Dec. 23rd, 2013 03:42 pm
jackdaws_master: Blond scruffy guy in early 1700s clothes on a dock, looking up at something offscreen (Default)

It was hardly the first time Edward'd come under fire, and it would most certainly not be the last. The hooded stranger's ball grazed Edward's shoulder, leaving a line of fiery pain and blood in its wake- but no more than that. He'd had such wounds before. With a little tending it'd be good as new. But tending would have to wait, because Edward had a rule that he lived by: when a man tried to kill him and failed, he'd get no second chance.

The man reached for his powder, thinking to reload.

Edward did not give him the chance.

When the man lay dead at his feet, Edward took stock of the situation. He was bloodied and sore, stranded in a place he couldn't truly say he recognized. He had no gear save the blade in his hand and the little coin-pouch tucked into his belt. The dead fellow, on the other hand, looked to have been fair well equipped before going to meet his Maker. Save for that odd hood of his, he wore the garb of a fully respectable gentleman- and on an island where the sun beat down harsh and heavy, a hood wouldn't go amiss, odd or no. Dead men had no great need of anything but a few last words, so Edward clapped the dead fellow on the shoulder and began divesting him of his belongings.

His pistols were mostly useless, as his powder was wet. Edward tossed them aside. The man wore some strange contraption on his forearms, which had the look of a knife fitted into some mechanism, but the blade wouldn't come free. Edward shrugged, and the blade joined the pistols. As he took the man's belt, a rough bit of something brushed his fingers- an oilskin pouch, proof against the water. It scarce felt heavy enough to hold much of note, but he opened it anyway. One never knew what might be inside- and indeed, there was a peculiar crystal cue and a bit of folded bit of paper inside. Edward unfolded it with care, smoothing it out to read:

Mr. Duncan Walpole,

I accept your most generous Offer, and await your Arrival with Eagerness. If you truly possess the Information we desire, we have the Means to reward you handsomely. Though I will not know your face by Sight, I believe I can recognize the Costume made infamous by your secret Order. Therefore, come to Havana in Haste... And trust that you shall be welcomed as a Brother.

Your most humble Servant,
Governor Laureano Torres y Ayala

Well now. Wasn't that something. Edward cast an eye at Mr. Walpole's garb, but if that was the clothing of some Order it was one too secret for him to recognize. If he played his cards right, he might take advantage of that. A governor's reward would doubtless be worth the risk. "Mr. Walpole," he said to the dead man, "let's collect your reward."

It was a matter of moments to dress himself in the dead man's things. As he pulled the hood up- it was sunny, after all- he heard shots ring out in the distance. That meant men- Spaniards if he were unlucky, Englishmen if he were. He set off at a trot through the jungle towards the sound, leaving Walpole's corpse behind.

What little trail he could find must have een made by island deer, narrow and meandering as it was. But it crested a ridge overlooking an unfamiliar harbor, and at anchor in that harbor- "Oh, that schooner'll do me just fine," Edward breathed. "Just fine."

Mind, there was the little matter of the redcoats. Edward had a vague memory of there being a British ship or two about during the battle with the Spaniards that sent his vessel to the bottom, drawn by the prospect of sinking a pirate ship. Mustn't've fared all that well; the redcoats' leader had a fat fellow in green garb backed up against a stack of crates. "The Commodore's gone ahead to Kingston," the officer growled. "We're to commandeer this lubber's ship and follow."

Edward, having already set his sights on commandeering the ship himself, was none too pleased with the prospect. The lubber in question looked absolutely stricken, stammering, "S-sorry, Kingston? No, no... our destination is Havana. I'm just a merchant-"

"Quiet, you bleedin' pirate!" the redcoat snapped. "You'll hang for the mess you made out there."

The fat man squeaked in fright. "Sir, I had nothing to do with this attack!" he said. "My crew and I had merely anchored to water and resupply!"

As he spoke, Edward spotted a pair of the crewmen he spoke of making a break for it. So did the officer, who shouted, "Stop them!" The redcoats' guns barked; the crewmen fell, their blood spattering on the sand.

