Title: Immortal Beloved: Consequences
Author: Soleil Compeau
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Rating: NC17 for sex, violence, and death
Disclaimer: Jack Sparrow and other POTC characters are not mine to use for profit in any way whatsoever. I do this out of love, and for entertainment purposes only. Sarah Margita is my exclusive creation, and no one but I have rights to her.
Summary: Jack lived a life of adventure and peril, until his death. Then he was resurrected, and had a chance at a different sort of life, one no less exciting.
Author's Notes: Please remember that in this time period, the average life span was something like fifty years. You were considered quite long lived in your sixties. Also, disease was rampant, with common illnesses being cancer, severe influenza, consumption, malaria, smallpox, and syphillis. A lot of women also died in childbirth. Jack and Sarah are remarkably healthy people, particularly for pirates.
Chapter Seven - Chase
Bathwater spilled everywhere as Jack flung himself out of the tub. Wordlessly Sarah tossed him his breeches, pulling her own clothes on. Neither of them wasted time drying off. Once out on the deck, Jack held out a hand for his spyglass as he strode to the quarterdeck. Snaky slapped it into his palm and Jack stood tensely, gazing at the horizon. The ship was far and wee, no danger, no real chance they would ever catch up with the swift Pearl. As well, she was heading away, and would soon be merely a dot in the distance.
All this he explained to his wife, telling her he wasn't worried at all. Explaining that regardless, he carried Letters of Marque and was immune now to punishments for past crimes. Nonetheless, she knew him, and he was worried. Taking extra precaution, he hoisted the flag of the Spanish Navy, recalling the irony that this time he was not impersonating a member of it. Worried enough to order the musicians silent, and pace the deck. Jack vividly recalled the days when spotting a flag like that caused instantaneous preparation for a confrontation. Checking the wind, manuevering for position, ascertaining whether conflict was inevitable. It felt strange to feel safe. Uneasy pricklings tugged at his scalp.
The men wanted to put it at an island they'd used for repair before, with a freshwater inlet to swim in, wanted to catch fresh fish for a meal. None of them seemed to be worried, and the Captain told himself maybe he was overreacting. Still, he could not relax, kept glancing around uneasily, feeling sharp tingles of dread. He took the first watch, calming when there was no sign of the ship returning. After the witching hour he finally retired, and pulled Snaky aside to speak to him. "At first light, start hoisting the starboard anchor. If I'm not on deck by then, be certain I will be shortly thereafter."
Jack undressed fully, feeling better about his decision to make way early. But he lay awake beside Sarah a long time, rigid, ears straining for any sound out of the ordinary. Pearl rolled with the tide, reassuring him in the creaking of her timbers that all was well. Finally, he dozed, lightly. At some point he must have slipped naturally into a deeper sleep. His nude body relaxed and curled snugly around Sarah, making the rude awakening he suffered even worse.
The bell clanging repeatedly in warning jerked both himself and his mate upright instantly, knowing it was the worst sort of sound to hear just then. As they were jolted the sound of not nearly distant enough cannonfire reached them. Pearl screamed in protest and strained against her anchors as if trying to run. Jack landed on his feet and raced for the door, ripping aside the curtain of his alcove and darting past his startled and half awake daughter picking herself off the floor. Jackie had been tossed clean out of her hammock in her startlement.
Bare feet slapped on the floorboards. Sarah was tugging her shift down over her breasts and stomach. She shouted, "Jack!" as she snatched his breeches up and raced after him. He didn't pause, she had not thought he would. Running after him through the flung wide cabin door, she saw Ragetti, still with his hand poised as if to knock, eyes wide and mouth agape from his captain's passage. Just beyond him, Jack's buttocks gleamed as he rounded the stairs and bounded up them. He was screaming orders.
"Clear the braces! Hands aloft to the gallants!" The tide was going out and the starboard anchor was nearly stowed. Pearl drifted with the tide, starboard side facing the open waters. And there, off her prow, loomed a ship of the East India Company, firing on her as they slowly came closer.
