There are two types of people in this world. Those who die and those who remain dead. I am the former, an immortal who has to walk the world alone. Sometimes that can be a good thing but other times it’s more of a curse.
As I revive from the dead, I gasp for air and I am immediately hit with the cold autumn breeze. Why am I on the floor? I groan and roll over to stumble to feet, feeling a ghost pain on my throat so I hold it. It might have been slit. That means I died. The world spins and the forest colours merge together but I can still see my carriage. It’s not getting smaller and I can’t hear the horses feet clatter on the road, so I walk towards it then trip over my feet. I catch myself with hand and push myself forward before I face plant the floor and eat a mouthful of leaves.
There’s a man by my carriage. My driver is dead on the floor, in a puddle of his own blood, so the figure can’t be my driver. Who is he? Did he kill me and my driver? “Hey you!” I shout as I run to him.
His head snaps around and he freezes, allowing me to get in his face. His blue eyes widen with fear. “You died! I killed you!”
“Evidently you didn’t.” He did kill me, but I’m not about to get into that right now with him. I take his sword from his holster and hold it to his throat. An eye for an eye, right? I glance down at myself, my green tunic is stained with my blood. My heart drops. I need to look good for Iris. While I haven’t seen her in years and our last moments together weren’t pleasant, and she’s probably pissed off at me still, I wanted to make a good first impression by putting some effort into how I look. I look at his clothes. They’re black and fancy for a highwayman but they aren’t stained. “Give me your clothes since you ruined mine.”
“Give me your clothes,” I repeat. “You attacked me and killed my driver, this is the least you could do.” I press the sword into his chest, slightly annoyed that I didn’t bring weapons with me. It’s to be expected, I suppose.
The highwayman sighs and strips. I avert my eyes to give him some sort of privacy. He shoves his clothes into my arms and he shivers in the cold. I should give him something back however if he wanted kindness, he shouldn’t have tried to rob me or stab me and my driver. He should be happy I didn’t kill him.
“Thank you,” I smile brightly at him and climb into the driver’s seat, clothes and sword in hand. I drop the clothes beside me and pick up the reins. “Giddy-up!” The horse moves forward and pulls the carriage along the road.
Once it's just me and the forest, I let the horse follow the path as I change my clothes, using the dirty ones to clean the blood off me. The highwayman's clothes a little big on my but they are better than nothing. I don't mind them being big because they hide my curves a lot better.
When I finish changing, I relax in the seat and enjoy my view. The sky outside is overcast and leaves are falling like a gentle golden rain. There's a hint of wild spring onion in the air, something I don't get from the sea. A nice, pleasant change but I still prefer the salt air. With winter on the horizon, I need to be out at sea soon and into the warmer waters before the weather in the north becomes too dangerous to sail in. I don't fancy being stuck in England until the winter rolls in.
About an hour later, I stand in front of her in the Langdon Manor. I expected her to be angry at me, but not to look at me like that. The furrowed brow, tilting her head down to glance at me with pity in her eyes. Iris has changed a lot since I last saw her. But not in the ways I imagined. She should’ve been older, a level maturity should have settled in her face and maybe a few greying hairs in the golden locks.
Instead she holds herself with more prestige, more importance. As if the world is balancing on her head. She doesn’t look much older, if anything I think she got younger and her eyes have turned brown.
“I’m really sorry sir, but my mother is dead.”
My heart drops like a stone and I step back to sit on the overstuffed blue armchair. Immortality is a curse because I missed her. I stare down at the wooden floor that rocks violently like a ship caught in a storm created by Thor. Because of my selfish actions, I missed her. My eyes well up so I wipe them away. I’ll never get to see that smile again. Or hear that laugh. I’d never get to poke her awake in the morning again. Her face would light up for a second as she giggles and then she’d scowl. Poke her enough and she’d drag herself and that wild golden mane out of bed to start getting ready for the day. Poke her too much however, and I’d have to duck out of the way of a flying pillow.
I can never wake her again.
“I missed the funeral, didn’t I?” I ask. It’s the first thing that comes to mind because there’s not like there’s a handbook on what to say in certain situations. If there was, I can’t read it anyway.
She gives a small chuckle and glances at me. “Most normal people say their condolences and apologies for my loss.”
“If I said that, would you feel any better about your loss?” I really need to learn when to stop talking or have my mouth permanently sewn shut.
She shakes her head slowly me, “No, I haven’t before. I don’t see why your words of comfort should now.”
“Well then.” I smile at her. “I’m not going to apologise for something that wasn’t my fault.” I have to stop talking and say something else. Anything at all. “Did she pass on peacefully?” I hate to think that she’s died slowly and in a lot of pain.
“She did, yes.”
We both sit in the silence, neither of us knowing what to say. I tap my feet and look at my hands, not wanting to leave but at the same time I wish that I was anywhere but here. The clock ticks away on the mantle and underneath the fire crackles and pops, giving the room a warm and welcoming glow, despite the blue walls and curtains. The room feels too big, too empty. Helena stares out of the window. I think it’s because she doesn’t want to be rude and ask me to leave her house.
“May I ask who you are?”
I jump a little at her voice. She’s looking me up and down, tilting her head as she tries to suss it out. I remain silent for a second, hoping she’d give me her conclusions.
“I’ve never seen you before and you’re too young to be a suitor of hers. Before she met my father of course.”
I bite down on the corners of my mouth to stifle a knowing smirk. Scrat would laugh at the idea that I’m too young to be someone’s lover. If I remember correctly, the issue was that I was too old but I can see the confusion. I aged well, if at all.
There’s no point in explaining everything to her, I doubt that I’d ever see her again so I might as well lie about who I am. “My father was Captain Rhodes, I’m his son.” That doesn’t fit right but I don’t want to explain that bullshit right now either. “My father, before he passed away, spoke often about Iris Campbell. He loved her before she married William Langdon.”
She gives me the same pitying expression. “I’m-”
“Sorry for my loss?” I cut her off with a smirk.
The girl smirks back, showing dimples. It’s similar to her mother when she has caught me out on something. “I was going to say that I’m Helena Langdon.”
Ah, so the bastard is still alive then. I hoped he died early on, before Iris got pregnant. But no, she had to start a family with the git. Although I can’t really say anything, I left her behind because I had to.
My options weren’t exactly easy. If Iris stayed on my ship, she’d have been free from everything. No one would’ve told what to say or wear and to smile when she felt like she couldn’t. None of that bullshit. However, sailing under the flags of a pirate would’ve disgraced her and she’d have been hung for the crime of being free. If not, then the cost of that freedom is her dying a lot younger. I had a knack for finding trouble and she had a knack for following me into it.
If she went back on land, she’d have to marry. Her father arranged for her to marry Lord Langdon but she ran off, wanting to be free. I made the hard choice of bringing her back because she needed to live long. The happiness would come, she’d learned to love him after some time. I couldn’t see her again afterwards. It was too unbearable for the both us so I had to leave for good. We ended tears. Scrat came to visit and he told me nothing, knowing that I wouldn’t like to know if she was happy or sad. I regret that. I wish I had saw her at least once more, even if we couldn’t be together.
“My mother left something for your father, I think. It’s in the study if you want them,” Helena says, snapping me back to reality.
She stands up and watches me, expecting me to follow her. I don’t think many have told her no or she’s used to men following her around like love sick puppies. Unfortunately for her, I couldn’t be less interested in her. The importance she places on herself is off putting. Iris never got those sort of ideas in her head. She didn’t think she was noticeable but I couldn’t take my eyes off her until I had to leave. This arrogance might have been the work of Lord Langdon, he was always unbearable like that.
Nonetheless, I stand up to follow her out of the drawing room and place my hat back on my head. Helena leads me through a labyrinth of corridors, each of them luxuriously decorated with hand crafted tapestries and paintings of relatives that are long dead. There’s a hint of rose in the air but no flowers.
The staff stand straight and fall silent, stopping whatever chore and fun they might have been having as we walk past them. Helena ignores them but I tilt my hat off to them. The floors are clean and there isn’t a speck of dust to be seen on the ornaments, of course I’m going to give a small compliment to their hard work. When we leave them, they start laughing and giggling again. I’d rather be talking to them than follow Helena in this wretched silence. At least they seem to be having fun.
“Do you have any siblings?” I ask, trying to break the awkward tension.
She nods, “My older brother is away at school. He’s terribly bright. His twin sister is married to a Duke heir up north, I don’t get to see either of them much. My younger sisters died during infancy.”
Is it a good idea to point out the amount of loss she has in her life? I don’t think so, I don’t want to have to deal with her crying. But there’s nothing much to say about it as we’ve already established that giving my condolences doesn’t make anyone feel better.
“Where is your father?” I hope he isn’t around.
“He’s away on business. I don’t know where or what business before you ask,” she snaps a little.