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't vent your skull," growled the officer to the fat man.

"Take my sugar!" the merchant said. "Take anything you like!"

"Ukk," said the officer, who hadn't noticed Edward creeping up behind him. Nor had the other redcoats, but they would never be noticing much of anything again.

Edward never did like men who abused their station in life.

The fat man stared at Edward a moment as Edward shook the blood from his blade. Then a smile burst across his face; "By God's grace, sir, you saved me! A profusion of thanks."

That got a nod of acknowledgment, and a bit of a smile in return. "You're welcome," said Edward, and gestured to the schooner. "Is that yours?"

"It is my vessel, yes," said the merchant. He cast his eyes down, and pointed to one of the corpses the redcoats had made. "But, ah... here lies its poor captain. And I have no art for sailing..."

"I can pilot her myself, sir," said Edward, sizing the man up. "No mind."

The man paled somewhat. "You don't mean to abscond with my ship, do you?"

"I'm Duncan," said Edward. "What's your name, friend?"

"Stede. Stede Bonnet."

Edward smiled, patting his oilskin pouch. "Well Mister Bonnet, let this stay 'twixt us... but I am on a secret errand for His Majesty the King, God save him, and I must get to Havana with speed."

Bonnet exhaled, the tension draining out of him before Edward's very eyes. "Ah, that is a relief, sir!" he said. "Havana is also my destination. Our ways lie together!"

"Natural allies, then."

"Oh, you put me at ease, sir," Bonnet went on. "To think I took you for a pirate when you first appeared!"

"Did you?" said Edward, a trace amused.

"Yes!" said Bonnet, nodding. "You have an... uncommon way of handling yourself. Quick and easy, if I may say. Gave me quite a fright! But all things considered, I think it's turned out to be a rather fortuitous day, hasn't it? Er... well, save for the lack of a rowboat. I fear we'll have to swim to my ship."

"Hardly the worst thing to happen," said Edward easily, and set out into the water. He'd swum farther in worse, and reached the ship first; Bonnet was struggling in his coat, but made it eventually. As the two of them clamered onto the deck Bonnet said, "Welcome aboard, Dunca. She's a modest schooner, but well-suited to my purpose. Trafficking cargo from my plantation and such."

Edward nodded. "She'll do fine," he said, and took the ship's wheel. "There's a strong wind now. Bring in the anchor and let's strike to full, shall we?"

Bonnet beamed and did as he was told. "Ah, there's a tug of the wind at my hair!" he said gaily. "I find a bracing comfort in the feel and smell of the ocean. The raw stink of- of Possibility!"

Not, perhaps, the stink Edward would have thought of; he lifted an eyebrow. "That's a top way of seeing it, mate," he said, and left it at that. He had a bay to navigate, after all.

As they reached the open water, Bonnet said, "We've really opened it up now, haven't we? You're a natural sailor, Duncan."

"I did a decent trick at the helm some time ago," said Edward. "Two years before the mast as a privateer."

Bonnet whistled. "Dash my buttons!" he said. "Your life seems a grand one, if I may say. So full of adventure! How marvelous."

Edward considered this and that, and chuckled quietly. "I have seen my share of strangeness, aye," was all he finally said.
jackdaws_master: (Edward seated upon the Beach)
Light was streaming into the room and stippling across the ceiling through the chinks in the walls near as much as the windows. Morning or evening, he couldn't be certain-

"Is it dangerous? Edward?"


He rolled his head sideways. Caroline, next to him as always, was propping her head up on one hand and watching him with a look of concern. "Privateering," she said, eyeing him through a few falling strands of her red hair. "Is it dangerous? "

He would have liked to laugh, were she not so focused, so worried. Instead he nodded, sober, and said, " Wouldn't pay so nice if it weren't."

Distress flashed in Caroline's hazel eyes. "Why not sail with the King's Navy?" she suggested. "Earn a proper wage. Sail under gentlemen."

Oh, he did laugh at that, or nearly. "Sod the Navy's gentlemen," he told her. "For every shilling I'd earn, the Captain'd get six hundred. That's no way to earn a fortune."

