter's got the hull patched well enough, but I'm keeping two men on the pumps to be sure. All but the other the mizzen took heavy damage. I can't see us adding any more sail without losing one or both of the remaining masts, God help us if we have to make a run for it.'

"Could make a fight of it if we had to?" The pain and fatigue were taking their toll on him. By this time, he was only half-listening to his comrades.

"Aye, if we convince 'em to sit still, we might have a chance. We lost three guns total. I'll have the lads remount one on the gun deck. That's the best we can do out here."

"I'll take it," answered Jack. :Any more good news for me?"

"None worth mentioning, no."

"There's a relief. If the carpenter has any spare planks, please have him report to my quarters. We seem to have acquired a draft."

Jack was getting woosier by the second, but he was bound and determined to get his status update. "And the crew, Doctor?"

"Three dead, eleven wounded, Captain. One of the more grievously injured men refuses to accept medical treatment or advice. I'm concerned that he'll quickly become a liability and a danger to his shipmates.

"Unacceptable," Jack winced "Chain him to the surgery on my orders, What's the man's name?"

"John Michael Wolf," Duckie responded, not missing a beat,

Jack looked at his fiend in surprise. "All right, doctor. You've had your fun as my expense."

"Oh, I assure you, Jack, "Duckie replied with sarchasm in his voice. "The past two days could hardly be considered entertaining by anyone aboard. I for one take no joy watching you bleed through your bandages." The doctor hooked him by the arm. "Back to bed with yout. Your wife did too fine a job saving your life for you to go around ruining it."

"The Lobo will be fine, Jack," Briggs reassured him. "Another couple of days or so, and we'll be safely in port."

Jack tried mightily to nake his eyes focus on the Quartermaster, to now avail. "I'll hold you to it."

Brigs gave Duckie a worried look. The doctor nodded reassuringly, but his expression belied his exasperation with his roaming patient. "Come along, Jack. Time to get you back into your nice comfy be. And I need to refresh your dressing."

"Is there a free bed in the surgery?" Jack asked.

"What's the matter with your bed? It's better than anything I can provide."

Jack thought a moment. "It's ... complicated," was the best he could muster.

"Oh, dear," Duckie sighed. "You have been a busy boy..." He made a mental note to check in on Honour after he got Jack settled in.

Honour picked the pieces up from the crashed vase. 'Good! I didn't like it anyways, ' she thought.
She picked up the largest piece and hurled it against the door and yelled, "DAMN YOU!"
Just then the door opened and Dr. Drake Gander ducked down.
"Whoa there, Mrs. Wolfe! Are you a one-man destroyer or will anyone do?"
She felt her face flame red and stammered, "I'm sorry, Dr. Gander. I seem to have let my..fatigue get the best of me."
Duckie soberly surveyed the 'situation'. "Let's looks like Jack is now missing a priceless Ming vase from a pillage he did in '66. Spring, I believe it was. It was a ship heading towards Bonaire..."
"I'm sorry, Duckie. I don't think I can do this anymore," she said softly.
He took her hands and said, "What, Mrs. Wolfe? Cleaning up the shards? Changing the bandage on Jack? Putting up with a stubborn man who won't let himself rest and heal?"
She felt a tear trickle down her face and Duckie handed her a handkerchief.
"The life. Piracy. I am beginning to think that Bonita was right. She told Jack I wasn't one of them. That I didn' t have what it takes to be a pirate's wife. And I am beginning to wonder if she is right."

Duckie sighed. "I was afraid it would come to this. Honour, I am hoping you will take Jack away from all of this. As good a pirate as he is, like all pirates I fear he will some day be on borrowed time if he isn't already."
"Borrowed time?"
Duckie nodded. "Did you know your husband attended Oxford, majoring in philosophy?"
Honour was shocked. "No! Jack? Why, he is the most fearsome pirate in all the Caribbean!"
Duckie nodded soberly, "Jack Wolfe is bloody brilliant. Anything he puts his mind to, he's successful. He left in his last year of school. Jack could have been a professor at any university in England."
"But why didn't he finish school?"
"His father died and the money ran out. His father was a shipwright. His brother is in the King's Navy and when Charles Wolfe--that's Jack's father--died, so did the business. Jack signed on with a merchantship and then was pressed into service upon a pirate's ship. He liked the ready cash and it was a way to support his mother."

Honour sat down, astounded at the news her husband had been in Oxford. She knew he was smart but didn't know about this secret he kept hidden. He was also educated. It made sense. The books. The telescope he kept. The artwork on the walls of the cabin.

Duckie sat on the bed next to her. "I think that you were heaven-sent, Honour. To try to redeem Jack from this life. You were meant for him. And he was meant for you."
Honour walked over to the cabin window, looking to the sea. She murmured, "Duckie, if I tell you something, would you swear never to reveal it on pain of death? Promise on your hypocritic oath?"
"Hippocratic oath, Honour."
"Whatever. Do you promise?"
Duckie raised his right hand and repeated, " 'What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.' "
Honour looked at him and he replied, "It's part of the oath. It means doctor-patient confidentiality. It means I won't snitch. I can't. I'm not allowed."

She stared at a space above the bookcase as if the answers to life were written there. Slowly she turned to face Dr. Gander.
"Have you ever heard of Rhys Morgan?"
Duckie nodded slowly, "I met him through Jack. A good man. A good pirate. Maybe even a bit better than Jack was, but Jack has now equaled him."
"Duckie, how did Rhys Morgan die?"
She walked over to the window once more and stared out.
Duckie sighed. "He was having an affair with a married woman. From those that saw them together--I think it was only once in Cardiff for a week--she was a beautiful woman. From all accounts, Rhys was in love with her. And she was in love with him. She was married to an older man. Very unhappily. But one night the husband came home and she was in bed with Rhys. The husband ran Rhys through and the husband was found with a bodice dagger in his heart. The safe and all the jewelry--vanished! As did the woman herself.
The sons of the husband vow they will not rest until they find Rhiannon Castlemaine."

Duckie paused, although he had a suspicion.
"Honour, why do you ask?"
She lifted her head up to look into Duckie's tired eyes and whispered, "I am the woman to blame."

"Jack? Jack! Are ye sleepin'?"
He slowly opened his eyes, unsure of where he was or even what day it might be. Finally, through the thick morphia fog he made out Briggs' worried face. "Josiah! What- what day is it?"
"It's only been a couple hours or so since you were up on deck. Askin' about the ship, remember? Then the Doc walked you down here to change your bandages. Looks like he dosed you up pretty good to boot."
"That was considerate of him," Jack slurred. "Why are you here? Are you hurt?"
"No, no, I'm fine," Briggs sighed. "The men have been askin' about ye. They're worried, seein' as how ye looked like death walkin'. The missus must be beside herself, you wanderin' the decks in your state."

Jack blinked hard, trying to clear his mind enough to at least halfway follow Briggs. Nothing. Duckie had meant for him to stay put this time. "Oh, that. Not much help with morale, was it?"
"They'll be fine, once I tell 'em I talked to ye. It was quite the stroke of good fortune, weren't it?"
"What was?"
"Honour. Her knowing somethin' about medicine, enough to save your sorry hide like she done. Did ye have any idea she has doctorin' skills?"
"No. No, I didn't," Jack said slowly. He couldn't remember her saying anything about medical training. He knew they taught women such thing in convents and such, but she was hardly the nun type. What else hadn't she told him?
"Well, no matter. A bit of Providence it was, in any case. What with Duckie hands full of wounded. But I have to ask ye, Jack. Why aren't ye resting in your own quarters?" asked Josiah.
Jack sighed. "We had a bit of an argument before I came topside. She'd much rather I gave up the roving life, especially after our run in with Mendoza." His head was starting to swim from the combination of fatigue and the doctor's sedative cocktail.

"What in the world would she have ye do? Rovin's what ye do best. Hell, better'n most all of 'em," Briggs said.
"We'd talked about buying a sugar plantation."
"Ha! That's a fine one! You, a gentleman farmer? Landed gentry? I've seen ye get land sick after six or seven days from the sea! You'd find yer way back on the deck of a ship before very long, and ye know it."
Josiah's ribbing was good natured, but it gnawed at Jack. He'd made a promise to her, and the battle might well be a sign his luck had run out. Getting out sounded so inviting. But was Briggs right? Had he made a promise to Honour that he couldn't keep?
"Besides," continued Josiah, "this ship's as much a part of ye as yer own bones."
"Maybe you're right," said Jack. "Can we talk about this some other time, Josiah? I'm so tired..."
"Aye, Jack. You rest up and get yer strength back. We'll mind the ship for ye." With that, the quartermaster slipped quietly out of the surgery.

Jack thought about Briggs' words, and the promises he'd made Honour. Guilt and conflict dogged him as he slipped into a dark, fitful sleep.
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 06:40:15 PM
Duckie hesitated and then quietly said, "I see."
Honour looked at him with pain in her eyes. "I had to tell someone. What if I died and no one knew who I really was?"
"Shouldn't it be Jack you should be telling this to?"
She shook her head vehemently. "I can't. How do you think he would feel if he found out his friend died because of his wife?"
"He would understand." Duckie asked, "Did you love Rhys Morgan?"
"Why did you not leave your husband and run off with Rhys, if you don't mind my asking."
She shrugged. "I planned to. Rhys and I were going to sail off. I was kind of waiting....."
Honour grew quiet after that.
"Waiting for him to die?"
"Yes. But I wasn't about to help him on his way, if that is what you were thinking."
"I wasn't thinking that at all."
"He coughed alot."
"Probably consumption."
"How did you meet Rhys?"
"I would go up to the bluffs and write poetry. One afternoon, Rhys was up there sketching," she smiled at the memory. "It seems I am drawn to educated pirates. A pirate that sketches and paints doesn't depict a very fearsome pirate, does it?"

She continued. "I was only seventeen. I was too young to be stuck playing Lady of the Manor. Madoc--my husband, Lord Madoc Castlemaine--was supposed to be sitting on the House of Lords in London. It was a ruse. Without being graphic, he caught Rhys and me together. He ran Rhys through and then charged for me. I barely got out of the way and threw my bodice dagger. My aim was true. It was self-defense. I held Rhys as his life-force ebbed away. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I emptied the safe and then fled from Beaumaris. I took a ship to St Lawrence and assumed an alias."
"Honour Bright. Unusual."

She laughed bitterly, "Isn't it, though? I think it was a private joke to myself. Honour Bright. A reminder to be true to myself. As Honour Bright is a sworn oath of fidelity."
She felt her eyes beginning to tear up.
"Duckie, am I being unfaithful to Rhys' memory?"
"How so, Honour?"
She took a deep breath. "Something went terribly wrong when I married Jack Wolfe. Something that wasn't supposed to ever happen."
"What is that, my dear?"
"I fell in love with him."

"Land Ho!" the watch in the crow's nest called out.
Captain Cade Jennings leaned against the main mast, his eyes scanning the horizon. His ship, The Gryphon, was nearing Bridgetown. He was following Jack's instructions to meet him.

Cade sighed. It wasn't Jack that he was anxious to see. It was Honour.
"Almost to Bridgetown, Captain Jennings." His quartermaster Robert Verro announced. "You are to meet Captain Wolfe?"
Cade nodded. "Aye. He wants to go over some business concerning the Castara Company. Seems he is going to go into the sugar industry."
Verro said, "Sugar. A good commodity. He can export the rum he makes while in his various ports."
"You don't understand. He intends to settle down in Barbados."
Verro stared at Cade in amazement. "Settle down. As in give up the account?"
"Hard to believe, I know."
"Heard he also got married. She must have some sort of bewitchin' over him to get him to be settlin' down. What's next? Babies? Maybe even a dog?"
Cade shrugged. "They've only been married for a few weeks, Verro. But yes, she convinced him that raising sugarcane and becoming Lord of the Manor would better suit his interests."
Verro exclaimed, "Ne'er thought it would be that way with ol' Mad Jack. Thought he would die with his boots on and not under some tart's bed!"
Cade's jaw set. "She's not a tart."
Verro looked at his captain and a look of concern crossed his face.
"I'll be gettin' the ship ready to dock, Captain."
Cade looked back over the waters and said quietly, "Thank you, Verro."
Robert Verro looked back again at Cade and shook his head to himself. "I don't like the feel of this. Not one bit. Looks like trouble brewing..."

By mid-morning the ship had docked. The crew was given shore leave save a few that drew the watch. Cade headed towards The dim bulb and Bull tavern. Entering, his eyes adjusted to the light. Behind the bar was O' Brien, the tavern keeper. Cade walked up and said, "O'Brien! Been a while!"
O'Brien turned and squinted his eyes. "Do my eyes deceive me? Can that possibly be you, Cade?"
Cade grinned, "Sure as I am standing here!"
The tavern keeper clapped him on the shoulder and exclaimed, "Praise be! Ye have grown since I last saw ye a few years ago. Not so much in height but in face. Ye became a man!"
Cade laughed, "Well, I've been a man for quite a while."
O'Brien winked, "And I bet the ladies be glad of it! Any special one ye courtin' now, Cade?"
All of a sudden Honour's blue eyes danced through his mind and he could barely catch his breath.
"No. No one in particular. So....where's Jack?"
The tavern keeper drew his brows together. "Jack? Mad Jack Wolfe? Ain't seen him. But I heard tell he took the vows. And I don't mean as a priest, either. Rumour has it he went to Castara on a little honeymoon trip."

Cade's heart skipped a beat. "Not here? But..but he left four days before me. And it was smooth sailing and calm seas! Are you sure? No word of them?"
O'Brien shook his head. "Nary a one. An' ye know this is the first place ol' Jack heads when he is in port."
He winked and added, "Well, maybe it will be now that he is married and..Cade! Where are you going?"
But Cade never heard the question.

He went outside, trying to catch his breath. His head was swimming. 'They left four days ahead of me. FOUR DAYS!'
All of a sudden, Bonita's words came back to him.

"It have already happened. If you care for dem, as you say, den you are needed. Go. Now."

He tried to stem the rising tide of panic.
Where WERE they?

All afternoon, Cade made a few inquiries but no one had seen anything or any reports on El Lobo del Mar. It was if it had vanished from the face of the earth. But Cade continued in his efforts to find out anything he could. If they had been attacked, it would only be a matter of time--and soon--before some crew came in bragging how they had taken down the ship and its infamous captain.


The sun was setting when El Lobo del Mar limped into the port of Bridgetown. Honour stood on the deck, wrapped in a cloak and watched as the ship drew nearer the port. She took a deep breath and thanked all above that she would be able to step on land once again.
Her mind drifted back to the last few days.....

"Duckie? Where is my husband?"
Dr. Gander was coming out of the infirmary, closing the door behind him. He put his finger to his lips and said quietly, "Jack is in there. He was wandering the deck, checking on this and that and making a general nuisance of himself. I didn't fancy having him fall overboard so Briggs and I led him down here. I changed his dressing and then dosed him pretty well with morphine."
"Was that necessary, Duckie?"
He nodded. "You know how stubborn he is. This was the only place I could keep an continuous eye on him. I couldn't very well keep coming into your cabin, could I?"
"But I could have taken care of him."
He patted her shoulder and said, "I'm sure you could, Honour. But you need rest yourself. You've been looking extremely tired the last few days. It's better this way. Jack will heal faster and I can continue to put the salve in the wound and stop any infection before it starts and--now, don't look at me that way! I know you have ony been married for three weeks but you and Jack have a lifetime ahead of you. Let me tend to him and I swear, you can have him when we get to Bridgetown."
Duckie didn't have the heart to tell her that Jack requested a bed elsewhere. He knew how determined Jack could be.
Honour reluctantly nodded in agreement.
"May I see him?"
"He's sleeping."
"I just want to see for myself that he is alright."
Duckie sighed and opened the door. She peeked in and saw Jack sleeping on a cot.
"He doesn't look comfortable. If he was back in our room..."
"Honour, please. Get some rest. You've been through things no gentlewoman should go through. Do you need any more laudanum?"
"No. I prefer not to take anything, Duckie. But thank you."
"I give you my word I shall keep you informed. But right now, Briggs is acting captain and Jack needs his rest to replenish his blood."
He cupped Honour's chin in his hand. "You look pale, dear. Go. Get some rest."
She nodded. "Promise me you will take good care of him."
"Upon my life I swear. And I shall report back to you. But right now you both need time to recuperate."
"Thank you, Duckie."
"Are you telling me everything?"
She nodded.
"Yes, Duckie. I'm going to rest right now."

She crawled into bed and threw the covers over her head, falling into a sound sleep.
For the next four days, the ship limped along. Briggs did a magnificent job of keeping her from falling to pieces. The course was slow and steady. Fate looked out for them as they passed no marauders to prey on a vessel so damaged.
Jack was kept in the infirmary. Honour only briefly saw him as Duckie didn't want any undue stress on Jack. Or on Honour. He felt there was a strain between the two but nothing he could put his finger on. They were polite with one another. But...something was wrong.
Something was missing.

The cry 'Land ho!' went out while Honour sat at Jack's bedside. Duckie had let her stay about five minutes with Jack. When the cry went out, she rushed over to the porthole and looked out.
"Jack, I see land! Oh, I see land!"
The joy in her face was unmitigated. But Jack's eyes reflected something...something Honour couldn't quite discern. A....reluctance?
He sat up but Duckie came in the room.
"Jack, what are you doing?"
He said, "I have a ship to dock."
Honour said, "Jack, I can direct the ship to dock."
He said irritatedly, "No, you can't. Heaven help us, girl, if you were to even try. Isn't El Lobo damaged enough?"
She said nothing, but her face reflected hurt. Duckie was quick to see it.
"Jack, I'll stop the morphine now. You've been sedated long enough. Honour? Would you tell Briggs I need to see him after he docks?"
She nodded and walked dejectedly out of the room.

Duckie whirled on Jack. "Are you out of your mind? Why did you treat her like that?"
Jack replied, "It's just a small argument. She'll get over it."
Duckie looked at his friend and then spat, "Jackass!"
He turned and walked out of the room.

On deck, he saw Honour standing there, her cloak swirling in the wind as the crew worked to get the ship ready for port. Duckie put his hand on her shoulder and said, "Honour, he didn't mean that."
She said nothing but continued to stare at the land coming into view.
He sighed. "Yes. Well. I'll see to other matters."
He gave her shoulder a squeeze and walked back down the stairs.


Cade looked over the port of Bridgetown, his despair rising by the hour when he saw a familiar sight. Well, not familiar as the damage was considerable. But the figurehead of a snarling wolf was unmistakable.
'Thank God!' he breathed. 'They are home!'
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 06:44:06 PM
Duckie hesitated and then quietly said, "I see."
Honour looked at him with pain in her eyes. "I had to tell someone. What if I died and no one knew who I really was?"
"Shouldn't it be Jack you should be telling this to?"
She shook her head vehemently. "I can't. How do you think he would feel if he found out his friend died because of his wife?"
"He would understand." Duckie asked, "Did you love Rhys Morgan?"
"Why did you not leave your husband and run off with Rhys, if you don't mind my asking."
She shrugged. "I planned to. Rhys and I were going to sail off. I was kind of waiting....."
Honour grew quiet after that.
"Waiting for him to die?"
"Yes. But I wasn't about to help him on his way, if that is what you were thinking."
"I wasn't thinking that at all."
"He coughed alot."
"Probably consumption."
"How did you meet Rhys?"
"I would go up to the bluffs and write poetry. One afternoon, Rhys was up there sketching," she smiled at the memory. "It seems I am drawn to educated pirates. A pirate that sketches and paints doesn't depict a very fearsome pirate, does it?"

She continued. "I was only seventeen. I was too young to be stuck playing Lady of the Manor. Madoc--my husband, Lord Madoc Castlemaine--was supposed to be sitting on the House of Lords in London. It was a ruse. Without being graphic, he caught Rhys and me together. He ran Rhys through and then charged for me. I barely got out of the way and threw my bodice dagger. My aim was true. It was self-defense. I held Rhys as his life-force ebbed away. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I emptied the safe and then fled from Beaumaris. I took a ship to St Lawrence and assumed an alias."
"Honour Bright. Unusual."

She laughed bitterly, "Isn't it, though? I think it was a private joke to myself. Honour Bright. A reminder to be true to myself. As Honour Bright is a sworn oath of fidelity."
She felt her eyes beginning to tear up.
"Duckie, am I being unfaithful to Rhys' memory?"
"How so, Honour?"
She took a deep breath. "Something went terribly wrong when I married Jack Wolfe. Something that wasn't supposed to ever happen."
"What is that, my dear?"
"I fell in love with him."

"Land Ho!" the watch in the crow's nest called out.
Captain Cade Jennings leaned against the main mast, his eyes scanning the horizon. His ship, The Gryphon, was nearing Bridgetown. He was following Jack's instructions to meet him.

Cade sighed. It wasn't Jack that he was anxious to see. It was Honour.
"Almost to Bridgetown, Captain Jennings." His quartermaster Robert Verro announced. "You are to meet Captain Wolfe?"
Cade nodded. "Aye. He wants to go over some business concerning the Castara Company. Seems he is going to go into the sugar industry."
Verro said, "Sugar. A good commodity. He can export the rum he makes while in his various ports."
"You don't understand. He intends to settle down in Barbados."
Verro stared at Cade in amazement. "Settle down. As in give up the account?"
"Hard to believe, I know."
"Heard he also got married. She must have some sort of bewitchin' over him to get him to be settlin' down. What's next? Babies? Maybe even a dog?"
Cade shrugged. "They've only been married for a few weeks, Verro. But yes, she convinced him that raising sugarcane and becoming Lord of the Manor would better suit his interests."
Verro exclaimed, "Ne'er thought it would be that way with ol' Mad Jack. Thought he would die with his boots on and not under some tart's bed!"
Cade's jaw set. "She's not a tart."
Verro looked at his captain and a look of concern crossed his face.
"I'll be gettin' the ship ready to dock, Captain."
Cade looked back over the waters and said quietly, "Thank you, Verro."
Robert Verro looked back again at Cade and shook his head to himself. "I don't like the feel of this. Not one bit. Looks like trouble brewing..."

By mid-morning the ship had docked. The crew was given shore leave save a few that drew the watch. Cade headed towards The dim bulb and Bull tavern. Entering, his eyes adjusted to the light. Behind the bar was O' Brien, the tavern keeper. Cade walked up and said, "O'Brien! Been a while!"
O'Brien turned and squinted his eyes. "Do my eyes deceive me? Can that possibly be you, Cade?"
Cade grinned, "Sure as I am standing here!"
The tavern keeper clapped him on the shoulder and exclaimed, "Praise be! Ye have grown since I last saw ye a few years ago. Not so much in height but in face. Ye became a man!"
Cade laughed, "Well, I've been a man for quite a while."
O'Brien winked, "And I bet the ladies be glad of it! Any special one ye courtin' now, Cade?"
All of a sudden Honour's blue eyes danced through his mind and he could barely catch his breath.
"No. No one in particular. So....where's Jack?"
The tavern keeper drew his brows together. "Jack? Mad Jack Wolfe? Ain't seen him. But I heard tell he took the vows. And I don't mean as a priest, either. Rumour has it he went to Castara on a little honeymoon trip."

Cade's heart skipped a beat. "Not here? But..but he left four days before me. And it was smooth sailing and calm seas! Are you sure? No word of them?"
O'Brien shook his head. "Nary a one. An' ye know this is the first place ol' Jack heads when he is in port."
He winked and added, "Well, maybe it will be now that he is married and..Cade! Where are you going?"
But Cade never heard the question.

He went outside, trying to catch his breath. His head was swimming. 'They left four days ahead of me. FOUR DAYS!'
All of a sudden, Bonita's words came back to him.

"It have already happened. If you care for dem, as you say, den you are needed. Go. Now."

He tried to stem the rising tide of panic.
Where WERE they?

All afternoon, Cade made a few inquiries but no one had seen anything or any reports on El Lobo del Mar. It was if it had vanished from the face of the earth. But Cade continued in his efforts to find out anything he could. If they had been attacked, it would only be a matter of time--and soon--before some crew came in bragging how they had taken down the ship and its infamous captain.


The sun was setting when El Lobo del Mar limped into the port of Bridgetown. Honour stood on the deck, wrapped in a cloak and watched as the ship drew nearer the port. She took a deep breath and thanked all above that she would be able to step on land once again.
Her mind drifted back to the last few days.....

"Duckie? Where is my husband?"
Dr. Gander was coming out of the infirmary, closing the door behind him. He put his finger to his lips and said quietly, "Jack is in there. He was wandering the deck, checking on this and that and making a general nuisance of himself. I didn't fancy having him fall overboard so Briggs and I led him down here. I changed his dressing and then dosed him pretty well with morphine."
"Was that necessary, Duckie?"
He nodded. "You know how stubborn he is. This was the only place I could keep an continuous eye on him. I couldn't very well keep coming into your cabin, could I?"
"But I could have taken care of him."
He patted her shoulder and said, "I'm sure you could, Honour. But you need rest yourself. You've been looking extremely tired the last few days. It's better this way. Jack will heal faster and I can continue to put the salve in the wound and stop any infection before it starts and--now, don't look at me that way! I know you have ony been married for three weeks but you and Jack have a lifetime ahead of you. Let me tend to him and I swear, you can have him when we get to Bridgetown."
Duckie didn't have the heart to tell her that Jack requested a bed elsewhere. He knew how determined Jack could be.
Honour reluctantly nodded in agreement.
"May I see him?"
"He's sleeping."
"I just want to see for myself that he is alright."
Duckie sighed and opened the door. She peeked in and saw Jack sleeping on a cot.
"He doesn't look comfortable. If he was back in our room..."
"Honour, please. Get some rest. You've been through things no gentlewoman should go through. Do you need any more laudanum?"
"No. I prefer not to take anything, Duckie. But thank you."
"I give you my word I shall keep you informed. But right now, Briggs is acting captain and Jack needs his rest to replenish his blood."
He cupped Honour's chin in his hand. "You look pale, dear. Go. Get some rest."
She nodded. "Promise me you will take good care of him."
"Upon my life I swear. And I shall report back to you. But right now you both need time to recuperate."
"Thank you, Duckie."
"Are you telling me everything?"
She nodded.
"Yes, Duckie. I'm going to rest right now."

She crawled into bed and threw the covers over her head, falling into a sound sleep.
For the next four days, the ship limped along. Briggs did a magnificent job of keeping her from falling to pieces. The course was slow and steady. Fate looked out for them as they passed no marauders to prey on a vessel so damaged.
Jack was kept in the infirmary. Honour only briefly saw him as Duckie didn't want any undue stress on Jack. Or on Honour. He felt there was a strain between the two but nothing he could put his finger on. They were polite with one another. But...something was wrong.
Something was missing.

The cry 'Land ho!' went out while Honour sat at Jack's bedside. Duckie had let her stay about five minutes with Jack. When the cry went out, she rushed over to the porthole and looked out.
"Jack, I see land! Oh, I see land!"
The joy in her face was unmitigated. But Jack's eyes reflected something...something Honour couldn't quite discern. A....reluctance?
He sat up but Duckie came in the room.
"Jack, what are you doing?"
He said, "I have a ship to dock."
Honour said, "Jack, I can direct the ship to dock."
He said irritatedly, "No, you can't. Heaven help us, girl, if you were to even try. Isn't El Lobo damaged enough?"
She said nothing, but her face reflected hurt. Duckie was quick to see it.
"Jack, I'll stop the morphine now. You've been sedated long enough. Honour? Would you tell Briggs I need to see him after he docks?"
She nodded and walked dejectedly out of the room.

Duckie whirled on Jack. "Are you out of your mind? Why did you treat her like that?"
Jack replied, "It's just a small argument. She'll get over it."
Duckie looked at his friend and then spat, "Jackass!"
He turned and walked out of the room.

On deck, he saw Honour standing there, her cloak swirling in the wind as the crew worked to get the ship ready for port. Duckie put his hand on her shoulder and said, "Honour, he didn't mean that."
She said nothing but continued to stare at the land coming into view.
He sighed. "Yes. Well. I'll see to other matters."
He gave her shoulder a squeeze and walked back down the stairs.


Cade looked over the port of Bridgetown, his despair rising by the hour when he saw a familiar sight. Well, not familiar as the damage was considerable. But the figurehead of a snarling wolf was unmistakable.
'Thank God!' he breathed. 'They are home!'

Honour slammed the door to the cabin.
"BASTARD!" she yelled out loud.
To no one.

She wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand and said to herself, 'Get a grip on yourself. Are you going to let a man see how much he hurt you? How much you care?'
Honour looked out the window and saw Bridgetown get closer. Within a half hour, they would be docked.
Almost mechanically, she started to clear the dresser drawer of her things and dump them into her trunks. The ship was so heavily damaged that it would be quite a while--if ever, if she had anything to do with it--before she would ever set foot back on El Lobo.

She opened the armoire and Li'l Puddin' was laying on the shelf. She picked him up and gave him a gentle hug.
"I think I'm going to miss you, Puddin'."
He batted her nose as she felt the tears welling up in her eyes again as she laid him in her arms and cuddled him.

"We're almost to port."
She turned around and Jack stood there in the doorway. She continued to pack, not saying a word to him.
"The ship is going right to dock and staying there. Everyone has been given shore leave. So I've arranged for us to take rooms at the White Hart."
"Rooms? More than one?"
"Not just for us. Cade Jennings is in port. I see his ship. It's been a standing arrangement that we stay there. I'll probably be in conference with Cade for the better part of the day. I have a few things to do before I leave the ship so you go on."
"In Bridgetown? Without an escort?"
"Take one of the crew if you don't feel safe. But as you are a former tavern wench, I should think you would feel comfortable walking through a port."
His reply stung and she felt the tears come unbidden to her eyes. She willed them away. She'd be damned if she let Jack Wolfe see her cry. No matter how much he hurt her, she would never let him see her cry ever again.
He turned to leave, his hand on the doorknob.
He hesitated. "Never mind. I'll see you at the White Hart."
She continued to fold her clothes.
"As you wish."

Bascomb, a crewmember, stuck his head in the cabin.
"Mrs. Wolfe, ma'am, we be sent by the captain to fetch yer trunks."
She closed the lid and locked it.
"That's everything, Bascomb."
"Lots of trunks, Mrs. Wolfe. You want to leave some on board?"
"No." Her answer came a bit too swiftly. "I'll take it all, thank you."
Bascomb nodded and motioned to the other two crew members to take her trunks.

Honour brushed her hair out and wrapped her cloak around her. For some reason, the breeze was exceptionally cool for May. Almost as if it were a sign. An omen sent from...Bonita?
She shook her head and said in a quiet undertone, 'Impossible.'

Walking along the deck, she saw her husband directing his crew right and left, giving commands. He was almost back to the Captain Jack Wolfe she fell in love with. But something had changed. A slight change in his demeanor? But a change none the less.
For a brief second, she caught his glance. Or so she thought. Maybe not. He kept giving instructions. Then she saw him walk over to Briggs and the two of them disappeared to the quarterdeck.
Seh tightened the cloak around her and tilted her chin defiantly as she walked down the gangplank and towards the port.


"Room for Captain and Mrs. Jack Wolfe."
The innkeeper stared. "Ma'am? You just said MRS. Jack Wolfe?"
She nodded. The innkeeper said under his breath, "Well, I'll be! Ol' Jack done taken the vows."
He handed her the keys and then grinned. "Up the stairs, second door on the left."

", Mrs. Wolfe? Thank God you are alright!"
She turned to look into the face of Cade Jennings.
His pleasure at seeing her reflected in his grey-green eyes and something else...relief? Concern?
"Mr. Jennings!"
"I was worried sick about you and the Captain. You were delayed over four days."
""We ran into a bit of trouble."
"A BIT? I'd say El Lobo sustained extensive damage. What the hell happened, did you battle a Kraken?"
"Just about. It was a Spanish ship named The Mecedes."
"Mother of God! Captain Mendoza! Is Jack alright?"
"Yes. It's a long story and I need to get to my room, Cade."
"Then you can tell me over an ale in the tavern. Why don't you freshen up and I'll meet you down here in a half hour?"
"I think Jack can tell it better than I could."
Cade shook his head. "Jack would just candy-coat it. I want the unvarnished truth."
He took her hands. "Please say you will meet me."
She gave him a slight smile and said, "A half hour. I'll be here."
Post by: Welsh Wench on May 14, 2008, 06:49:27 PM
Honour took a look around the room. It was simply furnished with a brass bed and a chest of drawers. A writing table stood in the corner with a candlestick and holder. Very sparse. She sighed. 'Not exactly the room we had in Castara Bay....'

Bascomb and his men had delivered the trunks and Honour shook out a dress of rose pink. She stepped out of the dress she had on and filled a basin of water from the pitcher. As she looked in the mirror, she was startled at the face reflected back. Her face was drawn and there were shadows under her eyes.
'Just a rough week', she thought. 'I'm exhausted.'
She thought how nice it would be to get into a decent dress and sit down to a table that wasn't rocking. Brushing her hair and letting it loose, she stepped into the dress and laced up a pair of boots. She looked in the trunk and saw something buried deep but the corner was peeking out.
It was a lavender lace shawl.
The gift left behind for her from Cade Jennings.

She descended the stairs and walked into the tavern. Cade Jennings was sitting in a table in the back. He quickly rose when she walked into the room.
Pulling the chair out, he said, "I'm so pleased you could join me, Honour."
She gave him a smile. "It feels so good to be on dry land."
"I see you found my present to you before you left."
She touched it and said softly, "It is beautiful."
"As is the woman that wears it."
She could feel the colour rising in her cheeks.
"What would you like?" Cade asked.
"If you don't mind, I'll forego the ale and have a small glass of wine."
Cade signalled for the barkeep and gave him their order.
"Now...what happened?"

Honour related how Jack was quite agitated before they left the port of Castara Bay. How he seemed to relax once the port was behind them.
Relaxed...until the Mercedes came into the spy glass and all hell broke loose.
The maneuvering of El Lobo.
The battle.
The sniper and Jack falling to the deck.

She caught her breath as she related how she had to dig the musketball out of Jack's shoulder.
"Cade, I was never so nervous in my life. Dr. Gander said I did an excellent job and that I saved his life with my make-shift medical skills. Jack guided me through it until he became unconscious."
Cade took her hand and said solemnly, "Honour, you are quite a woman. Most wives would fold up at seeing their husband felled right in front of them."
She blushed slightly and looked down.
"I did what I had to do to keep my husband alive."
Cade felt his heart drop a little at the words 'my husband'. How much easier it was to think of them as 'Honour' and 'Jack' instead of husband and wife.
He cleared his throat.
"And how is Jack recuperating?"
Honour grew quiet and then picked her words carefully.
"Dr. Gander kept him in the infirmary and dosed him with morphine because Jack was still in shock. He was trying to run the ship yet he was as weak as a kitten. Duckie said he needed to rest and replenish his blood loss."
"Makes sense. Jack has always thought himself invincible as long as I have known him."
She shook her head. "It--it's something else. I almost think that he wanted to be there. Like he didn't want to be near me. He's been curt and irritated with me and we haven't...we haven't.... my God we have only been married for three weeks!"
She didn't need to finish the thought.
No boots under her bed there, Cade thought.
Cade took her hand and brought it to his lips.
Don't worry, Honour. I'll be here for you. And for Jack."


Bascomb and a crewmate named Teague entered the tavern of the White Hart. As was the habit of pyrates, they quickly scanned the tavern and tallied numbers mentally.
Teague nodded in the direction towards the back. "Look'ee there!"
Bascomb looked to see Honour and Cade in earnest conversation. Just then, Cade smiled and brought her hand to his lips.
Bascomb narrowed his eyes. "Dinna waste any time, did she?"
"You gonna tell the Captain?"
"Not me. You know how he is. He'll string up the bearer of bad news."
Teague shrugged, "T'will all come out eventually anyways...."

Cade pulled the chair out for Honour.
"Thank you, Cade. The stew and bread was delicious."
He took her shawl and wrapped it around her, like a mother would her child.
"Can't have you out in the breeze. For May it is a bit windy."
She felt her face get a bit warm at the concern that Cade was showing her. Jack never really did. Jack was all enthusiasm.
"Would you care to go for a bit of a stroll, Honour?"
She thought for a moment and then broke out in a smile. "I'd love to. I lived in St Lawrence but never did get over to Bridgetown."
He offered her his arm and she gently placed her hand on his arm.
As they passed by, Cade nodded to Bascomb and Teague.

Teague shook his head, "T'ain't right. T'ain't right at all."
Bascomb lit his pipe. "Not much ye can do 'bout it. Everyone knows ye dinna mess wit' what belong to th' captain."
"When he sees Jennings, his life ain't worth the powder to blow him away. Where you suspect Mad Jack be anyways?"
Bascomb took the pipe out of his mouth and pointed it towards the town.
"Cap'n always pays a visit to 'is Bridgetown lady."
"Cap'n got a lady in town?"
Bascomb chuckled. "Well, not a lady per se."
"But Cap'n is a married man now. Got a right bonnie bride now. An' young."
Bascomb shrugged. "Ol' habits die hard."
They both looked at each other and burst out laughing.

Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on May 19, 2008, 08:07:50 PM
Jack emerged from the shipyard after a gruelling marathon of haggling over repairs needed to make his ship whole again.  The heavy sky matched his mood, knowing now that he would be shackled to dry land for nearly a full month.  Longer still, should Honour have her way.   He decided to avoid the bustle of Broad Street and opted for the more circuitous route through side streets and alleyways back to the inn.  The grey overcast muted everything into a monotone palette and seemed to blur everything together in his preoccupied mind.  He paused at the end of an alley as a carriage rolled past, when he saw a familiar house just down the lane.  It was painted gaily, in  colours that made it stand out a bit from the surrounding houses.  A smile managed to find its way into his face.  Jack knew the house well.  It belonged to Renée de Bertrand, or Madame Renée as she was known to the women who resided at her “boarding house”.  He couldn't see any harm in dropping by to visit an old friend long as he was in the neighbourhood.  She was bound to find out about his marriage from some wag.  Might as well be him, he decided. 

There were two doors on the front of the house; one unpainted, with a plain brass handle, and another trimmed with red paint, with an ornate brass knocker and no exterior handle.  He went to the second door and rapped three times, paused, once, paused again, then twice more.  After a few moments the door opened just a little, preventing him from seeing who was on the other side.  It was  Renée's custom to keep a couple of burly lads on hand to manage unruly clientèle and nosey outsiders. 

“Yes, hallo?  Is Madame de Bertrand about?  Tell her there's a Jack Wolfe at her door-”  He had barely finished the pun when the door swung open.  Two hands grabbed him by the collar of his waistcoat and puled him inside.  He found himself pinned against the wall of a narrow hallway.  Before he could protest the rough treatment, his assailant pressed her warm, soft lips hungrily against his.  Ordinarily he would have gladly gone wherever such a cordial greeting led, but the pain in his shoulder and an uncharacteristic flash of conscience conspired to leave him more startled than enthused.

“Owwww...” he managed to say around her insistent kiss.

The raven-haired girl broke their embrace, her brilliant blue eyes were still full of fire.  “I'm sorry.  Did I bite you?” she asked in a heavy whisper.

“No, my shoulder,” Jack began,

“Silly man.  I was nowhere near your shoulder... yet,” she cooed.

“Angelique, darling, I'm here strictly on a social call.  Now, where's Renée?”

The pretty girl gave him an exaggerated pout.  “Oh, fine then.  But you owe me!”  She grabbed two great handfuls of skirt and stomped off down the hall, Jack following in her wake.  He stopped at the main parlour and helped himself to the house's fine selection of liquor while he waited.  He'd settled comfortably onto a velvet covered Roman couch when Renée appeared at the doorway.  She was a striking woman with long auburn hair and a disarming smile.  She wore a heavily embroidered purple dress, and a necklace of pearls adorned her neck.

“Jackie Wolfe, as I live and breathe!” she said happily.  “I thought you'd still be down in Castara...”  Her voice trailed off when she noticed his drawn and dishevelled state.  “Oh, dear God.  What happened to you?  You're a bloody wreck!”

“Mendoza,” said Jack.  “Among other things.”

She fetched a glass and set it down on the table in from of him.  “Pour and talk.  I hope you finally bagged that sodding bastard.”

“I do, too.”

“What?!  You didn't hang about and finish him?”

Jack finished off his glass and poured another.  “He was crippled and burning when we broke off.  We had troubles enough of our own to even think of risking a boarding action.”

“Trouble,”  Renée said thoughtfully.  If I had a penny for every time I've heard a man use that word when his wife is involved.” 

Jack nearly choked on his drink.  “Who told you?”

“Oh, please, Jackie,” she laughed.  “A whisper's as good as a shout on this island.  And getting married in the street isn't exactly low profile.  Bound to get tongues wagging, even if you weren't the great Captain Wolfe.  I take it that bit of news was the reason for this social call, not just to tell me you nearly got your precious ship shot out from under you?  Or are you going to tell me what's really got you lower than a well digger's arse?”

He stared into his glass as he swirled the dark liquid around and around.  “The
Lobo will be in the yards for nearly a full month.”

“So what?” she asked bluntly.  “Keep yourself busy.  It's not the first time you've been landlocked for a spell.  At least this time you've got that pretty young bride to take your mind off things.  Her belly will be swelled up in no time, knowing you.  Daddy.”  She capped her friendly jab with a sly wink, but Jack wasn't laughing.

“Yes, well...” he said haltingly.  “Honour- that's her name- has her mind...”


“Yeah.  Honour Bright.”

“What the hell kind of name is 'Honour Bright'?”


“I rather doubt it,” she scoffed.  “Sounds like an alias to me.  You can't be too careful of anyone going under an alias.”

“This, coming from Pip Woolston of Cornwall?  Sage advice,” he quipped.

Renée stuck her tongue out.  “Your bright idea, don't forget.  Mister 'You can't run a proper whorehouse with a farm girl's name'.  Go on, finish your thought.”

Jack sighed heavily.  “We've talked about buying a plantation here on Barbados.  He paused to drain his glass.  “About me quitting the Trade once and for all.”

“Oooh, landed gentry!  Jack Wolfe, gentleman farmer and pillar of the community.  It's got a ring to it, it does.”

“I thought you'd be a bit more surprised as all that,” he said glumly.

Renée laughed.  “Rubbish!  It's not anything you haven't daydreamed about for the past two years.  Although this has to be the most sober you've been talking about it.  So where's the problem?  The daydream's about to come true, and you can't seem to get the salt water out of your veins?”

“If you're intent on engaging in gross oversimplification, yes.  Something like that, I suppose.”

“Oh, Jackie.  Stop and think things through, would you, you silly git?  What if all this is the opportunity you've been waiting for?  No more looking over your shoulder.  No more running.  You've settled your score with Mendoza, and narrowly escaped with your ship and sorry hide largely intact.  You've got a wife and the means for a fresh start.  Do you realize the number of folk who'd give their right arm for the chance you've been handed?”

jack shifted uneasily in his seat.  “That's your advice, then?  Chuck it all, trade in my ship for sugar cane fields and my crew for a house full of mewling children?”  He took the bottle to pour more liquor for himself, but this time  Renée put her hand over his glass.

“I'm saying it's time for you to grow up and do right by... what's her name again?”


“I'll never get used to that one.  Anyway, you've got responsibilities and obligations now.  Ones that mean something.  Most of all, you've got a real chance, Jackie!  Call in your favours with that preening windbag Culley for a full pardon and be done with it."

Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on May 31, 2008, 12:39:43 AM
Jack sat back and thought for a few moments.  Once again, Renée was right.  It didn't make accepting the truth of it any easier, but he couldn't argue her logic.  Such decisions weren't just about him any more.  Honour had equal shares and equal stakes in the enterprise.  “You have a damnably annoying habit of pointing out my shortcomings, love,” he finally admitted.

"Thank goodness none of them are physical,” she said with a wink.  “As your friend, I want to see you happy.  As your business partner, I need you to have a clear head about you.  Speaking of partners, where's Ducks?  Usually he's the one stuck pounding some sense into your thick skull.”

“We had a falling out, I'm afraid,” he said sheepishly.

”That's my Jackie,” she said with a roll of her emerald eyes.  “Why burn one bridge where two or three are just as easy?  Go.  Go back the White Hart, heal up that shoulder, and start mending fences.  That alone should keep you busy for the next month.  Oh, and before I forget again, I came across something you might be interested in.”  She crossed to a small writing desk and retrieved a folded, wax-sealed piece of paper.  She looked at it for a moment, then handed it to Jack.

“What's this?” he asked.

“A bit of information you've been looking for.  Go on, open it up!  You're lucky enough I found it, I'll be damned if I'll read it to you as well,” she said slyly.  He broke open the seal and read the words on the page.

Prof. Armand LaFourche
43 Rue Bacas
St. Pierre, Île Martinique

He stared at the page in disbelief.  “How did you find him?  I've been trying for nearly a year!”

“A dealer in antiquities stopped in about two weeks ago.  The girls knew you've been after this professor bloke, and Annie managed to get him chatting after a few well placed, um, questions.  I hope it turns out useful for you.  Seems LaFourche's search for whatever it is that piqued your interest drove him right off his nut.  He's under the care of his young daughter, Ceily.  If he's really gone all loony, you two should get along famously.”

“I'd imagine the good fellow's not using his journal any more,” mused Jack.  “Someone really should take up his research, all in the name of science of course.”

Renée chuckled.  “The science of filling your purse, more like it.  And what a grand cause it is.”

He folded the paper and tucked it into his pocket.  “Much obliged, Renée.  I'll be holding onto this for a rainy day.  After I mend those fences.”

“Well, I'll be damned,” she said.  “You really do love her!  The Jackie I know would be out the door and on his way without a second thought.”

“Keep it between us, love.  I've got a reputation to think of.”  He rose from the couch and put on his hat.  “Thanks for setting me straight, Renée.  You've lifted my spirits yet again.”

“A swift kick is what you needed,” she laughed.  “I'd be lifting more that your spirits, darling, but you're a married man now.  Now get out of here and convince that wife of yours that you haven't really turned into some horrid troll.”

They exchanged smiles and he turned to leave.  “Oh, Jackie?  I'm curious,” she said hesitantly.  “How did our Bonita take meeting the lovely missus?”

He cocked an eyebrow.  “As well as one might expect, I suppose.”  With that, he patted his pocket and with a wink, departed.

The colour drained from Renée's face.  “Oh, no.”
Post by: Welsh Wench on June 04, 2008, 07:49:04 PM
"And over there is the Governor's house." Cade pointed to a large colonial house. "I've heard he has a very well-kept library."
Honour looked over at the house. "And so near the center of town, too."
She looked down the lane. "And what house is that with the two doors?"
Cade shifted a bit, his face taking on a bit of a blush. "That's Madame Renee's. She runs a 'boarding house'.  She's a good sort and contributes alot to the local economy."
"Why the two doors?"
"Well, one is for the townsfolks and respectable business and the red one is for...visitors."
"Oh." She said quietly. "St Lawrence had them too over by the dock but they didn't mind if you used the same door."
"Well, one of her business partners suggested it. Would you like to stop for a light refreshment? I know a place over on Broad Street."
Cade was busy telling her about the goldsmiths and jewelry-makers in port to notice Honour's gaze back at the house of Madame Renee's.
It was then that she saw a familiar tricorn hat at the red door. With an even more familiar face under it. She watched as a beautiful woman with long auburn hair touch the man's face and give him a kiss. The man patted his pocket and took the woman's hand and kissed it.
Then he ran down the steps and leaped over the gate, a jaunty step to his walk.
Yes, she'd know that tricorn anywhere.
Because under it was her husband.
She felt light-headed and Cade turned his attention to her.
"...and they specialize in Brittania silver with gems as big as..HONOUR! Are you alright?"
For a brief second, Cade thought he saw despair in her eyes but as quickly as he thought it was there, her blue eyes reflected a steely look.
"I'm sorry, Cade. I think it was just a momentary feeling of light-headedness. It comes and goes."
"Shall we sit down?"
She glanced back to the retreating form of Jack.
She drew the lavender shawl closer to her and took Cade's arm in hers. "I'd like that. And a cup of tea would be wonderful."
Cade and Honour spent the afternoon in the bazaar where Cade showed her the merchants. They watched a goldsmith melt down ore and they stopped to observe a glassblower fashion a vase. There was merchandise from all over the world. Before they knew it, the sun was starting to dip down in the sky.
"I'm sorry to have monopolized  your time, Honour. The afternoon just slipped away."
She leaned on his arm, looking up at him with her blue eyes and tossed her blonde hair.
"I'm not sorry, Cade. I can't remember when I have enjoyed the afternoon so much."
She had put her arm through his and for all appearances, they were a couple.
He felt a warmth flood through him, totally ignoring the voice inside him that was saying, 'You stupid lout! That is your best friend's wife....'
He walked her to the tavern door. "Best allow me to walk you to your room, Honour."
She shook her head. "No, it won't do for you to be seen in my hallway. I am sure Jack is up there by now. I'll perhaps see you on the morrow?"
Cade tipped his hat to her. "You can count on it."
Honour drew him close to her in the shadows and reached up, drawing his face towards her. For a brief moment, they looked into each other's eyes. Cade couldn't be sure but did he see a glimmer of hurt in her eyes?
She closed her eyes and parted her lips. Cade was drawn like a moth to a flame. He touched her hair as he drew her face closer to him. The kiss was like a spark catching fire. When they parted, he saw a touch of a blush on her face as she whispered, "Goodnight, Cade."
And she turned towards the stairs.
Cade stood there watching her ascend and then went out the tavern door.

Teague turned to Bascomb and said in a hushed voice, "If I dinna see it wi' me own eyes, I'da not believed it."
Bascomb shook his head. "The new Missus Wolfe an' Cade Jennings? Lord ha' mercy, Mad Jack will kill 'em both!"
Teague replied, " 'e ain't gonna hear it from me. Whatcha goin' ter do, Bascomb?'
Bascomb's eyes turned flinty. "Take it to Briggs and let him deal with it."
They went back to their ales.

Honour stopped at the top of the stairs and counted two doors down. She fumbled in her purse for the key when she heard a strange noise from the room. It sounded like someone playing a..violin? And not just any tune. But a gypsy tune. It can't be Jack..he doesn't know how to play a violin.
As she put the key in the lock, she heard the music stop. Opening up the door, she saw her husband sitting there on the bed taking his boots off.
"Ah, there you are! I was about to start searching the vendors for you. Where were you?"
She hung up her lavender shawl, touching the fringe and not daring to look him in the face.
"I was out seeing the sites. And yes, visiting the merchants."
"By yourself?"
"Yes. By myself." She hid her face to conceal the blush.
"Jack, I heard music from this room."
Jack shrugged, "Must be from the tavern across the street."
" came from here."
"You're mistaken, Honour. What would I be doing with a violin?"
"Who said it was a violin?"
Jack grew quiet. "I just assumed it was. Guess I heard it too and never paid heed to it."
He put his arms around her and kissed her. She felt herself holding herself at a distance. How could she confront him on where he had been? He would just lie to her...
He unlaced her and her dress fell in a silken puddle on the floor.
That night, as he laid next to her sleeping, she fought back tears. It seemed the tenderness was gone when they made love. Made love? More like Jack had used her. She vowed she would never let Jack Wolfe know how he hurt her. Married three weeks and he was already up to his old habits. She never denied him before. Why would he have to turn to another woman?
Somehow...some way, Jack'll be sorry.
She sat up and wiped a tear away from her face. 'You'll be sorry you ever used me like a common strumpet, Jack. Just you wait....'
She fought the sick feeling that came over her. She slipped out of bed and as she did, her foot bumped against something peeking out from under the bed. She bent down and pulled it out.
It was a violin.

Honour ran her hand over the instrument, it being well-worn and used. Like it had been in someone's family for a long time or had been lovingly played. She looked over at Jack sleeping soundly.
'You lied to me, Jack Wolfe. How many other lies have you told me?'
She quietly slid the violin back under the bed and laid back against the pillows.
Her stomach lurched at the fact that the man whose bed she slept in and made love with was a complete stranger to her. Was she just a commodity, someone for Jack to use? Suddenly she felt worthless.

'Some wives would just turn a blind eye to it, Jack,' she whispered. 'But not me..oh, not me. No one uses Rhiannon Conaway. Not in this lifetime or any other.'

With that, she rolled over, taking most of the covers.
'Deal with it, Jack. with it.'
And she fell asleep.

Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on June 09, 2008, 09:17:09 PM
Jack awoke to the chill of a morning breeze wafting over his skin.  The sun had broken the horizon, bathing the room with a soft orange-rose glow.  Unwilling to rise or, more to the point, leave his bride's side just yet, he reached to pull up the covers.  He quickly discovered the reason for his chilly awakening; Honour had wrapped herself in the majority of the bed covers like a caterpillar in its cocoon.  He smiled and and gently stroked her long golden hair, then tenderly kissed the nape of her neck.

Honour was already awake.  She had been off and on throughout the night, her sleep plagued by suspicions of the man she called husband but now saw as a stranger.  She willed herself not to shrink from his touch, the same touch that only days before could ignite her passions like summer lightning, by imagining for a fleeting moment that it was Cade who caressed her.  Just as she had the night before.

“Good morning, sweetheart,” Jack whispered.  Honour pretended to stir from slumber, but did not turn to face him.

“Good morning,” she replied, trying to infuse her voice with something resembling warmth.

“How on earth am I supposed to show my appreciation for your beauty when you're wrapped up like a mummy?”

“I'm sorry, Jack,” she replied.  “I've woken up with a headache.”

“Should I send Duckie round to check on you?”

“No, I'll be fine.  I just want to sleep.”

He kissed her head gently and got up from the bed.  “I have some ship's business to attend to.  Shouldn't be more than a couple of hours at most.”  He splashed his face with water, then set about getting dressed.  “If you're not feeling any better by the time I get back, I'm sending for Duckie.  Wouldn't do to have you fall ill, now would it?”

“Oh, all right,” she sighed.  “But I'll be better after I rest.  Don't worry yourself.”

“Of course I'll worry about you!” he said cheerily.  “I'm your husband.  It's my job to worry about you.”  He gave his boots a final tug and retrieved his hat from the bedpost.  “Sleep tight, darling.  I'll be back soon.” 

So I'm a job to him, not just a commodity, Honour thought as Jack closed the door.  She'd had enough.  She was going to find out what he was up to once and for all.  She silently counted to ten, then sprung from the bed and dressed hurriedly to follow him, hopefully to the truth.  No matter what the result, she had to know.  She quickly brushed out her hair and pulled it back into a simple braid.  The last time she'd thrown herself together this quickly, she was rushing to meet Rhys after being waylaid by a talkative novitiate.  If only this was as happy an occasion.

She watched out the window for Jack to emerge so she could being her pursuit.  Finally, he did.

Jack strolled out of the White Hart’s front door, whistling a cheerful tune.  For the first time since the battle with Mendoza, his heart was light.  It had felt so good to make love with Honour once again.  He felt like a fool for pushing her away, but he was now bound and determined to make up for his mistakes.  Today’s business was that of atonement.

As he approached the alleyway next to the inn, he could hear a raucous conversation going on, most likely men gaming at dice.  What he heard during a pause in their laughter, however, soured his mood in an instant.

“Seen it wif’ they own eyes, they did!  That Jennings didn’t waste no time getting’ ‘is hooks into ol’ Jack’s wife!  Stole a kiss on the stairs what was more’n just friendly, what after paradin’ ‘er about town big as you please, ‘e did!  An’ she weren’t upset by it none neither, if ye get me meanin’!  Looked right 'appy on 'is arm she did, like they's th' married ones!”

“Ha!  That Jack gone an’ taught Cade a littl’ too well, didn’ ‘e?”

“You’re daft is what you are, the both of ya’s!  Jack Wolfe, a cuckold after less than a month?  Never ‘appen.  Not an’ they live t’ enjoy it.”

“God’s own trufe, mate.  Ask ‘em yerself an’ they’ll tell ye same as I ‘bout Jennings an’ that little trollop…”

“Who will tell us?” a voice boomed from the end of the alley.  The three men turned to see a silhouetted figured walking slowly toward them.  They grouped together and backed away from the advancing man.  He drew his sword and quickened his pace.  “Answer me, damn you!”

The men broke ranks and ran.  One man became tangled in an old crate and fell to the ground.  Before he could get back up, he felt the cold edge of a cutlass against his throat.  Jack stared down at the prone man, his eyes like flames.  “I’ll have names, or your blood.  I’m not inclined to be choosy.”

“I- I don’ know!  ‘e tol’ us, but I don’ remember, I swear it on me Mum’s life!  Please don’ kill me, Cap’n Wolfe!  I’m beggin’ ye!”  the man pleaded.

“Then take this back to your friends, you miserable, feculent tosspot!” Jack growled.  “The next man who so much as thinks about uttering such scandalous lies about my wife, I’ll cut their heart out and feed it to them.”  He stared into the sailor’s eyes with burning hatred until he could see that the message had taken hold.  Then he stepped back from the man, turned on his heel, and returned his blade to its scabbard as he stalked back down the alley.

Honour stepped through the inn’s doorway and into the brilliant sunlight.  She shielded her eyes and looked down the street in the direction she’d seen Jack walk, but he was nowhere in sight.  As she began walking, she heard the heavy sound of boot heels striking the cobblestones of the alley just ahead.  She knew that sound anywhere.  It was Jack!  Panic took her for a moment, and she turned back the way she’d come just as her husband turned the corner.  A silent prayer was on her lips that he wouldn’t discover her.  Thanks to his preoccupation with the rumours he’d just heard and the simple manner in which Honour had dressed that day, he never noticed her as she backtracked toward the inn.  She sighed with relief as the sound of his footsteps faded down the lane.  When she was confident he was far enough away, she turned around to follow.  She paid little attention at first to the dishevelled soul who came from the alley as she walked past, but there was something familiar about him that made her look back.  He was a crewman from the
Lobo.  The expression on his face left her shaken to the core.  It was the look of disgust a pious man gives a common harlot.

Guilt about the time she'd shared with Cade yesterday gnawed at her as she followed Jack through the streets of Bridgetown.  She knew it was wrong of her to kiss Cade, but he'd been so kind and attentive to her.  He'd shown her the respect and tenderness Jack seemed to have forgotten.  Her mind returned again and again to that one sweet, stolen moment.  And if that kiss was so wrong, why did it feel so sensually wonderful?  Why did it feel right?  Besides, she asked herself, since when did Jack Wolfe give a damn about right and wrong?  If he could live his life in shades of grey, so could she.

Honour quickened her pace to close the gap between them as they approached the street where Renee's “boarding house” was.  She was confident he was headed back to that nest of strumpets.  Her heart pounded and ached as she waited for him to turn down her street and walk up to that horrible red door.  To her astonishment, he kept walking.  He never so much as looked in the direction of the house.  Where was he going?  She'd been so certain she would catch him in an act of betrayal. Now thoroughly confused as to her husband's attention, she followed on.

After two more blocks, they entered the city's warehouse district.  Low, wide buildings with only a few windows mounted well above street level lined the carriageway.  Jack finally stopped at the entrance to one of the nondescript buildings, where he was joined by none other than Josiah Briggs.  Honour ducked around a corner to avoid being seen, then gingerly peeked back out to continue her spying.  Doubt began to cloud her thoughts as she watched the two men talk.  It didn't change the fact she'd seen him waltzing out of a whorehouse the previous day.  But maybe this time he'd actually told her the truth.

Finally, Jack and Briggs went into the warehouse, allowing her to creep closer so as to listen in on their conversation.  She had to know if there was a shred of truth left in anything he said.  The two tall,wide doors of the warehouse were left standing open.  She slipped up to the entrance and flattened herself against one of them.  The men's voices echoed in the cavernous building, making her goal of listening in that much easier to attain.  She could hear them walking around, their conversation little more than friendly chit chat.  Now and again she'd steal a glimpse of the warehouse's interior.  Boxes, bundles, and barrels were stacked haphazardly in no discernible order, much like the hold of the Lobo had been.  At long last, their discussion turned to something of interest to her.

“And the guilders, where are they at?” asked Jack.

“Right over here,” answered Briggs.  He pulled a tarpaulin off the several large crates marked “PRINT WORKS”.  “All twenty-seven chests, just as they were when we left for Castara.”

“Good.  I need them re-crated.  All but five.  The rest are to be moved to the private storehouse on St. Michael Street.  The remaining five are to be put under lock and key here.”

“Aye, it'll be done.  To number 11 it is.  I'm guessin' you'll want their whereabouts kept secret, as usual?”

“Absolutely.  We'll be using the money from here to buy that plantation Honour and I talked about.”

She could scarcely believe her ears.  He wants the plantation now?  Maybe he's really had a change of heart.  Maybe he was only telling Renee about their marriage, and it wasn't what it looked like...

“You're goin' through with it?  Turnin' from corsair to cane farmer?”

Jack laughed.  “Don't get ahead of yourself, Josiah.  It's a good investment no matter how you look at it.”

“I take it ye'll be lettin' the missus know about chests we're movin' as well?  A little butter and egg money, as it were?”

“No,” said Jack.  “You and I are the only ones to know where they are.  Honour doesn't need to know.”

Honour clamped her hand over her mouth to smother a gasp.  He was hiding the money from the Dutch ship from her?  The ones he's boasted about when they met?  She wondered what elaborate lie he'd concoct to cover their whereabouts.  Damn him!  So he didn't trust her after all.  Her mind offered up a myriad of reasons why he'd hide so much money from her.  He'll probably use it to keep that damnable doxy in satins and lace, the bastard! 

“Fair enough,” Briggs said.  “It'll stay a secret.  Not sayin' I agree, but I'll keep it mum.”

At least Briggs tried to be a voice of reason, for what good it did.

“That'll do, Josiah.  How are repairs going on the ship?”

That damned ship of his.  I wish he'd get rid of it!

“Comin' along well.  Seems the structural damage weren't near as bad as we'd thought.  Should be ready to sail a week early!”


“Excellent.  I want her made as good as new, with all her teeth!  Ready to sail and fight.”

Tears welled in Honour's eyes.  He was going to leave her there on that island and sail off, the son of a belch!  Probably get himself killed and leave her alone to fend for herself.  She'd heard enough.  Choking back tears, she fled from the warehouse.  She needed someone to talk to, someone she could trust.  Why was Kate so far away when she needed her?  Then it dawned on her.  Duckie!  He'd been quick to defend her when Jack had been so awful to her on the ship.  She could trust him.  She already had with her secret, and he hadn't let her down.   “Damn you, Jack Wolfe!” she sobbed.  “I'm never going to let you hurt me again!”

“So you're goin' ahead with the sale?” Briggs asked.

“That's why I want her shining like a new penny, my friend.  If I have to sell her, I want top price!”

“Have ye' told Honour about all this yet?”

“I want it to be a surprise for her.  The sale of the
Lobo, purchase of the plantation, and those chests we're moving will comprise the nest egg for the next generation of the Wolfe family,” Jack said proudly.

Briggs laughed heartily.  “Hell, Jack, I never dreamed I'd see the day, but it does this old salt's heart good!  You, a pappy?  God help us all!”

Jack smiled, but the events of the morning were still weighing on his mind.  "Josiah, I have a question, and I need you to be honest with me."

"Aye, ye know I usually am.  Unless you're bein' a roarin' pain in the arse.  No point in talkin' to ye then.

"When am I like that?"

"Most days what end in a 'y'," Briggs joked.

"Remind me to send you flowers next time.  Seriously, though.  Have you heard any troubling rumours from the men?" asked Jack.

"Ye mean outside the usual scuttlebutt?"

"Yes.  Anything about myself or... or any other parties?"

"No, I haven't.  Why?  Have you?" Briggs asked with concern.

"I'm not certain.  It was probably nothing more than idle gossip."

"Jack," said Briggs, "You and I know half these men yap just to hear their fool heads rattle.  It was about Honour, wasn't it?  Otherwise ye wouldn't be askin'."

Jack's jaw clenched as he remembered the slurs against his wife.  "Yes.  It was."

The quartermaster shook his head slowly.  "She's a beautiful woman, my friend.  Everyone can see the effect she's had on ye, and there are those who'll begrudge you that bit of fortune."  He put a reassuring hand on Jack's shoulder.  "Whatever was said, there ain't a shred of truth to it.  Pay it no never mind.  Come tomorrow, they'll be on to some other foolishness."

"Thank you, Josiah.  I'll take your advice.  My skin is usually thicker than this."

"It's worse when it's about those ye love, mate.  It'll pass, believe me.  Now, didn't ye say ye had some other business to tend to?  You're slowin' me down with all your chatter!  Turn yer rudder and shove off!"

Jack smiled at his friend, and walked off toward the shipyards.

Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Welsh Wench on June 13, 2008, 09:28:41 PM
Honour walked quickly away from the warehouse district heading back to the inn. Her thoughts were lost in a jumble as she remembered bits and pieces of overheard conversation. The plantation...the sale of El Lobo del Mar..guilders....secrets...secrets..more secrets...
She ran into a man who caught her by the arms.
"You alright?"
She looked down at the ground and shook her head. When she lifted it up, Duckie saw nothing but distress in her eyes.
"You look like you need to talk. Tell you what...I haven't had lunch and I bet you haven't either. So what do you say I pick up some bread and cheese and a bottle of wine and we go over to the grassy area over by the dock and spread a blanket down and just have a nice visit. Will that help?"
She nodded. "I'd like that."
Within a half hour, they were sitting on the ground. Duckie had his shirt sleeves rolled up and he was pouring a small glass of sherry for her.
"Now..what is on your mind, Mrs. Wolfe?"
"That is the problem."
"The sherry?"
"No. The 'Mrs. Wolfe' part."
"I don't understand."
"The more I find out about Jack, the more I realize I don't know who he is."
"Well, you DID get married in a fever, as it were."
"May I ask you a question?"
"You can ask. Don't know if I will answer."

She took a deep breath. "I heard music. Gypsy music. And it was coming from our room. I asked Jack about it and he denied hearing it. Later that night, I went to get out of bed and my foot hit something. It was a violin, old and worn, under the bed. Duckie, why would he lie to me? And what else hasn't he told me?"
Duckie sighed. "Honour, Jack Wolfe has taken alot of blows in his life. He's done things and had things done to him the average man would fold up and crumble."
"Where did he learn to play the violin?"
He cut a piece of cheese off a wheel and handed her a piece along with some fruit. "In Odessa."
Duckie nodded. "Before he took the Mercedes as his own and renamed her El Lobo del Mar, he was captain of  a ship called Poseidon's Revenge. It was dry-docked in Odessa, South Russia for two months while it underwent extensive repairs. Jack, being the scholar he is, ended up talking to a gypsy..his name was Reuben--and he was the chieftain. He invited Jack back to the camp and they immediately took a liking to him. So much so that he would go to their camp every night and sit around the campfire and even eat dinner with them. Reuben taught him to play the violin.. Jack learned old gypsy tunes at the feet of Reuben. Now, Jack was only about twenty-one at this time and he was a quick learner. When it was time for Jack to ship out, Reuben--being the emotional people they are--gifted Jack with a violin that was his grandfather's. Jack has cherished it ever since."

Honour bit into an apple. "But why did he lie to me, Duckie? I would love to hear him play."
Duckie cut off a slice of bread.
"Because Jack is a private person. Ever since I have known him, he has a vulnerable side he won't show to the world. Jack IS a wolf. A wolf without a pack. He'd gnaw his foot off before he would show his hurt. And he always found solace in music. Says it helps him relax and think."
Honour stood up and brushed the crumbs from her skirt.
"Thank you, Duckie. And I'll keep this to myself."
"I'd appreciate it, my dear. I am sure in due time more of Jack will be revealed to you. He finds it hard to trust. He's been dealt a few bad hands in life."
Honour gathered her shawl and said, "I'm heading back to the inn. The last week has taken its toll on me and I'm tired. I'll see you later."
As she walked off, Duckie looked at her retreating form. If there were anyone who was the opposite of Rose, it was Honour Bright.
'Honour, don't do it. Don't break his heart. I don't know if it can take another blow...'
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Welsh Wench on June 15, 2008, 05:56:45 PM

As Honour made her way to the inn where she and Jack had a room, she entered through the tavern door. Cade Jennings was having an ale with a few of his friends from El Lobo.
He caught sight of her and rushed over to her, the pleasure of seeing her undeniable on his face.
"Honour! How grand to see you! I thought you might be with--" he couldn't quite bring himself to say 'your husband'--"or shopping. Would you care for something to eat? Something to drink?"
She shook her head no. "I'm a bit tired, Cade. I'm afraid that the crossing to Barbados took more out of me than I expected it would. I'm usually of sturdier stock but the battle and all that..."
Cade touched her shawl and pulled it up around her shoulders. He said softly, "It wouldn't do for you to catch a chill, would it now?"
Her hand accidently brushed against his. She said softly, "I'll be alright."
He brushed her hair back from her shoulder and said, "You always are a bit of alright, milady."
"N--never mind. I shall see you around later, perhaps?"
"I shall be here."
She started up the stairs and turned back for a second. Cade was looking at her with a look of tenderness that Honour hadn't seen on a man's face in a while. She hurried back up the stairs.
Hennessey and Dolan, the two crewmates that Cade had been sitting with, watched the exchange. Dolan nudged his mate and whispered, "Looks like maybe Bascomb and Teague weren't too far off the mark. Cade looks downright smitten."
Hennessey nodded. "Just hopin' ol' Jack gets his ship ready to sail and takes 'er out o' here and away from Jennings. I like Cade. Don't want to see him run through."
"Then let's be hopin' that it don't look like what it be lookin' to us."
Cade came back and sat down. "Did I miss anything?"
Dolan said, "Just the bleedin' obvious."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothin', Cade. Just...nothin'."
Honour closed the door to the room she shared with Jack. The bed had been made and fresh water had been filled in the pitcher.
She hung up her shawl  and unlaced her bodice. She loosened the drawstring on her skirt and stepped out of it.
Filling the basin, she splashed water on her face and then laid down on the bed. Her mind was in confusion.
So many things about her husband that she didn't know.
He knew how to play the violin. Expertly. He was a student at Oxford until he had to leave as the money for education had run out. What really happened between him and Mendoza to make them mortal enemies?
She flung her arm over her eyes.
Jack planned on buying the plantation. At least he was investing something from his plunder. As his wife, she would have a roof over her head, no matter what Jack was up to.
Was he expecting her to be a patient little wife and walk the widow's walk with a spyglass waiting for her wayward husband to wander home?

Jack was an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Whatever happened in his life shaped the way he is today. She wasn't ignorant of the fact that Jack was a very sensuous man. He proved that to her. Perhaps he just went to the bordello to tell a friend that he won't be coming back.

She sighed. Duckie knew Jack in their youth. If he said Jack has a vulnerable side, then it was up to Honour to find it.
To see if she could tap into it and salvage something of their life together.
Because if she didn't...there was no hope for them.
No hope at all.

She rose from the bed and looked out over the torches that were beginning to illuminate the lanes. Jack would be back any time now.
And Honour was determined to try once more.
To salvage their life together.

But Cade Jennings' tender look came unbidden to her mind.
She quickly dismissed the thought.
Her place was with Jack.
And Jack alone.
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on June 23, 2008, 09:58:30 PM
The portly merchant picked up some coins from the table and looked at them suspiciously.  “Dutch guilders, Captain Wolfe?  You'll forgive me, but I prefer to be paid in the currency of the Commonwealth.”

“You're new to the Caribbean, aren't you, Mister Archer?” asked Jack.  “Money is money.  It all melts down the same.  If you decide to be picky, you'll find yourself starving, not that it could hurt.  A handsome payment for a few days passage to Martinique is what that is, mate!  Do we have a bargain?”

Archer looked down at the coins, then back to Jack.  “We cast off late tomorrow afternoon, Captain.    I'll have some men come round to the White Hart for your things.  She's the
Aphrodite Merchant, don't forget!”

“Who could forget the goddess of beauty?” Jack replied.  He glanced out the window as Archer pocketed his money and noticed the firefly glow of lanterns beginning to dot the lane.  He'd promised Honour he would be gone only a few hours, and here the day was nearly gone.  He breathed a silent curse for being neglectful once again, and wondered if she was feeling any better.  “Speaking of beauties, my wife will have my head for allowing business to keep me this late!”

“We'll walk out together then,” Archer offered.

“No need, mate.  In for a penny, in for a pound.  I'll finish my drink before I go to face the music.”

Archer smiled cordially.  “Good evening to you, Captain Wolfe.  I shall see you tomorrow.”  Jack raised his glass as the merchant gave a slight bow before walking away.  He settled back and thought about the day.  The money that would secure his and Honour's future together was safely tucked away.  The ship was scheduled for auction two weeks after the completion of her repairs.  Now he stood to procure the notebook of Armand LaFourche, and try his hand at unravelling a mystery that men had been trying to decode for over 100 years.  It had been an immensely satisfying day.  For the first time in days, he felt like things were going his way once again.

A sailor took his drink from the bar and walked over to a table where his friends sat waiting.  He had a smug look on his face, and his mates look expectantly for what he seemed to know.

“Well, spill it!  You said you knew somethin' 'bout what Wolfe's been up to, talkin' to the auction house an' the like!” the first one asked.

The smug man sipped his drink and smiled.  “Captain Wolfe is goin' to Martinique.  In a right hurry, from the sounds of it.  Been talkin' to merchants most of the day, he has.”