I let out a small sigh of relief. Lord Langdon would recognise me in a heartbeat and possibly have me arrested for privacy or for stealing something. Not that I would steal from him. He has something I definitely would steal, the silverware mainly. The china plates wouldn’t survive the journey across the sea. But there’s nothing unique or rare, at least not on display, that interests me. I also don’t want to steal from him because I want to prove him wrong. I am not a petty thief. Our history is a little rocky, to say the least.
Helena opens the door to the study and we step inside. Bookshelves reach the ceiling and cover every inch of the wall possible. Very few have something over than books sat on them and instead have antiques from forgotten lands and ages. In the centre of the room is a writing desk, still littered with pages and half written letters. The fire hasn’t been lit, neither has any candles, so the room sits gloomy and cold. There isn’t any clutter shoved between books, no secrets being guarded by the pages. My idea of hell if you ask me. There’s too many books.
“My mother’s study. She was determined to have her own place for reading.”
Iris is a masochist, it’s been confirmed. Or rather she was. What woman would put herself through the torture of reading? One who isn’t allowed to read and one who went on grand adventures I suppose.
While Helena finds a key, I look at some of the shelves to see if there’s any momentos from my time with Iris. There’s a handful of norse runes that have been laid out ready for a reading from our time trying to find that damned wish ring and a small flower pot depicting Greek God of love, Eros. The flowers in the pot died long ago, someone has neglected their task of watering them, but still there is a heavy scent of forget-me-nots.
Helena opens a drawer and I stand in the middle of the room, tapping my feet as I wait. Do I take my hat off? I’m in the mind of a dead person, it only seems polite. What about my boots? I don’t want to ruin the blue and white rug.
Helena stands up and hands me a wooden box before I can even think of an answer to that question. I put my hat back on my head to take it, faltering a little at the weight of it.
Is Iris's head in there?
No, of course not. Most sane people wouldn’t cut off the head of their mother and present it to an absolute stranger, I’m the insane one for thinking it.
The box is beautiful, engraved with roses because Iris says that roses, while beautiful have a thorn to defend themselves. The wood is rich and red, but smells like forget-me-not perfume has been spilled onto it. There’s a lock on the front but I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea where the key is. I would pick it, if I actually wanted to open it. God knows what she could’ve left me.
I smile at Helena, noticing that she’s looking and waiting for me to open it. “Thank you, I’ll look at it later on my ship,” I lie.
She simply nods. “Your father was mentioned in my mother’s diaries when she was about my age. She left them to me, I’ve been reading them. He sounded extraordinary.”
I stare her for a moment, not quite believing what I heard. I know I’m extraordinary, I’m Captain A. Rhodes of The Star Catcher , discoverer on the worlds. Iris knows that I am from our short time together discovering the worlds. But Helena just called a pirate amazing when most of her status wants us hanged.
However I’m not going to pass up a moment to be a little cocky. “Aye, that he was.”
“The adventures they went on were… impossible.” There’s a look in her eye that I know well. The slight thirst for adventure is all told with a gleam. “Do you do similar things?”
“Aye…” I say slowly. Where is this going? Is she going to ask for me to take her on an adventure to some place exotic? I hope not, I haven’t got any place to be after this. I was supposed to meet Iris again to catch up on the missing years and wait for something to come to me. It always does or I wake up in the morning after a night of drinking in the middle of the ocean with a new travel companion who wanted to go see Denmark or someplace far away from here.
“That’s marvelous!” Helena claps. She definitely wants something. “When will you be going?”
“Two days?” I have no idea why I’m being honest. Maybe she’ll want to meet up and talk about our “parents’” adventures. I could make a new friend in this town, even if she’s related to that Langdon git.
But she’s going to ask if she can come with me to wherever I’m heading to next. I can feel it in my gut. Instead she smiles at me. “Then safe journey Captain.”
I blink, not at all expecting that from her. Perhaps that was just general talking more than anything else and I looked for something that wasn’t there because we’ve ran out of things to talk about because as far as she’s aware, I never met Iris. Plus, this box is getting really heavy to hold, it’s hurting my wrists and fingers.
“Am I supposed to show myself out?” I ask, hoping that I don’t have to navigate my way through this maze of a house. I wasn’t paying attention at all to the layout as I was lead into different rooms.
Helena nods and tugs on the butler bell. We both stand in yet more silence until a maid comes to the room. Helena quietly asks her to show me the way out and the young girl bows her head at me, a little nervous. I didn’t know I was that attractive to make a woman shy, but I’m not complaining. If things were different, I might have paid her a compliment or two to get her to blush, but today is too much of a sad day to flirt.
We get to the door and I bow my head at the maid. “I’d take my hat off you, but…” I say, glancing down at my full hands and laughing a little.
“There’s no need to, sir.”
I press my lips together at ‘sir’. It doesn’t sit quite right. I smile. “Well, thank you all the same.”
She opens the door for me and closes it behind me when I step out. The outside is cold, the sky is grey. I didn’t notice on my way in but all of the flowers that bloomed during the summer are dying and the garden feels empty without that splash of colour. I kick the fallen orange leaves about as I head over to my carriage. I hand the wooden box to the driver and climb. As we set off to the port, I let out a sigh.
Time to get pissed.
“Captain, wake up,” Says a gentle voice, shaking me.
I groan but I don’t stir. Who has the audacity to wake me up? “Not allowed in my quarters,” I mumble. There’s shouts and grunts from men moving crates around. The crates are scraping on the floor, causing a loud screech that feels like my head is being drilled.
“You’re not in them,” says the female voice. I recognise it, I think it belongs to one of the girls on my ship. “You’re outside.”
Sea gulls chatter around me and there’s the lulling sound of the ocean. The air is salty and an odour of dead fish is just sitting there. Stagnant and stubborn. I think it socked into the floorboards that are slightly wet and rough from sand. My stomach turns with the movement of the floor under me so it makes sense for me to be on the Star Catcher , just not in my quarters.
“Ship then. Get back to...” I burp, “Work.” I don’t move and I keep my eyes closed. My stomach won’t stop turning.
“I’m not your sailor, Captain. It’s Helena.”
I open an eye. Helena is peering at my face, furrowing her brow at me. The sky however, is not my friend. The white clouds are blinding so I close my eyes again.
Someone’s walking closer and it feels like they’re walking on my head. There’s a warm, hearty chuckle that can’t belong to anyone else but Scrat. “Ah, there you are Cap! Wondering where you’ve been. Should’ve known to look 3 yards from the ship!”
I look up at him just to roll my eyes at the scruffy bastard. He laughs back.
Helena eyes widen a little mortified at Scrat. “Lord Madson! Why are you…?” She trails off with confusion, not quite understanding what’s going on. Our friend doesn’t look like the nobleman that he actually is. No, instead he wears stained clothes that are barely holding it together. His face is unwashed, as is his calloused feet and he reeks of alcohol. Although that could be me.
She shakes her head, ignoring the obvious change in her friend. “Why are you laughing? I think he’s ill!” Her voice cracks a little. “He must have collapsed on the port on the way home last night. Perhaps tuberculosis!”
Scrat and I both laugh at this. “Cap hasn’t had a cold in all the time I’ve known them. They aren’t ill. They love whiskey more than whiskey loves them.”
“It’s a one sided relationship,” I say with a small laugh, “But a better friend than you, old man.”
He cackles at me and holds a hand out for me to take. Groaning, I take it to stumble to my feet. My stomach rolls at the fast motion of standing up, I have to hold onto Scrat to steady myself in this spinning world of ours. Could I still be drunk? I hope so, it’ll make dealing with Helena much more interesting. My medallion swings wildly about, so I shove it down my shirt and it bounces on my chest.
Helena ignores the comments on drinking. “Lord Madson?”
Scrat flinches at the name. “It’s Scruffy Bart or Scrat here lass.” He says.
He hates being called ‘Lord Madson’ because there were too many rules to live by. He might get away with more than double of the things women did, but he hated the hypocrisy of it all. Scrat also claimed that the clothes were too heavy to wear because of the responsibility of them to do your duty and play your part. He was born with a noose already tied around his neck, one wrong move and he’ll be hung. Birds like him don’t live long in cages and he’s been living a long time in the wild to go back completely now.
However, he still kept his title and he keeps going back every now and then to meet his aristocratic friends. I don’t believe that for a moment that he ran with me because of the role he was born into but because of the man he was born to. Scrat doesn’t speak of his father, usually brushing over or changing the conversation when he’s brought up so I can never be certain about what actually happened between them.
I met his father once, officially. Twice more unofficially. All three times he was a despicable twat, so I understand why Scrat doesn’t talk to him even if I don’t know the reasons. Each time Scrat made sure I didn’t appear the least bit feminine and it wasn’t until I first met him that I understood why.