Caroline shook her head. "We don't need a fortune," she murmured.

It was his turn to shake his head then. "It's not about Need, Caroline. I want food that don't make me sick. I want walls that hold back the wind. I want a decent life," he said. And to himself, he thought,
I want a life better for you than this. I want a life I know won't make you regret what you gave up when you married me.

She bit her lip, but watched him still. After a time she said, "H-how long would you be gone with these privateers?"

"A year, I reckon," he said. "Two at the most."

"All right. No more than two... promise me..."

There was salt on his breath and sand under his face. He pushed himself up, coughing. First that tavern with the mad Dutchman, and then his words with his wife, in the time it took to make it from wreck to shore; it seemed he'd something of a talent for dreaming. The island seemed real enough. Certainly it stank of the sort of things a real island should. He turned to pinch himself, and caught sight of a man sprawled on the sand not far off. "Was it good for you as well?" he inquired.

For someone just washed ashore, the man was dressed respectably enough, in blue cloth of a finer grade than any Edward was used to. The stranger wheezed, his head lolling near to the sand, and said, "Havana… I must get to Havana."

Oh, that was a laugh. There wasn't so much as two planks together anywhere in sight. "Well," said Edward. "I'll just build us another ship, shall I?"

"I can pay you," the stranger rasped. He coughed, and his voice came clearer. "Isn't that the sound you pirates like best? One hundred escudos."

A hundred escudos was- why, that was sixteen hundred reales, and a Hell of a price by any means. "Keep talking," said Edward.

The stranger glared at him foully. "Will you or won't you?" he said, and brought himself to his feet.

Edward cast his glance over the man's clothes. Fine garb, yes, and a good blade and at least one pistol; but no money-pouch he could see. It was only by sheer miracle he still had his own, and he doubted both of them could have had miracles today. "You don't have that gold on you now, do you," he said.

"Bloody fucking pirates," said the man; his shoulders tensed.

"Oh, I am on to you, Sneaksby-"

He might've reached for his weapon, or he mightn't've. Either way the man turned and bolted into the trees. Edward swore under his breath and set off at a run after him, but the man was far swifter than Edward would've given credit for. "Come on, mate!" Edward called out. "We're off to a bad start! It's a hundred leagues or more to Havana! Will you walk that distance?"

The man hurled back a word Edward could scarce make out and dove between the branches of some overgrown bush; when Edward reached its position, he'd vanished from sight. Edward shook his head and considered his options. Alas, they were few indeed just at the moment; well, he'd always been the sort to make his own luck. There was a tree not too far off that looked tall enough to get a good view from, and no harder to climb than a main-mast; it was the work of moments to scramble up into the high branches.

"Posh git," he muttered as he climbed. "Where's he running to?" Then he stopped. There was a strong branch just ahead, the last that seemed strong enough to hold his weight, but some great hawk or small eagle or some other such taloned bird was perched on the end. He'd no great love of having his face pecked or his arms torn-

Ah, it'd seen him coming, and took off. Well, good.

Edward inched his way out along the branch as far as he dared. The tree, it happened, grew not far from the edge of a small cliff, and overhung a deep, waterfall-fed pool far below. A motion caught his eye- the other man's form, emerging from the water, white hood dripping behind him.


Well, the water looked deep enough from here; Edward knew how to pull up sharp just as you entered the water, any road. And the man might not have had gold on him, but dressed like one who knew where to get it. Might as well pursue him proper. He drew a deep breath, braced his feet, and dived.

There was a single shining moment in which it all seemed very nearly flying, as if the world had stopped around him and everything flooded with light.

Then the world rushed in again, and the water struck him, and it was all as it had been before. Edward wrenched himself upward in time to hear the man yell, "Follow and I'll kill you!" as he broke the surface.

Edward, treading water, laughed. "We could work together on this!" he called out.

"Keep your distance!" shouted the man. Wait, was that a pistol in his hand?



jackdaws_master: Blond scruffy guy in early 1700s clothes on a dock, looking up at something offscreen (Default)
Captain Edward Kenway

March 2014

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