“What's 'e up to?  Takin' a packet like some lubber don't make sense!” said another.

“Don't know what why he's goin', but I do know this,” the smug one said with a conspiratorial air, “It's just the chance Cade Jennings would kill for right about now.  And Jack Wolfe is handin' it to him.”
One of the men was so deep in his cups that he seemed likely to fall over.  But one of the names roused him from his drunken stupor.  “Cade Jennings!” he exclaimed.  “That bloke what's been cattin' about wif ol' Wolfe's pretty pretty?”  His friends tried to hush him, but it was too late.  Jack had heard him, but he made no outward sign that he had.  A tavern girl came by with a bottle for another table, but Jack grabbed it and tossed a few coins at her.  The rumours had surfaced again, and this time he was going to find out just what was being said.  He pulled out a sheaf of papers and slouched down in his chair, pretending he had heard nothing.

“Nah, nah, nah!  Wai' a minute!  Lemme talk!” the drunken wag continued.  “What I was told, that Cade's been moonin' over that, wha's her name!  Yeah!  Honour!  Been actin' like a lovesick puppy since Castara.  I hear tell they got cozy a bit there, I did.”

“So did I!  Spent every second Jack was away with her, he did!  Poor stupid blighter, his own student stealin' his women out from underneath him like that!  “

“And I'll tell you another!  With the stallion out of the barn, Jennings'll tend to that filly right an' proper!  And it wouldn't be the first time, you can be sure of that!”

Jack sat listening to the men laugh and jeer at his expense, talking on and on about how everyone knew Cade was lying with his wife behind his back and had been since he had been foolish enough to introduce them.  For the next half of an hour, Jack drank and brooded and listened as they laughed at him.  Laughed at the blind cuckold.  He'd seen how Cade looked at her.  How the boy watched her every move.  He'd ignored it, and why shouldn't he have?  Honour was a beautiful young woman.  Heads turned wherever she went.

He had taught Cade everything he knew.  How to be ruthless and calculating, how to be cold and merciless in the pursuit of the prize.  And now his own apprentice- his own heir!- had betrayed him.  And so had his wife.  Her head was turned the moment she met a younger man.  Bonita was right.  Honour was nothing more than a treacherous child.  But what of Bonita's other accusations?  Had that tavern wench truly enchanted him?  Used him for what he could lead her to, only to discard him at the first opportunity.

Anger and despair boiled in his veins.  The next thing he heard pushed him to the breaking point.

“... but I never thought in all my days I'd see Jack Wolfe become a cuckold and a has been!  He can't control his right hand nor his own woman!”

Jack exploded into rage.  He jumped to his feet and whirled to face the men who were so gleefully slandering him and his bride, the bottle held like a club in his hand.  The men fell silent at the sight of him.

“How long have you people known this?!  Answer me, damn you all!!” he roared like a wounded lion.  He smashed the bottle against the table and began to advance on the gossips.  “Start talking, you sorry sons of whores, before I cut it out of you!!”

The men tried to back away as Jack came towards them, bumping and stumbling over furniture as they retreated from the bellowing fury.  One of the men fell backwards against a table, and in moments Jack was on him.  He grabbed the sailor by the throat and held the broken bottle just inches from the terrified man's face.  “How long have you known?!!  Tell me while you can still speak!!”

The sailor's mouth moved, but no words came out.  The hold on his throat was too tight.  Out of control with rage, Jack drew back the jagged weapon to strike.  But at the last moment, the bottle was knocked from his hand.  The tavern keeper grabbed him in a choke hold and pulled him off the man.  Jack kicked and fought like a demon, shouting obscenities and spitting death oaths as he was dragged out the door and thrown into the street like a common beggar.

He got back to his feet, his mind still churning with rage.  “You're a dead man, Jennings,” he growled, and lurched off toward the White Hart Inn.

Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on June 25, 2008, 09:13:47 AM
The door of the inn flew open with the percussive force of a cannon shot.  All conversation abruptly halted as the stunned patrons turned to find Jack Wolfe standing in the doorway. He strode purposefully to the center of the room, looking each person there dead in the eyes. Cade Jennings was not among them.  No matter.  Revenge would be exacted in time.  He became increasingly aware that everyone was staring at him as he swayed drunkenly like a reed in the wind.  Forcing a smile, he doffed his hat and gave a theatrical bow.

“Gentlemen, please!  As you were!”

The tension was broken, and conversations resumed.  With a stiffly measured gait, he strode up the stairs.  He was not about to show them the jealous husband who had lost control back at the tavern.  The practiced façade he wore into battle would serve him well once again.  The people below hardly noticed the creak of a door as it opened, but the window rattling slam that followed could not be mistaken.

Dolan gave a low whistle.  “Oh, this ain't lookin' good.”

Honour sat bolt upright in the bed, the covers clutched up around her neck.  “Jack!  What on earth is the matter?  You scared me half to death coming in here like that!”  She looked out the window and saw that the sun had set.  “And where have you been?  You said you'd only be gone a few hours.”  Her hand was still trembling from the slamming of the door as she brushed her hair back from her face.

Jack couldn't bring himself to look at her, so he stared at the windows as he pulled off his frock coat.  He tossed it on the bed and removed his baldric and sword.  Honour noticed the dirt on the coat's sleeve, along with a tear near the elbow.

“Jack, your favourite coat is torn.  Hadn't you noticed it?”  Her questions continued to be met with silence.  “Why won't you talk to me?” she asked in frustration.

He looked askance at her.  “Why do you care if I came back at all?” he slurred.  “I thought you'd be happier the longer I stay away.”

“Jack, you're not making any sense.  You're drunk, aren't you?  Please, get undressed and come to bed...”

“I AM DRUNK!” he erupted.  “Tell me, oh wife of mine, why I should share a bed with you tonight?  I can practically smell him on you.”

“Smell... What is wrong with you?  Why are saying such terrible things?”

“Did you honestly think I wouldn't find out?  The whole town's talking about Jack Wolfe, the cuckold pirate!”  He turned to face her, his anger boiling to the top once again.  “Parading around on his arm in front of the entire town, the two young lovers!  More like the backstabbing cur and his little slut!”

“No, no, Jack!  No, you were busy, and... and Cade offered to show me the sites until you returned...  It's not what you think!!”  Even she could hear the note of guilt that slipped into her voice.  Yes, she had thought Cade attractive and charming.  Yes, she had stolen a kiss with him.  And yes, she had imagined making love with him.  She could feel her face turning red as hot tears welled in her eyes.

“Oh, I can imagine the things he showed you!” he went on, pacing back and forth at the foot of the bed.  “How long have you two been together?  Since Castara?  How could you betray me like this, Honour?  Why?”  The hurt in his voice tore at her.

“I haven't!  Jack, I love you!  I'd never betray you, never!  You have to believe me!  Please!” she begged, tears streaming down her face.  “I've been far truer to you than you have to me!!”

Her last words stopped Jack in his tracks.  “Now how can that be possible?” he mocked.

Honour fought to regain her composure.  Her body trembled with distress, but a wave of anger began to build within her.  “I saw you.  I was on the corner when you came out of that... house,” she said, her voice becoming more and more forceful.  “You didn't have the decency to accompany me to the inn before you ran off to lay with some whore!  Another of your many 'friends'?  Friends with benefits is more like it!” she spat sarcastically.  Honour had found her voice at last.  All the frustration and mistrust, all the hurt and anger she'd so dutifully stifled over the past month came roaring forth like a spring flood.

He laughed derisively.  “How
dare you accuse me?”

“And how dare you, my husband?” she retorted.  “My hands are clean!  But you… all your promises and solemn oaths that conveniently change with the wind!  I gave myself to you, body and soul!  I saved your life when you were shot, and this is how you repay me?  With accusations and infidelity?”

“You’ve humiliated me!! I’ve treated you with generosity and kindness up ‘til now..!”

“You’ve treated me like rubbish!!  Everything’s roses when times are good, but when I need you, when I need my husband with me, you’re never there!  If I have done the awful things you say, who could blame me?”

Jack’s eyes went wide with rage.  He stepped menacingly toward her and drew back his hand to strike, but Honour found the courage to face him defiantly and not cower.  She stared him straight in the eyes though her face was streaked with anguished tears.  “Damn you, Jack Wolfe!” she said with steely resolve, “Go ahead.  Hit me.  But if you do, I will walk out that door and NEVER come back!”

His hand flew up once more, but her only reaction was an almost indiscernible flinch, her eyes never leaving his.  He stared at her, his face a mask of anger and heartache.  Suddenly he turned and went to the writing desk.  She followed him a few steps, relieved that he had not followed through with his threat.  Maybe she could reason with him now, and make him understand she’d done nothing wrong…

She gasped in horror when Jack whirled and pointed his pistol at her.  The combination of alcohol and adrenalin had him so unsteady that his aim wavered as if he were on the deck of a pitching ship.  “Jack, please, no!  Put the gun away.  This is all a terrible mistake!” she pleaded.

“The mistake was in marrying a deceitful little trollop like you!  A mistake I intend to remedy here and now.”  He pulled the hammer back slowly.  “Your precious Cade will be along to join you in Hell shortly.”

Terror gripped Honour’s heart.  Instinctively, she lashed out with a sweeping kick that caught Jack’s arm.  The pistol flew from his hand and landed harmlessly on the floor.  Enraged, he lunged at her, but she quickly sidestepped and watched as he lost his footing and stumbled head first into the wall.  Her breath came in ragged, panicked gasps as she waited for him to get back to his feet.  But he didn’t move.  Carefully, she knelt down beside him and put her small trembling hand near his face.  A small wave of relief washed over her when she felt his breath across her fingers.  He wasn’t dead.  But she knew it wasn’t safe to stay there.  The familiar urge to flee overwhelmed her.  She hurriedly dressed and left the inn, and ran down the street as fast as she could to The Horse, Hunter, and Stag.

She knew she would find safety there.  Cade would protect her.
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Welsh Wench on June 27, 2008, 10:15:02 PM
Honour pulled the hood of her cloak closer to her face as she approached the innkeeper of The Horse, Hunter and Stag. In a soft, halting voice she said, "I-I'd like to see Mr. Cade Jennings, if you please."
The innkeeper hesitated and said, "Don't rightly know if I should give you his room number, Missy..."
She tried to smile and said, "I'll be sure to knock first. Sir, I am not his wife or a jealous female trying to catch him with another woman."
The tavern keep saw the emerald ring on her finger and said quietly, "First door on the left at the top of the staircase."
She nodded, drew her cloak tighter around her and ascended the stairway.
Cade opened the door to her timid knock.
"Honour! What are you doing out this time of night?"
"May I come in, please?"
He looked at the tearstained face and said quickly, "By all means."
He took her cloak and saw that she was dressed in a chemise and skirt. No bodice, no corset, no stays.
She shivered. He sat her down and opened a bottle of brandy and poured a glass for her.
She drank a bit and started coughing.
"Careful, Honour."
"I'm sorry. I've been feeling a bit under the weather."
He sat down on the bed next to her and said quietly, "It has to be a problem for you to come here alone and at night too."
Honour nodded miserably. "It's all falling apart, Cade. I'm married almost a month and it's all falling to pieces."
He brushed her hair back and said soothingly, "Do you want to talk about it?"
She felt the tears well up.
"Jack accused me--us--of some vile things. He called me names. I confronted him on the fact that I saw him come out of a brothel the first day he--"
"Brothel? You saw him? When?"
"When we were walking the first day in port. He came out of that house with the two doors."
"Madame Renee's?"
"You know her?"
"Everyone knows Madame Renee."
"Cade, Jack went there for....for....."
She felt the tears coming again. He put his arm comfortingly around her. "You don't know that for a fact, Honour. He could have been visiting an old friend. He and Renee go way back."
She wiped the tears from her face. "I'm young but I am not a fool, Cade. I know what I saw."
"Honour, I can understand why you are upset but--"
"There's more. He accused me and you of...well...he accused me of infidelity."
"He WHAT?"
Honour nodded. "It gets worse, Cade. He..."
She leaned against him and began to cry.
"He pulled a gun on me and yelled, 'The mistake was in marrying a deceitful little trollop like you!  A mistake I intend to remedy here and now.'
She could hardly talk.
"He pulled the hammer back on the pistol and then said in a deadly calm voice, “ 'Your precious Cade will be along to join you in Hell shortly.' ”
"Was he drunk?"
"Yes," she said as she felt the tears welling up in her eyes again.
"Cade, I kicked the gun out of his hand. He lunged for me but I moved and he ran headlong into the wall and was knocked out. I--I checked and he was still breathing when I left. Oh, Cade, I can't go back! He will kill me!  And you!"
He held her and rocked her a bit as she cried, "No, he won't kill us. He's crazy with rum, Honour.  Or whiskey. Or both."
"I can't go back. I--I can get a room here for the night or sleep in the common room here."
"Honour, all the rooms here are booked. The Ebony Heart just docked and all the crew have shore leave. A pretty little thing like you in the common room with a port full of drunken pirates who haven't seen a woman in three months? Not even an option."
"But I can't go back."
"Stay here. I can sleep in the chair."
"I can't ask that of you, Cade."
"I insist. No arguments."
She stood up and looked him in the eyes. "I can't thank you enough, Cade. For all you have done."
Cade put his hands on his shoulders and said, "Anything for you, Honour."
She looked up into his eyes. Their bodies were touching and Cade softly brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. "Anything..."
Before she knew it, their eyes closed and their lips met in a kiss that was anything but casual.  They broke apart, each not knowing what the other would do.
Honour whispered, "I've been accused, judged and condemned. I may as well be guilty of the crime as well."
Cade tilted her face up to meet his and whispered back, "Then we shall pay the price together."

With a start, Honour woke up. The moonlight streamed onto the bed, illuminating Cade's face as he slept next to her. His arm was flung around her as he spooned against her. She quietly slid from his arms, placing a pillow in her place.
She wrapped her cloak around her body, her chemise and skirt laying on the floor giving clues as to what had taken place. As if the man in the bed wasn't testimony enough to damn them both.
Honour stood there, a feeling of despair washing over her. Messing up once in her life was enough. The main attraction was the same, only the key players had changed.
Would Cade have the same fate as Rhys?
And what of Jack? While he was not Madoc, his fury was unmatched. Twice in one lifetime was too much for a woman to be threatened with death, this time for a crime she hadn't committed.
Until after the accusations.
She walked over to the window and looked out. A few pirates straggled out of the taverns, spilling onto the lane. So far the only one who knew she was here was the innkeeper. And he didn't even know her name.
She leaned her forehead against the mullion of the window and began to cry quietly.
To herself, she whispered, ' many times are you going to mess up? How many places can you run to?'

Honour wondering how she was going to face Cade in the morning.
But much more importantly was this--how was she going to face Jack?
If he was ready to kill her and Cade over an imagined infidelity, how would he react if he ever knew that his suppositions became actualities?
'Rhiannon', she thought, 'you sure do know how arrange things. Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.  When will you learn, girl?'
The voice repeating those words were not hers. The voice was that of Gwydion.
'When will you learn?....when will you learn?....'
Will I ever learn?
She closed her eyes, knowing she would use all her wits to pull herself out of the funeral pyre.
Because Jack was holding the match.
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Welsh Wench on June 27, 2008, 10:16:36 PM
In a tavern in Castara Bay, the solitary figure drew her shawl around her. The moon shone through the palmettos as she closed the door behind her. She walked towards the beach, the soft sand cushioning her footfall.
In a clearing overlooking the bay, she laid her shawl down on the ground and sat upon it. In her leather bag she withdrew what she needed. An urn filled with sea salt, a few bones and a leather box.
She very carefully laid what she needed on the flat boulder she used so many times before. Clouds raced across the moon, lending an eerie feel as if shadowy fingers embraced the orb.
She stood and sprinkled a circle of the salt around herself and the boulder. Facing east, she took the bones out of the bag and cast them on the boulder.  Three bones scattered. Three touching, one touching and then rolling away from the breast bone. She inhaled sharply, a small smile coming to her face.
Three times.
Three results the same.
Withdrawing her cards, she drew three out.
The Lovers.
The Tower.
The Devil.
'It already happen,' she whispered. 'Dey run to de Fate dat be cast for dem. No turning back. De great Jack Wolfe find out how it feel to hurt. Him pretty little bride and he dat he treat like a son. Him have destruction around him head.'
She reached once more into her bag and withdrew two small dolls. A male and a female. The one had a ribbon, the other had a lanyard. The poppets were back to back, bound with a black ribbon. Touching but not facing.
She held it up to the moonlight and whispered a few words. 'Wit' dese cords, I bind toget'er dey spirits, and hold apart dey hearts. Dey lives, dey be forever entwine, forever connected, but never share as man and woman.'
The very words she chanted when she first bound them together.
A chuckle escaped her lips which grew into a laugh.
'Sail away, Jack Wolfe! Sail away!  Two already betray you. Two, so dear to your dark heart. Dey already cut you to de quick, and cause you such joy and pain. Your heart will break three times."
She put her charms back into her bag, still chuckling.
She stood and faced the horizon, the dark waves lapping the shore in the moonlight.
Softly she said, 'Bones no lie, Jack Wolfe. Bones no lie. Neither do Bonita.'

Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on June 29, 2008, 08:11:02 PM
Jack's eyes fluttered open, but screwed shut almost immediately from the pounding throb in his head.  He made a tacit vow to himself not to overindulge like he obviously had again, just as he'd vowed a thousand other mornings before.  Smiling in the solace of at least knowing for certain who it was he'd find lying beside him, he stretch drowsily and reached toward the other side of the bed... and found it cold and empty.

“Honour?” he called quietly.  When no answer came, he sat up and looked around their room.  She was nowhere to be seen, and her cloak was missing.  He was still in the shirt and breeches he'd worn the previous day.  As he struggled to remember the events of last night, he noticed the pistol lying on the floor, its hammer still cocked.

“Oh, God, no.  No, what did I do?” he wondered desperately.  Bits of memories came drifting back: the tavern, the awful rumours, the argument with Honour and the terrible things he'd said to her, the hurtful accusations.  Remorse hit him in a sickening wave.  Why did he not trust that she was telling the truth?  Why didn't he explain his friendship with Renee?  “Damn you and your pride, Jack,” he said aloud.  She had endured hardship and peril, never once wavering from his side.  How did he repay her love and fidelity?  By judging her guilty on hollow charges and no evidence, because HE felt humiliated by the idle chatter.  Instead of standing beside her, he had thrown her to the wolves over wounded pride.

He went to the window and looked down on the street below.  The sun had just risen, and people were beginning to go about their morning routines.  He caught a glimpse of a woman's cloak near the inn's entrance.  It was the same colour and style as Honour's.  The woman seemed to hesitate at the door before entering.  If it was Honour as he hoped, he could not blame her for being apprehensive about returning.  Curiosity about where she may have been was drowned out by his relief that she was safe, and had found it within herself to come back.  Jack hurriedly straightened the room, being sure to safe the pistol and hide it out of sight.  He splashed some water on his face and tried to do something with his unruly mane, to no avail.  Finally, he rummaged around in a small wooden chest, retrieved a green velvet pouch, and stuffed it into his pocket.  His heart pounded with hope and dread as the door handle rattled, then slowly turned.

Honour stepped gingerly into the room, her heart beating so hard she could feel it in her ears.  The guilt she had felt upon awakening in Cade's arms was nothing compared to what wracked her being now.  She could not bear to even look at her husband, so she kept her face hidden by her hood as she turned and closed the door.  At that moment, she longed to once again be that carefree girl sitting at the cliffs near her childhood home watching the ships come and go, far away from this place in a far simpler time.  But she would not run this time.  No, she would face her husband and accept whatever came next.

Strangely, the angry tirade she'd expected was not there.  An eerie silence, almost claustrophobic to her, hung in the air.  Why didn't he say anything?  Where were the now well founded accusations she was certain he'd hurl?  Unpredictable to the last, she thought.  No small wonder his foes found him so maddening.  Honour sighed heavily, resigned to the fact that Jack was going to force her into facing him, the adulteress before the humiliated cuckold.  She pulled her hood back and began to remove her cloak.  To her amazement, she felt it lifted from her shoulders with incredible delicacy.  Fighting against her own shame, she turned, head bowed, to discover what judgement awaited her.  Astonishingly, what she found was nothing like what she expected.  And her heart broke.

Jack Wolfe, the most feared pirate in the entire Caribbean, stood before her as the epitome of contrition.  “Honour,” he said softly and slowly, his gaze directed at the floor in front of her, “ I am so terribly sorry for the way I mistreated you last night.  I have been a poor husband to you.  I see that now.  When you needed me, I was not there.  When I should have offered explanations, I didn't.  When I should have trusted you, I didn't.  Though I do not expect you to, can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”

Her mind reeled.  He was begging forgiveness, when it was she who had broken their marriage vows?    She knew in her heart that there was no way he could know yet of her sin- committed with the man who Jack loved like a son!- but that only seemed to make her feel worse.  “No, Jack,” she said, her voice nearly cracking with shame.  “I'm the one who should be asking forgiveness.  Not you.”

“Nonsense!” he interrupted.  He stepped towards her and drew her into his arms.  It felt to Honour as if he was holding on to her for dear life.  “No, my love.  This has all been a terrible misunderstanding, and it is my fault.  All I ask is a chance to make things right.”  He pulled the velvet pouch from his pocket and opened it.  She gasped when she saw the intricate diamond and emerald necklace as he drew it out into the light.  “I was holding this for a happier occasion, but I want you to have this now as a token of apology.”

“It's beautiful,” she whispered.  So overwhelmed was she by what was happening, it all began to take on a dreamlike quality.  Jack held up the necklace, and she turned around to let him put it on her.  She swept her long blond hair away from her neck.  The glimmering stones were cool upon her skin.  He gently kissed the back of her neck as he put his arms around her.  Honour leaned back into his embrace and turned her head to look at him.  Their lips met, and at that moment the flood gates that had been restraining their emotions burst open at once.  Their kisses became hungry, almost desperate.  She moved her body against his as he caressed her.  His fingers loosened the ties of her chemise and deftly pulled it free from her shoulders.  The garment slipped down over her body onto the floor as she turned and began undressing him.  They held and touched each other, losing themselves in their sensual tempest.  Finally, Jack swept Honour up in his arms and laid her gently upon the bed.  She insistently drew him down on to the bed and over her, guiding him to her.  As they made love, she kept her eyes closed tightly so he would not see the pain in them, and a single tear ran down her cheek.

Honour lay in Jack's arms, her back to him, their bodies and emotions spent.  She wondered what would happen next.  How long before Jack found out she betrayed him with Cade?  And what revenge would he exact once he knew the truth?  Would he kill them both as he had threatened last night?  She was thankful Jack couldn't see the haunted look in her eyes.  There was no way to run from her terrible mistake, no way to hide it, no way to undo the wrong.  She was trapped.  The chill of hopelessness began to creep into her heart, so she snuggled back against her husband.  He gently stroked her hair the way he always had after they made love, but this time it brought her no joy.

Jack sighed heavily.  “Honour,” he said quietly, “I have something to tell you, darling.  I wish now that I didn't, and I hope you won't be too angry with me.”

How could he possibly make her angry after what she'd done to him, Honour wondered.  “Please, just tell me, Jack.  All our breakables are in storage, so you have nothing to worry about,” she feebly tried to joke. 

“All right.  You remember the notebook I told you I was trying to find?  The one that belongs to a French naturalist?”

“I think so.  Why?”

“I know where he is.  Martinique.  It's practically in my grasp, love!” he enthused. 

“How so?” she asked.  “Is someone bringing it to you?”

“This is the part I fear will upset you,” he said cautiously.  “I'm going to Martinique to buy it.  Today.”

Honour turned over quickly to face him.  “You're leaving?  Today?!” Her voice was full of hurt.  Damn him!  He hasn't changed one bit, and never will.  Leaving her behind while to go chasing after treasure?  “But we were supposed to look at the plantation tomorrow!  What if someone buys it before you decide to come back?  Have you considered that?”

“In fact, I have.  I've set more than enough money aside to buy the plantation, at your disposal.  Briggs will make sure you have it in hand first thing before you go to the property.”

“What, I'm supposed to negotiate the contract?” she asked incredulously.

Jack smiled at her.  “Of course!  What better way to prove how much I trust you than to let you buy your dream home?  You'll do a fine job, I know it.”

The news hit her like a kick in the stomach.  Was this to be her destiny, to live the solitary existence of a seaman's wife and pace the widow's walk every day, hoping to see his sails on the horizon?  “Jack, no!  This is important, and I need you there with me!”

“I promise, Honour, I'll only be gone a few days.  You'll be fine!  When I return, we'll start moving in to our new home.”  He leaned forward and kissed her cheek.  “Now I really should get my things in order.  I sail in just a few hours, and they'll be by shortly for my baggage.”  He smiled happily at her, then rose from the bed to get dressed.

Honour pulled the covers up around her, her heart bursting with despair.  In the space of less than a day, the marriage that had brought her so much joy had come crashing down around her.  She rolled over again, her back to him.

"Do what you have to do, Jack.  You always do."

Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Welsh Wench on July 02, 2008, 08:14:10 AM
Honour stayed in their room after Jack had left. Her stomach was tied in knots from the events of the past few days.  She had a tray sent up to her room but only picked at the food. The goodbyes were awkward. Jack apologizing for leaving her but the enthusiasm on his face showed that his mind ws elsewhere. He hardly noticed the stilted way in which Honour said goodbye.
Staying in the room afforded her the opportunity to avoid Cade. She knew he would be in the tavern. And she didn't feel up to facing him or the awkwardness that would follow. She looked down and touched the diamond and emerald necklace that Jack had given her. Just like a man to think that a gift would make things right. The name-calling. The aborted strikes he almost laid on her. And finally pulling a gun on her.
She shuddered to think what would happen if she hadn't kicked the gun out of his hand.
And she was beginning to realize there was more at stake than just her own life. She pulled the covers back and hugged her pillow. She cried until there were no more tears left and she fell into an exhausted sleep.
The next morning the sun shone through her curtains. Something was knocking...and a whining.
'Muir..stop that scratching...'
Then she realized that Muir was still on the ship with Briggs.
She sat up suddenly and realized someone was knocking at the door.  Hurriedly she put on her dressing gown and opened the door slightly.
"Mrs. Wolfe...Honour, ma''s me. Briggs."
She opened it fully and a ball of fur came hurtling towards her. She laughed for the first time in days and said, "Muir!"
Briggs shifted uneasily from side to side and said, "Yes, well...he was beginning to chew various boots on the ship so we all took a vote and decided instead of becoming chum, the pooch would be better off with you."
Muir licked her face as she laughed. "Quite allright. Muir, you are just what I need right now!"
Muir ran and got Jack's shirt and dropped it at her feet.
"I'm sorry, Muir. He--he went away."
Briggs also handed her an envelope. "Captain left this bank draft for ye to purchase the land ye talked about. Made out to ye, Mrs. Wolfe. Just put it over at the moneyhouse and they can handle the transfer for ye. Should be plenty there, Ma'am."
She took it and said quietly, "Thank you, Briggs."
She hesitated, "Oh, Briggs?"
"Yes, ma'am?"
"Briggs...would you..would you please give Puddin' a hug for me?"
He tipped his hat and said. "Ma'am..."
And with that he left.
Honour walked out the front door and as she did, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She jumped a mile.
He looked at her softly and said, "You were gone when I woke up."
She looked down and said, "About last night..."
"We need to tell him."
"Tell Jack. About us."
"It's only right, love. We need to tell him so we can make our plans."
"Honour, look over at the harbor. What do you see?"
"See the one second from the right? Next to the Dark Vexation?"
"Dark Vexation? Is Captain James Blake in port?"
"Yes, but that is besides the point. The ship next to her is the Gryphon. She was on auction and she is now mine. I'm telling Jack I'm going on my own account now. No more being under Jack's thumb, Honour. We can be free to do what we want. Jack will just have to understand. Now that I am a captain of my own ship, Mad Jack Wolfe and I are equals."
She murmured, "He certainly taught you well, Cade. In all respects."
He took her hands. "Where is Jack?"
She cautiously removed her hands from his. "He's gone."
"Gone? Gone where?"
"To Martinique. To find someone named Armand LaFork."
"Armand LaFourche?"
"Yes..I guess that is the name."
Cade whistled low. "He's really going to do it He's really going to look for the Ancients' chest."
"You know about it?"
"He's talked about it long since I can remember. He's going as loony as LaFourche."
"He'll be back in four day's time. Cade...."
"Darling, I have to go. I have to close the deal on the ship and take care of some business in St Lucia. I'll be back in a week and then we can tell Jack."
"But Cade....."
He kissed her and said, "Don't worry. It will all work out."
And with that he walked down towards the docks.
Honour sat down suddenly trying to fight the rising tide of nausea. 'This just keeps escalating.'
She touched her silver chain and whispered, 'Mother..please. Help me! Which way am I to go?'
She was beginning to suspect her life was about to undergo some changes. But deal with the present now and worry about the future later....
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on July 04, 2008, 05:38:51 PM
St. Pierre, Île Martinique

There it was. 43 Rue Bacas.  The home of the mad naturalist and linguist Armand LaFourche.  For years he had been renowned for his abilities to understand dead languages and their equally dead practitioners.  But if the stories were true, his attempts at understanding a forgotten people known only as the Ancients had gotten the better of him.  Instead of unravelling their secrets, their secrets had unravelled his mind.

Jack stepped up to the door and knocked.  It was answered by a young woman, Honour's age or close to it.  She was a frail thing, tall and pale, with eyes that belonged to someone much older.  “Mademoiselle LaFourche?” he inquired politely.


“My name is Cap... is Jack Wolfe.  Please forgive me for dropping by unannounced.  I am a great admirer of your father's work.  Might it be possible for me to meet him?”

She sighed heavily.  “Monsieur Wolfe, my father is a very sick man.”  Her heavy accent lent her voice a far more authoritative ring than one might have expected.  "I am afraid it is out of the question.  Au revoir, monsieur.”  She began to close the door.

“Please hear me out!” Jack insisted, and the woman paused.  “This is more than just a social call, mademoiselle.  I have a business proposition that I believe you would be interested in.”

She mulled his words over for a moment, then opened the door wide.  “Please, Monsieur Wolfe.  Éntrer.”

The interior of the house was cramped.  Not from an ill-conceived floor plan, but rather every available bit of wall space had been converted into bookshelves.  The air was heavy with the stale smell of leather, cloth, and vellum.  The young woman led Jack through the winding maze of texts.  He decided it was as good a time as any to try and break the ice.  “Forgive me, but I don't believe I caught your name.”

“Cecile,” she replied pleasantly.  “But you may call me Ceily.  Everyone does.  You are here to buy my father's journal about Les Anciens, oui?”

“Oui!  Yes, that I am.  You'll find I am prepared to pay handsomely...”

Ceily cut him off with a wave of her hand.  "I would happily give you the journal, Monsieur Wolfe.  But I think you should see what that knowledge has done to my poor father before you accept.  The price is far steeper than you think,” she said ominously.

She brought Jack to a small sunny room.  Armand LaFourche was there, sitting in a simple straight backed chair.  He was looking out at a small garden Ceily no doubt maintained for him in an attempt to soothe his tortured mind.  Jack watched as the disturbed man rocked gently back and forth, quietly chanting something inaudible.  Ceily motioned Jack into the room and pointed to a chair for him to sit in next to her father.  As he sat, he found the man wasn't chanting, but was instead singing a children's song.

Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse, l'on y danse
Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tous en rond
Les bell' dames font comm' çà
Et puis encore comm' çà...

Ceily kneeled down beside Armand and gently touched his shoulder.  He stopped his song to smile at her.  “Papa?” she said softly.  “Papa, Monsieur Wolfe voudrais vous parler.”  She nodded toward Jack.  Armand looked at his visitor, his strange smile never fading.

“Je ne sais pas vous,” he said warily.

“Monsieur LaFourche, my name is Jack Wolfe.  I've come to ask you some questions about the Ancients.”

The man's eyes went wide.  “Les Anciens!  Oui!  Oui, but of course!  I can tell you everything about them!”  His voice was suddenly infused with life, the confused fog lifted from his eyes.  Such a  radical change in his demeanour helped to ease Jack's mind.  Perhaps the quest for knowledge about these people had nothing to do with LaFourche's madness after all.

“Did you ever find out where the Ancients lived for certain?” he asked carefully.

“No.  No, I never did.  But I learned things far more important.”  Armand's expression turned gravely serious.   “Things I will tell you, only if you swear to me you will never tell another soul.”

“Believe me, I'll keep anything you tell me a secret.  Just between us.”  Jack was gambling that even though he seemed lucid enough, Armand might still be soft enough in the head to give up something useful.

“The Moon and Sun in endless chase, must come together in one place.” the man said.  Jack blinked and looked to Ceily, who could only offer a shrug.

“That's very interesting, monsieur.  Could you be more specific?”

The crazed look was creeping back into Armand's eyes.  “In the Chamber of Tomorrows, the Keeper of Kings will awaken.”  He smiled as if Jack should have understood his riddles clearly.

“I'm afraid I'm not following,” said Jack.  “Perhaps if we back up a bit...”

“Three Kings will hide before your eyes.  Yes, yes, they will hide...  until she finds them...”  The enigmatic smile was back, and Armand LaFourche was lost once more.  Jack leaned back in his chair, utterly perplexed.  Ceily nodded toward the doorway, and the two retreated from the room to the hall.

“So, monsieur.  You see what they have done to his mind.  Do you still want the journal?” she asked, certain he would decline like everyone before him.

“I think he gave me something to go on.  Yes, please.  I'll take it off your hands,” he replied without hesitation.

Ceily shook her head sadly, and retrieved a worn book from its place on the shelf.  She touched the stained cover, which read 'Un Journal de Conclusions sur la Race perdu connu seulement comme Les Anciens, comme compilées par Armand LaFourche', then quickly handed it over to Jack.  “Here.  Take the cursed thing.  And may God take pity on you, Capitaine Jacques Wolfe.”

Jack smiled gratefully.  "Why should He start now?  Adieu, mademoiselle."
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Welsh Wench on July 06, 2008, 12:58:42 PM
"Monsieur Picou?"
"I'm here to meet you regarding the sale of your plantation."

Monsieur Picou looked her up and down and said, "I was expecting both you and your husband, Mrs. Wolfe. Has he been detained?"
Honour laughed a bit self-consciously. "Oh, I'm not Mrs. Wolfe!  I apologize for not introducing myself. My name is Mrs. Castlemaine. Captain Wolfe was called away and Mrs. Wolfe changed her mind and joined him. But their circumstances have changed. She persuaded him to migrate to the New World. Charleston, specifically. She inherited money from her father and convinced the good captain to settle there. I am her cousin twice removed.  She told me of the land she was interested in and I decided I may want to invest in Barbadian property so I decided to keep her appointment."
He looked doubtful. "You are so young. You have money?"
Honour nodded. "My late husband--may he rest in peace--left me well off. We were emigrating to Barbados and he drank the water and died. Typhoid."
Monsieur Picou expressed his sympathy. "I'm so sorry."
Honour affected an air of resigned grief.
"Yes. I was devastated. We were only married a short while. But I know Byron would want me to carry on. And he had dreams of investing in sugar cane. I really would love to fulfill his dying wish."
 Monsieur Picou wiped a tear from his eye for the young 'widow'.
"Then let us go in to see the house."
Honour gazed at the grandeur of the manor house. A verandah wrapped around three sides of the house. A second balcony was supported by six Grecian columns. The stairs of brick led to a massive front door in oak. The red brick shone in the sunlight.
"Monsieur Picou! This is beautiful!"
He beamed with pride. "Oui! But since my wife died, I want to go back to France. That is where I want to spend my last days."
He opened the front door. A marble staircase greeted them. It ascended up the middle and then split into two staircases. He led her into the parlor which was furnished with lovely furniture. A piano stood in one corner.
"Do you play, Madame?"
She ran her finger lightly over the keys. It had been so long since she sat down to play.
"A bit."
The French doors looked out over a brick patio and onto the ocean. The sheer curtains blew in the breeze.
He led her to the formal dining room.  A solid mahogany table with sixteen chairs and a glass chandelier hung from a carved plaster ceiling. A cabinet of crystal stood in the corner and a sideboard for platters was against the opposite wall.
She peeked out the door and there was a detached kitchen with a pergola covered with grapevines and a brick walkway. Forethought to keep the kitchen separate as fires were not unheard of.
Exotic flowers made up the garden. Their perfume filled the air.  For a moment, Honour thought of her honeymoon in Castara Bay. It brought up all sorts of feelings but she pushed that thought far away.
Jack messed up their relationship. Chasing after a dream and leaving her alone to deal with this.
So it was his fault.
Whatever happened, it was Jack's fault.
Even Cade.
That was Jack's fault too.
"Let's go upstairs to see the rooms. Take your time and enjoy yourself. I shall be in the office on the left looking at the final accounting my overseer left for me."
They mounted the marble staircase and Honour explored the rooms. The master bedroom also had French doors with a balcony that overlooked the ocean. She sat on the four-poster rice bed and bounced on it a bit, her fingers running over the down comforter. An armoire and chest of drawers completed the set along with oil paintings of scenic countryside. She looked into the alcove and there was a small handcarved cradle. Her heart melted a bit at the sight of the nursery.
The rest of the rooms were tastefully appointed with furnishings that bespoke of opulence.
"What do you think of it, Madame?"
"It is beautiful. How much did you say?"
He named his price and Honour replied, "That is quite pricey and a bit more than I was willing to pay."
"You must remember, Madame, that it is over 500 acres."
"I'm prepared to offer you this sum if you reduce it by 15%."
She passed him a paper that she had written an amount.
Mr. Picou mulled it over. "Since you love it and will take care of it....Deal."
The money draft was presented and the new deed was filed.
But not under the name of Honour Wolfe.
It was deeded to R. C. Castlemaine.
Jack would never know that his wife was the legal owner.
The sole legal owner.
Honour was five hundred acres richer.
Jack was 5,000 guilders poorer.
And that was Jack's fault, too.
It was enough to secure her future and her independence.