The first time I met Lord Madson was at some party. I can’t remember why I was invited or whose party it was. I remember him though. He knew what he wanted and would go to any length to get it. He had an eye for unique things that were rare beyond belief and a large enough pocket to add them to his collection. It surprised me that no one had introduced us before because he would’ve been a man who’d have loved my services. He wanted the strange and I could get them to him. In his youth, he might have been a robust man but when I met him, his age was already starting to show.
However, Lord Madson never seemed to accept the fact that he was getting on. The way he spoke about women was vile and boyish, not of a grown man.
“Imagine how pretty she would look all hot and sweaty in my quarters,” he said to me at that party. I thought that he would be lucky if she even noticed that he was in her. “Bet a young man like you two would love to have her but it’s me she’s making eyes at.” The lord laughed with his chest but it never reached his eyes, I always thought that he was too busy watching to properly join in.
I didn’t say anything of this to him. Instead I nodded in agreement and ignored the unnatural twisting of my stomach. “Yes, I would love to have her but it’s a shame she’s noticed you instead.”
The girl in question was actually glancing our way because she fancied me and was afraid of Lord Madson. Not that anyone can blame her. I’m fantastically handsome and he had a disturbing glint in his eye and was drooling over her like a rabid dog. He thought that she was the moth to his flame but the reality was that he was the moth to hers.
Speaking my mind or acting on my thoughts (which was to break my wine glass and shove it into his neck for those of you wondering) was a bad idea. The aristocracy is a great connection to have and upsetting them will only end up with me burning at the stake. Some of them know about my situation and I’ll be called a witch if they think I’m a threat. Otherwise most of them think that I’m more of an asset. Like Helena, they believe that I can deliver impossible things to them... For the right price of course. If a noble likes you, then they are more willing to introduce you to their friends, which me means more gold. It’s how I met Scrat. I wasn’t going to risk some gold over a few unsavoury comments, but if the disgusting man had acted on them, then that may be a different story. Although looking back, I didn’t know the girl was Iris. If I had known at the time then I might have actually done something.
I come back to the present and notice that Helena and Scrat are still talking about whatever it is they’re talking about. I can’t be bothered to try to figure out what they’re on about so I watch the fishermen unload their hull onto the dock. The fish smell awful and they look it too, with their mouths open and their unblinking eyes.
There’s a few people coming over to look at their hull of god knows what type of fish. I can never remember which fish is harvested in this port and sea, that type of information always slips out of my memory. I can tell you what different alcohols are made of though, which is useless to most. Some people pick at the fish, pulling out the biggest and the ones they want to buy. Talk about fresh pickings.
My breath catches when I see a familiar figure in the crowd. It’s him, by the Lila . My chest tightens and breathing becomes a chore. It has to be him because how many black people do you see in Plymouth? How many do you see walking freely? None. He has no master.
How did he find me?
Did he know that Iris was dead? He had to. Why else would he be here? Unless he wanted to kill Iris before she naturally kicked the bucket herself? I wouldn’t put it past him because he wouldn’t stay in one small town for twenty years waiting around for her to drop dead and for me to come back. I didn’t do anything that bad. The bastard is like me, it shouldn’t have mattered that I-
“Captain?” Helena asks, bringing my attention back them both. Scrat looks at me confused. “I was wondering if you could take me to Abydos, in Egypt.”
I frown at her. I knew she wanted me to take her on adventure. “Why?” I glance back to the Lila to see that he’s gone.
She doesn’t answer for a second, avoiding my eyes and shuffling her feet. “I believe that we can resurrect the dead there. Or at least see the dead.”
I know exactly who she wants to bring back and I don’t want to be apart of that. I can’t face Iris in death knowing that I failed to face her in life. Not happening.
“Please, I want to see my mother again and you can see your father.”
“I said no,” I say firmly. I don’t have a father, not one I remember or a family either. The memory of them has been lost and I’m afraid of the answers to my questions.
I’m afraid of Iris too.
If I take Helena to Egypt, there is no telling of what will happen. While in this time of year it’ll be colder than the summer, there are still diseases that can kill her. If not that then I’m sure that some mythical creature from the dead and beyond will for even wanting to upset the natural causes of things. That’s if she makes it to Egypt. The sea is a deadly place for those who weren’t born to tame the ocean. Something will have her, I’m sure of it. Her mother would never forgive me for being the cause of her daughter’s death. Iris cared fearlessly for those close to her, she’d rather risk her life than anyone else get hurt. She even placed her life before mine once or twice, not that she ever needed to. If Helena met her untimely demise then Iris is one more ghost to avoid.
“Please… I’ll pay you. I just want to see her once more.”
I say nothing, crossing my arms. I’m not taking her.
“We’ll do it.”
My arms drop and I turn to face Scrat, horrified. He just… disobeyed, went against my wishes. Isn’t he worried that she’ll die too? So many die on these trips, Helena can’t be another life lost at sea or in Egypt.
“We’ll take you to Abydos with or without a plan and we can discuss money on the way. I want to see your mother too. We’ll do it.” He looks calm, like he knows that he can convince me to do it. I know he will too. I just don’t want him too because she could die. “We haven’t got no place else to be, so pack your bags. Be here by noon tomorrow latest.”
A few hours later, I pace around Scrat’s quarters, fuming and worrying about what the future might hold. He disobeyed my wishes and I am the Captain, not him. He could lead to her to her death and it’ll be our fault.
“She might die!” I shout for what must be the millionth time today. “Iris would never forgive me if I caused her daughter’s death!” The medallion I’m holding by the gold chains swings around my hand and whacks my knuckles. It stings but I don’t react to it.
Scrat chuckles a little and drinks his whiskey. The warm glow of the burning lanterns soften his face and hide the evidence of his age. That face used to be so young and youthful, he’s changed so much since I first met him. He was just a boy, a teenager with a will and desire to rebel against his father. Sometimes I look at him and I smile proudly at how far he’s grown because it’s impressive.
“So might anyone, at least let the lass have some fun before she dies. Iris can’t be mad at that, given the bullshit she used to pull.”
He has a point there. Iris used to like seeing just how far she could push it. I remember with Sif, Iris taunted her over her terrible haircut that Loki gave her. I’m not saying that making her look like a badly plucked chicken was a good idea, nor was pointing it out, I’m just saying that it was pretty funny.
However I wouldn’t call our life fun, not for people like Helena. There’s too much Langdon in her. “We’re too wild for her and she’s too tame for us.”
She’s used to a certain way of life that my ship just can’t provide. The food is edible at best and God bless the cook for doing his best with that. There are no servants to wash your clothes and no clean water to do it yourself so you have to wear the same outfit for weeks. Long hair goes wild but brittle in the sea and salty air so hers will snap off soon enough. I don’t fancy consoling those tears if I can help it. There isn’t a proper bed to sleep on either.
“So was I in my youth!” He argues back. “She’ll loosen her corset after a little bit.”
“She won’t have many to talk to. You know the crew.” The men aren’t always gentlemanly but they usually mean well or they’re flat out teasing. Oh god, the women are the same. They’re nice girls but they’ll make sexual jokes that she won’t get or be embarrassed by because the two most important things about a noble woman is her virtue and her innocence.
“She’ll have you and me.”
I sigh, giving up on that argument and deciding to take another. Scrat can be stubborn sometimes. “I saw him in town.” I pinch my medallion between my knuckles. They turn white and the engravings dig into my fingers. Rapidly, I knock it between my finger and thumb on my other hand.
“Who?” Scrat frowns, looking very confused.
“Cain!” Who else would I be on about?
“Don’t see why that’s a problem. He’s had twenty years, if not more, to do something.”
I stare at him, not believing that he isn’t reacting like I am because he should be scared. Cain hates Scrat more than he hates me. He’ll kill Scrat in vengeance and have me helplessly watch him die.
“I don’t want her dead. She looks just like her mother when we knew her, save for the eyes. He knew about us…” I sigh, the words failing me. My shoulders sag and I look down at the floor, turning my necklace around in my fingers and get them caught up in the chain.
Putting his drink down, Scrat walks over to me to place his hands on my shoulders. I look away from his face but his head darts around, following my gaze so I have no choice but to look at him. This close I can see the filth on his glasses, I wouldn’t be surprised if he can’t see better with them on and he’s being too stubborn to clean them.
“Captain, it’ll be alright. You’re you and I’m me. That man won’t know what hit him if he tried to hurt the girl and he’s had twenty years to kill me. We’ll make sure that she’s alive.” Scrat shakes me gently to get my smile. I give him a small one so he tries harder. “Mainly because I really don’t want to tell her father what happened. He’ll send me to the gallows!” he jokes.
“Aye, if you get sent to the gallows then I lose a great connection to the nobles!” I laugh. He looks hurt for a second so I say, “And I guess I’ll be sad that you’re dead.”