Jack reached the wheel and the man there was been wise enough to release it well before Jack got close. Utterly naked, the Captain grasped the Pearl and bellowed, "What the bloody buggering hell is happening!" Cannons boomed again, Pearl shuddered and wept as shrapnel flew.
Sarah reached his side and barreled into him at full strength. It was just enough to loosen his grip on the pegs and send him staggering a few sideways steps. Jack rounded on her, eyes wild, fist raised, not really seeing her. She deflected the blow by tossing his pants onto his head. "Dress!" she screamed, taking a firm hold of the wheel and her eyes off him.
Seconds later, she knew without looking that he was clad decently, and instantly relinquished control again. Silently handed him his hat. Still naked above the waist, nonetheless Jack was now every inch the Captain. "Report!"
The man who'd held the wheel before, he could see now it was Seamus Black, a crewmate who'd joined only a few years ago but still very loyal and a good man in a tight spot. Snaky spoke up. "It were like this Captain. We kept watch, and it were quiet for hours. We were getting ready to sail, as you ordered. Ship came round out of nowhere! Must've been anchored on the other side!"
While the First Mate spoke in hurried tones, the Captain cast critical eyes over the set of the sails and the position of the EITC ship. Already the mizzen sails were unfurling, the men were working quickly and surely. "Make ready the starboard guns and prepare to fire! Cut the braces!"
The tide was in their favor, and Jack used it. They cut behind the other ship, stealing the wind from her very sails and raking her all along her side as they fled. But the Pearl had taken damage. It was a narrow escape, and over the next two days they pumped water and tried to make repairs as best they could while underway. The morning of the second day brought sightings of a second ship of the Company.
"Not good!" Sarah murmured, glancing at Jack motionless and studying the second ship through his spyglass. "Think it's the same one we spotted before?"
"Can't tell," he answered slowly. "Not for certain. But they signaled this one to come, for certain." Jack looked grim, and that evening the wind fell and doldrums trapped the ships together.
Using the sweeps gained a slight advantage. Jackie, who tended the pidgeons, wrote a simple sentence and a position on a piece of vellum, "Teague, please come help us." and sent a bird off into the air. The lack of wind kept the second ship far enough away for it's guns to be less of a worry, but the nearer one exchanged fire a few mmore times with the black ship it pursued. The skies were blue and low, hovering damply, crushing them with stillness and heat and no movement at all. Supplies had already been low, now it became dangerous.
The captain and crew did not care, life as pirates and as sailors was hard. Going without was nothing. But Jackie's smile disappeared, her cheekbones and forehead became more pronounced, and after a week she began sitting often and never walking. She and her mother worked at frayin old ropes for oakum to repair the cracks in the ship. Grizzled old Marty did his best with repairs, but it was refuge they needed, and badly, to make the Black Pearly truly seaworthy again. "I don't even need drydock!" he complained to Jack one night while they tried once again to row, though weak now from lack of food. "Just a safe place in the shallows!"
Sarah wiped the spatter of blood from her arm after she killed the last three chickens left. The caskets of flour were nearly empty and crawled with more weevils than grains. Perhaps a bit more hardtack could be coaxed from the mix, but after that there would be nothing at all. The poultry provided little more than a few bites to each member aboard. Jackie sighed, bit her lip, and tried to hide her tears of hunger from her mother. Her father saw though, and went desperately with a few men, to try once more to row a bit, gain some kind of progress.
Joie stood on an island he was making for, rich in fruits and tide pools alive with life. Her head was cocked sideways, one hand pressed over the eyes of her companion, enabling him to see what she saw. A badly damaged ship, wallowing in the water, slowly losing hope. Words were exchanged between demi-goddess and mentor.
"My mother favors Jack Sparrow."
"Your mother, blessed being, favored Jack Sparrow only because she thought to win freedom by his hand. Now she's done so, she's no further need of him."
A smile like the sun. "No...Jack was the only one besides Davy Jones to ever have any kind of hold on her. To this day she will see no harm to him."
Negligent shrug. "As you say, missy."