Never would Rhiannon Conaway Castlemaine be dependent on anyone again.
Especially a man.

Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on July 08, 2008, 09:05:13 AM
Conscripted?!” Jack roared at the master of the merchant ship Fidelity

They were supposed to weigh anchor that day, bound for Barbados, but the captain had been served a decree stating that his ship was no longer a private freighter, but a supply ship in England's Navy.  Ships of all types were being pressed into the service of the Commonwealth now that Cromwell had launched his Western Design, meaning that England's tempestuous relationship with Spain had finally escalated into all out war in the Caribbean.  Since the French had nothing but contempt for the Spanish, they were more than happy to have English troops on their soil to lend a hand.

“I'm sorry, Mr. Wolfe, but there's nothing I can do.  There's a whole slew of Marines aboard her right now, offloading every bit of cargo.  The owners won't be happy, not one bit.”

Jack tried his best to rein in his temper.  He knew it wasn't the captain's fault, but he desperately wanted to yell at someone for this incredible inconvenience.  “You have my sympathies, Captain Sumner.  But you'll excuse me.  I have to find someone with a ship that's NOT BLOODY CONSCRIPTED INTO SOME STUPID BLOODY STUPID WAR!!  Good day, sir!”

He straightened his hat and stalked to the door of the harbour master's offices, where he was pleasantly surprised to find them open for business.  Two deep breaths later, he stepped inside.  There were some irate merchants venting their frustrations to an English officer, who offered in return little more than a stony expression as he stared at nothing in particular.  Jack bypassed the group and went to the clerk's counter.  There was nervous man behind it who was trying desperately to ignore everyone and everything around him.  Jack gave him his best cheery smile, and the man seemed to relax a bit.

“Excuse me, but I'd like to speak with the harbour master, please,” he said calmly.

The man looked around, and said quietly and quickly, “I'm him.  I'm the harbour master.”

“Ah, good!  I'm in need of a ship.  Bound for Barbados, the sooner the better.  Heard of any?”

“Well, actually...” the harbour master began.

“My ship will be making for Barbados,” said another man who was signing some documents.  He was a grizzled old salt, but clean and well dressed.  “We'll not be much for taking cargo, but we can carry a passenger if you stay out of the way.  Who wants to know?”

Jack extended his hand.  “Jack Wolfe,” he said quietly.  “And you are?”

“Cap'n Stephen Mathwig, at your service.  Your name has a familiar ring, Mister Wolfe.  Have a ship of your own, do ya?”

“Me?  A ship?  No,” Jack lied.  “If I had a ship, why would I be here begging passage home?”

Mathwig nodded.  “Good point.  Anyway, if you're in a hurry like it sounds you are, I can't help you much.  We just made port, and won't leave for another four days.”

“Four days?” Jack said, crestfallen.  He looked to the harbour master.  “Are there any other ships for Barbados leaving sooner?”  The man nodded no.

“Looks like I'm your best bet, Mister Wolfe.  Interested?”

“Where shall we discuss terms?” asked Jack.

“Meet me in an hour, just down the street at Le Cheval Rouge.  We'll iron everything out and make certain you have a berth on the
Homecoming,” replied Mathwig.

Jack smiled wanly and walked out to the street.  His return was now delayed, and it would be nearly ten days away from Honour instead of the promised four.  He hoped she would understand.  He pictured her standing on the widow's walk of the manor house on their new plantation, watching every sail that approached from the north and hoping that it was the one carrying her husband home to her.  “This is the one and only time she'll ever feel the need to do that,” he vowed.  “Never again.”
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Welsh Wench on July 10, 2008, 05:39:34 PM
Leaving the magistrate's office with the new deed, Honour wondered if she were doing the right thing. Jack had been so tender and loving yesterday. And then he casually told her he would be gone and back in four days. No discussion. No...nothing.
He just expected her to make a major purchase.
And why?
'So he would have a place to stow me. A convenient place to put me so he wouldn't have me getting in the way of his fun. Like the necklace. Try to kill me one day and placate me with jewelry so I would forget all about it. Now he wants a place to hang his hat when he's in port.'
She had a feeling that her life was about to change. She had begun to suspect it ever since she came back to Jack from her one-night mistake with Cade.
But did Cade want her for himself? Or was it because she was Jack's wife?
She felt light-headed and sat down. Too many questions, not enough answers...
Her head jerked up.
"James Blake!"
The privateer grinned at her. "Or should I be formal?"
He swept his tricorn from his head and gave her a deep mock bow. "Why, Mrs. Wolfe! What a pleasure to run into you. May I inquire as to your health? And how fares Mr. Wolfe?"
She grimaced. "Making fun of me are you, James?"
He sat down next to her.
"Not at all, Honour. How are you?"
She shrugged. "I've been better."
"Ah. The life of a pirate's wife not agree with you?"
"It's not's just...James, do you believe in Fate?"
He looked off to the harbour. "I think we all have a destiny we follow. Things happen for a reason, Honour. Why do you ask?"
She looked down and said, "Things have gone terribly wrong. And I wonder if I am being punished for past sins."
"That will need some explaining."
She looked up at him and tears were beginning to form in her eyes. "Something I did once ended up terribly wrong. I am wondering now if I am paying the price. Is it my destiny to have happiness elude me?  It's like trying to hold onto water in your hand. You scoop it up only to have it run through your fingers."
He took her hand and said "You are too hard on yourself, Honour. There is no guarantee of happiness in this life. We live it the best we can."
She finally got up the nerve. "James...where are you going and when are you leaving?"
"I'm headed for Port Royal and I'm leaving first thing tomorrow. Why?"
Honour became almost desperate in her request. "I need to leave, James. Don't ask me why. Please. Just know that this will save a few lives if I do. I want to book passage with you to Port Royal. I'll give you another name and no one will know it was you who took me out of here."
"Honour, I don't know..."
"PLEASE, James! I'm begging you! I--I have a few chests in storage I need to take. Only a few. If you have a few of your men meet me at St Michael's Number Eleven..if they can meet me this afternoon, I can be ready to leave at dawn. Take me to Port Royal and I'll book passage out of there to somewhere else."
"Honour, I need to know what has happened."
"James, I can't tell you. I can't!  The less people know the better. Trust me on this."
Her voice took an almost hysterical edge to it.
"Alright. On two conditions."
She nodded.
"First, Jack Wolfe must never--NEVER!--know I was the one who spirited you out of here. Second---that you tell me the real reason you are leaving. And I want the truth."
"I swear Jack won't know. And I'll tell you the reason as soon as we clear the harbour. I promise."
James nodded solemnly. "I know I have your word. I'll send two men to meet you at that warehouse at four bells."
She couldn't stop the tears from falling as she took his hand. "Thank you, James. Thank you with all my heart."
He sighed."It had better be a good reason, Honour. A damn good reason."
She whispered, "It is. It really is."
She packed her things quickly and quietly. There was a knock on her door. She heard a voice say, "Honour? It's me...Cade. Honour? Are you in there?"
She held her breath and didn't answer. After a few minutes she heard his footsteps down the hall.
'It's for your own good, Cade. Godspeed.'
Muir sat there watching his mistress empty drawers into a few duffel bags. The necklace Jack bought her was still in the pouch. She held it up to the window and watched the light refract through the diamonds. It was valuable to be sure. She touched it gently and slipped it into her pocket. The last of the drawers was empty. Honour stood up and arched her back. "Packing is hard, Muir."
He ran under the bed and came back out with a shirt of Jack's, laying it at her feet and looking expectantly up at her, his tail wagging. This brought a fresh round of tears.
She hugged Muir and cried. "Oh, Muir! I wish it didn't end this way. But it has to. I can't think of just myself any longer. And we aren't running away...we are running TO something."
She closed the drawer but it caught on something. Something shiny. Reaching in, she pulled out the obstruction. It was the hideous piece of gold that Jack had given her instead of a wedding ring that night they
married. She held it up to the candle and said, 'It really was ugly. I should just pitch it....'
She threw it into her duffel bag and tied the drawstring.
She looked down at her hand and sadly transferred her gold wedding ring with the emeralds from her left hand to her right.
To Muir she said, "I'm doing the right thing, Muir. For all of us. But especially for...."
She didn't finish her thought. It was too new a notion yet.
Dawn saw Honour down at the dock. Captain James Blake was directing his crew when he caught sight of her. He took her hands and said, "Walk with me for a minute."
When they were out of earshot of everyone, he said, "I booked your passage under the name of Mary Carter. You can sleep in my cabin. There is room and you will be in comfort there. The crew will think you are my woman and you will be untouchable."
She drew her hood closer to her face. "James, I can't thank you enough."
"Remember our bargain."
"As soon as we clear the harbour."
Within the hour, the wind filled the sails of the Dark Vexation. The sun was beginning to rise as Bridgetown was to their rudder. Blake took her by the hand and said, "Time for our little parlay, Mrs. Wolfe. Follow me to the quarterdeck. We shall have privacy there."
The two of them stood side by side at the gunwale.  The silence was palpable. Finally Blake said, "Alright, Honour. Time to fulfill your promise."
She looked over the horizon and began to relate the story she had for James. It was an edited version of what really happened.
"James, it has been a very confusing month for me."
He smiled slightly and said, "Running into you in Castara was startling enough. But to have you presented as Mrs. Jack Wolfe..well, I couldn't quite believe it. Does Jack know"
She shook her head. "There was no need to tell him. It was before I even met Jack. We were but a moment."
James Blake smiled wistfully. "Two weeks, Honour. A very wonderful two weeks. And a memory I shall always treasure."
"I told you if you are ever in port again..."
"Yes, but I never counted on the infamous Mad Jack Wolfe as being in the picture. Startled the hell out of me."
She nodded. "It startled me, too. There I was laying whiskey down at the Varlet and Vixen and in a few hours I was standing before the magistrate exchanging vows. With practically a total stranger."
"Were you happy, Honour?"
She looked over the horizon and said softly. "For a while, I was happy. Blissfully so. It all started to unravel when we encountered the Mercedes."
James nodded. "I heard all the tavern talk. And then some."
"What did you hear?"
"The usual talk when a ship takes a hit. Who did what and where they went wrong."
James didn't have the heart to tell Honour of the malicious talk about Jack and the unsavory speculation about her and Cade.
James turned to her and turned his face to his.
"Honour, you're peaked and tired. You aren't sick, are you?
She shook her head no. "James? You asked me for the truth on why I am leaving. So I am keeping my end of the bargain. But you can never breathe a word of it to anyone. ANYONE! Promise me first."
James nodded solemnly. "Honour, you can always trust me. I hope you know that."

"I do. James, I am leaving because... because I need to protect myself.  And someone else. Jack has such a temper and I don't know if he could ever accept what I am about to tell you."
"You are leaving Jack for Cade?"
Honour looked shocked. James shrugged and said, "Idle tavern talk."
Honour felt sick. She should have known that the loose tongues of the pirates in port would wag.
She continued, "At first I didn't think it to be true. But the signs are all there, James. I'm having a hard time grasping it myself."
"Jack has another woman?"
She shook her head. "No. James, I can scarcely believe this myself. Something wonderful came out of all this chaos. Something very unexpected."
"And that is...?"

She looked up at James Blake, tears in her eyes but they weren't tears of sadness.
A smile trembled on her lips as she said quietly, "I'm going to have a baby."
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on July 12, 2008, 07:53:08 PM
From the deck of the aptly named sloop Homecoming, Jack watched the twinkling lights of Bridgetown.  They had arrived too late for the pilot to bring them into port, so the vessel rode quietly at anchor near the harbour's mouth.  To be so tantalizingly close to hearth and home was maddening for him.  Four days had turned to nearly ten, and the only thought on his mind was how sweet it would be to hold Honour in his arms once again.  With the plantation in their name and the Lobo to be auctioned in four days time, Jack Wolfe was finally ready to settle down and make a real home with his wife, and one day soon, their children.  He swore to himself that he would never be away from Honour's side ever again.

The trip to Martinique had gone far better than he'd hoped.  Armand LaFourche's daughter Ceily had practically thrown her insane father's journal at Jack, believing it was the cause of poor Armand's madness.  Now it was his turn to try his hand at decode the mystery of the long dead Ancients and, more importantly, their fabled treasures.  If there was even a shred of truth to the stories, it could mean a delightful little adventure he and Honour could share together.  At the very worst, it would be an interesting intellectual diversion.

Jack had sent two brief letters ashore with the ship's jollyboat, one to Briggs and another to Honour, informing them he would be ashore not long after first light.  Though he was restless with anticipation, he managed to quiet his mind enough to try and sleep.  He had no intention of being exhausted and bedraggled when he was reunited with his bride.  He had come to miss Honour terribly, even more so when he was forced to stay in Martinique a few extra days waiting for passage home.  That was all behind him now.  He drifted off to sleep, content in the knowledge that in a few hours he would be with his beloved Honour, and home.

The harbour pilot came aboard as the sun rose like the Phoenix over the island, and within the hour the
Homecoming was nearly into her slip.  Lines were thrown, hauled, and tied off with practised efficiency.  Jack stood at the gunwale, searching the faces gathering there at the dock.  He spied Briggs and waved to his friend.  The quartermaster waved back, but his expression was anything but cheery.  Honour was nowhere to be seen.

Jack was the first one down the gangplank, and he immediately searched out his friend.  “Josiah!  It's good to see you!  Where the devil is Honour?  Is she ill?”

Briggs set his jaw and sighed.  “I figured from your happy mood ye didn't get the letter I sent.  Damn.  I didn't want ye to find out this way.  Let's walk a bit.”

The two men walked along the dock toward the carriage Briggs had hired.  “What the hell is going on?!  Where is my wife?”  Jack demanded.

Briggs stopped and face him.  “Honour's gone, Jack.  She packed up and cleared out a couple days after you left for Martinique.  I'm so sorry.”

Jack felt suddenly sick.  An awful light-headedness swept over him, making his legs feel like rubber.  Briggs reached out and steadied his stricken comrade.  After a minute or so, Jack found his voice again.  His words came slowly and deliberately, as if it took all his strength to form them.  “Did she... did she leave with Cade?” he asked through clenched teeth.  A terrible dread gripped his soul.  The answer he feared would destroy him.

“Cade?  No, not with him.  Nobody's quite sure who gave her passage, but it weren't Cade Jennings.”  Briggs paused for a moment.  “But ye ain't goin' to like the news about him, neither.”

Jack looked around and found a short barrel to lean against.  He crossed his arms and looked at the planks of the dock, totally unsure what to think or feel.  She hadn't left with Cade.  That meant the rumours were untrue.  But why did she leave at all?  “Josiah, you've just told me my wife has left me, God only knows why.  And you tell me there's even more bad news?”

“I'm sorry, Jack, I really am,” Briggs said softly.  “Ye know you're the last man I'd ever kick when he's down.  Things went to hell in a right hurry after ye left.  The very next day, Cade bought himself a ship, the
Gryphon I think she's called.  He's broke company with ye, Jack.  Left port that day to go rovin' on his own account.  Seems he'd been plannin' it for a while now.”

It felt to Jack like he was being hollowed out, one devastating stroke at a time.  “I knew it would happen one day,” he said, his voice barely audible.  “Why didn't he tell me, instead of accepting the run of the Castara operation?  I would have understood!”  The chill of suspicion crept back in to his heart.  First Cade leaves, then Honour.  Did they plan it that way, to throw Jack off the scent?  Did they think he wouldn't suspect they might be meeting up elsewhere?

“I ain't goin' to pretend I know what goes on in the head of a boy like Cade.  Impulsive to a fault, that one.  Probably why ye took a shine to him.  But I'll wager anything that pup will bite off more than he can chew sooner than not!”

“I want him watched.”


“I want Cade Jennings watched,”  Jack repeated, punctuating each syllable.  His voice was like ice.  “I want to know where he goes, what he does, what his plans are, and especially who he's with at all times.  The same applies to Honour.  If she's in the Caribbean, I want her found.  See that the word gets out.”

The single most effective weapon in his arsenal was an extensive information gathering network that stretched to every nook and cranny of the Caribbean.  Everyone knew that Jack Wolfe had eyes and ears everywhere, and they never rested.  Those who betrayed him found out very quickly that there was no place to hide.  He would find them.  And they would pay dearly for their treachery.

“Aye, I'll see to it,” said Briggs.  He knew better than to ask questions when his captain's voice went cold.

Jack looked up at him, looking for all the world a beaten man.  “Please tell me that's all the news you have, Josiah.”

Briggs shrugged sheepishly.  “Sorry, Jack.  There is one more bit of insult to injury, and it ties right back to that wife of your'n.”

“Don't tell me.  She took the cat?”

“I wish to hell she had.  No, a carriage she hired was at one of the storehouses on St. Michael street early the day she went missing.”

“Number Eleven.”

“Aye,” said Briggs.  “All told, between the money for the plantation and the withdrawal she made from the First Bank of Jack Wolfe, ten full chests are missing.”

Jack stared blankly out across the waves, as if by some miracle he would catch a final glimpse of Honour.  “Ten chests...”  he echoed.  Why didn't she take all of them?  One more indecipherable riddle added to the mix.  But the driving force was all too clear to him.  “She used me, Josiah.  This entire time, all she wanted was the money.  How could I have been so blind?”

“She had us all fooled, Jack.  Every last one of us.”

“Not everyone,” Jack shot back.  “Bonita tried to warn me, but I was too lovestruck to listen.”

“With that witch's riddles, how can ye be certain?  No, that Honour is a cagey one.  If that's even her real name.  I guess we'll never know now.”

“I don't even know what's real any more, Josiah.  Do you know if she actually bought the plantation, or was that just another of her charades?” asked Jack.

“Beats me.  I trusted her, too, remember.”

Jack stood up and straightened his waistcoat.  “We're going to the magistrate's,” he said, walking full speed for the carriage.  “I want to know just how much that woman swindled me for.”

The carriage splashed through mud left by a passing morning shower and came to a stop outside the offices of the magistrate.  Jack exited quickly, leaving Briggs to deal with the coachman.  He opened the office door with enough force for it to band sharply against the wall, startling the magistrate's clerk and causing him to drop a stack of papers to the floor.

“Hello there!” the clerk said with annoyance, “You can't come barging in here like that!  Have a bit of civility about you!”

Jack gave a mocking half bow.  “I beg your pardon, but I'm on a matter of some urgency.”

“It will wait whilst I collect these papers, if you don't mind,” replied the clerk.

Unable to contain his temper any longer, Jack reached for his pistol.   It wasn't there.  He'd left it at the White Hart because he was travelling as a common gentleman.  One more blow to his ego for the day.  He was helpless to intimidate a snotty office clerk.  Finally the man moved the stack of documents to it's new resting place and returned to the counter.  May I help you, sir?”

“I need to see all the records of land transactions for the past fortnight,” said Jack.

“I'm sorry,” the clerk said smugly.  “You'll need a letter of- WAIT!”  Jack grabbed two fistfuls of the man's waistcoat and dragged him halfway over the counter.

“The records.  Now,” he growled, and released the clerk, who was suddenly all to happy to comply.  Within moments, Jack was thumbing through the pages of a large ledger.

“What did she say his name was?  Picard, Picou... That's it!  Picou!”  He checked every entry to be certain not to overlook the name if it were there.  Finally, he found it.  The record of sale for a plantation.  The seller, Monsieur Henri Picou.  The buyer...

R. C. Castlemaine.

He stared in disbelief at the page.  She'd lied about the plantation.  She'd lied about everything.  Everything...

He angrily shoved the massive book off the counter and stormed from the office, his face burning with humiliation. Briggs had stayed behind, waiting at the carriage so Jack could conduct his search of the records in private. The look on his friend's face told the quartermaster everything he needed to know. “The White Hart,” he told the driver. “Take your time.”

Briggs climbed into the carriage across from his captain. In all the years he'd known Jack, he'd never seen him like this. Lost. Crushed. The wild fire in his eyes all but extinguished. There were no words to cajole or comfort this time. The two men sat in silence as the carriage rolled on.

Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on July 13, 2008, 03:47:41 PM
Jack paused at the door to their... to his room.  The terrible emptiness he felt seemed to grow a thousandfold as his hand touched the door handle.  He knew what he would find, but what the mind understands and the heart feels seldom ever reconcile.  He took a deep breath and turned the handle.

What was once the temporary home of Jack and Honour Wolfe was now a room at an inn, like any other.  Nondescript, void of the feminine presence that had given it warmth.  Empty, save for a single shirt left upon the bed.  He picked it up and held it to his face, thinking back to the many times Honour had worn his shirts instead of her dressing or night gowns so he could catch her subtle scent of jasmine when he wore them next.  All that was gone now.  He  dropped the shirt on the bed and turned to the dresser, expecting to find there a letter explaining why she'd left with no word or warning to anyone.  But there was no letter.  He searched the dresser drawers and the writing desk.  Everything that belonged to her had been removed, even the ugly golden piece he'd given her for their wedding.  No explanation, no clues.  Honour Bright, his wife of nearly one month, the woman he was only now realizing how much he loved, was gone from his life.

Sadly and silently, Jack Wolfe unpacked his sea bag, and began to restore some small semblance of order to his world.

That night, Jack sat alone in his room.  The plate of food and bottle of brandy he'd sent for were still on the dresser, barely touched.  He poured over the journal of Armand LaFourche once again, this time for the distraction its riddles and strange pagan imagery offered more than anything else.  It would take months if not longer to gain a basic grasp of the concepts the madman had tried to communicate in his writings.

Candlelight played over the stained and yellowed pages, lending an almost otherworldly quality to the meticulous renderings of bizarre creatures and nightmarish gods.  He took a sip of brandy as he studied a drawing of a chest labelled “The Keeper of Kings,” just like LaFourche had spoken of in one of his riddles.  There was no mention of what it might hold, only that it was roughly a yard in length and to unlock it required two keys.  Jack remembered a cryptic partial entry he'd read previously that seemed somehow connected.  He flipped back to near the front of the book.  As he located the passage, he noticed that one of the pages seemed thicker than the others.  Closer examination revealed  that two pages had indeed become stuck together over time.  He set his brandy aside and ever so gently pried the leafs of parchment from one another.  The drawings they had hidden from him left Jack staring in wide-eyed astonishment.

He knew them.

He owned them.

Or, he had until recently.

There before his eyes were exquisitely detailed images of the two keys that would open the Keeper of Kings.  The first was a silver disk, with some sort of grinning face engraved upon it.  Short blunt spikes of varying lengths protruded from the disk's outer edge in all directions.  The second was a disk of gold, with a hideous snarling face and long, slender arms reaching out from its perimeter.

Two critical pieces needed for solving the riddle of the Ancients, and he'd given one of them away to a woman who had vanished as if taken by the wind.

“The Moon and Sun in endless chase,” Jack quoted aloud, and sat back in his chair with a self deprecating laugh that soon took on a bitter edge.  “How fittingly ironic, my love.  I don't know where you've gone, Honour Bright, but I will find you, if it takes the rest of my life!”

Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Welsh Wench on July 15, 2008, 07:26:10 PM
"Honour? The longboat is ready."
Honour snapped out of her reverie. She hastily wiped the tears off her face and through the door, her muffled reply was heard.
"Give me ten minutes, Jack. I'll be out."
"Alright. We are loading the chest now."
She blew her nose and washed her face. Changing into a pair of breeches and tall boots, she slipped a light shirt over her and picked up her scabbard and attached it to her belt. She ran her finger lightly over her rapier, making sure it was sharp.
As she put her cavalier hat on her head, she thought back to the trip that led her to Glenlivet. And Mad Jack Wolfe back into her life.
The plantation was hers and hers alone under the name of R.C. Castlemaine. Through Monsieur Picou, she retained the overseer so the plantation was not abandoned. The main house was under the care of a housekeeper. Money had been left in escrow to pay expenses through the bank in Bridgetown.
The crossing from Bridgetown to Port Royal had been uneventful. Honour stayed in James Blake's cabin most of the time, only occasionally coming out for a breath of fresh air. She didn't want to talk to anyone of his crew lest they realize that the wife of Jack Wolfe was on board.
James had been most solicitous. He had her dinner brought to the cabin every evening and he had joined her. James knew the whole story and was the keeper of her secrets. From Port Royal, James secured passage for her from Port Royal to the Isle of Anglesey. His friend Captain Edmund Underhill was trustworthy and made sure Honour had quarters to herself.
And made sure that Honour was handed over to the one she was going home to.
Her sister Megan.
 Megan was delighted to have Honour back home. She was more than surprised to find that Honour was with child but relieved that she was married first. During a walk in the garden at Megan's estate, Honour bared her soul on everything that had happened.
"Really, Rhiannon!  For Father to marry you off to Lord Madoc Castlemaine, of all people!  Gwyneth was very upset and you know Dilys...she told Father what she thought of him. But of course we didn't know until it was all over."
"Megan, I'd like to stay here until the baby is born and then go back to Barbados. I've secured a future for the baby and me. But it won't be for a couple years. Will Dafydd mind?"
"Of course he won't!  And the children will be delighted with a little one here."
Honour hugged Megan and felt the tears of gratitude well up in her eyes.
"Megan, I'm so scared."
Megan held her sister close and said softly, "I know you are, sweetheart. But I'm here for you."
The sisters stood there with a bond known only to sisters.
"It's so good to have you home, Rhiannon."
She felt the tears slip down her face."It's so good to be home, Megan."

Honour was on her way home to Barbados by way of Glenlivet to arrange for her new life. But life--not to mention a certain captain who kidnapped her--had a way of interrupting her plans.
Back in Wales was someone waiting for her who meant more to her than anyone in the world ever could.
A baby with her mother's eyes.
And her father's chin and dark hair.
A little bundle named Zara Wolfe.
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on July 17, 2008, 08:14:45 PM
Puddin' rolled onto his side and playfully batted at Jack's hand, bringing his master out of his memories and back to the present.  Jack laughed and picked the grey cat up in the crook of his arm like an infant.  "She spoiled you into this, little beggar!  And we found her, didn’t we?  Maybe this time, I can do things right and we won't have to be without her.  Then she can carry you about like this all day, would you like that?  Who knows?  There may be competition for your favourite spot yet!"  He kissed the purring cat on top of the head and set him down on the table.  On that same table were some maps, the journal, a compass and sundial, and a leather pouch containing the Moon key.  He scratched Puddin' underneath the chin, then set about placing the items into a leather haversack.

Jack stopped at the door of the great cabin and looked back at the bed and thought about how good it would feel to wake up with Honour in his arms once again.  After they put down the mutiny together, it felt as if all the animosity between them had been washed away.  He hoped that what he had said was true; maybe this time he'd get it right, and he'd never have to be without her again.  As he left the cabin, his thoughts turned briefly to those dark days.

In the days after Honour disappeared, Jack pulled El Lobo from auction and had her fitted out for roving.  After six months of fruitless searching for his wife, he returned to Castara with the intent of salvaging the smuggling operation there.  It had never fully recovered from its abortive start.  Cade Jennings' unexpected departure had thrown everything into disarray, and with Jack's attentions elsewhere a power vacuum had developed.  Captains who had united under Jack's colours now squabbled over territory and prizes.  His return helped to lessen the infighting, but it became obvious after nearly four disheartening months that the operation was a hopeless failure.  The company was disbanded at the cost of a considerable amount of private funds, more than a few friendships, and what was left of Jack's credibility as a major player in Caribbean piracy.

Bonita had been exceptionally welcoming of his return, almost gleefully so.  She said and did everything she could possibly think of to convince Jack he was better off now that Honour was out of his life.  Her attempts even went as far as adding sacred herbal concoctions to everything he ate and drank in order to turn his heart to her.  Eventually, though, she had to concede defeat.  No amount of cajoling, manipulation, trickery, or seduction could change the fact that there would never be room in Jack  Wolfe's heart for any woman but Honour Bright.  This was temporary setback in Bonita's eyes.  If she couldn't control the man, she could always influence the circumstances of his life.

Jack had told her time and again over the years about his desire to obtain Armand LaFourche's journal and, ultimately, the treasures of the Ancients.  Bonita had more than a passing interest in these lost people, almost a familiarity with them.  She sensed something had changed when Jack returned to Castara, but the opportunity to find out more never presented itself.  One day, after the final remaining issues with the smuggling operation had been closed and El Lobo was being made ready to sail on another search for Honour, she found her chance.  The island was nearly deserted, and everyone was out of the tavern tending to the needs of the few remaining ships.  Bonita slipped upstairs and into Jack's room like a wraith.  None of his belongings had been transferred to the ship yet, just as she'd hoped.  She went work rummaging through the boxes and chests in hopes that Jack had indeed gotten his hands on the fabled journal.  “Dat man, him such a pig!” she groused as she went though the disorganized containers.  Finally, amidst a jumble of books in various languages about ancient civilizations, she found the the item she sought.

She held the book up before her and ran her fingers over its cover, tracing the words “Un Journal de Conclusions sur la Race perdu connu seulement comme Les Anciens...” with her fingertips.  Greedily, she undid the ties holding the book shut and went to the window for more light to read its contents.  Her eyes were wide with wonder as she drank in the images.  They were so familiar to her, though she was seeing them for the very first time.  The strange writings made sense, and the relationships of the objects to one another and their significance were all so crystal clear!

“Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Like a cat disturbed in the midst of a kill, Bonita’s head snapped around at the sound of the intrusive voice.  Jack stood in the doorway, displeasure clearly registered on his face.  She quickly recovered her composure, her bared teeth snarl melting into a disarming smile.

“Jack,” she purred, “Why you not tell Bonita you found Armand LaFourche and him book?”

“I didn’t think it was important.”

“Not important?” she asked with feigned surprise.  “Whatever is important to Jack Wolfe is important to Bonita.  We share so much, but dis him keep to himself?”

“The information in that book is worthless without the Sun key, and it vanished along with Honour,” he said testily.  “You’ll forgive me if I choose not to dwell on that small fact.  Hand it over.”

She casually fanned herself with the journal, her smile never wavering as she tried to charm him.  “What if Bonita tell you she knows t’ings.  T’ings dat can help you find de Ancients.  Bonita can help you find de missing key.  And you precious Honour.”

Jack stepped toward her and snatched the book from her hand, drawing an angry look from the dark woman.  “You steal into my room, dig through my things and catch a glimpse of some drawings, now you’re a bloody expert on the Ancients?  That’s slightly less preposterous than some insincere offer to help me find my wife, Bonita!  You hated her from the first.  Why should I think you would honestly do anything to change the situation?”

“Because dat golden haired child hold de t’ing you need!  Bonita knew she would break Jack Wolfe’s heart,” she hissed.  “Did him listen to reason?  No!  Him were too much in love.”

Jack resisted the urge to lash out at her mockery.  “As I recall, you claimed she was a witch, not a swindler.  A wee bit off the mark, love.”

“Dere is somet’ing not of dis world about her, or wit’ her!  Believe it!”


“Believe it!!”  A wild look, almost frightened, took over Bonita’s eyes.  “Dere are forces around dat girl even she do not understand!“

“I’ve had enough of your lies, Bonita!  As if what happened isn’t bad enough, you have to concoct these ridiculous stories to keep the wound fresh?  Look around you, woman!  She’s not here!  She’s gone!  Gone with the key, gone from my life!”

“Not as far away as you t’ink—“

Jack angrily stabbed a finger at the open door.  “Get out of my sight!  Now, Bonita!  Before I do something you regret!”

Bonita glared angrily at him for a moment, then took heed of his warning and left the room quickly.  Upon reaching her quarters, she flung the door open and stormed inside.  "Damn you, Jack Wolfe!" she swore, and kicked a wooden stool in her rage.  The stool hit the wall hard just beneath a set of shelves, knocking some boxes to the floor.  Inside the largest of the boxes, amid various trinkets and charms, were two poppets bound back to back with twine.  The shock of the box hitting the floor was enough to loosen the twine around them.

When the container stopped its tumbling, the dolls were almost face to face.
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on July 23, 2008, 09:27:04 PM
The weather deck was abuzz with activity as final preparations of the longboat were being made.  The chest, wrapped in a tarpaulin to disguise its true nature, was already secured for the secretive expedition, along with provisions and shelter for two in a large pack.  Men traded speculation as to what might be afoot with the captain and his bride.  All agreed upon one thing; no one could be certain when Jack Wolfe played his cards this close to the vest.

He took the deck, almost immediately catching  the eye of Josiah Briggs.  "Cut him down before Honour arrives," he ordered, gesturing to the still swinging body of Samuel Burgess.  Two men snapped into action to remove the grisly sight as quickly as possible.

“We're almost done fittin' her out, Jack,” announced Briggs.  “Can I be havin' a word with ye, private like?”

The two men stepped away for the core of activity.  “What's on your mind, Josiah?”

“I know what ye said, but it don't sit right with me, not one bit,” said the quartermaster grimly.  “You and the lady, traipsin' through the jungle, just yerselves, and no hands to help stand watch?  It's a hell of a risk.”

Jack gave his best reassuring smile.  “She's better with a blade than most of the men, and level headed in a fight.  Last night proved such out.  You and she are the only other souls that know about the chest, but she holds one of the keys and I need you here to keep order.  One mutiny is quite enough.  Besides, there's nothing but jungle out there.  What could possibly happen?”

“A chest what belongs to a lost race, the knowledge of which already drove one man crazy and I'm none to sure about ye either, a map what tells ye where to look but naught as to what ye'll find, and there's ye two, mischief and devilment in the makin'.  I see yer point.  What's to worry?”

“We'll be fine,” laughed Jack.  “It's not like we'll be converting your quarters into a nursery on our return!”

“Like I said, mischief and devilment!” winked Briggs as he turned his attention to the boat crew.  “All right lads, ye've got her all fit and gussied, time to put her in!  Hands to the lines, and heave on three!”

Jack turned to find Honour standing by the doorway, keeping well out of the way of the crew as they went about their tasks.  Any commotion on deck made her uneasy, a lingering after effect of the ill fated encounter with Mendoza.  Though at times it felt like a lifetime ago, there were still nights she'd wake up in a full sweat with the din of ship's guns ringing in her ears and and the memory of her husband lying on the deck in his own blood...

She jumped, startled out of her thoughts by the touch of a gentle hand on her arm.  There before her was Jack, healthy and whole, his expression a mixture of happiness and concern.  “Easy there!  Are you all right, Honour?  You seemed a thousand miles away.”

She blinked to get her bearings again, and returned his smile.  “Yes, I'm fine.  Just lost in thought.”

“Well, aren't you a vision!  The hat's a nice touch.  You always did look good in feathers.  And what's this?”  He pulled her rapier a few inches out of its scabbard, then let it drop back.  “For once it's an appropriate blade!  I pity those trees already,” he teased.

Honour cocked her head and smiled at Jack from under the brim of her hat.  “I have the Sun key with me as well.  I take it you remembered the Moon key for my chest?”

Your chest?” he laughed.  “When did this happen, I wonder?”

“Community property,” she replied, playfully brushing him aside.  “You do know the way to the beach, don't you?”

“Of course I do, my queen,” said Jack.  “Your royal barge awaits!”  He jogged ahead of her and tossed a rope ladder over the side.  “I trust you can manage, or would you rather I go first and help you?”

Honour threw a leg over the rail and took the ladder, stopping long enough to stick her tongue out before climbing down.  Jack looked back at Briggs, who simply shook his head and laughed.
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Welsh Wench on July 25, 2008, 10:09:37 PM
Honour sat in the longboat, the chest wrapped in a cloth and set between her and Jack. He picked up the oars.
She glanced up at the gunwale. Eli Meredith looked back at her, giving her a small smile. She smiled back and waved. Poor Eli! He was a victim in all the mutinous plans. And Honour was moved with pity for him.
She smiled to herself. She was able to get the great Mad Jack Wolfe to show compassion for Eli.
As Jack rowed quietly to the shore of Little Muelle Cay, her thoughts turned back to what had happened just a few days previous. And all because she decided to stop in that tavern--what was the name of it again?
Oh, yes...the Bilge Pump Pub.