He hugs me and I hug back. He smells of leather, salt and a little bit of whiskey. My worry disappears and everything is better.
After a few seconds I look up at him. “So, where will she sleep?”
Scrat gives me a look. “You know.”
“No. No. No.” I shake my head violently with a scowl. “No! She isn’t staying in my quarters!”
Helena and I stand on the deck of my ship while my men finish stocking my ship with the animals. I don't like keeping livestock on The Star Catcher but they provide eggs and milk while out at sea and eventually meat if we run out of that. We shouldn't, it takes just under a month to get to Alexandria Port in Egypt. Scrat is off down in the hold helping out and my other high ranking men are organising below deck. That's mainly making sure we have gunpowder and lead balls for the gunners and that every man is aware of my rules and signing the article.
Helena hands over her bag of clothes and tries hard to not look at my face.
Am I scowling?
I might be scowling. Although you'd be scowling if you had to share a room with someone. Sharing a bed however? That's different. She's very different to me, she's more polite and sophisticated, I imagine that she's quite neat. I'm none of those things.
"You'll be sleeping with me, in my cabin," I say through gritted teeth.
She looks mortified and her cheeks tinge pink. "Captain, I'm not that sort of girl. I won't do the act with you and I'm sorry if you got that impression."
I frown at her, a little confused. Why on earth would she think that I want to have sex with her? Granted she's pretty but I have standards, I demand a personality that's a little more than a copy of every other aristocratic woman. Then again, she is running off with a stranger to go see the world and I'm certain that's the opposite of what they tell you to do. But then I haven't given her much reason to believe I'd want to do that with her. If anything, I don't want her in my bedroom and I'm not exactly hiding it.
It dawns on me slowly and my face relaxes
"You think I'm a man, don't you?"
Helena furrows her brow in confusion. "Are you not?"
I don't really know how to answer it, I never do whenever someone asks. "I was born a woman but I don't feel like it. I don't feel like a man either, but I do feel like there's a secret third option and that's what I am."
She still looks confused, not that I blame her. I'm confused about it all too. "So you parade around as a man?" she asks, trying to make sense out of it.
"Out of the two options, what would you choose? Men have it better, men will always have it better. For one, they don't have to wear stupid tight dresses."
However, in many ways, women are smarter than men. They have to plan head for the actions of a man, anything that he might do to hurt her. Any woman in power is more intelligent than the man she is married to. She has to be. She has to create alliance, and while it is the men in her life who set it up, she's the one that sells herself. She also whispers in the King's ear because she is the last person expected to lie to him. That sounds great, doesn't it?
Men still have power over her. If she is caught being the puppet master then she is doomed to die, labelled as a witch. If she is lucky. Unlucky, then her reputation is ruined and she is forced to deal with the consequences of her actions whereas a man gets to do as he pleases without any judgement. His excuse is that he is a man. That's it. His word means more but at the same time he has to explain less. If he is to face the consequences, then his wife pays with him.
"I'd rather be perceived as a man, I suppose," Helena says. "So, your quarters?"
I nod and walk across the deck. I open the door, with a little difficulty because both hands are full with her stupid bags. Who needs so many clothes? Well, I suppose I can't really talk. It gives us something else to talk about other than her dead mother and me pretending to be my own father.
I hop over some of the clothes that I left lying on the floor yesterday and step over the small piles of gold coins and jewellery to get to the other hammock so I can drop her bags near it. Turning on my heel, I smile proudly at Helena, happy to show her my vast collection of gold that I've collected over the years. There's a few small statues of the various Gods and beasts that I found lying around in long forgotten treasuries that belonged to long forgotten monarchs of long forgotten kingdoms. I've got a few swords too, amongst the gold coins, cups, and bars. My favourites are the necklaces that I hang on hooks and matching the rings and earrings placed on the shelves. The issue is that we're on a ship so they usually fall onto the floor and I'm too lazy to pick them up again.
Helena stares at the floor, pressing her lips together. "I see there's a place to sleep, but not a place to stand."
I roll my eyes at her. She must be blind because there's clear, safe spots to walk in on the floor, and space around the hammock and bed because sometimes I like to switch what I sleep on, especially on the nights I can't sleep. I'm even giving her the better thing to sleep on too, aren't I courteous?
"There is, here." I walk back around to the door. When I get there, I hold out my hand for her to take so I can help her jump over the small piles of treasure.
"Where on earth did you get all of this from?"
I laugh at her. Her naivety is adorable. "How do you think? I'm a pirate."
She gasps, pulling her hand out of my grasp to bring it to her chest. Is piracy now a disease? I should check with a ship's surgeon just to be sure that it's nothing serious or catching.
"You asked if I was a similar Captain to my father. You've read the diaries, surely you must have known?" I don't know what she was expecting me to say. That I'm secretly from a lot of money on mother's side? I wish. But that money would've been spent centuries ago, perhaps before I lost my memories. Theft is the only way I can get so much gold and artefacts. Besides, if nobles and royalty didn't want to be stolen from then they shouldn't leave their things lying around on show... Or behind locked doors because I love a good challenge. The thrill of nearly getting caught is exhilarating, sex doesn't even come close to it. Although half of my gold has been left from royals who were dead when I found them so the thrill there is finding untouched from the day they had passed.
Helena coughs. "Yes, of course. You're right. It's just..." She trails off, lowering her eyes as her face turns pink. Again she thinks I want to have sex with her. I really want to know where she gets the idea that she's desireable. That might be Langdon's doing. He was too full of himself for his own good, thinking that everyone woman was falling to his feet with love (and onto his bed with lust).
"The dangers of sleeping with a pirate?" I say with a smirk on my face, cocking my eyebrow for extra effect. Nodding once, her whole face turns to a deeper shade of red and she fiddles with her hands nervously. I sigh. "I thought we already established that I don't want to sleep with you?"
She looks up at me with her tomato coloured face. "But you could kill me!"
I scowl at her, offended that she'd even suggest such a thing, "You nobles have a bigger history of murder than I do. I don't kill."
"What about your men? They could hurt me because I'm the only woman on the ship." Now she's just being ridiculous and clearly have second thoughts about this trip, but tough shit. I'm committed now. Well, Scrat is.
"I have whores for that, no one will care about you because you're inexperienced." There are a few who might be interested in taking a woman's virtue but I'm not telling her that and cause her more worry about her reputation.
She doesn't say anything in response and her cheeks slowly cool down.
"No harm will come of you, love. I run a tight ship with strict rules," I say without joking now. I'm proud of the ship I run, I hate it when people try to disgrace that pride with blatant disrespect. "I can assure you that your virtue remains intact. It's part of my article, the punishment is death."
Even if something did happen and she gets pregnant (god forbid that she did) it's a simple problem to deal with. We can go to a different country, one that won't know anything about Helena but someone on our ship speaks the language, to wait out her pregnancy. In that time, we can find a home for the child. If we couldn't find someone we like, there are always orphanages and convents. The nobles will be none the wiser and her reputation will be intact. It's simple enough, however not a problem I want to face. Can you imagine her panic? I'd rather not.
Anyway while my men won't be a problem, the sea could be. It's an untame creature, a beautiful tempest filled with strange and unique things. Most of which are trying to kill you. "So long as you do as I say, then you'll be safe."
Helena's embarrassment is replaced with a scowl and I can't say that I'm surprised. Her mother also struggled with the concept that I'm her Captain and that she is my sailor. Helena raises her head slightly and sucks her cheeks in. "I'm hiring you, you do as I say," she corrects.
I laugh, "Love, that's a sure way to get you killed. Do as I say to avoid death and if you can't manage that, then you can leave. I suggest you decide quickly, the anchor rises soon."
I point to the door but Helena doesn't move. Instead she tries to stare me down, sticking her chin out. Am I supposed to be threatened by this? She looks like an adorable cat who is about to act out. Part of me thinks she isn't used to the idea of answering to a pirate, a criminal. I'm not even a law abiding commoner and convicted in every decade since 1315 too, except for this one. But there's still time for 1470s, it's only just started. I'm at least two tiers below her or something like that in this great chain of being we are supported to follow in the Christain countries.
The other part of me thinks that she thought at long last there is someone to look down upon after having to answer to every other man in her life, like her father and her brother. She'd have to answer to any uncles she might have had too and cousins, but now there is someone who is below her for her to pass the mistreatment.
Both mean that she has a stick up her arse.
I want to be wrong because I am her equal.
"I'm going to command my ship now and set sail," I say to her, finally breaking the silence.
Not letting her have the chance to respond, I jump around her to head back out onto the deck. It's a lovely sunny day, with just the right amount of breeze for a picnic but it could be windier for the sea and for October. Scrat's finished with the hold and is now stood on the deck so I stand next to him.