"No matter. I favor Jack. And I favor Sarah, his lady." Side long glance, full of nostalgia. "Hers was the first face I saw, in this world. I will help them both."
Joie raised her hands skyward. Clouds appeared from nowhere, boiling up from the sea. Heavy black clouds moved on a speeding wind, to the place where three ships snapped their sails for wind. Fat heavy drops poured down on them, saving the black ship's crew from death.
All hands raced frantically to deal with the sudden and blessed deluge. The rain barrels were set out on deck, and all danced joyfully around them. Faces were turned up and allowed to soak, parched lips opened and gratefully drank, as one throats whooped for joy!
Joie raised her hands again, and twirled them in a 'come here' gesture. From below Jack felt a sudden surge and his ship was dragged through the water by more than wind. He knew supernatural means were pulling him forward. Glad as he was to escape danger, Jack knew well the natures of supernatural beings. They desired for mortals to be grateful, and worship them.
Sure enough, as his ship crested over the sandbar as if lifted by a giant hand, the island he hoped for showed itself to be occupied by a single powerful young woman. She walked out onto the waves to meet him as jollyboats were lowered. With a joyful smile she asked, "And in what form will your thanks take?"
Grimly he glanced at her, overseeing the landing party. "As words only, halfing. My soul I bartered once already, my heart belongs to another, and my life is my own. Any baubles I may be willing to part with wouldn't interest a sea queen like yourself, privy to deep sea marvels a man like me can only dream of. So take your helpful little self off, there's a good girl. I'm a bit busy at the moment."
Though his words were harsh his brushed hand over her dreadlocks was kind and loving. It was exactly that combination of charm and indifference that fascinated Calypso. Then he launched himself into the boat after his wife. "No matter Jack Sparrow. To have you owe me is thanks enough."
He cast her an amused glance as the boat lowered away. "You may find that having me in your debt is more complicated than you imagine." Then, "Nay! Stay behind!" Jack shouted at Jackie, who was attempting to climb in as well. "Enough that your mother's overridden my good sense and is going ashore! No Jacqueline, or I'll be taking my belt to you, hear me?"
She squalled. "Not fair Papa! Teague turned pirate, Mary's as good as pirate! Why do I have to be the good girl!" His lips quirked into a half smile as the boat lowered away.
Once on firm land, Jack sent foragers out; one to the tide pools to gather abalones, mussels, oysters and scallops. Another group was sent for the trees which on this island bore not only coconuts and breadfruit, but bananas and papayas as well. The remaining men were free to work feverishly on repairs, since Joie was courteous enough to place the Black Pearl high up in the shallows. Jack paced the beach, tense and frowning.
Sarah volunteered as lookout and found the highest hill, finding comfort in helping somehow. Quicker than she liked, the ships came into view and she raced back to the beach. "They're coming! They're coming!" Though it would still take them time to draw close, navigate the sandbar, and drop anchor, time suddenly became very precious. Through the rain still driving down ceaselessly Jack shouted at the men finishing on the ship. "Move! Move!"
He raced away to find the group at the tidepool, ordering Sarah to find the other foragers. He got back to the ship slightly ahead, and supervised the loading. Jack bounced around, crazed with pleasure in the rain, as if it was all a lark. Jack felt relief she was able to throw off this dark adventure. On his return to shore, he saw his wife helping load the boats with the seafood. "Back to the ship!"
Together he and Sarah returned to the high hill. The ships were just dropping anchor, one as badly damaged as his. The Pearl was anchored at the westernmost tip, the safest place, Joie had apparently curved them around to this point, since they had originally been coming in a northerly direction. This was where the EITC were, a quarter of the way round the island from them. Peering through his spyglass, he determined each ship, three of them, held roughly a dozen men. Against a crew of 65 or so, it seemed ludicrious to send so few. Jack swept in a slow circle, scanning all around, and spotted a friendly ship coming, twixt his own ship's position and his enemies. Teague's ship, sailing proud and swift.
Sarah screamed then, and yanked his arm hard. Jack swung around and saw a small boat, just barely small enough for his twelve year old curious, disobedient, double damned little girl gleefully shipping her oars as she came aground.