If Captain Spleen had been where she was supposed to find him...if Captain Bonnie McFearsome had taken Jack up on his request for a letter of marque...if she had arrived at the pub at an earlier or later time...if Mad Jack hadn't heard her skirt dragging as she tried to crawl out on her hands and knees to avoid him...
She had to admit, her heart stopped for minute and then started beating wildly in her chest when she saw him silhouetted in the window. Was it fate? Or was it just coincidence?
There was no hearts-and-flowers reunion. No....just all the hurt over the last eighteen months had bubbled forth.
But the fire was still there.
So much had happened in the past year and a half. Honour had made her way to Wales. Megan was her rock, had seen her through her pregnancy and obtained the best midwife for her. And the shock of finding out she had a child of the feminine persuasion.
The great Jack Wolfe the father of a girl-child!
How would he react?
Hopefully better than finding out that the man she had left in her bed that morning was none other than Captain Cade Jennings!
Jack had coerced her into meeting him on the docks with the Sun Key. As she was about to hand it over, she saw that look on his face. It was the same look he had on his face when he realized Colonel Diego de Castille y Mendoza was on The Mercedes. Relentless.
And woe to any that got in his way.
Including his wife.
Her mind drifted back to Jack roughly grabbing her and hustling her up the gangplank, pushing her to the deck and giving the orders to sail off.
It was hard to believe it was only four days ago.
'All I wanted was to go to Barbados and set up the plantation for Zara and me, go back and pick her up and then sail back to make our home. I just wanted to raise my little girl there. If only I hadn't stopped in Glenlivet to exchange passage....'
She snapped out of her reverie.
Jack looked at her with a look of...tenderness?
"A shilling for your thoughts, love."
She looked off towards the shore of Little Muelle Cay and said softly, "Just...missing someone, that's all."
Jack didn't say anything. He wondered who he was.  He had an idea but he hoped beyond hope he was out of the picture.
And out of her heart.
Bonita's words came to him unbidden. And how true they were...
'I see darkness ahead for you, Jack. Two will betray you. Two, so dear to your dark heart. Dey will cut you to de quick, and cause you such joy and pain. Your heart will break three times. One, you will kill, but in de strangest of ways. De other will bring you joy and riches, but only after much strife. One will break my heart...'
He looked up to see Honour looking at him.
"Yes, Honour?"
"No-nothing. It's a nice day for a boatride."
He smiled back and said, "Yes, it is."
She bit her lip. Was she wrong to deny Jack the knowledge he had a child? She already knew the answer to that.
No, she wasn't wrong. She didn't want Jack Wolfe to take her back out of a sense of duty. She knew that the love of the sea came first with him.  It was what drove a wedge between them to begin with.
Among other things.
Zara was unmistakably his child. The tilt of her head. The way her hair curled. Even the way she threw her little temper tantrums when she fell short of getting her way.
Honour's face broke out in a wistful smile.
Jack looked away and continued to row.
Within fifteen minutes they landed on the shore of Little Muelle Cay. He pushed the longboat onto the shore and turned to her.
"We're here. Ready for an adventure?"
She gave him a warm smile and said, "As ready as I will ever be!"
"Then let's do it!"
"Let's get this loaded and our provisions together."
"Oh! That!" Her face blushed.
Jack turned his back to her and smiled broadly.
'Yes, this is certainly going to be interesting.....' he thought. 'Interesting indeed!'
Title: Re: EL LOBO DEL MAR (formerly Bilge Pump Pub)
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on July 28, 2008, 10:14:18 PM
The pair left their boat tied to a tree by a length of heavy rope and carried their provisions and precious cargo up near the tree line.  Honour was surprised to find the chest remarkably light for its size and apparent construction.  What surprised her even more was that instead of thinking she might have been dragged off on a wild goose chase, she was worried that Jack might have been duped.

“Jack, I thought you said this chest was made of solid gold,” she said tentatively.  “It seems rather... light.”

“I had the same reaction, love,” he chuckled.  “But then I realised there was little reason for anyone to build a fake of such an obscure relic.  LaFourche never published his research on it, so few know what it's supposed to look like in the first place.”  He tipped the chest up to show her the underside.  A small portion of the gold had been chipped away to reveal what appeared to be dark wood.  “It's made of a dense wood, acacia or something like it.  Then they heavily gilt the whole thing, thick enough for them to make all these intricate engravings.”

“Like the Ark of the Covenant in the Bible!  If it's made of wood, why didn't you simply cut it open instead of going to all this bother?  Don't tell me it didn't cross your mind.”

“I gave it serious thought, believe me.  The last thing I want to be doing is stomping through the jungle, even with you as my company,” he said with a wink.  Honour smiled, finding herself once again drawn in by his flirtatious charm.  “But LaFourche was very emphatic in his notes that the Ancients were mechanical geniuses.  The same mechanism that locks the chest also serves as a booby trap to destroy the contents unless it is unlocked in the prescribed manner.  Fortunately no one made the attempt before I acquired it.  What's more, the keys can't be put into the lock unless it's on the correct altar.”

“So we really do have to carry it to a specific location to unlock it, then?  I thought this was some elaborate ruse to keep the treasure hidden from the crew,” Honour said with a note of worry in her voice.

“No such luck, darling.  But cheer up!  It's not a very big island, and I have the only map.  All we have to do is find a clearing to get our bearings, and we can start on our way.”

“Let me see the map.”

“What for?  Don't you trust me?”

She cocked her hip and held out her hand.  An arched eyebrow gave him his answer.

Jack smiled uneasily as he pulled the map from his haversack and handed it to Honour.  She carefully unfolded it and began to read.  It described a circuitous route through the jungle that terminated at an irregular square marking.  “I was expecting an X to mark the spot.  Isn't that the accepted way of marking treasure on maps?” she smirked.

“Nah, those maps are for the tourists,” he said, returning her smirk.  Fortunately she had failed to notice the lack of detail one would expect from a land map.  “Besides, we've already got the treasure in hand.  We're looking for the place to open it.  No sense marking the place with an X unless they left more treasure there.  Ooh, there's a thought!”

“Jack Wolfe, stop that!  You're making fun of me!” she pouted.

“Only a little,” he smiled gently.  “Come on, let's get our things organised.”

In spite of the chest's relatively small size, it had a set of four rings affixed to it, two on either of the long sides, no doubt so it could be carried in a ceremonial procession.  Jack slid two long wooden poles through the rings, to which he tied on a set of leather straps to fit around the chest and keep the poles from slipping free.  He then added a plank of wood, longer and wider than the chest itself with ropes attached to one end to the configuration, and slid the plank underneath the chest.  A wide belt with leather straps would serve as a harness for the improvised sledge.

“No sense for the two of us trying to carry this thing through the brush like a couple of Ancient priests,” he said.  “This will allow me to pull it along and leave me free to clear a path.  You've said yourself I'm strong as a mule.”

“No, I said you were mule-headed,” teased Honour.  “Where on earth did you find the chest?  Did LaFourche have it?”

“If it had only been that simple.  He'd found it himself once, but a rival stole it and left him for dead.  Lucky for me, he had enough time to make detailed drawings which made my search considerably easier.  So while I was on one of my many jaunts to try and find you...” Jack paused and gave her a sidelong glance, and she felt her face redden.  “... I learned of its location.  Rio de la Hacha.”

“Rio de la Hacha?!” Honour gasped.  “But, but that part of the Spanish Main is--”

“Ruled with an iron fist by one Don Diego de Castille y Mendoza,” Jack finished.

“He lived?” she whispered.

“Yeah, he lived all right, though he's none to happy about it.  Seems a run in with a pirate left him a legless cripple.  He's vowed revenge, of course.  So predictable.”

“How did you manage to get it away from him?  Did you have your smugglers steal it for you?”

He gave a wry laugh.  “The smuggling operation died on the vine, Honour.  Between my... distractions and that spineless son of a belch Jennings running off, I was barely able to buy my way out of that little disaster.  So no, I had to risk my own neck to snatch it before the treasure fleet arrived, thank you very much.”

She bit back on the urge to defend Cade to Jack, but she could see Jack's side of it, too.  Cade had betrayed his mentor again and again.  And so had she.  Despite her deepening inner conflict surrounding these two men, Honour knew she had done the right thing in removing herself and Zara from the situation.  Just then, something about the way Jack tossed his head during one of his rants reminded her of their daughter when she became frustrated, and Honour found herself stifling a giggle.

“What's so damned funny?” he huffed.  “I thought you'd be a bit more concerned, what with me having gone into the lion's den once more and faced certain dead if I'd been caught.”

“Because you're Jack Wolfe,” she said with a smile.  “I'm not surprised in the least that you took what you wanted from your mortal enemy and lived to tell about it.  Just like in all the tales I'd heard about you before we met.”

His face clouded with confusion, but changed in moments to a bemused smile.  “Now that you mention it, I suppose I did!”  He approached Honour with his best come hither look.  “Maybe I've still got the old magic after all.  Care to test it?” he asked as he stroked her cheek.  She gave him her best smouldering look, and shoved the haversack into his chest.

“Put your wand away, Merlin.  You've got bearings to find!”

Post by: Welsh Wench on August 03, 2008, 09:42:16 PM
Jack unfurled the map and looked up at the sun, taking his compass out.
"Are you looking to follow north?"
"No, I'm looking to see what the best direction to get a suntan would be."
She made a face at him. "I have NO idea why I let you talk me into this."
He rolled the map back up and said, "Because you find me charming?"
"If you consider a knife held to your throat as foreplay."
He sighed. "I'm sorry I did that."
"What? The great Captain Mad Jack Wolfe offering me an apology?"
He gave her a smile. "I guess I am. When this is all over, Honour, we need to have a long talk. About us. You and me. And where we go from here. We either stay together or we end it. I can't go on like this anymore."
She stood there silently, a million thoughts and a thousand regrets going through her mind.
Hesitantly, she started, "Jack, there's something..."
She stopped.
"Yes, Honour?"
"There's--there's no snakes here, are there?"
"Honour, this is the jungle. What do YOU think?"
"I think you'd better keep that cutlass handy. If you get bit, there is no way I am going to suck the poison out of you."
Jack slipped the harness around his arms and said, "I'd keep that rapier at the ready, love."
"Why? Are there natives around here?"
He laughed. "No, this island is deserted. The Carib residents deem this island as dedicated to the Ancients. Too much mystical voodoo and all that."
She hesitated and then plunged in. She and Jack had been estranged for over eighteen months. They were almost at the 'getting to know you' stage again.
"Have you seen Bonita?"
"I surely did."
"And how is the voodoo queen of Castara Bay? Still tossing bones around and chanting fire and damnation at the mention of my name?"
Jack's thoughts turned to Bonita's words.
“Because dat golden haired child hold de t’ing you need!  Bonita knew she would break Jack Wolfe’s heart. Did him listen to reason?  No!  Him were too much in love....Dere is somet’ing not of dis world about her, or wit’ her!  Believe it!”
He looked over at Honour. She did hold the very thing he needed but it wasn't the key. It was her love. He realized in the last few days how much he missed her. How he had built a shell around himself and it cracked when he saw her crawling on her hands and knees out the tavern door to avoid him. How typically....Honour.
He shrugged. "Aside from the 'I tole you so' she didn't mention you. No, not at all."
Honour laughed at his imitation of Bonita's accent. "She hated me from the start. She was in love with you, you know."
He said, "I guess she was."
"You guess? Why do you think she hated me and called me a witch?"
“Dere are forces around dat girl even she do not understand!“
Jack looked into Honour's blue eyes, looking for anything that showed anything extraordinary. No, nothing there but the merriment that danced in her eyes that he fell in love with that night they stood before the magistrate and exchanged their vows. Both scarcely believing what they both had done in the morning's light and still they could not keep themselves apart.
"Jack? Jack?"
He drew himself back to the present and gave her his charming smile. "I always said you bewitched me, darling. Let's let it go at that."
After an hour of following Jack with her rapier held at the ready, she looked over and saw the largest thickest snake she ever saw. She jumped straight on Jack's shoulders, her knees wrapped around his ears. She grabbed his hat to hold on, smashing it down over his eyes as she was screaming and blindly hacking away.
Jack finally flipped her over his head and she landed on her back.
"Are you out of your mind?"
She stood up, catching her breath. "I have no intention of becoming an anaconda's lunch!"
He pushed his hat back from his face and pointed to a large root wrapped around a trunk. It had slash marks all over it.
"For the love of God, woman! It's my palmetto tree all over again!"
Her rapier was stuck in the tree. She felt her face flaming in embarrassment.
"Well, it could have been a snake! He slithered off. That was it! He slithered off!"
Jack rolled his eyes and yanked her rapier out of the tree.
"Here. Sheath this before you lop my head off."
"Jack? Do you really know where you are going?"
"What, you think I can't find my way around land?"
She held out her hand. "Give me the map."
"Yes. We have passed that same 'snake' three times now."
"Oh, alright. I'll show you the map but let's eat first. And keep your hands off it till after lunch. I don't want you dropping mustard on X marks the spot."
He handed her some cheese and bread and a few pieces of fruit.
"You do think of everything, Jack Wolfe."
As they sat there eating their lunch, he spread the map out over a large flat rock.
"See is nothing but jungle."
She looked at it. "I wonder....."
"You wonder...what?"
"It looks a little squiggly there."
"Of course it is squiggly. It's a bunch of leaves. What else did you expect to find in a jungle? An oasis with sand all around it?"
"Here, have some more wine. You are getting cranky, Jack. You always hated to stop and ask for directions."
"That was only a rumour. And how did you hear about that?"
"Tavern talk in Glen Livet."
She reached for it and Jack grabbed it back. "Ah-ah-ah!  It's mine!"
"Community property until we get that annulment. Hand it over. Oh, I'm not going to hurt your precious parchment!"
He sighed and handed it over. "Be careful of the creases."
" 'Be careful of the creases', he says. Of course I'll be careful of the creases!"
She held it sideways and then gave it back to him.
"Jack, I think you were looking at it sideways."
"Was not!"
"Was too!"
He stood there looking at it and Honour then gasped.
"Don't tell me you see hairy tarantulas now!"
"NO! I just saw something...wait a minute!"
She climbed up a tree.
"Honour, are you out of your mind? Get down right now!"
She shook her head. "Jack, I know what is wrong! Hold the map up in front of you!"
He held it up and she shouted excitedly. "It is just as I thought!"
"Jack, it isn't a jungle....IT'S A MAZE!"
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on August 08, 2008, 08:41:33 PM
“Honour, think about what you're saying! This is a bloody island in the middle of the bloody Caribbean sea. Now there has to be some explanation for the roundabout path on the map. Can you see anything that would stop us from trying to go straight across instead of the scenic route? A lake or volcanic crater, anything like that?”

“No, there's nothing!” she answered. “It's all jungle as far as I can see. Jack, you have to believe me! You can see a pattern to it! Like the hedge maze at Hampton Court, only grander!” She clambered down the tree and took the map from him. “You need to see it for yourself! It's remarkable! What, do you need a leg up?”

Jack her a suspicious look. “When were you at Hampton Court Palace? I thought that was only for the poshest of the posh.”

“It was a year or so before I came to the Caribbean. My father sent me to London to look after my maiden aunt who'd fallen ill,” she lied with remarkable ease. Honour had no intention of letting him find out about her previous marriage to the vile Madoc Castlemaine and face the inevitable revelations that would surely follow. The truth was they were in London for Madoc to discharge his duties as a member of the House of Lords, and she had been welcomed at the palace for tea as an honoured guest. The poshest of the posh. “It was near Christmas, and they opened the palace grounds to everyone for a day. You know, a treat for the rabble. I'll never forget how beautiful it was. But enough about me, go have a look yourself. Unless you're afraid of heights.”

It was Jack's turn to make a face, followed on by a wink that made her smile like a schoolgirl. He climbed the tree to the point she had reached and took in the landscape laid out before him. He was immediately struck by the utter lack of geographic landmarks. No hills, no valleys, no ridges, nothing. The jungle canopy was almost completely uniform in height and coverage. And just as Honour had said, his eye began to pick up regular patterns in the trees and brush that couldn't possibly be the construct of Nature. “It's impossible!” he thought aloud. “They built a jungle!”

“What? Do you see it? The patterns?”

It took him a few seconds to snap out his awe and amazement. “Yes... Yes! I see it! It's incredible!” He reached into his satchel and retrieved a small spyglass, extended it to full length and began to survey the farther reaches of the jungle.

“Funny, I remember it being bigger!” she called up to him.
“Excuse me?!”
“Your spyglass, I remembered it being bigger than that, is all.”
“My spyglass,” he answered, clearly annoyed by her tangent, “is the same size it's always been! This is a spare. Easier to carry around.”
“Oh, thank heaven! I thought it had shrunk.”
“Honour, may I please have a moment to concentrate?”
“Sor-ry! Honestly, you show a little concern about his spyglass, and he gets all touchy!” she huffed.

Jack resumed his survey of the island, working to re-establish their position relative to the beach where they had landed.  “Honour, would you hold the map up again, the way I held it?”, he called down.
“You mean sideways?”
His mouth worked to form then stifle the beginnings of several choice retorts.  “Fine!  Yes, sideways please!”  Honour held the map up at arm's length in front of her face to hide her satisfied grin.  After checking the map against his instruments and the terrain, he climbed down to rejoin his wife.  Ignoring her expectant smirk, he took the map from her and turned it the way she'd insisted was correct all along.
“I was right, wasn't I?” she asked.
He gave a resigned sigh.  “Yes, mi querida muñequita, you were right.  Whoever made the map took some artistic license, probably to make it useless to anyone but himself.  Those squiggles you noticed match up with something I saw over that direction.  It's no small wonder we went round in circles.”
“Oh, it wasn't just the squiggles.  Look here,” Honour said, pointing to a small mark in one of the margins.  It was roughly drawn, resembling a backward 'Z' turned on its side and stretched vertically.  “I assumed it was there to mark north and whoever wrote it had atrocious penmanship.”
Her elegant reasoning brought a smile to Jack's face, and he surprised her with a quickly stolen kiss.  “See?  One more reason I knew you had to come along.  Questioning my reasoning was the right thing to do.  I can't rely on my crew to do that.  Not even Briggs.”  He walked over to the large flat rock and sat upon it, leaving her standing there with a look of shock on her face from his compliment.  And his kiss.

The reality was, she had noticed the mark from the beginning and immediately recognized it.  The mark was a rune.  When Honour was an acolyte in the Order of St. Brigid, she had been taught to read the runic alphabet of the Angles and Saxons.  In their Latin based alphabet, that particular rune corresponds to the letter 'S'.  During their honeymoon voyage to Castara Bay, Jack helped pass the time by teaching her how to read the various sea maps and charts he used to navigate.  She was struck that many of the maps used Latin for much of the nomenclature, including the compass rose.  From that knowledge, she reasoned that an 'S' on a map this old likely stood not for 'south', but 'septentrio'.  Latin for north.  She knew the worst that could happen was Jack's compass would prove her wrong.  Otherwise, she could play it off as she had; a lucky guess.

He stared at the map, slowly shaking his head as the significance of what he saw from the treetop sank in.  “It's incredible, Honour.  The Ancients completely transformed this island into a gigantic maze!  Imagine the effort it must have taken to do all this!”  An unsettling gleam came into his eyes that Honour didn't care for.  “If they went to all this trouble, the wealth this chest contains must be enormous!”
“It was terribly important to them, whatever it is,” she said as she looked over her shoulder at the gleaming gilt chest.  'All this, to protect whatever is in there?' she pondered.  No, the maze had to be protecting much more, some larger secret.  But what?  “I'm starting to understand why LaFork...”
“Whatever-- was going on about what mechanical geniuses they were.”  She hesitated a moment and hugged herself as if taken by a sudden chill.  “Jack, should we be doing this?  It feels like... grave robbing.”
He left his seat on the rock and gently took her by the shoulders.  “No, Honour, it's nothing like that at all,” he said reassuringly.  “If we were truly grave robbing, we'd be here to pull the rings off dead Ancients' fingers.  We are solving a riddle no one else has managed to crack.  Nothing sinister, I promise.”
“But we are here to take their treasure.”
“Tut, tut!  We're here to open a chest that I own, by the most prudent means possible.  I'm merely protecting my investment.”
“I knew you'd find a way to rationalize this,” she chuckled.  “And don't you mean our investment?”
He couldn't help but smile at the the impish look she gave him.  “There's my girl!  Now, according to the map, there's fresh water less than two hour's walk from here.  That's where we'll stop and make camp.  Ready?”
“Lead the way, captain!” she said cheerily.  “But you get to take care of any more snakes!”

Honour emerged from the treeline carrying another armload of firewood.  Just as the map had promised, they found a clearing with a stream of fresh water on one side and a small lagoon on the other.  The lagoon was a surprise not mentioned on the map.  Rather, it had been created by a breach in the outer “walls” of the maze, most likely made by a storm.  Jack was making a final check of the tent stakes as she approached their camp.  The light of day was fading quickly, and a cozy fire crackled away invitingly.  She placed the wood on a pile beside the tent.  He turned and gave her a satisfied smile.  “Home sweet home.  What do you think?” he asked.
The tent was made from a broad piece of sailcloth, staked close to the ground at the back and staked taught over a three-foot long pole at the entrance.  Palm fronds had been spread in a thick mat on the ground to form a mattress of sorts, and two bedrolls sat ready for use.
“Very nice,” said Honour.  “Where's mine?”
“What do you mean, 'yours'?  This is it!  Our tent.  You didn't expect me to drag a lot of extra amenities along with us, did you?”
“Well, really... I didn't know what to expect,” she admitted sheepishly.  “I've never done anything like this before.”
“You've never slept out under the stars?  It's really quite easy.  I admit, it's not as comfy as our room in Castara, but it will do for the night.”
She was grateful for the glow of the fire to mask the gentle blush that found its way onto her cheeks at the memory.  “All right, then.  But you stay on your side, understand?”
Jack gave her a teasing bow.  “My lady, I swear upon pain of death to stay on my side of the tent.  But I will not place the same restriction on you.  I'd be remiss in my duties as host if I weren't welcoming in every possible way.”  Then, there it was.  That smile.  The smile that never failed to make her knees feel suddenly weak.  She took a  deep breath as he went into the tent first and laid out the bedrolls side by side, nearly touching.  He extended his hand to help her inside.  As she took it, she could see that damnable smile was still there.  As she lay down beside her husband, she thought back to the previous night when she'd stolen into his bed and the comfort of his presence, even if he never knew she'd been there.  But she pushed those thoughts aside, and rolled over with her back to him.
“Good night, Jack,” she said quietly.
“Good night, Honour,” he replied.  “Honour?”
“Yes?”  She'd caught the odd note in his voice.
“I... sweet dreams, love.”
She smiled to herself.  “Sweet dreams.”
Post by: Welsh Wench on August 11, 2008, 02:06:12 PM
The jungle became a symphony of subtle noises as soon as the sun went down. Honour listened to various insects, a cawing of a bird she had never heard before and even the croaking of frogs. In a way it was comforting to know that life goes on.
As long as they let her alone.
And didn't have six to eight legs and spewed venom.
She found it hard to sleep. Thank heavens that Jack wasn't a snorer. At least he wasn't in that month they were together.
A month.
Four weeks.
Thirty days since it was June that they met, married and parted ways. She felt a twinge of guilt and regret. A twinge? An enormous amount.
And in one night, her life changed forever.
In all this time Jack had never once asked her about the chests of guilders. Honour laid there wide awake, unable to turn her mind off. In the past eighteen months, she had been able to. But not anymore. Her fingers trailed over the palm frond peeking out from under the bedroll as she thought about the time she had been separated from Jack.
The crossing from Glenlivet to Beaumaris had been uneventful. It was smooth sailing and Captain Underhill had been most gracious. A gentleman through and through and he had looked out for her as a father did a daughter. She was overjoyed to see both Megan and Dafydd waiting at the dock for her.
The decision for her to set up the plantation was one her sister had supported. She and Dafydd loved Zara and certainly their children did, caring for their baby cousin and keeping her amused.
Honour never expected to become so attached to her baby so quickly.
It was during a March storm that blew in off the sea that Zara Wolfe decided to make her debut into the world.  Honour laid in the bed, her face in sheer misery from the contractions but she bit her lip to keep from crying out.
"Megan, I'm not going to make it! If I die, take care of the baby."
"Hush, darling, you aren't going to die. I won't let you."
She started to cry. "I can't do this. I give up. I changed my mind. Ohhhhhh! I want Jack here."
Meagan soothed her. "Honey, I'm all you have."
The pains kept coming closer together. Honour moaned, "I just want him here so I can tell the bloody bastard what I think of what he did to me!"
Megan stroked her brow with a cloth dipped in lavender. "Dear, we all say that. It is always their fault but once it is over, we forget and do it all over again."

After what seemed like hours of pain, Honour groaned. "Megan, I have to push!"
The midwife said, "Rhiannon, I can see the head."
She pushed. The baby's head crowned and with two more pushes, the midwife delivered the baby while the storm raged outside.
Honour laid back on the pillows in exhaustion as the midwife held the child. She could barely catch her breath. The midwife slapped the baby's bottom and Honour heard a wail.
She looked at Megan in astonishment..
Her sister had tears in his eyes.
"Darling, you have a fine healthy daughter!"
Honour felt the tears well up in her eyes. She reached out and touched the baby's hand. "Is--is she alright? Has she all her parts?" she whispered.
Megan said softly, "Two eyes, a nose, a tiny little mouth, ten fingers, ten toes. And the bluest eyes this side of heaven."
"Thank you, God." Honour whispered.
The midwife put the baby in Honour's arms. Her tears fell on the baby's downy head.
She softly touched the baby's fingers as she marveled at how small her hands were as the baby curled her fingers around her mother's.
She said in wonderment, "I can't believe it. She--she's a GIRL!"
Megan laughed, "Rhiannon, they come in both flavors! Did you not entertain the thought that you just might have a girl?"
Honour shook her head and said softly, "What I can't believe is the great Mad Jack Wolfe produced a GIRL!"
She looked at Megan and the tears were shining in her eyes. "A daughter!"
Megan washed her sister's face with a warm cloth.
"And what are you to name this child? Margaret? Elizabeth? Mary is a nice name."
Honour shook her head and said, "I have the perfect name."
"And that is...?"
"Rhiannon! Are you...sure? I mean, it is not approved by the Church!"
She tilted her head up defiantly. "I am positive. This is a unique child and she deserves a unique name. 'Zara' is exotic. And this child shall follow in the footsteps of no one!  Like her father."

Honour rolled over and faced her husband. He was sound asleep still. She gently touched his hair. So like Zara's.....
'I'm sorry, Jack. I'm sorry you weren't there for it. When the time is right, I'll tell you about her.'
She tossed and turned but sleep eluded her. Honour looked out of the tent to see the moonbeams dancing on the water. She thought how nice it would be to take a refreshing dip. Just for a few minutes....enough to make me a bit sleepy.
Honour looked over at Jack. If he hadn't changed his sleeping habits in the last eighteen months, he could probably sleep through a monsoon.
She quietly slipped out of the tent and walked fifty feet down to the lagoon. All that she heard were the chirping of the crickets and the croaking of the frogs. Carefully she took off her breeches and her shirt and hung them on the branches and then quietly slipped into the cool water, diving under and emerging, the water droplets clinging to her wet skin.
Just like that day in Castara, she thought. Castara was so long ago. The beach and the grotto where they made love....
She shivered but not from the cool water.
Regret for what she lost.
And anticipation for what lay ahead.

Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on August 18, 2008, 09:37:38 PM
White smoke billowed and swirled, momentarily obscuring Jack's vision.  He stepped forward, smiling in satisfaction as he looked upon the crippled, burning Mercedes.  “Continue fire!!” he ordered.  An unexpected movement in the periphery caught his attention.  To his horror, he realized his beloved wife had taken refuge in the ship's boat!  She was directly in the of the field of fire, virtually unprotected.
“Honour, what are you doing?!”
Sudden, searing agony overwhelmed him as a Spanish sniper's musket ball buried itself deep in his shoulder.  The world reeled in slow motion...

Jack sat bolt upright in the darkness, his breath coming in ragged gasps.  The panic subsided as the quiet chorus of the jungle worked its soothing magic, and he began to realize where he was.  He was safe.  More importantly, so was Honour.  It was only that accursed dream again.  Rubbing the dull phantom ache in his shoulder, he looked to make sure he hadn't disturbed her sleep.

But she wasn't there.

Surely she hadn't wandered off.  Even in their relatively civilized compound at Castara, she had been content to stay indoors after sunset.  “Honour?  Honour!” he called.  No answer.  He left the tent to begin the search, and grabbed a piece of firewood to fashion a torch.  That's when he caught sight of her.

Honour stood nearly waist deep in the placid waters of the lagoon, her exquisite form silhouetted by the moonlight.  Beads of water glistened on her skin like precious gems.   Jack watched in silence as she moved with fluid grace, cupping handfuls of water and letting it run in rivulets over her body.  If it had been Venus herself bathing under that silvery moon, he could not have been more dumbstruck by her beauty nor more filled with desire.    As he looked on, he never noticed the piece of wood slip from his fingers.  One end hit the ground, and the other went into the fire, sending a shower of sparks heavenward.

The unexpected display caught her attention.  She looked back toward the camp to see if anything was amiss.  Instead, she saw Jack standing by the fire, watching her.  A momentary flash of modesty washed over her.  But the urge to cover herself was swiftly replaced by other, stronger urges.  She would not deny she was still taken with him.  Ever since the night she had let him into her bed only to discover he was after the Sun key, the memories of how good it felt to make love with him had been impossible to shake from her mind.  'He is your husband, Rhiannon!' she thought.  'He already knows what you look like out of your chemise.  What can it hurt?  It was always so much fun to tease him, and he deserves it...'  Smiling wickedly to herself, she dipped her head in the water and flung her long hair back, sending a glittering arc of water through the night air.  Once more she brought up handfuls of water to cascade down her skin, but this time she did so more deliberately, seductively arching and stretching her body in an almost catlike fashion.  She imagined Jack there with her in the water, his hands lovingly caressing her as she leaned back against him.  She could almost feel the warmth of his lips on her neck, delivering kiss after tender kiss...

Honour knew her seductive display would have Jack aroused to the point of frustration, and she laughed quietly to herself.  What she hadn't counted on was the feelings it awakened in her.  Her mind touched on the many times they had made love together, each memory stirring her longings for his touch into a delicious ache.  But not tonight.  Not just yet.  Despite the hunger she felt, it was worth it to know Jack would be thrown off his game.  He wasn't the only one who knew how to beguile.

A small part of her nagged, trying to stir up some bit of shame at what she was doing, but it was drowned out by the sense of freedom she had at that moment.  'Let him look upon what he unleashed in Castara,' she thought.  While Rhys Morgan had brought her fully into womanhood, Jack Wolfe had taught her to revel in her femininity.  For that, she was grateful to him.  And there it was.  No pang of guilt, no feeling that she was betraying the memory of her first great love.  She would always feel a measure of guilt for his death.  Rhys' memory occupied a special corner of her heart, and that would never change.  But he was just that- a memory.  Little Zara filled her heart to bursting now, yet there was still room for one more great love.  It was clear to her now who that love would be.

Once again she dove into the water, then emerged with a sigh as she sought to shake off her own heightened desire.  She turned and walked toward the shore, and had to stifle a laugh as Jack broke free of her spell and realized she was coming back to the camp.  His awkward attempt to retreat unnoticed into the tent was both comical and sweet.  Once she had pulled her clothes back on, she made her way quietly to the tent and slipped inside.  He was lying with his back to her, pretending to sleep.  She sat on her bedroll for a while and watched him with a bemused smile on her lips.  “Too bad you didn't join me, Jack.  It would have been fun!” she whispered.

His sigh, the sigh of a man who was certain he had watched a golden opportunity pass him by, told her everything she wanted to know.
Post by: Welsh Wench on August 21, 2008, 09:19:26 PM
The sun broke through the trees, replacing the moonlight. The cawing  and chirping of the birds took the musical interlude of the night symphony to a new height.
Honour stretched out and reached out for Jack but he wasn't there. She sat upright and a wave of relief swept over her as she saw him coming up out of the lagoon, his hair wet. He shook it and sent droplets spattering into the air.
"Cooling off, Jack?"
He looked a bit guilty to her delight as he said, "Not at all. I just wanted to wash yesterday's dust off."
"It's wonderful in the water. I decided to go for a swim last night. The moon was beautiful. It was almost as if heaven was holding a crystal sphere in her hands."
He started, "I kn--I can imagine."
She hid her smile behind her hand.
Jack cleared out the campfire and opened up one of the knapsacks that carried the food provisions.
"What did the cook pack?" Honour asked.
"Oh, the usual. Biscuits. Some cold meats. Cheese."
"What, no fruit?"
'Honour, we needed things that would last."
"Jack, we aren't going to be out here forever. You said overnight. So we find the altar, open the chest and then head back. Two overnights."
He offered her some cheese. She looked around and a smile broke out over her face.
"Wait right here."
"Honour, it isn't good for you to be wandering around out here. Remember there are snakes."
She held her finger up. "I'll be back in a minute. Count to sixty."
As he did so, she appeared when he was at fifty-nine. Her chest was misshapen and lumpy.
"What the HELL? Did you get an allergic reaction to a bee sting?"
She shifted her shirt out of her breeches and a half-dozen apples came tumbling out to the ground.
"Not only that, I found a beehive where there was some honey.  I happened to have a container so I put it in there. Now we can sweeten the biscuits."
Jack handed her a biscuit.
"I don't have a spoon, Jack. But fingers are clean!"
She dipped her finger into the jar and brought it out, drizzling the honey over the biscuit.
She slowly sucked the honey off her fingers.
"Mmmm! This is delicious! You know what I heard?"
"That it is fattening?"
"On the contrary. It reminded me of the tradition of the honeymoon.  Did you know, Jack, in ancient times it was traditional to present the newlyweds with honey to help them enjoy their first sexual encounters and aid to procreate a child?  The use of honey as an aphrodisiac is also mentioned in the Kama Sutra. Where it is said that honey spiced with nutmeg is said to heighten a...oh, look! A butterfly!"
Jack said, "Yeah, yeah, a butterfly. do you know about the Kama Sutra?"
"Hmmm? Well, it is some sort of book,  I guess. I've never even seen it."
"What part did you like best? The part where the monkey gets loose?"
"Don't be silly, Jack! There is no monkey in the book!"
"AHA!  But how did you know?"
"I didn't. I mean, there wasn't a picture of a monkey in the..."
She found herself turning red.
"Well, I might have glanced at it."
"You never were much of a manual person, Honour.  More of a hands-on type."
"Shut up." 
Jack watched as she licked the biscuit crumbs off her lips.
"Mmm...that was so good!"
Jack just stared at her method of cleaning up. She caught his gaze.
"What? Did I forget a spot?"
She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and then sucked the crumbs off.
"Yes, Jack?"
"Don't do that."
"I don't want to be a mess when we get to the altar.  You never know what ancient gods you may run into and I want to look my best!"
She reached over and picked up an apple. She took a bite and said, "Oh my goodness! This is delicious!"
Jack grimaced. "And so goes the fall of man, Eve!"
She looked at him quizzically and then laughed.
"Oh! That wasn't want I was thinking. Remember the story of Paris and Helen of Troy?"
Jack laughed. "You forget, dear heart, that I was an Oxford scholar."   
She sighed. "I always loved your bedtime stories, Jack!"
Jack rolled up the bedrolls and took down the canvas sailcloth as Honour gathered up the food and put it in the knapsack.
"How much longer till we get to the altar, Jack?"
He looked at the map and said, "Due west. About three hours."
She looked up at the sun. "Looks to be about eight hours so we had best be on our way. Maybe we can set up camp near here tonight. That lagoon was so refreshing and....AH! Jack! Get it off me!"
Jack reached over and plucked an emerald green beetle out of Honour's hair.
He crushed it in his hand and tasted it very quickly with his tongue.
"I've seen these before."
"What is it?"
"Some fly. From Spain."
"Oh. Well, isn't it out of its jurisdiction?"
"I think they can fly anywhere."
Jack scraped the beetle's little carcass into a piece of paper and slid it into his pocket.
"Why don't you just throw it out, Jack?"
"Oh....I don't know. A souvenir?"
Honour shook her head. "You save the strangest things...."
The provisions were packed and Jack and Honour headed towards the west.
"Oh, look, Jack! What lovely little flowers!"
Jack stopped and grinned. "Damiana. The Mayans and the Aztecs used it to make a tea."
"Was it good?"
"Oh...very good! Really good!  It relaxes a person so they never want to get out of bed."
"Really! I should try that on nights I can't sleep."
Jack picked a few.
"I'll make a special tea for you tonight."
"Oh, Jack, sometimes you are so sweet!"
"Honour, you have no idea how accommodating I can be."
She squeezed his arm and said, "Isn't this all exciting?"
"Yes, love. And the best is yet to come!"
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on August 28, 2008, 09:11:33 PM
The farther they pushed into the jungle maze, the thicker the undergrowth became.  Honour kept track of their position with the map and compass, while Jack hacked away at the jungle's foliage to clear their way.  After more than an hour of slow progress and seemingly endless swinging of his cutlass, Jack was ready for a break.
“Why are you stopping?” she asked.
He turned to her with an incredulous look on his face, the tip of his sword dragging in the dirt beside him.  “In case you hadn't noticed, my beloved pet, I've been making a path through the jungle.  Without assistance, I might add!”
“I helped for a bit!”
“What, fifteen minutes, if that?”
“My arm got tired.”
“More's the pity.  The trees quake with fear when you lift a blade.”
She stuck her tongue out at him.  “You don't intend to let me live that down, do you?”
“Let me think,” he said thoughtfully.  “Not a chance.”