I'm a little overdressed for a day like this, especially next to Scrat, with my heavy wool coat, cravat and velvet waistcoat. Not even the boots are a good match but I'll get rid of them soon enough when we get closer to Africa. My hat, however, is perfect for the sun. It's wide, the shadow lies on my shoulders and the ostrich feathers have fun dancing in the wind.
"Hoist the anchors!" I shout and Scrat echoes after me louder. He is my quartermaster afterall.
There is a chorus of 'Yes Captain!'s before anything is done. A few head over to the gear, grabbing the poles to pull the anchor up. They heave and grumble as they drag the anchor up because it is so heavy, especially with the water.
Once it's up, I give the next order, which Scrat echoes again. "Drop the main sail!"
The riggers climb up the rigging like monkeys to let the sail down. It tumbles down but doesn't rip, fortunately. There's a small lurch forward as the sail catches the wind. I can't help but smile, filled with pride.
It's pointless us both shouting the same order, I can leave Scrat to do it by himself because the crew respect him, he was democratically elected by the crew. I just like being involved so they know that they also take orders from me.
For the first days at sea, it has been dull. Nothing happens, as I expected. We all did our duties, playing card games, scrubbing the deck to save our feet from splinters. That's a back breaking job, I don't envy the men who have to perform it. The sailingmaster, Mr Meier, has kept us on course for the most part. There's already been one slow day with the wind and I don't wish for another. The sooner we get to Egypt the more likely Helena goes back to England alive but that sort of hasting thinking costs lives.
Despite the high spirits, there is an air of restlessness. There's plenty to do and people to talk to, this isn't unlike most voyages I've captained. Nothing is different and yet... I can't help but feel bored. I wander around aimlessly, talking to a few people here and there to give me something to do to ignore the off feeling in my stomach. I've ordered them to check the ropes at least twice a day because of the feeling. Bad omens come from undone ropes. However everything is okay. All ropes are tied. If I keep it up, they'll start talking and wondering if I fit for leadership, which will be a pain.
Scrat has been spending most of his time with Helena because he's the only one she knows and isn't as vulgar as some of the men. But it means that I don't get to talk to him as much as I'd like to, leaving me feeling lonely without my oldest friend.
The nights are the worst for the loneliness, like right now. Eight at night the lights go out and most of the men go below to sleep. I'd like to drink with Scrat and spend some time with my old friend but he goes to sleep around that time after spending day talking to Helena. Sometimes I found company with the sailors who can't sleep and other times, like tonight, I'm up in the dark alone watching the sea alone. It's beautiful and calm, nothing else like her. The water gently ripples around the boat while the wind rattles the ropes and sails, trying not to wake the sleeping sailors in it's politeness. It's a little cold but I don't mind much.
I look up at the moon who gazes back down on me. She fills the sky and owns it in her almost complete roundness and I find peace under her light, a friend perhaps. The sky is littered with thousands of stars and I try to find where my namesake is but there's too many and I don't know my astrology very well. I could ask Mr Meier or his apprentice, Mr Rodgers, but they would be sleeping by now. I'd ask them a few things. Does the moon ever feel lonely like the stars do? Do they look back on us and think we are the lonely ones?
She's probably lonely. There's only one moon but there are hundreds of stars. So I raise my bottle of whiskey to her, "To lonely, ancient beings." I take a swig of the bittersweet drink and decide to head back into my own room because my fingers have gone stiff from the cold. Helena is probably asleep by now.
I open my door and a warm glow of candlelight floods out of the room. Looking to the source, I find Helena swinging on the hammock waiting for me. She's wearing a white nightgown to signify a woman's purity and innocence. Her hair rests on her shoulders in almost perfect curls I sigh and start discarding layers without any regard for whether she sees.
"I haven't seen you much. Is it because I'm in your room and you don't like the invasion of the space?" She asks.
"Something like that," I say as I put on some night clothes. The truth isn't worth getting into. I'd rather not keeping lying to her but telling the truth will take too long because she won't believe it. Clambering into bed, I say to her, "Blow the light out? I'm tired."
There is a huff of air and I'm plunged into darkness once more.
The next morning I’m up at dawn again, the first light usually wakes me. I get dressed in silence, having to carefully hop around the small clear patch of floor with the fear of falling onto the gold. Not only would falling onto metal be incredibly painful, it would also be loud and I don’t want to wake the sleeping beauty over there on the much better bed. God damn my generosity. I head out of the room to oversee the morning duties, which is usually them scrubbing the decks clear of splinters. It’s relatively easy to do but I have an odd, unsettling feeling of dread in my stomach which is a little nauseating.
Helena eventually comes out wearing a heavy blue dress, an odd choice for a warm day like this one. Mr Taylor the Boatswain, who comes to stand next to me, notices this.
“I be begging your pardon Miss,” he says, getting her attention.
Helena smiles at him, happy that there was some politeness on the ship and thus potentially someone else to talk to other than Scrat. “Yes, Mr…?”
“Taylor, Miss. I just wanted to ask something.”
Oh god, whatever he asks won’t be good. Mr Taylor, while a good sailor, isn’t exactly known for his sweet talking and silver tongue but more for the random and rude bullshit that he spurts out. I have no idea how he ever got married and has a son, perhaps I should meet the wife to make sure things are okay.
“It’s a warm day,” he starts. “Why don’t you take off that dress and show your tits to cool down?”
Helena’s jaw drops and her face turns into a shade of red never to be seen before. She splutters and stutters at him, unable to think of a response. I let out a strange sound, not at all expecting him to say that. I thought he’d offer her a bit of gold to take the dress off or some other bollocks. She folds her arms and walks away, face burning red. She goes to Scrat and I watch them talk about what just happen. They hug too. I watch the conversation turn into something a lot more happier as they smile and laugh at each other. They’re probably talking about books and poems and art, rich people things that I can’t really comment on because they’ve been raised to care about that sort of thing and I haven’t. I hope they talk about the new shade of red Helena’s face invented.
“Anything need be doing, Captain?” Mr Taylor asks, getting my attention back to him. I wonder if he can feel it too but I daren’t ask. It could be something in there air if he feels it too.
“Have the ropes checked, Mr Taylor, we haven’t done it today.”
He nods at me and walks back off to order a few to see if anything is wrong with the ropes for the first time today. I hope that some are untied so it doesn’t seem like I’m unnecessarily paranoid about something that I’m necessarily paranoid about. Any good and experienced Captain will tell you to trust your gut because it’s the best alarm out there. Logic might dictate one thing but your gut knows different, it knows better.
However I don’t want anything to be wrong, I want it - need it to be my imagination. Hence why you always check the ropes. When they are untied then something is to come, unfortunate mishaps to happen. Mishaps where lives can be lost and I don’t want that risk on Helena’s life, even if it’s a dull journey.
“Cap,” says Mr Taylor as he walks back to me after conversing with one of the sailors. “Some ropes are found to be loose.”
I'd like to say thanks to Alex for editting for me
Basically, this hasn't been edited so don't read if you want the more finished product (is anything really finished?) that makes more sense, wait a few days. The notes below sort of explain why this chapter has taken so long and because of how long it took is why I'm posting without editing.
Follow me on IG - Pretty.Bi.For.A.Bi.Guy (Currently I have pink hair)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“They found three to be exact.”
I curse under my breath. That’s three chances for Helena to be killed. Three chances for Iris to be pissed at me for letting her daughter get anywhere near death.
“Mr Taylor, get the officers into Scrat’s room for a meeting. We must get prepared,” I order him.
“A day early Cap?”
I nod, giving him a stern look because this is an urgent matter that needs attention now. He gives me a lazy salute to gather the masters for a meeting and I head below deck to our little meeting room. There are a handful of chairs around a table which I pace around as I wait and think. I don’t want Helena’s life to be added into the sea of guilty I already have to deal with. But I suppose if I don’t want her life on my hands, then I should hold my men with the same degree of respect and hang my hat up for good, avoid the sea completely and stick to… grass.
I can’t bear that thought, the sea is too thrilling, too wild of a tempest to give up taming. Especially after at least a century and a half of sailing on her. She breathes some excitement into my old life with the mystery and danger she brings, but this time, she fills me with the horrid feeling of dread.
The masters slowly filter in and I sit down in my chair. Charlie coming in and winking at me as he sits down opposite my usual seat. This is so he can flirt from across the room and I have to look at him and his handsome face. Mr Meier, arguably one of the most important people on my ship, sits to my right. Without him we wouldn’t have the foggiest idea where we’re going, which is a little dangerous in this huge world of ours. He comes in with Mr Daniels, who’s more trained at sawing legs than being a medical professional, but actual doctors don’t like being associated with pirates. At least he can cut off legs if needed. Finally, Mr Taylor enters the room and sits himself down, shortly follows by Scrat and Helena.