Chapter Eight - Captured
Jack and Sarah would never after forget that day, though they spoke of it to no one. Even to each other, they made only passing reference to it. It was a confusing jumble of blinding rain, the dark shapes of trees, pounding footsteps and harsh panting breaths. Shouts of the Company men, curses of the pirates, clang of swords mingled with the acrid tang of terror, marking it forever as the worst day of their lives. Fear would always afterwards for them be associated with the EITC and their own defeat.
"Get aboard!" Jack shouted at Sarah, breaking into a dead run towards Jackie. She kept pace beside him, terror making them far swifter. Jack caught his daughter's arm, hearing Company men shouting behind them. "Back to the ship!" he cried in her ear, then louder to his crew, "Weapons all!"
He tried to run with her through the water, towards the Pearl, but the soldiers were attacking everyone near to the black ship. Men were boiling over the sides of the ship to defend her. One of the thugs went after father and daughter, and Jack drew his pistol, shooting him in the face. Jackie screamed and wilted, he dragged her away, running as fast as he could along the beach.
It wasn't until they got clear of the battle that he realized Sarah was nowhere in sight. Jack cursed, eyes scanning in every direction. Clearly, not all the pirates had made it back to the ship, and while the main battle was here on the beach, what remained of his crew was being chased down all over. Distant gunfire could be heard. Jack's duty lay in getting aboard and escaping, yet here was his daughter, his child vulnerable and crumpled on the wet sand, weeping hysterically.
Kneeling, he ran a gentling hand along her back. To his shock, she flinched away. "Killed him!" she cried. "You killed him!"
Puzzled, he stared at her, spared a quick glance around in case anyone had noticed them, then looked at Jackie again. "Course I did. Do you think he'd have hesitated to kill me, and you as well?"
"His face...his face was gone! Blown off!" She broke down and rocked back and forth, hands over her own face.
Jack blinked miserably and continued to pet at her back. Meanwhile his anxiety over his wife and ship grew. The pirates were beginning to push back the Company and sails were being unfurled. "Come now!" he said gruffly. "You think all those bedtime stories weren't real?" he rolled back his sleeve. "The EITC tortured a man near to death with hot irons...me!"
Jackie calmed at that. After a few moments she glanced at him. Then looked over at the men who'd watched her grow, stubbing her toes on coils of rope and dipping her curious hands in the buckets of tallow, fighting sword to sword desperately. Jackie grabbed her father's arm and contritely kissed the fearsome scars there. Relieved, he gave her his pistol and fumbled for extra shot and powder. His mind whirled. No extra weapons between them, how was he to defend her? Getting her aboard was paramount, as well as finding Sarah!
Shouts of absolute misery and hopelessness were heard in the distance, getting closer. Loud enough and tragic enough to yank everyone's attention to it, pirate and Company man alike looked towards it. Jack saw huge dark skinned Isoba dangling from the sea ladder, beckoning towards them. "Now!" he hissed. "Use the distraction and swim to the ship!"
Gave his girl a shove towards the water and spared another glance back, hoping for a glimpse of his woman. And got his wish. Sarah emerged from the nearest trees, dragging a blood spattered and screaming Ragetti with her. "Pin!" he wailed brokenly. "No...noooo noo!! Lemme go Mrs.! I need to.....oh my Pinty!"
Three EITC men broke ranks and strode towards her. Jack stepped up right behind them as they approached the tiny woman with the determined face, one hand on his swordhilt. Sarah shifted her grip from Ragetti's arm to the scruff of his neck and gave him a hard shove towards the waterline. "There's naught to be done for him anymore, so go!" she said loudly with a stern voice and compassionate eye. "Don't send yourself after him, he wouldn't want that!"
A Company man struck at him but Sarah's wickedly curved scimitar was out and slicing through the air. Ragetti stumbled, recovered with the disjointed grace of a scarecrow, and took a few running steps. The Pearl was moving faster, more sails were opening and catching the wind. Three straight swords were rising to meet the deadly figure eight strokes of Sarah's expertly wielded blade.