She put her hands on her hips and glared at Jack as if she were about to give him the tongue lashing of a lifetime.  Instead, the pair dissolved into laughter.
“I really did hack that poor palmetto to shreds, didn't I?” she giggled.
“Yes, you did!  Like a whirling Dervish, you where.  Very impressive.  Where did you learn to handle a sword like that?  You never did tell me.”
Honour retrieved a skin of water and gave it to her husband.  “In school,” she answered vaguely.
He drank deeply from the skin and handed it back for her to drink.  “Interesting school.  I'm not familiar with any academies for young women that include swordsmanship.  None within the financial reach of a stablehand or housemaid at any rate.”
'Damn him!  Doesn't he forget anything?' she thought as she finished a mouthful of water.  “The lord of the manor was a generous man.  He did all he could to help my sister and me get an education.”  It wasn't one of her better lies, but it was plausible.

Jack cocked his head and frowned.  “I thought you were an only child, Honour.”
She froze for a moment, knowing full well she'd been caught.  Indeed, she had told him she had no siblings that night they entertained each other with their life stories.    Fortunately she hadn't made a bigger gaffe and let slip she had three sisters total.  “Really?  I was certain I told you about her.”
“I'm certain you didn't,” he countered, making sure to keep any accusatory tone out of his voice.  “Then again, communication never was our strong suit.”
“We're talking now.  That has to count for something.”  She sat down on the ground next to him.  “Since we're on the topic of children... did you ever want any?  With me, I mean?”
Jack chuckled.  “Honour, the thought never crossed my mind.”  Her face fell slightly in disappointment.  “Until I met you, that is.  My whole world changed then.  Suddenly, a real life seemed possible.  A fine home, a beautiful wife, a yard full of children-- just like our parents told us it would be if we sat up straight and finished our peas and carrots.  Why do you ask?”
“I was just curious.  This place reminds me so much of Castara, and I was reminiscing.  Besides, what makes you think you don't already have children?” she asked coyly.
“Excuse me?” he sputtered.
“Your reputation precedes you, remember?  I'd heard lots of stories about you before we met, and not all of them had to do with prize ships and sacked towns.”
He smiled at her rakishly.  “And still you married me, in spite of what you heard.”
“Maybe I married you because of certain stories?  A girl gets curious, you know,” she smiled in return.
Their faces drew closer to each other.  “Did I, um, measure up to what you were expecting?”
“Exceedingly so,” she whispered.  A wicked gleam came into Honour's eyes.  In a flash, she brought Jack's cutlass straight up in between them.  He flinched, and gave her a puzzled look.  “You need your strength for the jungle, lover boy.  We have a temple to plunder, remember?”
“Cutlass tease,” he laughed as he took his blade and returned his attention to clearing the path.  “'We have a temple to plunder'... I'd rather plunder you!” he muttered.
“I heard that!”  Honour watched as he resumed slashing away the jungle growth, secretly thankful that he was busy and couldn't see the happy grin on her face.

She looked around at the surrounding jungle as the moved along, trying to remind herself that though this wild place reminded her of Castara, the similarities were merely superficial.  Even after seeing the artificial arrangement of everything with her own eyes, it was easy to forget the island had been completely reshaped by human hands long ago.  At least she hoped they were human.  She found it easy to push such worries aside, however, knowing Jack was there with her.  He had a way of making her feel safe, despite their rocky past.  It also help that Bonita wasn’t lurking around every dark corner like some terrible snake, waiting to strike…

A sharp clang jarred her from her thoughts.  Jack stood rubbing his sword hand, looking with disgust at yet another enigmatic seven-foot tall column.
“Damn it!” he swore.  “These blasted things are everywhere!  Not as close together as the ones we found near the start of this overgrown maze, thank Heaven.”
“Maybe they never expected outsiders to get this far.  Or they changed the spacing to throw us off,” Honour mused.  “Did it break your sword?”
“No, thanks for asking.  My hand’s fine, too.”
“You’ll live,” she teased.  “Dear Lord, this air is stifling!  It's like breathing water!”  She loosened the neck of her chemise, revealing a considerable amount of cleavage in the process.  “Now, according to the map...  what do you think you're doing?”
Jack had stepped close to her, pretending interest in their map.  The look on his face showed that his real interest lay with an entirely different landscape.  She quickly covered herself with the parchment and gave him an exasperated look.  “You have a one rut mind, Jack Wolfe!”
“And you have two of the most amazing--”  He paused as her eyes widened in warning.  “-- blue eyes I've ever seen.  Really.  They're spectacular.”  He took a respectful step back when Honour gave him a dismissive brushing wave of her hand.
“As I was saying before your eyes nearly fell out of your head, we'll need to cut back to our right, and then bear off to the left in a wide arc.”
“At this pace, we should be there in just over an hour,” he said.  “I’m sure we’ll find plenty of these damned pillars to guide us.  Hopefully I'll see them before I hit them.”
“Do watch your blade, my husband.  I’d hate for it to get dull,” she said with a saucy wink.
“For you, love, my blade is always at the ready.”
“Promises, promises…”

Over the course of the next hour, Jack and Honour carried on much as they had when they were first married; talking and laughing about everything and nothing, each careful not to touch on their collapse or the intervening eighteen months.  It was easier than either imagined.  Any awkward silences were deftly filled by flirtatious banter or pleasant remembrances.  For Jack, it was a happy reminder as to why he had been so taken with her from the start, and moreover, why he fell in love with her.  In truth, the contents of the chest were no longer that important to him.  It could be empty, and it wouldn't matter that much.  He understood that the real treasure was right there beside him.

He felt the tip of his sword graze stone.  This time he was determined to proceed cautiously.  “Honour, may I have your rapier, please?  I think I found another column, but not where we're expecting one to be.”
“What do you mean?  We should be on top of the temple site by now.  And I will not have you beating stone pillars with my sword!  I just had it sharpened.”
“I need your sword because it's longer than mine, dear.”
“It takes quite a man to make that admission,” she giggled.
“Now who's got the one rut mind?” he asked in mock exasperation.  “I'm going to use it to poke around...”
Honour's giggles burst into full laughter.  Jack walked to her and pulled the rapier from its sheath.  “Hey!” she protested.
“Don't worry.  I'll be gentle.”
“You've told me that one before...”
“And you never complained.  Not once.  Now, let's see what's in here.”  He slowly slipped the blade in amongst the vines and branches that formed a forbidding wall in their path.  Halfway in, the blade hit stone.  Further probing showed that it was another pillar, but much larger than the ones they had already encountered.  He handed the rapier back to Honour and carefully cleared away the foliage with his own sword.  What he revealed left both of them staring in wonder.

The massive column was at least four feet wide, and taller than Jack could reach with his sword.  Carved into the face of the monolith was the figure of a man in ceremonial dress, facing to their right with his hands raised in front of him, palms out.  The pose was not threatening, but somehow reverent.  Jack took his cutlass and continued probing the undergrowth.  Some ten feet to the right of the first monolith, he found a second.  Upon its face was carved the mirror image of the first.

“Jack?  It's a gateway.  I'm sure of it,” she said in a voice barely above a whisper.
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on September 03, 2008, 08:43:31 PM
“Aye,” Jack said with a satisfied smile.  “The gateway to our destination.  Excellent navigation skills, darling!  Wherever did you learn to read a map like that?”
“Some unscrupulous pirate I met a while back,” she smirked as she put the map away.
“You were an excellent student as I recall.”
“You were a passable instructor.”  She drew her rapier and smiled broadly.  “Now that we're here, shall we see what's on the other side?”
“I was beginning to think you'd never ask!”

The couple worked together with a renewed sense of purpose to penetrate the curtain of wild growth that stood between them and the temple site.  It was easier than they expected.  Within minutes they were through, and before them lay the temple complex of the Ancients.  They stood together and surveyed where that mysterious race gathered to worship their gods. 

“Well, that's just disappointing,” sighed Jack.
Honour unconsciously wrinkled her nose.  “What a mess...”

The area had been laid out like a grand courtyard, with a large central structure flanked by a handful of smaller ones.  It must have been impressive to behold during the heyday of the Ancients, but time had been a cruelly neglectful steward.  The small buildings had completely collapsed, making it impossible to divine their original shape or purpose.  Fortunately, the main temple had fared somewhat better.  One could still see the roughly pyramid shape of it, but its adornments lay crumbled at its base, the watchful statues of their gods dashed to rubble.

“There must have been an earthquake, if not several,” observed Jack.  “I'm sure the yearly storms that plague this region haven't helped matters.”
Honour shuddered.  “I hate hurricanes.  What do we do next?”
“LaFourche's journal said we need to find a chamber with an altar.  I'm assuming it's in there since there's only one temple,” he said, motioning to the ruins.
“'Assuming'?  You mean he doesn't say for certain?”
“Forgive me.  I didn't think to ask if the chamber is in Temple Number One, Two, or Three.  We've got one temple-”
“That we can see...” she interrupted.
“What say we try the obvious solution first before getting all picky, shall we?”
“Fine,” replied Honour.  “But which door do we use?”
Jack turned and took a long look at the temple.  It had three black openings in its face that seemed to lead within.  “Oh,” he said quietly.
“Not in the journal either, was it?”
Jack opened the haversack and pulled from it the journal, a small copper box of guncloth, and a striker.  He handed Honour the journal and retrieved one of the torches he had fashioned back at their camp.  She leafed through the book as he worked to get the torch lit in the humid air.
“Hardly Botticelli, but interesting,” she said as she looked at the drawings.  Something seemed oddly familiar about certain elements, but nothing she could put a finger on. 
Jack slung the bag around his neck and held it open for her to return the book.  “Grab an end, love, and we'll go see which door is our winner!”
“Did you mean the chest, or you?”
“If you grab my end, sweetheart, I'll have to douse this torch in favour of the one you'll have lit.  Shall we?”

They carefully carried the chest up the debris strewn steps to a landing at the middle of the temple's face.  Once there, they set the chest down on the mottled grey stone.
“Stay right her, Honour.  I want to check these side doorways just in case they decided to be sneaky.”
Quick as a flash, she snatched the torch out of his hand.  “I'm just as capable of exploring as you are, Jack!  I'll check this side door first.”
“Honour, wait!  You don't know what might be in there!”
Jack watched as she walked to the doorway at the left side of the landing.  She turned and gave him a mischievous smile before ducking inside.

His heart nearly stopped when he heard her scream.

When he reached her, she was standing in a small room with her back to the door, trembling.  Her hair was tangled with thick cobwebs.  She never noticed when Jack brushed away a large spider that was about to crawl up underneath her golden mane.  He looked to see what had her so transfixed with fear.  Before them was a wall of human skulls.  Dessicated skin hung in rags from their grinning faces, and some had a dismembered hand protruding from their mouth.  He took the torch and turned her away from the grisly sight, then gently guided her out of the antechamber.  Once in the sunlight, Honour buried her face in his chest.  He gently pulled the cobwebs free and held her close until her shaking subsided.

“Will you stay close to me now, please?” he asked.
“Oh, Jack, it's awful!  I've never seen anything so hideous!  What kind of monsters were these people?”
“You've seen gibbets hanging at the entrance of a harbour, haven't you?  Is what you just saw that much worse?”  He helped her take a seat on the landing.  “Stay here.  I'll only be a moment.”  Jack went to the other side doorway and went inside, leading with the torch.  He emerged moments later, shaking his head.  “Same decorator, love.  Maybe even a little tackier than before.”
She smiled a little at his joke and got to her feet.  “The centre door it is, then.  If you don't mind, I'll let you lead the way.”
“I thought you'd never ask,” he said with a comically gracious bow.  They lifted the chest together, and Jack gave her his best reassuring look.  “You ready, darling?”

“No,” she admitted.  “But when has that ever stopped us?”
Post by: Welsh Wench on September 10, 2008, 10:14:26 PM
They descended the stairs, the chest between the two of them. Jack held the torch aloft.
"Scream if you see a snake, darling. Just don't let go of the chest."
"Snakes? Snakes weren't part of the deal, Jack. If I knew there were all sorts of crawlies, I'd have sent Briggs with you."
"Wouldn't work. Briggs is not what you call creature-friendly. Puddin' proved that."
"Jack, will you look at these carvings!"
"I'm burning the cobwebs as I am going along so I haven't had time to admire the wallpaper, Honour."
"Stop a minute! My God, we are standing in the ruins of an ancient civilization!"
"Been here since the dawn of their time, love."
"Jack, do you suppose they sacrificed virgins here?"
"What's the matter, Honour? Worried about your virtue? As I recall, I took that. Over and over and over and over and...."
"Yes, Jack, you had a great time. I'd have to do some multiplication to figure out how many great times you had."
"You know I could make a joke about division..."
"Hey, I'm not Briggs so watch your off-colour jokes!  About the virginal sacrifices...the Ancients didn't do that, did they?"
"Of course they did!  It was believed to encourage fertility, demonstrate piety, and propitiate the gods. The Mayan gods were thought to be nourished by human blood, and ritual bloodletting was seen as the only means of making contact with them. The Maya believed that if they neglected these rituals, cosmic disorder and chaos would result. Want to know how they did it?"
"Oh, it's a good bedtime story. Guaranteed to make you want to snuggle up next to me, Honour. The sacrificial victim was held down at the top of a pyramid or raised platform while a priest made an incision below the rib cage and ripped out the heart with his hands. The heart was then burned in order to nourish the gods."
Honour covered her hand with her mouth and fought the rising nausea. "Jack...I think I'm going to be sick."
But Jack didn't hear her.  "So did the Druids. Did you know the Druids had a fire--I forget what it was--and only virgins could tend to it and if it was found out they weren't untried, then they were buried alive?"
Honour felt a chill sweep over her and she got dizzy.
"I have to sit down, Jack."
He let the chest down easy as Honour sank to the step.
"Are you alright?"
How could she possibly tell Jack that it was that very fate that she escaped from the Order of St Brigid?
She crossed her arms over her knees and buried her head down. She tried to keep from gulping the air which was musty. In a minute she regained her composure.
"I'm fine. Really. It---well, the hopelessness and the fate of the young girls really got to me."
Jack sat next to her. "Think of it this way, Honour. By getting the treasure, it will be our little way of getting even with the priests. Now...should we look at those carvings on our way down?
"Jack, I got an idea..."
"No, Honour. We aren't going to use the carvings for wallpaper for the Captain's Quarters."
"Shall we?"
He helped her up and they continued down the stairs.
Honour paused by an elaborate carving. "Jack, look at this! Look at the detail!"
Jack looked closer and chuckled.
"What is so funny?"
"Oh....just the writings."
"You know how to interpret this?"
"Honour, what did you think I did for that eighteen months we were separated? I tore that journal apart deciphering it!"
"Alright, smarty--what does this say?"
He could hardly hide the mirth on his face.
"For a good time, call Ix Chel"
"Are you kidding?"
"Of course not!"
Honour looked closely at the carvings. "Oooh, look at the detail on this one!"
Jack burst out laughing.
"Now what?"
He took her by the shoulders and could scarcely keep a straight face. "Honour, darling, you can't see the forest for the trees. Step back. You are too close to the hieroglyphics."
He marched her back about ten feet and then spun her around.
"Now look at it."
Honour stared at it and after a minute, her face flamed red. "Is that what I think it is?"
Jack laughed, "Yes, my dear. That is the Mayan version of page 54 in the Kama Sutra."
"Is not! That is page 38!"
Her face got even redder. " I heard!"
Post by: Welsh Wench on September 10, 2008, 10:21:23 PM
Jack and Honour stopped at the bottom of the stairs.  A long, dank hallway presented itself. 
She stepped closer to Jack.
"Where are we?" she whispered.
Jack raised the torch and said quietly, "The bowels of Hell, I'd say. Careful where you step. You never know what the broken pottery contained. Could be some poison they used. Ritual stuff, you know."
Skirting the broken pottery, baskets and relics, including bowls and eating utensils, they came upon three chambers. One was straight ahead and two on either side of the hallway.
"Jack, I'm scared."
"What's to be scared of, love? We haven't come across any crawlies or fanged beasties, have we?"
"Let's see what is straight ahead."
They entered a chamber that had an ornate carved chair on a pedestal.
"Ah! This is where the High Priest got ready for his big show!"
"Big show?"
Jack pointed to a large pottery that appeared to have dried blue paint in it.
"There. The sacrifice was stripped and the high priest painted him or her blue. And that table over there. Look at all the fancy knives in various shapes and sizes. See that convex table over there?"
Honour nodded mutely.
"That is where the poor unfortunate was held down by specially designated priests.  Want to know how they
 killed them? They....Honour?....HONOUR!"
Jack looked just in time to see Honour slump to the ground.
He held her head up as she was coming to.
He pushed her hair back out of her face and said quietly, "Forgive me, love. I shouldn't be telling you the details. Let's get out of here. Bad miasma here."
He helped her to her feet and he led her out of the chamber.
She leaned against the wall, her face pale and a cold sweat came over her. Jack wiped her face with a cloth.
She felt the tears in her eyes. Her narrow escape from the Druids came back to her in a flash.
"Are you alright, Honour?"
She nodded and laughed shakily. "It just kind of spooked me. There's a bad feeling here, Jack. The sooner we get out of here, the better I will feel."
Jack held her hand and led her to the chamber on the right.
"I'll go in first," he said.
"I won't argue. But it had better not be page 27 of the Kama Sutra."
"As I remember that was your favorite....OW!"
"You deserved that. And if you keep it up, you get another pinch. Degenerate!"
"You never complained before as I...OW! Cut that out!"
"I told you that would happen. Now what is in there? I'm afraid to look."

Jack shone the torch in the chamber.
"My God, Honour! Look at this!"
Inside the large chamber was a central altar. On the walls to either side of the altar were carvings of robed skeletons facing the back wall.  Jack took the Moon Key out of his tarry pouch.
"That large relief on that wall exactly matches the Moon Key!"
He looked over to the altar.
"I think we found where the chest is supposed to be! Look--the size and shape are the same! And the nubs here on this depression. The chest fits right here. Help me lift it up."
Together they hoisted it up and set it in on the altar.
"It fits!" Jack could hardly contain his excitement.
As he put his Moon key in the lock, Honour put her hand on his arm to stop him.
"Don't! It may be booby-trapped!"
"But the chest fits!"
She looked closely. "Look at the carving on the altar. It is not the same as on the lid. See here?"
He ran his hand over it. Looking up, Jack's breath caught. "Oh, my God! This is the Oracle of Remembering!"
He hurriedly thumbed through the journal and then showed her the page.
"See here? The Altar of Yesterdays!"
Jack and Honour looked at each other.
"The left chamber!" they said excitedly in unison.
Hastily they grabbed the chest and Jack took the torch.  Holding their breath, the entered the chamber across the hall. The carvings on the wall had no skeletons but robed men facing backwards.
Honour whispered, "Jack, look!"
She pointed to the detail on the chest lid. "It matches. OH, IT MATCHES!"
Jack turned the page in the journal and said, "The Oracle of Seeing. The Altar of Tomorrow. Honour, this is it! This is where we are supposed to be!"
Carefully they put the chest on the altar. Everything lined up.
Jack drew out the Sun Key and whispered, "Mother of God! We are home!"
He inserted the Moon Key and then the Sun Key.
As he was about to turn it, a voice from behind and a torch light shone on them.
"De Great Jack Wolfe and him golden-haired woman. De bones no lie. Dey cross paths wit' me once again!"
Jack looked up and whispered the one name that sent chills down Honour's spine to her very core.
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on September 18, 2008, 08:15:08 PM
Bonita stood in the doorway of the oracle chamber, holding a torch aloft in one hand and clutching a leather pouch with the other.  No weapons could be seen, but one never knew what she might produce from the loose folds of her calico dress.  Her dark eyes narrowed into slits.  She had expected to find Jack there in the temple, but she hadn't foreseen Honour's presence.  Though seeing Jack's wife again made her blood boil, she pushed her hatred aside.  She was certain her curse would drive them apart just as it had done eighteen months before.  The thought of Jack's heart being broken once again served to cool her temper for the moment.
“See, Jack?  I tol' you Bonita know how to find de temple of de Ancients!” she gloated.  “But would him listen?  De great Captain have all de answers, or so he t'ink!”
Jack touched Honour's arm and gently urged her to step behind him.  “Fine, Bonita.  You followed me.  I hate to break it to you, but you're not the first to accomplish such a feat.  Now if you'll excuse us, we're a tad busy at the moment.”
“Bonita not goin' anywhere, Jack.  Not wit'out what I came for.”

Jack could feel Honour's grip tighten on his shirt.  She didn't like where this was going any more than he did.  “Let me guess,” he said, making no attempt to hide his displeasure.  “The contents of the chest?  Since when did you get into the business of highway robbery?”
“It much, much more d'an de shiny swag you took from so many ships, Jack.  It is wort' all de patience Bonita could find wit'in her, waiting for you to finally gather all de pieces and bring dem to dis holy place.  Dere were a reason we were brought toget'er do'se years ago when you first start looking for de chest.  It were Fate's hand.”
“'Fate's hand'?” he echoed incredulously.  “You're telling me it was fate that you've known about the chest and the journal and the keys for all this time, and now you show up a just the right time to try and steal the treasure I've worked so hard to find?  That my wife and I have risked life and limb to discover and retrieve?  If you think I'm going to hand over what's in this chest to you, you've seriously gone round the bend.  No, you can't just stroll in here and lay claim to another man's prize.”
“You prize be damned!” she retorted in a commanding voice just short of a shout.  “I claim my birt'right!

Honour and Jack looked at each other in stunned disbelief.
“You hear Bonita true!” the Obeah woman continued.  “My Tia Elena, she tell stories of dese people you call de Ancients.  How untol' years ago dey abandon dey empire to go amongst de people of ot'er lands to spread dey knowledge so it would not be lost.  Tia Elena teach me dey ways.  She say dat one day dey secrets would be revealed, and Bonita would be dere to pay witness.  De bones tell her dis, and dey never lie!”
“Funny how you're just now mentioning any of this,” said Jack, his voice edged with impatience.  “it would have been helpful 'all dose years ago',” he mocked, “and a damned sight more believable!”
“Dat because Bonita did not see de connection until you, Jack Wolfe, found de one t'ing dat link dem all toget'er.”
“The journal,” Honour gasped.  “Jack, you showed it to her?”
“More like she ransacked my room to find it,” he said.
Bonita smiled knowingly.  “Ah, you saw it too, golden child?  De images and de writings; did dey speak to you?  Were dey familiar somehow?”

Honour's grip on Jack's shirt tightened.  Yes, she had recognized elements of the drawings in the journal, and the temple wall carvings.  Even snippets of the Ancient text stirred memories from her Druid trainings.  But she was not about to admit it to Bonita.  Certainly not in front of Jack.  “No.  Not in the least,” she answered.
“You words, dey whither on you lips, child,” Bonita said derisively.
“All right, Bonita, that's enough!” interrupted Jack.  “And I've had a belly full of your fairie stories!”
“I have proof!” she protested.
“Proof of what?  That you're a lunatic?  We guessed that one already, so you can put away your certificate from Bedlam...”

Bonita stepped abruptly around the altar and held her torch near the wall to the left of the Sun carving.  There, they could see the stylized image of a woman with the head of a jaguar.  Her hand was held up in front of her, palm up.  Above her palm were four glyphs in the Ancient language.
“Dat,” intoned Bonita, “is de highest goddess of de Ancients.  Qe'ttex.  De Queen of All.”  The reverent way she said the goddess' name, 'Keh-TESH', sent more unpleasant chills through Honour's insides.
“Thanks,” said Jack.  “I knew that already, but thanks for clearing up the pronunciation for me.  Hardly what I'd call proof.”
“Here is you proof!” snapped Bonita, and she pulled up the right sleeve of her dress.  She held up her arm in the torchlight so Jack and Honour could see a small tattoo in the crook of her arm near the elbow.  It was comprised of four glyphs.  Four glyphs that perfectly matched the name of the goddess Qe'ttex.

Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on September 24, 2008, 07:22:28 PM
“Dis mark were given to me as a baby,” Bonita explained.  “De women of Bonita's line, we all carry de mark of Qe'ttex.  We all carry de memories of de Ancients.”  She turned to face the graven image once again, and began speaking quietly in a language Jack had never heard before.  As with the writings, certain words had an eerily familiar ring to Honour.  The dark woman's sing-song incantation was mesmerizing.  But both women's trance like state was broken by the sound of a pistol's hammer being pulled back.
“You and your goddess can get reacquainted once we're done here,” Jack said with firm deliberation.  Bonita turned to find Jack's pistol levelled at her head.  Slowly, a wicked smile spread across her face.
“What the hell are you smiling at?” he asked.  “You've never been a gracious loser.”
“Bonita not smiling at you, Jack.”  She nodded in the direction of the doorway behind him.  “Me smiling at him.”
“Jack, who is that?” asked Honour warily.
He turned to find a mountain of a man just outside the door.  The ebony giant ducked down in order to enter the chamber.  Once inside, he drew himself up to full height.  He was easily six and one half feet tall, clad in breeches, boots, and a waistcoat.  Tucked into his belt were two extremely long, no doubt extremely sharp bone-handled knives.  He stood there looking down impassively on the trio with his hands on his hips, his fingers much too close to the knife handles for Jack's comfort.
Bonita's chuckle broke the silence.  “Him are my cousin, Isaiah.”  She brushed Jack's pistol aside as she went to join her relative and bodyguard, to whom she handed her torch.  “Now dat we all been introduced,” she continued smugly, “please, Jack.  Open de chest.”

Jack sized up the situation in his mind.  He could have tried shooting Isaiah , but there was no guarantee that he could kill the colossus with one shot, provided the gun didn't misfire.  The chamber was far too small to think about attempting hand to hand combat.   He couldn't risk having Honour hurt or killed in such a situation.  No, the only option Jack could see was to open the chest and hand over the contents to Bonita, because she would much rather see him have to swallow defeat than kill him.  He holstered the pistol and moved toward the altar.
Honour stopped him.  “Your going to just give it to her?  Why?”
He smiled and kissed her cheek.  “This little adventure has already shown me I have all the treasures I need in you.  I won't miss whatever is in that bloody chest.  It's fine, darling.  Really.”
She nodded in agreement, but couldn't help but feel sympathy for him.  Jack had been trying to solve the mystery of the Ancients for nearly five years.  With the answer literally in his hands, it was about to be taken from him.

“Let's get this over with,” said Jack to Bonita.  He noticed how the greed and spitefulness in her heart showed on her face like an ugly mask, and shook his head.  Carefully, he placed each key in its respective receptacle in the lid of the gold-clad chest and pressed firmly until he heard a click.  He took a deep breath and tried to turn the central circular section of the lid.

It wouldn't move.

He tried again, this time making certain to dig his fingers in against the gilt carvings.


Perhaps the centuries had caused the mechanism to jam.  He tried working the inset disc back and forth as much as it would move.

It refused to turn.

“What the hell?  Everything is right!” he fumed in frustration.  “The chest is in the correct altar, it's oriented correctly in the well, the keys are locked in just as LaFourche said they should be...”  Jack couldn't believe that after all the time and effort he had put into getting to this moment, he would be denied by a stuck lock.
“Try it again,” ordered Bonita.
“Why don't YOU try it?” Jack shot back.  “Or better yet, get your silver-tongued cousin to try!  It won't move, Bonita.”
The dark woman exhaled impatiently.  “Either get de chest to open, Jack Wolfe, or dis time you loose you little wife forever.”  Isaiah drew one of his knives for emphasis.
“You wouldn't,” said Jack.
“Open it, and we not have to find out.”
“Has the patchoulli finally softened your brain, woman?  No amount of threatening me is going to change the fact that the lock is jammed, damn it!  And damn you!”  He brought his fist down on the lid of the chest to punctuate his curse.

A moment after Jack struck the chest, the central disc popped up a full half-inch above the rest of the lid.  Everyone looked at the chest in surprise, and Jack tentatively tried again to turn it.  This time the disc turned easily, and clicks could be heard emanating from within the chest as he rotated it.  Finally, there was a loud pop as the seal broke and released.

The chest was open at last.

Jack stared at the altar in disbelief.  Finally, he was about to see what had been hidden away from the world for hundreds upon hundreds of years.  Even if he couldn't keep what lay inside the chest, perhaps seeing it would be enough to satisfy his curiosity.  His hands trembled ever so slightly with anticipation as he grasped the lid and slowly lifted it free.  He left the lid leaning against the altar and turned his attention back to the open chest.  Bonita was already peering into it, but her face did not reflect the haughtiness she'd shown moments before.  If anything, Bonita was bewildered.  Honour came up beside him, and they looked into the chest together.  What they found was hardly what they had imagined would be there.

Instead of fabulous trinkets and jewels, they found roughly two dozen scrolls.  Each had been tied up with what looked to be hemp string.  Jack picked up one and untied it, as did Bonita.  On his, there was more cryptic writing in one corner and several thick lines that meandered from one edge of the page to another.  Adding to their mutual confusion, the writing did not match anything mentioned in the journal nor anything Jack had seen in his travels.  Bonita angrily thrust her scroll at him.
“What be dis trickery?” she demanded.  “You already opened de chest an' stole what were dere!”
Jack took her scroll and unrolled it.  More odd, meandering lines, with bits of writing scattered around the page.  He gently moved some of the scrolls to find out if they were covering some precious bit of shine, but all he found was the resin-coated bottom of the chest.

So this was the treasure of the Ancients.  Scroll after scroll of cryptic scrawlings.  If this truly was a store of their knowledge as Bonita had been taught, what did it mean?  All that energy and enterprise to solve the mystery, only to be presented with another one.  He handed his scroll to Honour, and began to laugh.
“I'd say the trick is on us, Bonita!” he managed to say amid the laughter.  There was a strange note in his voice that Honour found disquietingly similar to his description of LaFourche's mad cackle.  She began to worry that the Ancients were about to claim another victim.  “You saw the seal break,” continued Jack.  “What, Tia Elena left this part out of her bedtime stories?  Maybe de bones, dey lie after all?”

Enraged by his mockery, Bonita opened the leather pouch she carried and emptied it into her hand.  It was a set of poppets.  One was clearly meant to represent Jack.  The other wasn't in the shape of a person at all.  It was a tiny ship.  El Lobo.  Both were covered in a fine black powder.  The look on Bonita's face as she took back the torch told Jack that it was probably priming powder, meant to burn fast and hot.  Whatever spell she intended to cast, it was with the desire to see Jack and his ship destroyed.
“For years, Bonita help de great Captain Jack Wolfe,” she said venomously.  “For years, he take whatever Bonita give him,” she continued, looking directly at Honour, “but him never let Bonita share in de glory.  Never permitted to stand by him side.  What Bonita gave, she now take back!”  She began to draw down the torch toward the poppets, all the while speaking low and quick in her native tongue.

“Stop it, Bonita!” shouted Honour.
The Obeah woman looked up from her incantation, her expression that of feral hatred.  “Shut you mouth, child!  Not'ing you can say will stop dis!”
“You're wrong again.  Are you sure you're cut out for this?  Because you stink at it,” Honour said with a look of angry determination.  She bent down and scooped up a handful of dirt from the floor.  “From the moment we met at Castara Bay, you have done everything you can think of to try and bully me the way you bully everyone around you.  No more.”  She slowly advanced toward the altar, her eyes locked with Bonita's like a mongoose confronting a cobra.  “I'm sick of you, Bonita.  Sick of your twisted little games, sick of the way you've treated me and Jack, sick of de way Bonita talk...”
“Honour, be careful!  You don't know what you're doing!” cautioned Jack.
“Remember what she accused me of being, Jack?  I think she needs to find out just how right she was.  There's a saying in my family; 'Paybacks are deadly.'”  Honour cupped the dirt in her hands and began to step around the altar toward her nemesis.
Bonita laughed scoffingly, but her body language told a another story as her posture became increasingly defensive with every step the young blond woman took.  She was confident Honour was strong with the Old Ways, but just how strong she had no way of knowing.  “You jus' a scared little girl!  What can you do against Bonita?”
“I'm not afraid of you any more.  Your hair still scares me, but not you,” replied Honour, stopping little more than an arm's length away.  “And I know what frightens you.”  She raised her hands to eye level, never breaking her gaze on Bonita, and began to speak in a voice stronger than Jack ever imagined her capable of.  While the Obeah priestess did not understand the Welsh words, her eyes grew wide with alarm at what she was certain was a spell.

“At 'm chyfenw Rhiannon , Fi angen 'ch at cer ar gerdded a ad ni ar ei ben ei hun!” 

On the last syllable, Honour flung the dirt in Bonita's face, blinding her.  She batted the poppets from the dark woman's hand, and followed with a strong right hook that sent Bonita sprawling in the dirt near the doorway.  Isaiah moved to help his fallen cousin, but stopped cold when he heard Jack's pistol dim bulb.
“No no, mate.  Stand right there,” ordered Jack.  “Now put away the knife.”
The giant slowly slipped the knife back into his belt and stepped away from Honour as she retreated to the other side of the altar.  “Isaiah never interfere when de women folk fight.  Very bad juju to get in they way,” he rumbled.  “Enough have gone wrong here today, Jack Wolfe.  I collect Bonita and we go, and not bot'er you any more.”
Jack nodded agreement and lowered his pistol.  Isaiah helped his humiliated cousin to her feet.  As he turned her toward the doorway, Bonita turned back to face the couple.
“Dis not over, Jack.  Carry dat with you!”  She then turned her hateful glare on Honour, who met her with a steely gaze of her own.  “Dere will be anot'er time, child.  Bonita will be ready.”  Knowing full well that his temperamental cousin could stand there all day making threats, Isaiah gently hustled Bonita out of the chamber and out of Jack and Honour's sight.

Honour rejoined her husband, rubbing the knuckles of her right hand.  Jack took her hand and softly kissed each knuckle in turn.
“You throw a pretty mean punch, love.  I'm impressed!”
“I had to improvise,” Honour smiled.  “My throwing dagger is still lodged in the mainmast.”
“Well, Bonita wasn't the only one you had going.  I was convinced you were going to tell me you really are a witch!”
“Don't be silly!” she laughed, and put her arms around his neck.  “I knew she was all worked up over her little theory.  'Play upon your enemy's fears', you once told me.  How did I do?”
“Spectacularly!  Now I know the truth.”
“Which is...?”  She tried not to hold her breath waiting for his answer.
A broad smile broke out across his face.  “That you are a streetfighter by nature!  Remember when we met in that tavern in St. Lawrence, when you pegged that drunk's foot to the floor?”
“You are a sentimental fool, Jack Wolfe!” she laughed.  Her eyes met his, and they found themselves drawn into a slow, soulful kiss.

A strange popping sound from within the altar interrupted their interlude.  As they approached, the noises grew louder until the they culminated in a sickening pop as the wood of the chest disintegrated before their eyes.  All that was left in the altar's well was ruined wood, a paltry amount of gold, and the scrolls.
Jack shook his head.  “Now, why couldn't it have done that before and saved us all this trouble?”
Honour dissolved into giggles at the sight of the collapsed artefact.  “The Ancients weren't that smart after all.  Their booby traps go off too late!”
“And they say timing is everything,” chuckled Jack.  “Here, fetch the bag and we'll collect these scrolls.”
“Why?  You said they don't make any sense.  What good are they?”
“They're not any good now.  They were locked away for a reason.  It might be an interesting diversion to see if I can reason out what they are.”
“You and your puzzles,” she sighed.  She placed the haversack on the altar and helped Jack carefully pull the scrolls from the shards of wood.  As they reached the bottom, Honour felt something cold against her fingers.
“Jack, I think I found something...”  She felt around until she could take hold of the object and lift it out of the debris.