Internally I groan. This isn’t a conversation to have with a passenger, especially one that doesn’t know shit about the sea. I look around at the confused faces of the masters, each of us wondering why she’s here. The mates aren’t even here because it’s not really a matter than concerns them, they know to take over their master’s responsibility and show off what skills they learned. Helena shouldn’t be here.
I decide to ask the question we’ve all been thinking, “Why have you brought Miss Helena along?” I call everyone else by their last names because it shows that I respect them and I don’t want to singe her out, but I don’t respect her father.
“She hasn’t got anyone to talk to,” Scrat says as he sits down next to me.
I sigh at him and his kindness. However she should make friends with some of the girls, even if they are whores and of a different social status. Obviously they won’t have any ideas about art or books or whatever it is Helena likes, yet I don’t doubt that they’ll find something. What do women like these days? Clothes?
“Why have we been called Cap?” says Mr Meier to bring my attention back to the matter at hand. He brushes his brown hair out of his face resting an elbow on one of the books he brought with him.
I stand up, the chair scraping on the floor. I shudder at the noise. “There are three untied ropes, which means that something is on it’s way.” As I study their faces part of me expects to see some sort of fear or worry but instead I’ve met determination, proving to me that the crew did an excellent job at picking brave men. I don’t have to work with a group of cowards either.
Alternatively, it could mean that I’m working with a bunch of crazed men with a death wish that want to murder us all.
I should worry about that.
I’m not going to worry about that.
“What’s so bad about untied ropes?” Helena asks. She has sat herself on a chair by the wall, out of the way yet she still wants to join in? “Why not tie them up again rather than have a meeting about it?”
I sigh, hating the fact that we’re going to have to explain everything to her. If she wasn’t here then we could get on with it and start trying to think about what sort of dangers we could face to prepare for them. We’d be done so much earlier. I sit back down and wave a hand for someone else to explain it for me. I pull my medallion out from under my shirt and put it in my mouth to suck on. It's warm from being against my skin and the metallic taste excites my tongue.
“Ah, Miss,” says Mr Daniels. “Have you been feeling some dread?” he asks her.
She widens her eyes slightly, amazed that this doctor has been able to guess that without even talking to her. “Did you tell him that?” She asks Scrat, who shakes his head with a small smile. “Yes but that’s just travelling nerves. I’ve never been out at sea before.”
Really? Who’d have thought that the protected maiden would have never been out at sea before? Especially one who has a father who hates the sea and me? Who’d have thought that that man would try to keep his daughter away from the sea?
Definitely not me. It’s absolutely unheard of! I expected her to run away sooner.
“I’d say it was if we’ve all haven’t been feeling it too. We check the ropes because they tell us if we’re right to dread,” says Mr Daniels.
Helena looks more confused and chews on her lip. It’s even more odd that everyone on the ship has had the same wretched feeling that I’d rather drown out with alcohol. “Why not have a meeting instead if you all are feeling it?” she asks.
Mr Taylor turns around to her with a horrid, stupid grin on his face. She crosses her arms over her chest and shuffles in her seat as she fails to meet his eye. I should talk to him about what he said earlier but that can wait. “Aye we could do that. But sometimes that be the air Miss. Those days where things feel off. So we best be trusting the Cap’s gut and check the ropes when they say.”
“How does it work?”
“Well aren’t you a quizzical thing?” Charlie flashes her one of toothy handsome smiles and she giggles back at him. Of course she would, he’s gorgeous with his brown eyes and his dark skin. His afro hair has been grown out into this amazing curly mess because he doesn’t trust anyone with a pair of scissors.
I scowl at him, not believing that he’s flirting with her. First she has Scrat’s attention, now Charlie’s. Who next? Loki? That’s a terrible example, Loki loves to tease me over the simplest of things.
Scrat places a hand on my knee and applies some pressure. My foot stops tapping. I didn’t even notice I was doing it but I know the sound sometimes drives him up the wall. “Enough questions about that, Cap could it be possible that it’s a full moon soon? I haven’t documented one yet.”
I put my hands up, dropping the medallion onto my chest and move back so Scrat can see the man next to me. I’m not the one to ask.
“It could be, sir,” says Mr Meier. He searches through his book and we all watch him. Anything else we could face is also semi-reliant on him knowing where we are and the time of the year so we can’t talk about much else.
I suppose there is that… thing. And that… other thing. I have no idea what’s going on in England currently. I was there for 3 days and spent most of my time drinking until I wake up in strange places rather than learning what was going on. Who is the monarch currently? Is it still Edward IV? I doubt it because he’s been knocking around a bit.
Instead of keeping up to date, I think I had a fight. I remember getting punched and I think he broke my jaw. I recommend getting drunk before you get any part of you broken or fractured because it hurts a hell of a lot less than it normally would. Anyway, this big fellow was going red in the face as he shouted at his wife, laughing at her and humiliating her in front of his friends in the street. I wasn’t having it so I punched him in the face with the hand holding worn underwear. Why was I wearing those? Did I sleep with someone? The dick called me a pansy and punched me back. I thought the name calling was a little uncalled for. I only said that I’d suck his cock if he wasn’t so ugly.
“Captain?” Scrat taps my knee with his hand, bringing me back to Earth and points to Mr Meier. The medallion is back in my mouth so I drop it again.
As he closes his journal, he says, “The next full moon is scheduled for tomorrow.” He’s one of the few on my ship that can read and I think he’s teaching Mr Rogers a little more too, which I’m very grateful for. We always need readers in our ranks. “So what are we to do about the full moon?”
“Keep most below deck if there it’s a clear sky. We should make sure that the weapons are locked into the hold either way,” says Charlie. “Sounds like a job you should help with Cap.” He smirks at me.
Mr Taylor rolls his eyes at him, “Stop flirting, Up-Chuck.” Charlie slumps into his chair and crosses his arms, huffing at the older man but not saying anything.
Helena asks, “Isn’t that against article five?” She isn’t wrong. That particular part dictates that every man can keep his cutlass at all times so he is always armed for battle. However there is a clause that says this can’t happen during a full moon for their own safety because I’d rather have unarmed men than dead ones.
“Some people get aggressive or upset, it’s for their own safety. They’ll understand” says Mr Daniels. “They all signed it so they can’t complain much about the article.”
“It’s just a full moon,” Helena says. “It can’t be that dangerous, can it?”
Mr Taylor laughs. His apprentice has had a tricky time with his first full moon, he nearly drowned himself under the strange effects of the moon. “It’s dangerous Miss. You best stay with the Captain.”
I nearly groan. He isn’t wrong, she is better off staying with me because I can swim and I know how to handle the moon’s effects on people and we’ll be hiding out in the same room together. So from the time the sun sets and the sun rises, I’ll be stuck in a room with a woman I don’t know how to talk to. Our first meeting was the biggest indication of that.
“Are we supposed to lower the anchor too?” Scrat asks.
Mr Meier says, “I should hope so because I don’t plan on sailing during a full moon. A night time dip? At this time of year? I’m not a selkie!” he laughs. He’s not as funny as he thinks he is.
Mr Daniels sighs, “That’s not funny Meier.”
“We can discuss possibilities of what else is going to happen soon,” I say, bringing the conversation back around. “Is there anything else to deal with?”
“There be a small scrap that my apprentice has been meaning to bring up to you,” Mr Taylor says to Scrat. “But you’ve been so busy with the Missy here he couldn’t.”
It’s Scrat’s job to sort out any problems on any of those types of skirmishes on the ship. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who hasn’t been able to talk to him and has noticed that he’s been too busy to do his job.
Helena smiles. “You could’ve talked to him all the same regardless of me.”
Mr Daniels and I share a glance, both of us thinking the same thing. I don’t think he wants to talk to her either.
Scrat claps and brings the attention away from Helena. “Alright, when we get to Alexandria Port, I’ll have them sort it out if you tell me who it was later. Sound good?”
Mr Taylor nods and Charlie stands up to leave. “In the meantime then Captain,” says Charlie. “You should stop by my room tonight.”
I bite my lip and smirk back at him, “I might just.” I’m getting sick of waiting all by myself so it’s nice to have that option of warmth and company. I glance over to Helena, seeing her cheeks tinge pink of the idea of what he and I could possibly get up alone.
He winks and leaves with Mr Taylor and I can hear them laughing about it just outside of the door. The rest of us follow after, I head back to the deck to wander around and look at the sea.
She’s a beauty at night but her beauty doesn’t fade in the day either. The sun sparkles on her waves and ripples. Stand too close to the edge of the ship and she’ll cheekily spray you with water, not that I mind salt on my face. The last of the migrating birds flock to the warmer climates as winter rolls in slowly, singing their song as they go. The musicians starts singing their songs to and the crew join in as they work. It’s peaceful.