Jack raced forward, hollering something, he never was able to remember what. Ragetti went past him. Jack raised a booted foot and kicked the center soldier squarely in the butt, knocking him down onto his face. Another whirled, leaving only one for Sarah to deal with. The fallen one leaped up, enraged, and now two were attacking him. Jack grinned wolfishly, almost enjoying himself. A quick glance behind him showed his son's ship now quite near, and clearly positioning for broadside guns to be fired. The Pearl was gathering speed.
"After her!" shouted a voice, and a vicious looking thug departed to chase down the swiftly fleeing Jacqueline. Again, everyone paused to watch the little drama play out. Except the three soldiers facing the formidable captain and woman. Jack's focus was broken when a solid punch got him square in the mouth. "Damnit!" he roared, forgetting sword and raising his own fists to brawl. One of them caught hold of an arm, and he kept swinging wildly. "I'm not a pirate, bloody fucking morons!"
Sarah's cries worried him. The third man had got behind her somehow and was holding her round the waist. She could not strike him with her scimitar at that angle, but was kicking and clearly trying to slam her head back and do some damage. "Wild one, this! Ought to be fun once we get her a bit more tamed!"
"'E says he's not a pirate!" shouted the one Jack was attempting, somewhat successfully, to punch. He got in a sweeping kick at the captain's legs, knocking him to his knees, then kicked him in the stomach. Jack wheezed for several moments, every effort and thought only on getting some air again.
"And you believe that do you?" A fourth had joined in, apparently to help subdue Sarah, who was cursing steadily in Spanish. Something about a new necklace for herself, made of their bollocks.
Both Jack's arms were now pinned behind him, and the man before him took grim advantage. Several solid punches to the face and stomach, but Jack refused to cry out, only grunts escaped him as air was forced out by the beating. Sarah was silent now, and it worried Jack even more. Finally the beating stopped and he could see, blearily, that she was devoting herself to struggling but that two large men were binding her fairly well. "What's your name?"
Jack spat out a mouthful of blood. "Robin Goodfellow, at your service!" he answered as saucily as he could manage. Turning his head, he saw his ship joining the Poseidon's Damnation in battle. The wounded ship remained sheltered behind the whole one, the healthy ship raising anchor and luring them away. It raised flags indicating the enemy had been captured! Teague will think we're aboard her, Jack thought wildly. They'll all think that. But we're not!
"You look like that Jack Sparrow I've heard tell about. Not sure how that's possible, he marauded thirty years ago. But I've seen some of the old handbills my father showed me."
"My father." Jack answered thickly, his nose was beginning to swell. "My mother gave me the same name, to remind me of a pirate's evils and never to turn rogue meself." He blinked slowly, vision going blurry. Cast a glance to see if his child had made it back safely. Isoba was still clinging off the side. "Letters of Marque are in my pocket."
His coat was opened and hands brought forth his means of escape. After perusing them for several moments, the soldier simply snapped them closed again. "Forged, more than likely." Slipped them in his pocket. "Well? Did you catch the little bitch?" he barked at the returning large man.
The man who'd been chasing Jackie started to answer, then looked at the captives. A slow grin spread over his face. "Oh yes, I grabbed and threw her down, she's good and caught," he bragged confidently.
Jack stiffened and growled, surging against the arms that held him still. Sarah's head was turned towards the beach, scanning the remaining Company men there. Jack's eyes were beginning to swell, he could make out the outlines of the three ships but not much else. Sarah said nothing at all.
"Come on. Let's get them aboard." Jack and his wife were bound and placed inside a longboat, rowed to the listing ship. Once in the brig, they were placed in seperate cells. The smug guard who held his Letters jerked back Jack's sleeve. "The Sparrow tattoo! You ARE him!"
His ankles were shackled together, hands bound to a long chain set in a ring in the wall. A neck chain followed, also attached to the same ring. They would take no chances on their prize escaping. Jack had some room to move, but not much. As soon as they were left alone, Sarah threw herself against the bars of her cage. "Oh Jack! Look at your face!"