It was a gold statue, roughly a foot in height.  The figure was that of a fierce looking man with an ornate headdress, seated in a throne.  His eyes were two of the most radiant rubies Honour had ever seen in her life.
“Oh my God!” exclaimed Jack.  “Honour, it's one of the Kings.  It has to be!  Which means there's more under all this...”
They picked through the shattered wood until they each found an additional statue.  They were similar to the first, with different features and vestments.  Honour's had emeralds for eyes, while Jack's had diamonds.  Another odd thing about them was a set of irregular length rods that protruded from the bottom of each throne.
Honour looked at the statues in wonder.  “LaFork was right about the chest after all!  It really was the Keeper of the Kings!”
“And you made the find!  My God, if the chest hadn't fallen apart, we never would have discovered them.  They would have been left sitting hidden in that chest waiting for someone to stumble on this place.”
“You were going to leave the chest behind?”
“Why not?  It was trouble enough hauling here, I didn't want to carry it back.  The thing was useless anyway.”
“I don't know,” she said.  “I thought it would have made a nice planter.”
Jack laughed out loud at the thought of the ancient gold-clad relic sprouting daisies.  “I promise to buy you a new one at the next port, darling.  Come on now, let's get these packed up to leave.  I'm starting to get used to this place.” 

Honour turned her face to the sunlight, breathing in the warn jungle air as they walked across the temple's wide courtyard.  She was happy to be out of that tomblike place, and even happier about finally paying Bonita back for some of the mistreatment she'd suffered in that spiteful woman's orbit.  It was only fitting to her that Bonita left humiliated and empty handed.  Jack looked at her and smiled at the look of satisfaction on her face.
“You look awfully happy,” he said.  “Is it the treasure?”
“No,” she laughed.  “I feel like a weight has been lifted off me!  Bonita is out of our lives, and best of all?  I got to hit her right in her smug face!”
“I think Isaiah was worried he was next!  What's that you're playing with?”
Honour showed him what she'd been rolling about in her hands ever since they left the temple.  Bonita's poppets.  “These?  I thought that since they're harmless now, Lil' Puddin' would enjoy playing with them.”
“At least he'll put them to good use.  I'm sure Briggs will appreciate finding them in his bed!”
Honour locked arms with Jack as they walked.  He had the fabled treasure in hand, but he couldn't take his eyes off her.
“Come on,” he smiled.  “Let's get off this rock.”
“Lead the way, O Master Map Reader!  Remember which way is north?”
“Of course I do!  It's sideways!”

Post by: Welsh Wench on September 28, 2008, 10:30:00 PM
Meanwhile in Castara Bay on the island of Tobago---

"Bonita? Bonita!"
"Her not here!"
The dusky woman looked up from wiping down the bar.
"Who you be?"
"Cade Jennings. Who YOU be?"
"Bonita's cousin Drusilla. State your business."
"Heard Mad Jack sold out the smuggling operations so I figure he wouldn't be here. Did he sell out the tavern as well?"
A voice behind him said, "Cade Jennings! As I live and breathe!"
Cade turned around slowly, his fingers dancing on the hilt of his rapier. His face split into a grin.
"James Blake! You are just the man I want to see!"
Drusilla brought the friends two tankards of ale and a couple bowls of stew along with some brownbread.
As they ate, they engaged in companionable conversation.
"I heard Mad Jack dumped the smuggling operation. You take much of a loss?"
Blake shrugged.
"A bit. But I recouped it on the next ship we took. I gave the Crown her due. Spaniards! They do love their gold. What about you?"
"Walked away without a cent. Guess Jack felt I didn't deserve anything since I left him high and dry."
"I heard you bought a ship. That one docked on the far end. The Gryphon?"
"How'd you hear?"
"A Mrs. Jack Wolfe told me. You do remember her, don't you?"
Cade raised an eyebrow. "Do I detect a note of malice in your voice, James?"
James shrugged. "Honour was a friend of mine before she ever knew you or Jack. I met her in a tavern in Glen Livet a few years ago."
"Are you claiming proprietary rights, Blake?"
He shook his head.
"Honour and I were long over by the time she married Jack."
"Did you love her?"
"Did you?"
"Of course I did. I still do. I came back to Bridgetown to find her gone. Jack was gone too. Tavern talk was that she left suddenly. Tavern talk also has it you left the same time. And all before Mad Jack got back from St Maartin."
James took a deep drink of ale.
"So what?"
"So did she leave with you?"
"Cade, if she sailed with me, wouldn't she be with me? Think I would let her go?"
"Do you know where she went?"
"Heard from someone who knows someone she gave up the pirate's life and settled where her family is. Somewhere in Wales, I guess."
"Any clue as to why she left Jack without a word?"
"Cade, you ask too many questions. If she left, it was for a very good reason, I would think. She truly loved Jack."
Cade gave a derisive laugh.
"Really! Did she tell you he pulled a gun on her and she ended up in my room at the inn?"
"Why would I be privy to that?"
"Because you sure know where she went."
"As I said, Cade--tavern talk."
"I heard in various ports--seems I always pulled in after Jack--that he has been looking for a small blonde wench. He won't admit it, but Briggs told someone she lightened his purse by a few chests."
"If he is looking for her in the Caribbean, then maybe he is looking for her in the wrong place. Maybe."
"Ever hear of Jonas Corwin?"
"Captain of the Golden Phoenix? Yeah. Ruthless. Crippled hands now. Broke them in a tavern fight."
Cade shook his head.
"No. Seems a small blonde wench rolled him. Took his purse and left him with naught but his boots, his sword and a blanket."
"He's been looking for her ever since too. Seems she has a heart-shaped freckle on her lower back. Sound like someone we know? Someone we both had? In the Biblical sense?"
James stood up and threw a few coins on the table.
"You, Cade Jennings, are no gentleman."
Just then the earth shook beneath their feet. Cade and James both dove under the table as the room shook and plaster fell where they had been sitting. It went on for the better part of a minute and when they crawled out, there sat Drusilla, shaking the plaster out of her hair.
"De Earth Goddess, she not be happy! Bonita tol' me dis happen."
James stood up brushing the dust from his breeches.
"Where is Bonita anyways?"
"Her got a notion to look for somet'ing dat belong to her. After Captain Jack left, she throw bones alot. Dey tell her where to go. I stay till she come back."
James and Cade looked out to see only minor damage.
"Earthquake, no less, Cade. Guess I'll be getting back to my ship. We loaded up supplies two days ago and I stopped by the see if Jack had been around and share a pint with him."
"He ever mention me?"
"Nothing you'd want to hear."
"He mention her?"
"Not a word. But he's a changed man."
"How so?"
"Hardened glint in his eye. Whatever softness and civility she brought into his life is gone. Take some incredibly sage advice, Cade. You see El Lobo in port, you had best keep going."
Drusilla made her way up to the upstairs room.
"Bonita tell me 'bout earth moving. Dat not part of my job!"
She opened the door to Bonita's room.
"What a mess!"
Boxes were strewn across the floor from the closet door being bumped open. One box in particular was crushed a bit when another box had landed on it. A piece of red fabric caught Drusilla's eye.
She opened the box and drew out two dolls. They were almost facing but tied together with a leather lanyard and a red ribbon.
Drusilla shook her head.
"Poppets! Oh, Bonita! You still believe in the power of curse!"
She unfastened the lanyard and ribbon, separating the dolls.
"Satin ribbon is pretty and do no good on poppets! Look much better on me!"
Drusilla tied the ribbon to her hair, stopping to admire herself in the mirror.
"Dere! Dat much better! Ribbon not go to waste!"
She threw the poppets back in the box and then tossed it in the closet, shutting the door.
In the box, in the dark, they tumbled and tumbled.
Until they were facing and touching.
Finally, at long last, no ties could ever bind the poppets again save one.
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on October 03, 2008, 08:16:44 PM
They spent the next hour carefully retracing their path back through the enormous jungle maze, neither one of them having yet come to terms with the gravity of their discovery or the surreal circumstances in which it happened.  Getting to safe location well away from the temple before nightfall was the most important thing on their minds.  The scrolls and idols had been waiting for hundreds of years, if not longer.  A couple more hours wouldn't matter.

As they laughed and talked, Honour reflected on how Jack's demeanour toward her had changed since the attempted mutiny.  Gone were the rude, almost hostile outbursts and dismissive behaviour  He had become solicitous, protective, and genuinely warm.  There was a tenderness in his eyes when he looked at her that made her insides flutter, just as it had when they were first married.  The old feelings stirred strongly within her, but with them came a terrible uncertainty.  So much had happened between them, how could they possibly regain everything they had lost?  She pushed the thoughts aside for the time being, knowing that a firm decision would have to be made sooner than later.  But not now.

Honour could see that much of Jack's reckless swagger was gone.  His actions now were deliberate in comparison, but still driven by his indomitable, forceful will.  She began to wonder if her leaving had anything to do with the change, and she found herself growing intensely curious about what happened to him after she and their unborn daughter left Barbados.  Finally, she found the courage to try and find out.

“How do you think she did it?  Found the temple, I mean,” Honour asked tentatively.
Jack gave a chuckle.  “How does Bonita do anything?  Damned sneaky, she is.  I can't believe she followed us.  We would have seen her ship, or at least a sign that someone was here with us.  My guess would be the maze has more than one entrance and path to the temple.  As you've witnessed,” he patted the haversack carrying the three golden idols, “the Ancients didn't believe in doing anything halfway.”
“You didn't seem surprised that she found us.”
“There's very little Bonita can do any more that would surprise me, darling.”
“I suppose, as long as you've known her, you've seen nearly everything she can do.”  Try as she might to hide it, a note of jealousy rang in her voice like a ship's watch bell.  “When was the last time you saw her before all this?”
Jack gave her a bemused look before answering.  “Nearly three months ago.  I was leaving on my latest, and ultimately successful, voyage to search for you.”

Her face flushed at his words, but she pressed on.  “You went back Castara, then?”
“There was nothing left for me in Barbados.  You were gone.  Someone snapped up the plantation by the time I returned from Martinique, would you believe it?”  He sighed heavily.  “It was just as well.  That scheming cockerel Jennings abandoned the Castara operation when he went his own way, and I had to go back to negotiate the dissolution of the company.  It cost me a fair bit of coin, but less than I feared.  The only one who didn't put up a fuss was that tight-fisted James Blake.  He seemed almost... sympathetic.  Who knows with him, though.  The man carries secrets as easily as the rest of us carry our skin.  But I digress.”  He helped her step over a small fallen tree before continuing.  “After that, I spent my time searching for the pieces of this grand puzzle we just solved a part of.  And searching for you.  How fitting that you should hold the one thing I need most.”

Honour smiled and thought to herself just how intertwined their lives had been almost from the very start.  She knew full well he wasn't talking about just the Sun key any more.  The feeling was still there within her, too, but she kept a tight rein.  Nagging doubts still plagued her, and she had to be certain.  Certain of him, and of herself.
“A few days ago, I would have never believed I would be saying this to you.  I'm glad you found me, Jack.”
“You didn't make it easy,” he laughed.  “I practically tore the New World apart looking for you.”
“I went home,” she said quietly.  “To Wales.”
“That explains the where.  But what I don't understand, at least not completely, is... why?”
She looked up at him, and in his eyes she could see the pain he still carried.  Her own eyes began to well with tears.
“Jack, so much happened so fast,” she said, trying to keep her voice from wavering.  “I didn't want to leave, but everything... wait!  Jack, do you hear that?  A hissing sound?  It's getting louder!”

The pair had been so intent on their conversation that they hadn't noticed the heavy black storm clouds that had been gathering ever since they reentered the jungle.
“I know that sound,” he replied.  “Rain.  Bloody hell!  We're in for a downpour!”
Post by: Welsh Wench on October 07, 2008, 05:31:43 AM
Honour giggled,. "For a minute, you sounded just like a captain I knew! Name of Bacardi, used to come into the tavern and order a rum runner. Had the cutest parrot on his shoulder. I think his name was! Blue! His name was Blue. And he loved to look down bosoms and cleavage for any flasks that may be uncorked. Sometimes we tavern wenches would put opened flasks down there just to make Blue happy!"
Jack frowned. "Uh huh....I'm sure he was delirious!"
Honour smiled in remembrance. "Oh...he was! And the feathers tickled. What's wrong, Jack? Jealous of a parrot?"
"Don't be daft! Of course not! Now if we don't get moving, we are going to be caught in a....DAMN!"
The skies opened up to a monsoon. Thunder roared and the heavens lit up with lightning.
Jack yelled over the thunderstorm, "I see a cave over by that big outcrop of rock. Run for it!"
"I don't think I've ever been so wet in my life!"
Honour stood in the cave and shook the rivulets of water off her hands. Jack took off his hat and the rain ran out of it. Honour's feathers drooped.
He threw the supplies in the corner. "Good thing I wrapped the flints in oilcloth and a blanket or two. Take your clothes off."
"Honour, this is not a proposition. If you stay in those wet clothes, you'll catch pneumonia."
He looked at her slightly crestfallen look.
"What? Are you disappointed?"
She recovered quickly. "Of course I'm not!  Relieved. That is what I am. Relieved. I don't expect anything from you, Jack Wolfe. No, not me. Not at all."
He tried to hide the mirthful look on his face.
"Alright then, love. Strip!"
"Turn your back and hand me the blanket."
He turned and flipped it over his shoulder.
When he turned back around, he caught Honour wrapping it around her body.
"Now you, " she said a bit too breathlessly.
"I thought you'd never ask, love."
She snapped, "It's for health reasons. It is so you don't get ill either."
Jack reached his hand into the sack and yelled, "OW!"
"What, forgot to sheath your dagger again? You were always doing that."
He looked at his hand in the light of the torch.
"No..but I think we are in trouble. A snake found its way into the sack."
Honour took his hand in hers and looked closely. "You've been bit, Jack."
He watched as his hand started to redden.
"Honour, that was a coral snake. Very poisonous. I think this may be a problem."
His face reflected concern.
"Jack, what are you saying?"
"I'm saying we are in the jungle and no help around. Do you know the way back?"
"Why? What are you saying?"
His voice reflected a touch of fear. "In case this ends badly."

A wave of fear rushed over her.
"Jack, what are you trying to tell me?"
He looked at her and for once Honour saw the worry in his eyes. But the worry wasn't for himself. It was for her.
And then and there Honour realized something.
She loved Jack Wolfe with all her being.
And it was possible she could lose him.
"No, Jack! I won't let this happen. You aren't leaving me here by myself to find my way back to El Lobo."
She looked out into the deluge and said, "I have to find it. I saw some."
"Some herbs that will help. It's your only chance."
His hand was flaming red.
"You can't go out in that storm, Honour."
She hastily shed the blanket and put her clothes back on, wet that they were.
"It's your only hope. I learned about it a long time ago. From grandmother."
Within fifteen minutes, Honour came back. Jack was lying on the floor of the cave, his face turning pale and his skin clammy.
He said slowly, "You came back."
She was trying to keep the despair out of her voice.
"Of course. But Jack, we haven't any time to waste."
He took her hand. Honour could feel that his skin was clammy and he was sweating profusely. The rapid pulse gave her cause for alarm.
"Jack, I need you to remain calm. We need to slow your pulse to keep the venom from reaching your vital organs.
She took a deep breath. It was the Mercedes sea battle all over again. Jack was depending on her to save his life.

Quickly, Honour put a few leaves on a large rock and took out her bodice dagger. She scored them and crushed them so the plant was pulpy.
She laid them on his hand. The sap from the leaves oozed into his bite.
She held his hand. "We change the leaves every ten minutes. And from then it is a waiting game."
He reached up and stroked her cheek.
"Honour, I always thought I would die at sea. Going down with my ship. Not from something as idiotic as a snakebite."
"Hush, Jack. You are going to be fine," she said with a bravado she did not feel.
He whispered, "I know it's fatal, my love."
He reached up and touched her cheek. "I love you, Honour."
A chill swept over her and she felt a sense of déjà vu.
Because those were the very words Rhys Morgan uttered to her in his last breath.
Post by: Welsh Wench on October 13, 2008, 05:40:27 AM
Honour continued to cut the leaves and plaster them over Jack's hand. What was only ten minute increments seemed like hours. She wrapped blankets around him to keep him from going into shock.
She kept watching his breathing as he dozed off and on, touching his skin to denote any kind of change.
Finally it happened. His breathing became less shallow and his skin regained its colour.
She breathed a sigh of relief and sent up a prayer of thanks.
She could fill the tears of relief fill her eyes. Quickly she wiped them away so Jack wouldnt see them.
"Yes, Jack?"
Jack looked over at her and asked, "I'm not dead, am I?"
She shook her head and said, "Why would you ask that?"
"You are here with me and I am alive. Feels like heaven on earth."
She took his hand in hers and said, "Let me see how it is looks."
She looked down at his hand and took the leaves off. There was no redness.
No swelling.
No fever.

She could hardly keep the joy out of her voice as she tried casually to say, "I am here to inform you, Captain Wolfe, that it looks like your time on earth has been extended!"
"So I am cured?"
She laughed and said, "If you were a fish, I would throw you back!"
Jack started to sit up but he fell back weakly.
"Guess I am not as cured as I thought."
Honour shook her head. "That is not it. You are just exhausted. Your body drew on its own strength to get you through."
She rummaged through the haversack.
"For God's sake, Honour! Be careful!"
She retorted, "I know to jiggle the bag first, thank you very much!'s an apple and some pears. And cheese and bread. You need to clear out the toxins in your body."
After a light meal, Jack laid back on the bed rolls that Honour had rolled out.
She pushed the hair back from his face and he caught her hand.
Quietly he said, "Thank you, Honour."
She smiled softly and asked, "For what?"
"For saving my life."
"Well, I couldn't very well let the fa---"
"The what?"
"The fates have their way with you."
Honour yawned. "The rain has let up but it is still steady. Are you warm enough?"
"I'd feel better if I could hold you in my arms."
She laughed and said, "I think that could be arranged."
She moved her bedroll next to his and he put his arms around her as she spooned up next to him.
From the dark, she said, "You do know this is for medicinal purposes only."
"Oh, of course!"
"Because staying warm is of utmost importance."
"I realize that."
"So I am just doing what I should."
"I can't ask for anything more, can I?"
"No, you can't."
After a minute, his voice whispered in the darkness, "But I can sure try!"
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on October 16, 2008, 07:57:34 AM
Men began emerging from below decks once the fury of the storm had passed.  Briggs, ever vigilant, had kept his station on the quarterdeck to ensure the ship's safety even as the heavens raged above him.  He also had kept close watch on the beach where Jack and Honour had landed, in case they came back early.  Now he shifted his attention from the island's shore to the crew going about putting anything dislodged by the storm back in its proper place.  Two anxious looking men approached the quarterdeck and respectfully stopped halfway up the steps.

“Mister Briggs!” the first one called.  “We want ta volunteer wot as ta go searchin' for th' Cap'n an' the missus.  We figure they might be in trouble after that 'ellacious storm an' all.  Me an' Marley, that is.”
“That'd be me,” Marley said meekly.
“'E knows it's you, ye daft...”
“Belay yerself, Bidwell,” Briggs interrupted.  “Nobody's goin' anywhere.  I'd wager my boots they found shelter and are safe as houses.  Besides, Jack has the only map.  I'll not send you nor anyone else to stumble about aimless in a haunted jungle.”

“H-haunted?” gulped Marley.
“Nobody said nuffin' 'bout a 'aunted jungle,” Bidwell said quietly, the sudden fear in his voice all too evident.

The truth was Briggs didn't trust anyone aboard save Duckie and the cat after the previous night's mutiny, and he wanted to keep an eye on everyone.  He continued to weave his yarn. 
“Aye, haunted!  Jack held back that bit of information so as to keep the crew from worryin' needless-like.”  He leaned close and pointed at the men in warning.  “Now, I've already said too much about it to ye lot.  Ye'll not breathe a word of this to a soul, or I'll have ye both over a barrel, understand?”
“Not a word ta no one, aye,” said Bidwell.  “C'mon, Marley.  We got work ta do.”
He turned and started down the steps, but his shipmate was rooted to the spot.
“... haunted?” was all Marley could manage.

Bidwell grabbed Marley by the collar and practically dragged the fear struck man behind him.

Briggs let out a sigh and shook his head.  “Well, Jack, ye always said a good crewman is soft in the head and strong of back.  Those two are prime specimens, they are!”

He walked back to the rail and peered out at the beach.  “Don't make a liar out of me, Jack.  Ye'd best be safe.  Honour, too.”


Moonlight poured in through the cave's entrance, bathing the couple in its pale radiance.  Jack awoke from his sleep, and for a moment he was certain he must still be dreaming.  For there in his arms lay the woman he loved with all his heart and soul.  He regarded how angelic she looked as she slept, and he brought his face close to her hair.  Slowly he breathed in, drinking in her delicate scent.  It wasn't the jasmine she usually wore on her neck just behind her ears.  It was simply... Honour.  Without thinking, he reached up and caressed her golden moonlit tresses.

Honour stirred at his touch and snuggled back against him in her sleep.  He smiled, remembering all the times he held her this very way after they made love.  He closed his eyes at the treasured memory and gently kissed her head.

“Jack?  Are you all right?” she asked in almost a whisper.
“I'm fine, darling,” her answered, his voice low and soft.  “I just woke up is all.  Nothing's wrong.  In fact, everything feels right.”
She yawned and stretched a little, just as she always did upon waking.  Jack chuckled softly as he felt the sleepy little tremor go through her when she arched her back.  She rolled over to face him, a curious smile teasing the corners of her mouth.

“What's so funny?” she asked.
He smiled and shook his head slowly.  “Not a thing.  I was just thinking back to a time when I didn't have to get bitten by a snake to hold you.”
Honour could feel the heat rise in her cheeks.  Lying in his arms reminded her of how good things with Jack could be.  How complete she felt making love with him.  The nagging doubts would not go away, however. 
“I remember those times, too.  But Jack, that was a long time ago...”
“Not really, when you think about it.  I've missed you terribly, Honour.  Please, don't make me gather up a sack full of snakes to take back with us.  Briggs has a hard enough time with the cat.”

She burst into giggles at the thought of the curmudgeonly quartermaster running a gauntlet of poisonous serpents just to get to his cabin, only to find a stubborn cat curled up on his bed.    Jack never failed to find a way to make her laugh.  In honesty, she missed his off the wall sense of humour, and so many other things.

“No,” she laughed.  “No snakes.  This is the second time I've saved your life, and I must say it's getting a little boring.”
“Boring!  And just as you were getting good at it.  You're a hard woman to please Honour Bright.”
“Not really,” she said, the mirth fading somewhat from her voice.  “But I refuse to let you die in front of me, Jack Wolfe.”  She poked him in the shoulder where he had been shot during the battle with Mendoza.  “It would please me most if you managed to stay alive, in spite of yourself.”
“I shall do my very best, my lady!”  he laughed.

Honour looked down at nothing in particular, absentmindedly playing with the front of his shirt.  “You had quite a fever from the poison.  Are you really feeling better?”
“Thanks to you, I feel wonderful.  Why do you ask?”
“It's just that... when you were feverish, you said... things.  I doubt you even remember them.”
Jack gently took her hand and pressed his lips against her skin.  “I meant it, Honour.  I do love you.  I never stopped.  I never will.”

She could feel her heart swell in her chest, so full that it felt close to bursting.  All her doubts fled like wraiths from the morning sunlight.  She looked at how the moonbeams glimmered in his eyes, knowing full well that the light there shone for her and her alone.  Her hand squeezed his, and she swallowed hard.

“There is one other thing that would please me, Jack,” she said quietly.
“Name it, my love.  Anything at all.”
Honour took a deep breath, looked deep in her husband's eyes, and spoke her wish.

“Make love to me.”
Post by: Welsh Wench on October 20, 2008, 09:17:00 PM
Jack wasn't sure he heard her right.
"Honour? Are you sure?"
She sat up and said, "When you came to my room after the fiasco with the East India merchant ship, I was under the impression that you wanted me. ME, Jack. But your intention was to get the Sun key away from me. I was too caught up in the moment until I saw you distracted with your hands--one of them, at least--under the headboard searching for it. Do you know how hurt I was?"
Jack looked down. "I'm sorry about that, Honour. I don't know what came over me. Trying to kill two birds with one stone, I guess."
"My ego took a beating that afternoon, Jack. I felt like a commodity. But when the mutiny happened, you came to my rescue. You saved me. And when we shared a whiskey in your quarters, I saw something else in your eyes. Respect. And that meant alot to me."
"I never meant to hurt you, Honour. Well, maybe I did. I came back from Martinique and you were gone."
She took his hands in hers and said, "That is all in the  past, Jack. Some day you will understand. It was something that I had to do at the time. And Wales was the right place for me to go. Maybe when I crawled out of the tavern on my hands and knees, I was hoping you would sweep me up in your arms and take me away again."
He chuckled. "In a matter of speaking, I guess I did, didn't I?"
"How about a little less talk and a lot more action, Captain Wolfe?"

He reached over to touch her cheek, his finger tracing down to her chin, sweeping the hair away from her neck.
He continued to trace a fine line down her neck and across the swelling of what lay beneath the fine cotton of her chemise. Her eyes closed as she drew in her breath. He could feel the rapid beat of her heart.
Jack reached up and wound her hair in his left hand, drawing her face close to his. She entwined her hands around his neck, her lips parted.
They met in a deep, searching kiss that told each other more than mere words could ever say.
When they broke apart, Jack gently tugged on the drawstring of her chemise, loosening it. He reached to cup the softness that lay underneath, gently caressing her.
She let out a soft moan as his lips traced down her shoulders as he pushed her back on the bedroll. Within seconds, the chemise lay on the floor.
She drew him near, her hands pulling his shirt free, her fingers softly playing over his back.
That was all the encouragement Jack needed. Honour need convey no other message than that she wanted him.
Then and there.
Their desire melted into a need, a fire nothing could quench until there was nothing but smoke and ashes.
He slid his hand slowly down her body, his practiced touch never having lost their spell on her. He knew what she wanted. And what she needed.
Her caresses were not lost on Jack. His desire for her grew until there was nothing to do but forge ahead.
They both knew where they were headed and would be satisfied with nothing less. No words were needed.
It was as if the time spent apart had never existed, so in tune were they to each other's needs.

"Honour?" Jack paused and whispered.
She could barely breathe, "No talking, Jack..."
"But I have to know."
"Is this number 57 or 63?"
"Neither. It's 74."
"That's what I thought. I thought I had forgotten. Honour?"
"Jack, please, no talking, let's just...."
"I thought you hadn't read that book."
She grabbed him by the hair and pulled his face close to hers.
"I lied, Jack. I LIED!  NOW are you satisfied?"
"Well, not yet because we haven't...."
"Yeah, Honour?"
"I can forgive you anything but one thing, Jack"
"What's that, Honour?"
"Don't run out of steam Jack, because you had better finish what you started!"
And that was all Jack needed to hear.
They were at a point where there was no going back.
They had come full circle.


Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on October 27, 2008, 09:08:41 PM
Honour lay in Jack's arms with her head resting on his chest.  She could hear his heart beating, it's pace still quickened from the passion they had just shared.  A contented smile played upon her lips as she made lazy circles on his stomach with her fingertip.  She could feel Jack gently run his fingers through her hair, then caress her shoulder.  The peaceful murmur of the jungle enveloped the lovers, adding to their bliss.

“Do you hear that?” he asked softly.
She lifted her head and looked up at him.  “No.  It's not an animal, is it?”
“No.  It's just so peaceful.  Do you realize this is the first time we've made love and not been within a stone's throw of another person?”
She smiled and snuggled up against him.  “Now that you mention it, I do enjoy not hearing footsteps above us.”
“Or having to be quiet?

Honour looked up at him again and gave a shocked look, then playfully slapped his belly.  “You are a devil, Jack!  You'll make me blush.”
He moved his face close to hers.  “Isn't that part of it, my love?  To make you glow?”
Their lips met in a tenderly passionate kiss.  She sighed and put her head back on his chest.
“Your kisses alone can do that, my husband.”
“Don't think you'll get away that easy, darling.  Not while I draw a breath!”
“Good!” she giggled.

Jack stroked her silken hair again.
“Um, any regrets?” he asked.  Honour couldn't help but hear the mixture of hope and dread in his voice.
“About this.  Us.”
“Why would I regret something that I freely wanted?” she answered gently.  “Something we both wanted?”  Another giggle escaped her lips.  “And something you obviously still want!  You won't let a girl rest, will you?”
“Shades of our wedding night, eh?”
“And the next day, and the next, and the next,” she laughed.
Jack had always found Honour's laughter infectious, and this time was no different.  “We made a bit of history together, didn't we?  But I can't help but wonder what the next day will bring this time?”
“I'm pretty sure you're thinking about something else,” she teased.

He gently caressed her neck, and she breathed in deeply at his touch.  Then, without warning, he quickly moved his hand down her body and began tickling her ribs.  Honour yelped and attempted to mount a counter attack.  Before long, the lovers where back in each other's arms, laughing like youngsters.  Jack looked into Honour's eyes and marvelled at the joyous playfulness he found there.  Once again they kissed, only to have the both of them dissolve into a giggling fit.

“Honour, please stay with me,” he blurted.
Honour's laugh faded, and a strange mixture of emotions competed to control her expression.  She wanted so much to tell Jack everything; about their infant daughter, the plantation, and what was in her heart.  But the words would not come.  She had woven such a complex tapestry of secrets, half-truths, and lies that there was no simple way to unravel it all.  It would take time for her to find the right words.  When she did, those words would change Jack Wolfe's world forever.

“Jack, please, not now.”
“Why not?  Honour, if not now, when?”
“I promise, soon.  When we're back aboard the ship.”
He began to protest, and she put her finger against his lips.
“Please, Jack.  Let's just enjoy what we have right here, right now.  We'll talk about everything when we're off this island.  I swear.”

Her words were of little comfort to him.  He knew that Honour's definition of 'everything' ran the gamut from full disclosure to a thumbnail sketch depending on the circumstances.
“You know I'm going to hold you to that,” he said sternly.
“Yes, Honour?”
“You're talking too much again.”
Jack tilted his head and smiled slyly.  “I suppose you're going to have to find a way to shut me up, then.”

Honour snaked her arms around his neck and pulled him into a slow, smouldering, sensual kiss.  Every nerve in his body felt as if they were on the verge of bursting into flame at any moment.  She slowly broke away and looked into his eyes, knowing full well she had his absolute and undivided attention as she moved her body over his.
“Feeling less talkative?” she asked with a devilish smirk.
Jack returned her wicked look and nodded his head enthusiastically.  Once more they kissed, and their lover's dance began anew.
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on October 27, 2008, 09:20:15 PM
Honour's eyes fluttered open.  It took her a few moments to get her bearings.  They were still in the cave, and she was curled up in her husband's arms.  She looked up to find Jack smiling at her.
“Good morning,” he softly said.  The look on his face reminded her of those idyllic mornings at Castara.
“Good morning,” she said dreamily.  “Have you been awake long?”
“About half an hour.  I was watching you dream.  You had the sweetest smile on your face.  What was it about?”
Indeed she had been dreaming, of little Zara.  She touched one of his loose brown curls, so like their daughter's.
“Wales, and family,” she replied, and yawned.  “I guess we should pack up and leave our private little Eden?”
“You'll forgive me if I leave the serpent behind!” Jack laughed.  “You know, it's funny you should mention Eden.  I think I understand how Adam must have felt, having the most beautiful woman in the world all to himself.”
“Eve was the only woman in the world, silly!”
“That's why I'm luckier than he ever was.  You're the only woman in my world, Honour.”

She beamed at him, then in a teasing voice asked, “Are you sure about that?”
“Positive!  I can't imagine there being a woman capable of bewitching me the way you have.”
“I can,” she chuckled under her breath.
“I'm sorry?”
“Nothing!”  She took him by the chin.  “I'll keep you to that, you know.”
Jack smiled tenderly.  “You have my word, darling.”
“Ha!  The word of a pirate?” she teased.  “You'll have to do better than that.”
“Would the word of your husband suit you better?”
“Yes,” she answered softly.  “Yes, that would suit me just fine.”

Jack began to draw her close for a kiss, but Honour patted him sharply on the chest.
“Save some for later!  Even Adam took a day off every now and again.  Besides, we should get you back and have Duckie check your hand.”
“But you healed me!” he protested.
She retrieved her chemise and got up.  “I'd like a second opinion, just to be on the safe side.”
“You're gorgeous, too,” Jack quipped.
Honour stuck her tongue out at him.  She went about getting dressed while Jack did the same.

“I'm so hungry!” he said.
“I don't doubt it,” she said with a little laugh.  “I'm starved, too.  Should I go find some fruit?”
“This is where the apple comes in, isn't it?  I knew it was too good to be true!”
“Oh, fine then.  Out of respect to your tender sensibilities, I'll bring back oranges or something.”
“My sensibilities and I thank you,” he said with a sweeping mock bow.  “I'll get the meat and cheese whilst you're away.”
“Be sure to shake that sack first!  I swear, I only save your life once a voyage.  Any more than that and I shall think you're doing it for attention,” she admonished.
“Listen to you!” laughed Jack.  “You'll make a fine mother!”
“And who said anything about children?”
He gave her a lusty smile.  “Come over here, and we'll discuss the matter...”
Honour gave a girlish squeal and ran from the cave.  Her laughter came drifting back to him like chimes on the wind.
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on October 27, 2008, 09:20:42 PM
After a breakfast of the last of their provisions and assorted fruits Honour had harvested, the couple resumed their trek back to the beach where they had landed.  Jack had made such a comic production of eating a pomegranate that she still wasn't sure whether to laugh or blush.  It made her happy to see him so light hearted.  She had rediscovered the Jack Wolfe she had fallen in love with.

Still, Honour was worried how he would react to the news about Zara.  Would he be happy they had a child, that he was the father of a beautiful baby girl?  Would he even want to be part of Zara's life?  Would the thought of having the real responsibility of a child change his mind about starting over with Honour?  Or would he be angry about being kept in the dark this whole time?  After all, if things had gone as planned in Glenlivet, she wouldn't have had to deal with telling Jack anything at all.  But life seldom cooperates with one's plans.

As she mulled the possibilities over in her mind, another came to the fore.  A small yet insidious voice within her said 'So don't tell him.  Play it safe.  Go back to Glenlivet and hire passage to Wales.  He doesn't need to know.  Why risk it?'  She recognised that voice immediately.  It was the horrid little voice that had piped up at every major juncture of her life with the same message: 'Run!'  Honour shook her head to clear her thoughts.  If there was anything she was tired of, it was running.  She looked over to find Jack smiling at her.

“You're a million miles away again, love.  A guilder for your thoughts?” he said with a wink.
“A guilder!  My, what a high price you put on my daydreams!”
“I'm a pirate, darling.  Bribing my way in is what I do.”
“So that's how it's done?  Not charging in, guns blazing?”
“That tactic is for amateurs.  It's good for the first few times, but it's easy to counter once they suss out your game.  No, I rather prefer the subtle approach these days.  More sincere, and certainly more satisfying.”
Honour turned her face away to hide the blush that came to her cheeks.  “You needn't bribe me, Jack.  But what happened to the unpredictable ways that made you a legend?”
“Oh, don't worry my pet.  They're still alive and well.”  He tossed his sword that he had been using as a machete over his shoulder.  Honour turned to watch it arc though the air and spear the ground behind them.  Before she knew what was happening, Jack swept her up in his arms and gave her a deep, loving kiss.
“Unpredictable enough for you?  I have plenty more where that came from,” he said with a saucy smile.
She looked back at him, her eyes still wide in surprise.  “I can see that!  Forgive me.  I should have known you still have plenty of tricks up your sleeve!”

Jack set her gently back on her feet.  “Didn't want you thinking I'd gone soft.  Just wizened.”
“After last night, I'm the last to suggest you've gone soft, my husband,” she said demurely.
It was Jack's turn to give a shocked look.  “My dear, I think you made me blush!”
Honour plucked his sword from the ground and, with a twirl, presented the weapon to him.
“I believe this is yours?  You should take better care where it's displayed.  I should hate to think of just anyone coming around to fondle it.”
He accepted the sword from her.  “I'll take that under advisement.  You're the only one allowed that close to my blade, I'll have you know.”
“See that it stays that way, mon capitan,” she said with a flirtatious glance.