I watch my men and I watch Scrat go to his room with Helena. He’s neglecting his duties again for her. She should really learn that everyone else is pulling their weight and she’s distracting him from his job. I can’t let it keep on anymore. The anger bubbles inside of me like a volcano ready to erupt. I storm across the deck to his room, my men moving out of the way for fear that it’s them who has pissed me off.
I barge into the room. Scrat is lying there on his bed reading a book and Helena is sat on his deck chair reading. She looks up and smiles at me but it falters when she seems my face.
“Out!” I point at the door.
Without saying a word, she closes her book and leaves the room as fast as possible, ducking under my arm as she goes. I kick the door shut and scowl at Scrat.
He puts his book down on the bed and sits up properly, giving me his full attention. There is a look of bewilderment on his face, but I don’t know why. Surely he must know that he hasn’t been doing his job? “What is it Cap?”
I pace around the room. I always seem to find myself doing that in Scrat’s room. “You’ve been neglecting your duties because of her. I’ve had to do it instead, with the help of your mate.” Mr Walsh is a young lad with a promising future on the ship, which I’ve only realised recently when he’s been helping me do Scrat’s job. This will be terrible if the others notice him too. “If you keep it up, you’ll be voted out and Olly in.”
“It’s part of my duty to make sure everyone is happy, that’s what I’m doing with Helena,” he explains.
“But it doesn’t mean to neglect the other seventy people that work under us!” I clench my fists, a little hard to do when your fingers are covered in rings.
Scrat doesn’t say anything for a moment and stares at me. God knows why, do I have something on my face? “I’m sorry Captain, I will pick up my duties tomorrow.”
“Thank you.” There is no doubt that he will do better because we’ve been working together for twenty years. I know him better than anyone.
He doesn’t say anything for a moment and sits up properly, resting his elbows on his knees and head on his hands as he studies my face. “Cap… Did you miss me?”
“I’m bored. My oldest living drinking partner has been too busy to drink with me,” I say trying to get around the truth without lying. I did miss him. We haven’t spent that much time apart and we should be sick of each other by this point. However, his life is short so we might as well make the most of it.
He raises his brow at me. “I thought Cain was your oldest drinking partner?”
I stare at him. Is he trying to be funny? I think he’s trying to be funny. “Oh yeah, the immortal murderer who currently hates me is the perfect drinking partner. I’ll send him a letter and tell him to meet me in Alexandria Port to catch up over a pint then he can kill me, shall I?”
Scrat chuckles. “Death never stopped you before.”
“Have you tried dying? It hurts!”
He tries to hide his smirk, “Really? You make it look easy.”
Sure I make it look easy but it isn’t something that I’d recommend to anyone really. Dying is a terrible idea. Rolling my eyes, I say, “When you kick the bucket, you’ll see.”
“Not sure if that’s the right attitude to have towards my eventual death.” He lets out a small laugh.
Shaking my head at him, I sit down on his desk and pick up one of the books on there to flick through a well-loved book. While I can’t read it, I do enjoy the feel of the pages passing through my fingertips like the wings of a hummingbird. He knows that I don’t really mean it. Or at least I hope he does.
“Cap if you’re so bored ,” he says, bringing the conversation back around to the original question and answer. “Why not talk to Charlie? We are all very aware about how much he adores your company.”
I bite down on the corners of my mouth to try to hide my smile. Charlie isn’t the sort of person you go to for serious conversations, he doesn’t like them. He prefers to have fun, not that I’m complaining. “I don’t like troubling him with my issues and I’ve been busy doing your job.”
Scrat flinches a little. “Then talk to Helena. You share a room together and she feels lonely too. It’s what Iris would’ve wanted.”
There’s a pang of guilt in my chest. He isn’t wrong. Iris would be pissed that I haven’t put the effort to get to know her daughter but she would’ve been even more pissed if I don’t keep her safe. “She can’t know the truth, you saw how she reacted to the idea that the full moon can have disastrous effects - she didn’t believe it. She won’t believe me when I tell her the full story about me.” It’s a long story at that too, none of it is believable. Although the diaries will hold some truth and she does seem to believe that resurrection is possible.
“But she’s going to find out eventually,” he says. “We are bringing back the dead after all.” I’m not entirely sure if we can do that, I haven’t heard many stories about it going right or wrong.
There’s Jesus but he died returned again shortly after. Most of the Greeks who were brought back forever, which is a curse. Having a permanent second chance is everyone’s dream, but you don’t want a permanent life because eventually everyone you love dies and then you want to die too. Constant loss is exhausting.
I stand up, putting the book back down on the desk. There is something to prepare for, there isn’t time for dawdling. “Do your duty and I’ll see you later.”
He says his farewell and I leave the room.
Idk if anyone will read these notes but I'm just going to use them anyone.
This chapter has been SO HARD TO WRITE and nothing HUGE happens. Like it's important because it introduces the characters and sets up what happens next and character relationships but man has it been difficult. Why? (asks no one) Good question, I have an outline that is fairly detailed, just unfinished. The previous chapter, this one and the next few were more ideas so I was just struggling and going back to tweak chapter 3 to make it flow better.
I literally wrote the first half of this chapter like 3 times without editing help from Alex and then there was some stuff that came up so I didn't want to write at all on Sunday. It's been a pain and I'm glad that I got through it.
Also, shoutout to Alex for listening to the crap that happened and bitching about this stupid chapter. Not to mention, he reads these chapters and gives me constructive notes. Recently he's done his end of year show (Spring Awakening) and I'm so proud of him (despite not seeing as of writing these notes)
6th June 1446
The Captain came over today, after finally receiving father’s letter about wanting to meet with them. He’s been yabbering on for weeks about how this wish ring will save the family fortune but I didn’t believe it.
I don’t believe it still, even after meeting the Captain. It seems impossible. A ring that can grant wishes, hidden deep in Scandinavia? Part of me hopes it’s true, that would be fascinating. The way the Captain was… it was exciting, I can see why Bart was with them.
Well, no. I wonder actually. His father is a stubborn man, who doesn’t stand for nonsense. When father told him that he was going to buy this ring, Lord Madson said it was all poppycock and silly stories. I’m afraid he could be right. Bart always seems to agree with his father too, so I really don’t understand.
Apparently they’ll be back around again to collect the money to buy supplies for the trip, I’ll ask to go. To keep an eye on them. To be certain that it isn’t a trick.
I hope they say yes. I’m bored of the gardens.
I leave Charlie’s room with a warm smile on my face. The imprint of his warm lips and hands hasn’t left my body yet and I felt at ease. Perhaps for the first time since setting sail, I haven’t felt quite alone. I should’ve gone to him sooner.
I walk across to my room while the men are starting to head below deck in time for the curfew. Just because Helena has taken vacancy and spends more time in there, it doesn’t make it any less my room. The sun is low in the sky, creating a gorgeous orange glow on the ship. It’s warm but my hair blows in the wind. I hope it isn’t messy, Charlie doesn’t keep a mirror in his room so I couldn’t watch my hands plait my hair.
I open my door to find Helena falling out of the hammock and onto the pile of gold that it right beside her with a scream.
I burst out laughing. “Are you okay?”
She scowls at me. Her foot is still in the hammock, she looks like a baby deer learning to walk as she tries to get up but can’t because her hands are slipping on the gold coins that she landed in. “You startled me! I wasn’t expecting you to come until later!”
“I can see that!” I laugh as I hop across the room to get to her. When I do, I unhook her foot from the material and place it gently onto the floor.
She grabs her nightgown, tugging it over her white feet and sits on the metal. Helena shifts uncomfortably but doesn't look at me. Right, I touched her ankle. I hold my hand out to hand to her with a smile on my face.
Realising that staring at her is probably making her more uncomfortable, I turn my attention to a tapestry. Galahad gave it to me saying that it would 'brighten up the room'. It does, a little bit. The greens and blues contrast against the warm shine of the gold. However when he put it up, he scrunched his face at it and said that it made the room look more like a damned treasury. He scowled at me when I told him that’s where most of it came up so I’m glad that it translated across. He told me to put it in the bank or even the hold in my ship, which would never do.
“You have too much gold,” she says as she pulls herself up to her feet, the gold sliding into the clear patch under the hammock. “Can’t we put it someplace else?”
I stare at her. “No. don’t move my gold. If I put my gold in the hold, then it could get divided up amongst the sailors.” I’m all for sharing wealth, but I worked hard for my share of it just like they worked hard for their part of it. “A bank would never do either. With the wealth I have, it would raise a lot of questions as I don’t have a title.” Well, a ‘real’ title because pirate Captain doesn’t count. Those questions have unsavoury answers too, that will definitely lead to me being arrested again , hung at the gallows again and have my possessions stripped of me again . “My quarters is the safest place for them.”