"'Fraid that's impossible, darling." It was rather fearsome. Jack sat breathing through his mouth, as his nose was terribly swollen. Possibly broken, though she had no clear idea how to tell. Small cuts and bruises dotted his forehead and cheeks. One eye was swollen completely shut, the other halfway. Frequently he leaned sideways and spat blood into the straw covering the cell floor.
She reached for him, he made no move to do the same, though it was possible her chains were long enough for them to touch. "There was no one with the EITC on the beach. Everyone either made it aboard or were killed among the trees. We're the only captives. Jackie made it back." She tried to assure both herself and him.
"Why did you go back?"
"There were some foragers still out. Pintel is dead, neck sliced deep. Marty too, and Bowen, Buccaneer. Others I couldn't identify. I only managed to save Ragetti."
Silence fell between them as they listened to the battle growing more distant. Their own vessel was underway. "Well..." said Jack, trying to find a bright spot. "At least we'll get something to eat now!"
Isoba saw the little girl struggling through the water and climbed nimbly down to the last rung on the sea ladder. Stretching out, he caught hold of her and lifted her, shifting his grip to hold her tightly around her waist. The noise of guns was nearly deafening, but it was clear she was wailing brokenheartedly. Despite his huge size, he could move quickly and clambered back over the side with her.
"It's my fault! My fault! Mommy! Daddy!!"
"No child, was not your doing at all. But you CAN help rescue them, and rescue them we will!" His massive thumbs gently swept her tears away until finally she looked at him. Jackie was truly brave. She firmed her chin and nodded, a determined light in her eyes now.
"I know what we have to do! Signal Captain Teague!"
Chapter Nine - Pursuit of the prisoners
With two ships firing on it, the Company ship stood no chance. Once she was boarded however, Captain Teague was in for a rude surprise. His parents were not in the brig. Roarig in frustration, he grabbed up the captain from his bound position at the mainmast with all the other men. Shaking him like a rag doll, he demanded, "Where are they!"
The man smirked. "Do you think I'll tell you? Word is that's Jack Sparrow who's been caught. We'll do nothing to risk him getting away, finally after all these years!"
"Cap'n," said Paul urgently. The gunner's curly dark hair, pixie-ish face and large dark eyes were much like his own. Teague knew him to be the second son of Edward Teague, his father's half brother and his own uncle. "If they know it's Jack they've caught, there's only one place they will go. Port Royal. And hang him from Deadman's Cay!"
Captain Teague was unsettled. Drawing a dagger, he placed a fist round the captain's throat and his weapon at his belly. "If he's not aboard your ship, where is he?" A dangerous growl. "Tell me now, or I'll gut you!"
The man's face paled. "The damaged ship. We lured you away from it so it could get away faster." His voice shook badly.
Teague let go of him with a sound of disgust. "You know nothing of pirates. I don't kill without desperate need, nor does Jack Sparrow!" He strode to the rail and glimpsed the other EITC vessel, far away.
With the Pearl he could easily overtake it. But though he was his father's son, he lacked the talent, or was it madness? to shift direction with the wind. They left the Company ship adrift, weapons tossed overboard, men trussed up. Once aboard the Damnation again, Paul and another half brother immediately stood near the captain's side. As he took wind measurements as fast as possible, he noticed the rest of the men looking at him uncertainly.
"Right then! We all know the Pearl is faster, and we need all possible speed! Time is just barely on our side."
"For what?" A timid hesitant voice asked.
"We're going after them, of course! This is Captain Sparrow we're talking about! Legendary pirate. You're seriously planning to miss the chance to help him?"
Dubious faces changed to determined ones. "Not least of which, he's my father! And my mother is with him!" His eyes turned steely, he glared them all down. "Gentlemen, we are going to get them back! Any crew member signing on for this venture, line up on the foredeck in a half hour's time!"