Jack had kept his sword drawn more out of habit than need.  The path was still clear enough, even after the storm.  He sheathed the cutlass as they continued on, all the while keeping his eyes on his bride.  Even in such a harsh jungle, she cut an elegant figure.  It was so easy for him to fall in love with her all over again with the changing of the day's light.  But uncertainty nagged at him.  Why was she so reluctant to talk about staying with him?  He had laid his soul bare to her, and as usual, Honour had played her cards close to the vest.  What was she hiding?  Was there someone else?  His stomach tied itself into a knot thinking that Cade Jennings might be out there waiting for her.  If there was one person Jack wanted to exact retribution from, it was that treacherous whelp he had so foolishly trusted like his own son.  He remembered how Cade looked at Honour, and he had always resented it.  Yes, Honour had told him that there was nothing between the two of them, but he couldn't shake the suspicion no matter how hard he tried.  If she evaded his questions once they were back aboard El Lobo, he would have his answer.

Suddenly, Honour took off at a run.
“Jack, the beach!  Here it is!  And the boat made it though the storm!  We can go home now!”
Home.  What a wonderful word to come from her lips!  Jack ran to catch up and get their boat back into the water and return to their floating nation where, God willing, they would reign as King and Queen.
Post by: Welsh Wench on November 03, 2008, 06:20:33 PM
"Well, it's about time ye made it back here, Jack! I was about to send a search party out for ye two!"
Briggs extended his hand out to Jack. As Jack swung his leg over, he clapped Briggs on the back.
"Damn, it's good to have the wood of the deck under my feet again!"
The voice came from the ladder.
Jack grinned, "I seem to have forgotten the anchor and chain!" he winked at Briggs.
"I heard that!" the voice responded from the other side of the gunwale.
Jack leaned over and laughed, "Oy! I meant for you to hear that!"
Briggs could scarcely contain himself. "So...did you find it?"
Jack played innocent. "Find what?"
"You know...what was inside!"
Honour's head popped up by the gunwale. "Do you intend, Jack Wolfe, to set sail with me hanging onto the side for dear life?"
"No, love. Although you would make a fine masthead, I'd hate to have to scrape the waterbugs out of your hair!"
He reached over and took both of her hands.
Honour threw her legs over the gunwale and hopped onto the deck. She gave Briggs a warm smile.
"So nice to see you, Josiah!"
He grinned, "And you, too, Honour!"
She dusted off her clothes and said, "The one thing I really want is a hot bath!"
She headed towards Jack's quarters.
Briggs said quizzically, "Um...isn't your quarters over there?"
She winked at Jack and said, "Aye. That is so true!" And she proceeded towards the great cabin, closing the door behind her.

Briggs whirled towards Jack. ""
Jack lit his pipe. "We've come to a mutual accord, Briggs."
"She knows where I keep the hot water!"

Briggs raised an eyebrow. "Are you going to tell me?"
"I suppose I shall. We did have unexpected company though. As long as Honour is submerging herself and there are parts of her I don't want you to see, let's go down to her quarters and I'll fill you in on what we found. And who."


Briggs and Jack settled back with a brandy, Jack indulging in the pipeweed he knew Honour hated.
"So...tell me! What did you find?"
Jack emptied the haversack and dumped the scrolls onto the table.
"That's it? THAT'S IT? You risked life and limb for PAPER?"
Jack grinned, "Not really."
He took out one of the statues and set it on the table.
Briggs let out a low whistle. "Jack...any idea what it is?"
Jack put his feet up on the desk and folded his arms across his chest.
"LaFourche was right. That is one of the Kings. The chest was only the Keeper of the Kings. And these--" he sifted his fingers through the scrolls "----may be the answer to the puzzle. The Kings are guarding a secret."

Just then Honour came in, dressed in fresh clothes, her wet hair hanging down her back.
"Please, go on with whatever you were discussing, which I am sure was the treasure. I just came in to get a few things."
She opened her chest drawers, humming a tune. She took a few chemises and a few of her cosmetics, then left the room.
Briggs raised his eyebrow and Jack gave him a grin.
"We're working on our accord."

"Before I tell you the whole story, let me get Duckie. I got bit by a snake and this way I don't have to repeat the story twice and it will be easier...."
"There you are! Davis told me you were back. I was taking stock of the drug inventory."
Jack held out his hand "Just the man I want to see!  Duckie, take a look at this, will you?"
Duckie looked and said, "That's your hand. So what?"
"Any sign of poison of a snakebite?"
"Snakebite! What the hell were you two up to? I would have expected it to be on your rump!"
Jack laughed and said, "Honour once again saved my life. For some reason, she knew which herbs to use to draw the poison out. And as long as I have the medical go-ahead, pour yourself a brandy. I am about ready to tell Briggs the story of the last few days!"


"..and that is the whole story."
Duckie poured himself another brandy. "Why am I not surprised by all this? Jack, I swear, you and Puddin' have nine lives. By rights, you should have been dead long ago!"
Briggs shook his head. "Bonita. Thought that witch-woman would still be in Castara. Claiming to be one o' the Ancients."
Jack stood up and put the scrolls into the ship's safe along with the Three Kings. "Funny thing, Josiah, is that I believe her. It's too preposterous not to be true."
He locked the safe and said, "Gentlemen? I declare this meeting over. The cook is having a dinner sent to my quarters. Mrs. Wolfe and I have some discussing to do."
As he left, Briggs turned to Duckie and said, "Don't like the sound of that discussin', Duckie."
Duckie poured another brandy and said, "If they are quiet, you won't have to hear it, Josiah!"

Post by: Welsh Wench on November 03, 2008, 06:45:33 PM
Jack lit the candles as Honour came out of the dressing area.
"Jack! How lovely!"
She stood there in a dress of emerald green silk, her hair swept up and away from her face.
He found himself staring at her. "I don't know what is more attractive, Honour. You wrapped in silk, all brushed and scented, or in the jungle in a wet, dirty chemise with dirt streaked on your face."
She laughed and said, "Jack, you say the most unusual things. But I guess I'll take that as 'sweet talk' coming from a pirate!"

They each took helpings of the food, making small talk, talking about everything and nothing. And avoiding what seemed to be the question hanging between them.
What do they do now?

Jack poured the merlot.
"We never did discuss what you were doing in Glenlivet, Honour."
"I was heading back to Wales."
"Wales. And what is in Wales?"
"My family."
"I did alot of thinking last night after close. And it all comes down to one thing, Honour. We belong together. There hasn't been a day that went by that I didn't think of you. When I saw you on your hands and knees trying to crawl out of the tavern, I almost couldn't breathe. I believe fate has brought us back together. And who are we to laugh in the face of the goddesses?"
Honour took a sip of her wine and looked down.
"Jack, I don't know. So much has happened. Last night we were caught in a moment."
"A moment. Is that all it was to you? A moment?"
She shook her head. "Of course not. It meant so much more. It was just like the last time we were together. Only better."
Jack took her hand and looked into her eyes. "I want you back. Is there any reason why you can't come back to me?"
She felt her breath stop and she consciously willed it to resume.
"When we made our way back to Bridgetown, after you had been shot, you rejected me. You changed. We both said alot of hurtful things. But Jack, I never meant to hurt you."
"What are you trying to say?"
"That we are not the same people we were eighteen months ago. Alot has changed. And right now, my place is to go to Wales."
"I can't tell you."
Jack's eyes hardened.
"Since when can't you tell me? Lord help me, Honour. I'm your husband! I have been your husband for the last eighteen months. Alright, so we had a bit of a separation. Alot of marriages have rocky spots."
"Rocky spots? Try Gibraltar, Jack. You pulled a gun on me and I had to kick it out of your hand in order to stay alive. A wife doesn't forget a little thing like that. I couldn't trust that it wouldn't happen again. If I didn't leave, then I never would have had..."
She stopped short.
"You never told me where you went that night, Honour. But I found out. A friend of mine who happened to know you from the tavern days told me he saw you coming out of the very same inn where Cade Jennings was staying. No use denying it. Turns out that Cade happened to brag about it to someone and he was overheard."

She shook her head. "I don't expect you to understand. Or even forgive me for the way I left."
"You left without a trace. Not even a note. What was I supposed to think?"
Honour knew from the change in his tone that the Wolfe temper was about to be engaged. She braced herself for it.
"I was confused. I had alot going on just then."
"You mean you had Cade going on just then."
"Leave Cade Jennings out of it."
"I would if I could."
"Cade has nothing to do with my decision to go back to Wales, Jack."
"Then why are you going?"
"I told you. Family."
Jack stood up and slammed his fist on the table.
"You know what I think?"
She stood up and met his anger. "I'm sure you are about to tell me, Jack. You always do."
He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her fiercely, "The plantation you were sent out to purchase had been sold to another person. Someone named R. C. Castlemaine. I tried to find out who this man was but no one ever heard of him. Ten chests of my guilders were missing the day after you disappeared. Cade then purchases a ship. The Gryphon. He then leaves the smuggling operation and I am left picking up the pieces. I think you arranged to meet him, gave him my money to buy his ship and then you two sailed off to Wales together. And I think you still have plans. I heard from the captain of the Scarlet Fox that Cade was due in Genlivet any day. And strange that I should find you there too. What were you doing, keeping the bed warm for him?"
"IT'S NOT TRUE! I had a good reason for that money. And it wasn't for me!"
"Right. It was for Cade. Or was it for one of your other lovers?"
"I can't believe you said that. I should have trusted my first instincts. I should have given you the key right away and kept walking! You haven't changed. You will never change!"
Jack looked at her intensely and said in a measured tone, "Where are the chests of guilders, Honour? WHERE ARE THEY?"
She felt her eyes welling up with tears.
"It is for a little girl."
She looked up at him defiantly, "A little girl who is waiting for her mama to come back for her."
Jack's hands dropped off her shoulders and he looked at her bewilderedly.
She could barely whisper, "A little girl named Zara Wolfe."

Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on November 10, 2008, 06:40:41 PM
Jack stared at Honour in disbelief.  He blinked a few times before he finally found his voice.
“Honour, are... are you sure?”
“Yes, Jack, I'm quite certain that what popped out of me wasn't a salamander,” she retorted.  “It was a baby.  Your child.  I only wish you had been there to share in the pain!  It was like trying to shove Briggs through a porthole.  Good God, Jack!  Didn't your parents explain any of this to you?!”
“You know what I meant!” he snapped.  “How are you so certain it's mine?”

Hot tears rolled down her cheeks at his insinuation.
“Damn you for asking me that question,” she said, unable to disguise the pain his words caused.  “What would you make of her?  She has beautiful bright blue eyes, delicate features, skin the colour of almond butter, and thick, curling brown hair, almost long enough to braid when she was born.  Sound like a couple of people you know?”
Jack searched Honour's eyes as her tears continued to flow, and the sceptical look on his face evaporated.
“I believe you,” he said softly.
She gave him a puzzled look.  “Just like that?  You usually want to argue until we're both hoarse.”
He shook his head.  “You never cry when you're lying.”  He took a napkin from the table and dabbed the tears from her cheeks.  “I suppose she's got your defiant chin, too?”
“And your temper.”
“God help us all!” Jack chuckled. 

He leaned against the table and looked at the floor for a moment.
“So that was the family you were going back to see?  Our daughter?” Jack asked as he looked back at Honour.  Her tears had stopped, but her expression was still distressed.  He seemed to be taking the news well, but could she trust that the other shoe wouldn't drop?
She nodded yes.
“Why did you come back here?” he asked.  “It can't be because of a forgotten hairbrush.”
“I... I wanted to secure Zara's future.  I felt she would have a better life here in the New World.  That's why I went to Barbados and purchased a plantation,” Honour explained nervously, “so she would never have to want for anything, and she could grow up where she was... where it all started.”
“You got your plantation after all.  Good.  Does it compare to the one you originally wanted?”
“Almost,” she fibbed.  The news about Zara was enough candour for one day.

“And when exactly had you planned to tell me about our child, Honour?”
There it was.  The question she had dreaded the most.  “I was waiting for the right moment--”
“The right moment?!” he echoed incredulously.  “We've been together on this ship four days now, and another two by ourselves in the jungle.  You managed to find a way to talk about anything BUT our daughter!  I could have died from that bloody snake bite and never known I have a child.  Or were you waiting for the death rattle before telling me?  For God's sake, Honour, you could easily have died in the mutiny!  I would have been none the wiser, and there would have been a little girl in Wales who would never know her mummy or daddy!”
“Jack, please, you're not being fair....”
“You never had any intention of telling me until I dragged it out of you.  You were content to disappear again and deny me any knowledge of my flesh and blood, just like you did when you vanished from Barbados and cut me out of your life and hers!”

Honour could scarcely believe what she was hearing.  He had seemed so accepting at first, but now he was resentful and angry.  She could feel her face redden with her own anger.
“Now wait a moment, Jack!  As shocking as this may seem, it's not all about you this time!” she countered.  “I cut you out?  You pushed me away after your little grudge match with Mendoza, remember?  Everything fell apart, and you seemed content to let it!  Then, just when it seemed we could set things to right, you had to run off to Martinique and get your precious journal...”
“That journal just netted us the find of a lifetime!  And who knows what other treasures they left out there?
“You had a treasure right here, Jack.  RIGHT HERE!  But I guess I didn't glitter enough to hold your attention.”
“That's not true, Honour,” he replied.
“You had a damned strange way of showing it,” she said sadly.  “Yes, by the time I left Barbados, I knew I was pregnant.  I had suspicions of it on the crossing from Tobago.  But I couldn't trust you any more, Jack.  I couldn't trust you to be around when I needed you, and I certainly couldn't trust your temper.”
“Now you're the one being unfair...”
“Am I?  Jack, if you had fired your pistol that night, you could have killed me and Zara.  Think about it!  How was I supposed to trust you after that?”  She paused and looked at him with saddened eyes.  “I knew then I had to leave, to protect the baby and myself.  I'm sorry, but it's true.  I didn't want to.  But you left me no choice.”

A wave of guilt washed over Jack.  She was right, of course, no matter how it stung to acknowledge the fact.  It was clear now what his selfishness had cost him this time.  Not only had he driven away the woman he loved, but he had missed out on the birth of his daughter.  A daughter he never knew he had!  Ever since Honour had mentioned wanting children that sunny day at Castara, he had thought that being a father would feel wonderful.  Now presented the knowledge that he had a child in the world, it felt surreal.  But one thing was certain; this was his last chance.

Honour could tell from the look on his face that he was trying to absorb everything she had said.  Jack's world had been turned upside down, changed forever.  She found herself holding her breath waiting for his response.

Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on November 10, 2008, 06:41:45 PM
“God, I hate it when you're right,” he said sullenly.
“I wanted to tell you so many times, Jack, I swear.  I didn't know how.”
“We really should find a middle ground between silence and blurting.”
She wasn't sure if he was teasing or not.  Nonetheless, a tiny laugh escaped.  “We do spend too much time either keeping our thoughts to ourselves or saying too much, and all at the wrong times,” she agreed.
He gave her a wan smile and shook his head.  “It seems to be what we're best at.”  He took a swallow of wine and sighed heavily.  “Where do we go from here, Honour?”

Usually, Jack was an easy man for her to read.  Not this time.  Why wasn't he asking questions about Zara?  Maybe he's still in shock, she thought.  She bit her lip and looked toward the windows.  “You know my place is in Wales now.”
Jack's body stiffened and he took a deep breath.  “You're place is in Wales, and by my side.  I want to see my daughter, Honour.  So I'll take you home myself.”
“Jack, I...”
“Now, don't waste your breath trying to talk me out of it!” he interrupted.  “I know what you said before about not being able to trust me, and you were right.  But I'm a different man now.  To be honest, I can't bear the thought of having you walk out of my life again.  Even more so now that I know about Zara.”
“I know what you're going to say, and it just won't do!  I love you, Honour.  I need you.  And Zara needs us.  Her mother and father, together.  And that's how we'll be going to Wales.  Together.  So don't go making me kidnap you again.  I'm getting pretty good at it, you know...”
Honour stamped her heel hard on the deck.  “Jack, would you SHUT UP?!  Of course you're going to take me to Wales!  Thanks to you kidnapping me, I've missed my ship!  It's only reasonable that you provide me the transportation I need as compensation.  Besides, this ship is half mine.”  She put her fists on her hips and gave him an exasperated look.  “Did you really think I wasn't going to let you see your daughter after telling you about her?”

Jack looked back at her incredulously.  “I... you... what?”
“I said, I want you to take me back to Wales so we can fetch our little girl.  Weren't you listening?”
“But, you were just saying you didn't feel you could trust me.”
She sighed and shook her head.  “And as you said, you're a different man now.  I could see it in your eyes the night of the mutiny when you showed compassion for Eli, and so many more times whilst we were in the jungle.”  A tender smile came to her lips.  “Deep down, you've changed.  For the better.”
He continued to look at her as a broad smile broke out on his face.  “You're serious, aren't you?”
“Yes, Jack.  I'm serious.”
“Then why the hell did you let me go on like that and make a fool of myself?!”
Honour laughed gently.  “I tried to stop you, but you were on a roll.  Besides, it was adorable watching you try to be all noble.”

He went back to his chair and sat heavily, and drained his glass of wine.
“Dear Lord... a baby girl?  You're sure about that?  I mean, they dress babies up so that you can't tell what the devil they are.  Boy, girl, ferret- it's tough to say some times.”
“Yes, Jack.  I checked, more than once.  No stem on the apple,” she said with a wink.
“There's a cruel twist of fate, don't you think?” he asked as he refilled their glasses.
“How so?”
“Jack Wolfe, the father of a little girl?”  Suddenly, his eyes went wide in horror.  “Oh, no...”
Honour held her breath.  “What's wrong?  Don't tell me you're having second thoughts.”  She took a sip of wine to ready her nerves.
“No, no, not that,” he said quietly.  Turning to her with a look of worry and concern, he explained, “Honour, I'm going to have to protect her from... men like ME!”
She was barely able to swallow her wine before dissolving into laughter.  “You've got a few years before you have to worry about that!”

After a few moments, she cocked her head and gave her husband a puzzled look.
“Are you all right?  I know this is a lot for you to take in, but I can't remember ever seeing you quite like this.”
“Am I all right?” he chuckled.  “I'm overjoyed and terrified, all at the same time.  Even more than when I realised we were married.  I mean, I had no idea you might be... you know...”
“Pregnant?  It's all right to say the word, Jack.  We are married after all.  I wasn't certain myself until you left for Martinique.  There was no way for you to tell as I was only a month along.”
“A month?  That means--”
“Yes.  Zara came into being on our wedding night.  Or very soon after.  There were lots of opportunities,” she said with a slight blush.
Jack's smiled wistfully.  “From the way you described her, she's beautiful.”
“She is,” Honour smiled proudly.  “Positively the most beautiful baby ever born.  And very much your daughter.  Every time she got upset, it reminded me of you.  She's got your lungs.”
“A hallmark of the Wolfe line,” he pronounced with mock braggadocio.  “We're not always right, but we are always LOUD!”

They enjoyed a hearty laugh together, and Honour lifted her glass.
“To our daughter, Zara.  Congratulations, Captain Wolfe.  It's a girl!”
“Another jewel in the family fortune, Mrs. Wolfe!” he replied.
“Ah!  Just a moment, Jack,” she scolded.  “She's your child, not some pretty bit of swag in your collection.”
Jack nodded and clinked glasses with her.  “I stand corrected, my love.  But I do have one question.”
“And what's that?”
“What do you mean, half your ship?”
Post by: Welsh Wench on November 17, 2008, 04:42:49 PM
"What was it like, Honour?"
"Having a baby. I mean, I wasn't there for the grand event.  Hell, I wasn't there for any of it."
She took another sip of her wine.
"It wasn't a picnic, Jack."
He nodded.
She continued, "It was a pain and scary and wonderful and a joy."
"It was really that bad?"
"It was like a mongoose trying to get out of a haversack! Without untying the sack."
"I wish I had been there for you."
"It's probably better you weren't."
"Why not?"
"Because I am sure the whole countryside of Wales heard me scream that your parents weren't married!"
He chuckled. "That bad?"
"That bad."
"What day was she born?"
"March 1st. During one of those dark, stormy nights. I swear, the loudest clap of thunder and the biggest flash of lightning occured just as she made her debut."
"Did it take a long time?"
"The usual nine months."
"Honour, I am not that dense. I mean, did it take long to kick her out?"
Honour poured herself another glass of wine.
"I would say the better part of a day."
"That long?"
"Jack, the better part of the day BEFORE. Your daughter didn't want to be born on a leap year day so she held on tightly. Poor Megan was beside herself."
"Megan? That was the midwife?"
"No, Nesta was the midwife. She birthed me. And my sister. Megan is my sister. She's five years older than me. She's married to Daffyd.  A fine man and I like him very much. He and Megan were very good to me."
"So you went to stay with Megan?"
"I suppose I owe you the whole story on the last eighteen months, don't I?"
Jack opened a fresh bottle of wine. "I think you owe me that much."
She sighed, "I guess it is the least I could do."
"Jack, I want you to consider the frame of mind I was in. We had the encounter with The Mercedes. You had turned aside from me and when we were in port, you practically left me on my own. I know you don't want to hear this, but Cade Jennings watched out for me."
Jack's jaw set and his hand gripped his wineglass so tightly Honour was afraid it would break. She gently touched his hand.
"If we are to make a fresh start, Jack, I need to be completely honest with you."
He nodded, "As much as I don't want to hear it, let's get this part over with."
She cast her eyes down.
"You accused me of being unfaithful to you and in your drunken state, you pulled the gun on me. Thankfully you were so drunk and unsteady that I was able to kick it out of your hand. You don't really remember it all, do you?"
"Just bits and pieces. I remember being furious and then I must have blacked it out. I woke up on the floor with a throbbing headache and the recollection came back in bits and pieces. Honour, I'm so ashamed of what I did."
She nodded. "We both have things we are ashamed of. You accused me of adultery with Cade. You were wrong."
"Thank God."
"Don't thank him yet, Jack. By the next morning, your accusations became true. I ran to Cade and he took me in that night. I fully intended to get lodging there or sleep in the great room. But the inn was full and a ship came in with hungry sailors. So....I stayed."
Jack said softly, "Did you love Cade, Honour?"
She felt her eyes fill with tears. "I--I don't know, Jack. I may have at that time."
"Did you see him afterwards?"
She nodded slowly. "I saw him three or four times."
"When was the last time?"
She said nothing but looked down. Her face was blushed.
Jack said quietly, "I repeat, when was the last time?"
She looked up at him with despair. "He was in my bed when you kidnapped me."
Jack's face registered shock.
"That bastard was in port? I was so close to him after all this time?"
She wiped the tears off her face. "Jack, if we are to make a new start, I want you to know that I don't intend to see Cade again. Ever again."
Jack's mouth was a grim line. "I do. Once more."
She took his hand and said softly, "For me, let it go. For God's sake, Jack...let it go."
Jack shook his head. "There is a code of honour among men, Honour.  You leave your best friend's wife alone. "
 "Then do it for Zara. Do it for your daughter, Jack.  Be the better man for your daughter."
He gave her wry smile and said, "Achilles heel, my dear. Achilles heel. And that isn't playing fair."
She let out a shuddering sigh. With shaking hands, she poured more wine. It flowed warmly through her, giving her the courage she needed.
"So. That was when you decided to leave me. Was it for Cade?"
She shook her head. "Cade was a minor player in this, Jack.  I couldn't trust that you wouldn't kill me if you did find out. So I did what I do best."
"And what is that?"
"I ran."
"You went to Wales. How did you get there?"
"I booked passage as soon as you left."
"With whom?"
She shook her head. "I'm sorry, Jack. On pain of death I promised this individual I would never reveal his name. But he was respectful and didn't lay a hand on me. And he didn't know I was pregnant. If he did, he probably would have made me stay in Bridgetown and made me work it out with you."
"He's that noble?"
"He's that noble. He made sure I got to a transfer spot and then booked passage for me to Wales."
"Where you went with Megan."
"I told her the entire story and I stayed with her."
"One question, Honour. Where is our child now?"
"I left her with Megan and Daffyd. She is as safe as can be there. Megan has two children of her own.  And they are well to do so Megan has servants to help her."
Jack ran his finger along the rim of his wine glass. Quietly, he said, "I have missed so much, Honour. I missed her first smile. Her first laugh. Her first tooth. Her first step. I wish I could blame it all on you. But I can't.  It was my foolishness and my pride that drove you away. "
She felt her eyes fill again. "So you forgive me for Cade?"
Jack shook his head. "I wouldn't go that far...yet. "
She said softly, "Jack Wolfe, can you honestly tell me you have kept celibate in the last eighteen months?"
He laughed, "Touche, my dear. Touche."
"Is there any story you can give me to hold on to, Honour? Something to make Zara a bit more real to me? Because as of right now, she is just a name and a notion. A beautiful notion, but I'd like a bit more."
Honour smiled in remembrance. "She has a habit of when she rolls over, she takes the entire blanket with her."
"Like her mother."
"I do not! Oh, and her laugh is something to hear! I can't really describe it.  But to me, it is a laugh of sheer joy. She is truly a child in love with life. She chews on her fist when she is teething and I can tell when she is sleepy because she twists her hair around her finger."
"Again, like her mother. "
"You're doing it now."
Honour stopped in mid-twirl.
She laughed, "I guess I do."
"Are you tired?"
"I guess so. The whole day is catching up to me."
"Well, at least you didn't have the news you have a child dumped on you from out of the blue."
"No. I'm sorry, Jack. I intended to tell you when we got back to the ship and there was a peaceful minute. I--I wanted to do it right."
"Honour, there WAS no right way. I'm sure in the next few weeks, bits and pieces will surface. And by the time we get to Wales, I will know so much about my daughter that it will be like I already met her."
Honour's face glowed. "I can just picture her reaching out and tweaking your nose."
Jack rose and held his hand out to her. "You have had a long day, love. Shall we?"
"Shall we....what?"
Honour laughed. "That's my line."
Post by: Welsh Wench on November 20, 2008, 05:43:06 AM
"So what do you make of it, Josiah?"
Briggs leaned over the gunwale, his pipe sending curls of smoke in the air.
"Make of what?"
"The missus. Think she is here to stay?"
"For the moment. Until those two get to bickering and squabbling. Then it is anyone's guess."
"How long you give it?"
Briggs shrugged. "Can't rightly say. It's anyone's guess as to what Mad Jack has planned now. Me, I'm looking to do a fair bit o' pyracy. You don't use it, you lose it. I'd hate to see mildew get on that flag of ours."
Davis took out his flask. "Maybe he will set her up in a house in Bridgetown and visit her when he is in port. He'd at least save some money."
Briggs looked over at the closed door of the captain's quarters. "Don't let him hear you say that. Honour may be many things but she's no doxy. You weren't around when he married her. He changed."
"How so?"
"He was....happy. Like a part of him was where it should be. It was as if that part died after she was gone. Jack had gone into a few taverns to see what information he could pick up on Cade Jennings or Honour Bright. Duckie and I were in a tavern--think it was Aruba--and we got rip-roarin' drunk. We got to talkin' about the way Honour did Jack.
Duckie said only one other woman did Jack that way. What was her name?---Rhonda? Rose? Rose!--that was it. I asked Duckie who she was but then Duckie passed out and I had to half-drag his arse to the ship.
Next day I asked him about it and he denied it.  Said he never said anything of the sort. I let it go. Figured it was Jack's business and it was before we made acquaintance. But still..."
"Still waters run deep?"
"NO! I was going to say that still after that, Jack Wolfe fell for a piece of fluff named Honour Bright. 'Cept one thing."
"What is that?"
"Honour is no piece of fluff. There in that captain's cabin perhaps lies the one woman who if she had breeches and what goes in them could very well rival Jack Wolfe. She can't tame him. But she taught him."
"Taught him what?"
"To feel again. He was happiest when he was with her. And there's one thing."
"That is..?"
"I don't think Jack can stand the heartache of losing her again. One thing that I AM grateful for."
"What's that, Josiah?"
"The two of them never had a wee bairn."
"May keep her on land with the homefire burning."
"Aye but there may be one other thing."
Briggs took a deep draw on his pipe and then tapped it on the gunwale. The ash flew up and landed on the whitecaps.
"Pray we don't end up putting a cradle on the crows nest!"
Post by: Captain Jack Wolfe on November 24, 2008, 06:15:30 PM
Briggs lit his pipe and watched as a pair of playful dolphins frolicked in the ship's wake with the morning sun glistening off their sleek bodies.  The sound of boots on the deck behind him made him turn to find Jack wearing a positively blissful grin.
“Good morning, Josiah!   And how are we this fine morning?”
Briggs cocked an eyebrow.  “We are doin' fine.  You look like ye're over the moon.  I take it that since we didn't see hide nor hair of ye or the missus last night, your discussion went well?”
“Better than well,” replied Jack.  “We cleared the air about a great many things.  And we arrived at some important decisions.”
“One of which bein' that she's stayin' on, yeah?”
Jack's grin got bigger, if that was possible.  “It's that obvious?”
“If she weren't, I'd have heard ye before I seen ye.  We all would have.  A man like you don't pine for a woman like her and take rejection easy.”
“I do wish you'd learn to speak your mind, Josiah.  Being cryptic doesn't suit you.  I know you don't care for her.”
Briggs chuckled and leaned on the gunwale.  “I like Honour just fine, Jack.  She's a fine woman, and I know she makes ye happy.  But I'll admit I like her best when she ain't got ye all turned around and inside out.”  He sighed and looked thoughtfully at his pipe before poking it back in his mouth.  “I sure hope ye know what ye're doin'.”
“You think she'll run off again, don't you?”
“Don't matter much what I think.  There ain't a hope of swayin' ye with sense and facts on this one, I can tell.”

Jack leaned on the gunwale beside his friend.  “I realise now she had every reason to leave, and I was the one who gave her those reasons.  But it turns out that there is one very important reason to put all that behind us.”
Briggs rolled his eyes.  “Let me guess.  True love?”
“All right, make that two reasons,” Jack laughed.  He turned to look at the quartermaster.  “Josiah, I have a child.”
Briggs' mouth dropped open when Jack delivered the happy news, and his pipe went tumbling into the sea.  Immediately he began choking on the smoke he'd inhaled.
“Hang me for a lubberly Dutchman!” he gasped.  Dropping his voice to a quiet rasp, he asked, “How is that good?  I mean, what if Honour finds out?!”
Jack screwed his eyes shut in exasperation.  “Josiah, the child IS mine and Honour's!”
Briggs lurched over to the binnacle and retrieved the bottle of rum.  He took three or four full swallows before looking back at Jack.
“Tell me ye're havin' me on!”
Jack shook his head.  “I'm not.  Believe me, I was surprised too.  But it's wonderful, Josiah!  Honour says she's a beautiful little girl...”
The bottle was back at Briggs' lips, and he downed a few more swallows.
“Honestly, Josiah.  I thought you'd be happy for us,” said Jack, clearly becoming annoyed at Briggs' carrying on.
“Just tryin' to get used to the idea of you bein' a pappy,” answered Briggs.  “Of a girl?  That one I can't say as I'll ever get used to.”  He started to bring the bottle up again when Jack snatched it out of his hand, corked it, and put it back in the binnacle with a slam.

Still wearing an incredulous look on his face, Briggs asked, “I guess we'll be makin' for Barbados after we fetch her things in Glenlivet, then?”
“Actually, we have another stop before we make anchor at Bridgetown again.”
“Where?  Martinique?  St. Kitts?”
Jack shook his head.  “Further north.”
“Anguilla?  We had us a hell of a good time there...”
Briggs' eyes grew wide, and he went for the binnacle again.  The sound of Jack clearing his throat stopped him cold.
“Why the devil are we goin' there of all places?!” he fumed.
“To fetch little Zara, and bring her back to Barbados.  Honour's sister is taking care of her until we arrive.”  Jack looked out over the ocean.  “I can hardly believe, Josiah.  I'm a father!  A family man!”
Briggs turned his attention to the men on the deck below them.
“'Zara'.  Honour picked a right pretty name for the wee one.  Aye, that ye have a family now a fine thing, I suppose,” he said solemnly as he reached for his pipe, then remembered it was well on its way to the Locker.  “But what plans have ye for this family, Jack?  Your crew?  Given them any thought?  With Honour aboard, I know there'll be not a bit of piratin'.  With a baby to boot?”  He turned and looked at his friend.  “Your days on the Account are over, aren't they?”

Jack gave a heavy sigh.  “When we make port in Glenlivet, we'll give the men a choice of staying on as salaried crew, or they may part company with some extra coins in their pocket.  I know many of them have no desire to venture anywhere near the Commonwealth again.  And many don't dare.”
“Ye know ye'll be lucky to keep half of 'em.  A fair number of skilled men are goin' to walk off this ship and ne'er look back,” warned Briggs.
“I know, Josiah.  But this is how it has to be.  Honour has been in enough danger because of me.  No more.  I'll move heaven and earth to keep her and Zara safe.”
“Is that offer bein' extended to the entire crew, as per the Articles?”
“Of course it-- Josiah, no.  Please don't do this.”
The quartermaster gave his captain a weary look.  “You're lookin' out for what's right by you, Jack.  I hope ye don't expect me to do different.  You're the master of this ship, and thy will be done.  But as a man I admire greatly once said, I need to know my options.”
He paused for a moment, but Jack was too stunned to speak.  Over the years, Briggs had followed his friend's wild hunches and crazy schemes with little question.  This time he wasn't so sure he could go along.  Change was one thing Briggs did not take well.  What Jack had told him amounted to a new way of life. 
After several long, uncomfortable moments, he quietly said, “I'll be with the men should ye need me.  Don't ye worry none.  I won't say a word about your plans until we're in port and safely docked.  One mutiny this week is enough.”
With that, Briggs left the quarterdeck and began inspecting the work of the crew as they went about their duties. 
The words of his long time friend and confidant left Jack stinging.  He had always been able to rely on Briggs' full support, however reluctantly given.  What he never anticipated was outright opposition.  The ship's articles were clear on the matter.  When in port, any man may leave the ship to seek his own fortunes once any outstanding debts to the Company were settled.  Usually that was sufficient to keep the average tar aboard.  Sailors were notorious for being perpetually broke and in debt.  Jack's plan was to soften the surprise change in plans by offering a small quantity of gold to any man who chose to leave.  That would make the squaring of debts easier for everyone.  While he wanted to keep as many experienced men as possible, those who stayed reluctantly were of little use to him.  Jack needed a crew he could trust, as much as anyone could trust a collection of pirates.  He was gambling his family's future on his ability to inspire loyalty in cutthroats and criminals.  Once again, what Jack called a plan would be called insanity by anyone else.

Jack could see Briggs' point of view, however reluctantly.  While it was a personal decision for him, it affected the lives of everyone aboard.  But Jack's concern wasn't about maintaining the cohesive crew of a pirate ship.  His focus was getting himself and his bride to Wales as swiftly as possible.  Nothing would sway him from that goal.  There was far too much at stake.

He did his best to shake off Briggs' chilly reaction to the news about Zara.  There was one person who he was certain would be happy for him and Honour.
Post by: Welsh Wench on December 01, 2008, 05:14:07 AM
Honour stretched out in the bed in the captain's quarters, the sunlight streaming through the blinds. She woke up with a smile on her face. Tenderly she reached over to hug the pillow next to her, a feeling of contentment coming over her. Contentment? More like a feeling she was finally home after a long journey.
Jack had covered her with the comforter before he left to tend to business. The night had been a long one, filled with accusations and declarations, confessions and confirmations. She was relieved to finally tell Jack about Zara. It was as if a burden had been lifted from her. She smiled as she remembered the look of pride on Jack's face. And the abject terror when he realized the child was of the feminine persuasion.
Honour was anxious to get back to Beaumaris. She had been away from Zara for six weeks now and every week brought about a change in her little girl that Honour could never get back. When Honour left Wales to arrange for the relocation to the plantation, Zara was just starting to pull herself up on the furniture. She smiled as she thought of her tiny daughter with the dark curls and delicate features.  And the set of lung she inherited from her father and her willful ways from her mother.
'Jack, I hope you are up to the challenge of dealing with a little girl.'
But Honour knew that even before he had seen her, Zara would twist him around her little finger.
Honour crawled out of bed and wrapped a dressing gown around her. It was the sky blue silk she had left on the ship when they had crossed from Tobago. Fortunately she had left quite a few clothes on the ship. She crossed over to the chest of drawers and looked through the drawers for a change of clothes and there she saw it.
A black velvet drawstring bag.
And a gold ring.
She took it out very carefully and looked inside. It was a band of gold inscribed with a promise.

A dozen thoughts and a half a dozen conflicting emotions surged through her. She inexplicably teared up as she remembered the day she was given it.
A brisk autumn day in a cave in Beaumaris.
It was the ring that Rhys Morgan had given her before he left with the promise he would return in six months' time and marry her.
But one factor worked against them.
Mother Superior had her spies.
She thought back to the day that Mother Superior called her into her study. There was no reasoning. She was to be sent home. What was the phrase Mother Superior had used?
Oh yes....'pleasures of the flesh'.
Honour was sent packing the very n