They were well fed, Jack was correct about that. Guards came regularly with trays of food, one for Sarah which was simply handed to her and her door relocked. But for Jack, a guard entered his cell and stood over him with charged bayonet while he ate, since his hands were free at that time. He would sit with his back to the bars, glancing up every so often, and it broke Sarah's heart to watch him eat like that. To occupy themselves in the utterly banal hours between mealtimes, they talked and told stories to each other, weaving a magical world where they walked free.
"If you could go anywhere in this wide world, where would you go?" He lay on his back, hands pressed palm to palm on his stomach, fingers lightly tapping. Every other part of him was still.
She thought for a few moments. "New France. I want to see where you were born, grew up."
Jack snorted. Sarah looked affronted, though he was not even looking at her. "Not much to see. Think more creatively, bit."
"Nothing wrong with wanting to see that. I could see the forts, the river where you used to fish and swim."
"It's meaningless without the people who once lived there. My mother, the Indians. The British who thought themselves so superior." The tone he used was dismissive.
She turned her head to look over at him, adjusted her legs to better mirror his position. "What about you?"
"China," he answered promptly. "The architecture is so beautiful. And the gardens Sarah! They make an art of peaceful gardens, designed to make a man feel good." Jack smiled gently. "You would love them. And the tea ceremony is quite beautiful. It's almost like a dance."
"Tea ceremony? If it's not done in families, it's usually used to show gratitude for someone."
"Aye. The girl was grateful all right. I saved her from a night of brutality. She showed gratitude in the sweetest way possible." Abruptly changing the subject at her chuckle, he ordered, "Close your eyes. Imagine us, hand in hand, in a courtyard. Before us, a little pond. A bit to the left, a statuesque pile of rocks."
"Pile of rocks?"
"Yes. A beautifully layered pile of rocks." Jack chuckled. "Trust me, luv. I'll show you one day, you'll see what I mean. Now listen. Lots of cassia trees. They give off the most beautiful aroma. We sit on a little carved bench beneath one, and kiss...."
Over half the men crowded onto the foredeck. Teague gave commendations to them all, and selected a quarter of the crew. The rest were bid to wait with the Damnation on the lush island. Snaky gave command of the Black Pearl to Jack's son. And between him and his sister, they came up with a fine plan.
It took three men with ropes round the mare's neck, for Captain Teague to slip Ifrit's bridle over her head. Ears flat back against her head, hindquarters shifting restlessly and front hooves pawing showed how clearly she hated everything that was happening to her. He was kicked several times before he gave up on saddling her.
"Nag!" he cried indignantly, snatching hold of her bridle and preparing to drag her out of her stall. "No wonder Mother never bred you! What self respecting stallion would have an old plug like you?" Ifrit whinnied and tossed her head up and down as if in agreement of his words.
The gangplank was battered by her pouding hooves before they managed to bring her aboard and pen her belowdecks. For hours afterward the men suffered the sound of her wrathful neighing.
Two days after their capture, the prisoners felt by the motions of the rocking hull beneath them and the sounds of anchors being dropped, they had stopped. What they did not know and very soon learned, was that the ship rendevoued with another. Soon after the ship was underway again, the noon meal was brought as usual. It was the last normal meal they had. Sarah's guard remained this time, leaning against her cell and staring at her oddly.
After they ate, the question of why the guards remained was answered. One pulled out a pistol and aimed it at Sarah while the other unlocked her cell. "Come with us," he ordered.
She stood slowly. "Where are you taking me?" she asked.
Neither answered her, which she really did not expect. Jack tensed, trying to stand, but his chains prevented him. He could see her shaking in fear as she moved forward between the two guards. The one who'd unlocked her chained her wrists, then they marched her away up the stairs, Jack straining to keep her in his sights as long as possible. When she was out of sight he slumped back against the bars. Mind racing, he began to tug and squirm at the irons, trying to free himself. They were tight, already the skin of his wrists was rubbed raw. Tugging and twisting only opened sores and made him bleed.
She was brought onto the deck, squinting at the blue sea and the set of the sails in the bright sunlight, and hurried over to the door of a large cabin. Escorting her inside, one guard locked the door before they sat her in an ornately carved chair, opposite a man in a similar chair. He looked at her calmly, and she squinted a bit, trying to make her eyes adjust from the contrast of dark cell, bright deck, and candlelit cabin. When she saw him clearly, she stated calmly, "Are you the Captain?"
He smiled dryly. "No, my dear, I am the Lord. Lord Anderson in point of fact, Chairman of the East India Trading Company, though I doubt a slattern like yourself will have heard of me."
Sarah inclined her head as graciously as if she were hostessing tea in her own home. "I can't say it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lord Anderson."
Another tight lipped smile. "The same." The man got up and came around to her, bending low to peer into her face. "You present me with an interesting dilema. I don't know your name and origins, but I will learn. Yes, I shall. But I do know that you were caught in the company of a rogue and a thug." He began to wander, moving slowly towards the fireplace as he kept talking. "Even if you commited no piracy, as you claim, associating with a pirate is a crime in itself."
Reaching the fire, he glanced back at her, then looked to the guards. They seized hold of her shoulders and neck, causing an involuntary cry of fear from her. The Lord bent, lifted a long stick from the fire, and turned back towards her. To her horror, she saw a glowing "P" on the end of the pole.
Stalking towards her, he gazed intently at her wide eyed expression. With the back of his hand he caressed her soft cheek, her high cheekbone. She tried to rear back, the grip on her flesh prevented her. "He's kept his whore well, hasn't he?" A soft voice. "A shame to mar such a lovely visage."
He straightened up. "Hold her still."
"This is no child's game of hide and seek! You CANNOT be caught, little tiger!" Captain Teague's face was grim as he spoke with his wee sister Jackie.
"I won't! I'm small, fast, and can melt into the shadows. You know I can!" she argued persuasively. "No one will notice me hanging about, who notices little girls? Far better than YOU planting weapons round the place! No, it'll be Ifrit who'll gives me the most trouble. And if she's tied tight, I can keep her quiet with sugar cubes until the time comes."
He sighed and rubbed a hand through his long braided hair, brow troubled. "As soon as we get near, we are both going ashore to scout it out and choose the best place."
The blood was coating the inside of the manacles now, making them slippery. He ignored the pain, ignored the buzzing fear in his gut, and concentrated. A door thudding open made him curse and quickly bury his hands in his lap to hide his escape attempts. Footsteps coming down told him his wife was being returned.
Only one guard accompanied her this time, and her steps were slow and faltering. Sarah staggered unsteadily down the last few steps. Seeing the way she walked, Jack's eyes narrowed. No. No, she'd not been gone nearly long enough for that. They couldn't have used her, no. Then he saw how one hand used the slack of the chains to clutch tight to her right forearm, and a gasp escaped as he realized the implications.
She fell into her cell when the guard opened it, and Jack flinched at the small shriek of pain she made. The door was locked, and they were left alone once more. Sarah sat up very slowly, gasping between her teeth. Then she just sat there, very still. He could see her quaking, shivering as if still very afraid, or cold. Her eyes were dull. He felt sick.
"Sarah?" he called gently. Then two or three more times, each more urgently. Finally she turned her head towards him and made a sound that might have been either, "Yes" or "What." Her face was very pale, her lips blue.
"Branded you, didn't they?" Jack said very quietly. "I'm sorry love."
"Not you that did it." She licked her lips, breathing shallowly.
"Would never have happened to you if you weren't wed to me."
Sarah took several gulping breaths, trying to find strength to speak past the flaming agony not just in her wrist but her entire arm, her chest, her head. "Oh yes, my life would have been SO much better without you, wouldn't it! A short life, and an unhappy one. First, I was abandoned by my beau, who took what it commonly called my virtue, then, bound to a man who would have beaten me and any children unfortunate enough to be born to me."
Strength ran out, and she slipped onto her side, just focusing on breathing through the monstrous pain. Jack gazed at her form, taking what comfort he could from her steadily rising and falling chest. Presently she stirred and partially sat up, biting back groans to do so. "We're near Port Royal. And I saw...horizon..saw.." She took a gasping breath.
Incredibly, she smiled. "Black sails."