“Yes, that may be but you might have too much,” she says.
You can never have too much wealth and I’ll be damned if I give it up. “It isn’t my fault you fell off a hammock.”
“It’s a tricky bed and I wasn’t expecting you to come in. You’ve been avoiding me.”
I feel a pang of guilt and I fight the urge to argue that the hammock is the much better bed to sleep on, much more comfortable for the sea. I check over her hands carefully for cuts. But if she dies via an infection, then Iris can't blame me. They’re a little red but nothing much to worry about. “You’re not seriously hurt, you might bruise though.” I step away, as difficult as that is without standing on something, and drop her hands to grab a half empty bottle of alcohol. I take a sip of it. “How have you been? I’m sorry that we haven’t spoke that much.”
She glances at me, “Lonely. There aren’t many people to talk to.” Is she going to blame me? Scrat has made it clear that I haven’t helped that feeling. “The other women are… well. They can’t read for one.” There’s a judgement in her tone.
I frown at her. How dare she insult my girls. What does being able to read mean in the grand scheme of things? There are plenty of intelligent people who can’t read, me being one of them. There’s probably a few more but none come to mind currently. “Intelligence is not in the ability to read.” Helena gives me an odd look. “Those girls are clever. They can teach you how to sew clothes.” I take another swig of the bottle.
“I have ladies for that.”
“Not out here you don’t.” Part of my wonders if she’s forgotten where she is and that her privilege means so little. “No one is going to stitch your stockings for you.”
She frowns at me for a second, “Can you sew?”
“Of course!” I say proudly. I rummage through a pile of clothes that are sat in the far corner, pushing dirty and blood stained clothes out of the way and a few extravagant dresses. Finally I pull out a stocking, and hold it out proudly. The toe is all bunched up because the thread was pulled too tight.
“That looks awful.”
I scowl at her and drink, “You try it if you’re so good at it.” When she doesn’t answer, I stick my tongue out at her. I shouldn’t have done that, she’s a noble woman.
She gives me a small laugh and brushes her hair behind her ear. “Are you going to stand and watch the sea now?”
“No,” I move towards my window and place my hands behind my back, still holding onto the stocking. The sea is much better to look at from the deck anyway but this time I don’t mind gazing through the glass. “This window view will do.” Turning my head slightly to look at her, I give her a small smile. She smiles back and I think for once we both feel not so alone.
The next morning I quickly get dressed into the same loose browning shirt and baggy trousers, trying to make sure that I don’t wake Helena before I head out onto deck. Men are already scrubbing the deck clean of splinters under Scrat’s watchful eye, groaning and moaning at their labour. I give him a nod and head below deck to check things down there.
Light leaks through the ceiling boards, as does a little bit of water from the scrubbing men. The thudding footsteps echo through the ship as the gunners run around collecting weapons from the crew members. God knows which fool might accidentally look at the moon.
I come across two men tugging the sword between each other like children. “It’s in the article that I keep it!”
“Except during full moon!” the gunner shouts back, yanking the sword to himself.
The other tugs it back to him, “No one read that to me! It’s not in it.”
I walk towards them and put my hand on theirs. This is Scrat’s job but he’s keeping up with his regular duties so this time I don’t mind stepping in. “Gentlemen, if you don’t stop then you’ll have to battle it out when we port. I’m sorry Mr…?” I trail off and look at the angry man.
He glances at my rings and my gaze on him hardens for a second. My gold. “Pots, Captain.”
“Well done Mr Pots for knowing my article but you have forgotten a part. Ask one of the masters to read it to you.” It’s too much to ask him to swallow his pride and ask Helena to read it to him. I pull slightly at the sword and both men let go of their grip on it. I stare at the man until he runs off to find someone before turning to the gunner. "Thank you sir for doing your job," I say, silently dismissing him. He leaves to go gather more weapons.
I head off to go to Mr Daniels’ surgical room to see if he has anything doing. The room smells faintly of blood and the floorboards are stained red. The table… I nearly gag to look at it. It has clumps of dried blood at the bottom end of the table. The walls are lined with cupboards, presumably filled with his medical instruments.
Mr Daniels comes into sight from the hallway with Mr Taylor behind him. “Captain, here for a check up?” Mr Daniels says as he dumps a few rusting padlocks onto the table.
I chuckle at him, he knows that I don’t really need one but he checks my face anyway. He doesn’t even have a doctorate but he likes to pretend that he’s a real doctor. He turns my head around gently in his rough hands as he checks my face. “How old are you?” He asks as he lets go of my face.
“I don’t know, Galahad doesn’t tell me that either.” I can’t figure that out either. Humans are terrible at keeping the date, let alone share the same date because it’s different everywhere. Not that I know the current date in China or anywhere else. The year of my birth has been long forgotten, buried too deep into my memory and died with those there at the time. My earliest memory was waking up on a port. I didn’t know my name - I’m not even sure the one given to me is correct - and I don’t know my family or where I was born. It’s like I spent that part of my life in one long party and for once I woke up sober. “At least 150 years?”
Mr Taylor laughs, “Looking good Cap for your age!”
The way he looks at me like a wild animal finding easy prey, but I’m not prey. Despite feeling uncomfortable, I wink at him. “You know it. Galahad says that I’m twenty-one.”
Mr Daniels picks up a lock and starts to lock up the cupboards, so I follow his lead to help as does Mr Taylor. He opens them up to check the inside and I do the same. Inside was filled with medical instruments that I don’t know or understand despite buying them about… I don’t actually know when I brought. It’s been a while unless Mr Daniels tricked me to buy some more while drunk. However they’re rusting and covered in gunk and blood, so I doubt he has.
“There’s one missing,” Mr Daniels says. I glance over and spot the free hook in the cabinet before he shuts it and locks it. “It probably fell off and rolled somewhere.”
“Let’s hope so,” I say as I lock the last cupboard. “Well gents, I’m going to check on the other masters.”
They both bid me farewell and I go to find something else to do. Mr Daniels is a good man who cares about others, even if he doesn’t know how to care for people properly. He didn’t come from much, apparently his house and family burned down in a fire. Lost everything. So I hired him. He had carpentry skills which made it easier for him to join as a mate to the last surgeon. He tried so hard to be better at medicine, stressing over books most nights but without much success with the words being in Latin and all. Still, he knows enough.
Mr Taylor is a different story. He lived on a port somewhere and came from a family of fishermen. But he wanted something more. He was a dirty man with a silver tongue when he wants and he wanted to be on my ship so he got me drunk and playing games, which me bet on. Haven’t been able to shake him since.
I walk through the dim hallways of the ship. Someone should really light a lantern down here. The floor boards are a little wet still, a small amount of sand rubs between my toe. It’s annoying but not the worst thing in the world.
"Captain!" Says a cheery voice. I jump and Charlie wraps his arm around my shoulder dropping his weight on me. I falter a little. "Sorting out my men I see."
I smile. "Well I was up early. Thought I might as well make myself useful." I glance at him.
He laughs and nuzzles his face into my cheeks. His laugh is so musical, as if he has nothing to worry about. "If you stayed the night then you wouldn't be able to get up in the morning." He holds a bottle of whiskey to my chest for me to take and I become painfully aware of my breasts. He needs to move his hand soon.
"Aye, that may be the case but I had to talk to Helena." As I try to take the bottle, he takes it from my grasp to drink out of it himself. Oh thank god he moved his hand away, but at the same time… he took away the alcohol.
"What does she have that I don't? I thought I was your favourite." Charlie spins me around to see him pout. His brown eyes are huge and warm, even if he looks like he is about to cry.
"You are my favourite Charlie. I have to talk with Helena. She shares my room." While I love spending time with Charlie, I’m not going to complain about actually being able to sit in my room for a few hours before going to sleep.
"You have to be sure that you're not sleeping with a murderer?" He chuckles at me.
I cross my arms and raise my chin. “I could take her if she was a murderer.”
“Between you two, my money is on the lady.”
Letting out an offended gasp, I try to snatch the bottle away from him but it holds it above me, out of my reach. I’m not about to lose my dignity and jump for the bottle, no matter how tempted I am. Instead I cross my arms and raise my brow, stepping back so there’s enough space. “Oh really?” I pull out my sword and swing it around carelessly. It feels strange in my right hand but left handedness isn’t exactly accepted. “In all of my swashbuckling glory?”
“Yes. Upper class women get so aggressive when you insult them. I’m afraid for you life, honestly. Especially as I now have to take that weapon.” Charlie holds his hand out to me. My smile falls, as does my sword. The tip cuts into the wooden boards, but I don’t bother taking it out of the floor. “Rules are rules. You have to follow them too.”
Rolling my eyes and groaning, I hand over my sword. He’s right, but I don’t like it. At least in my room I have other weapons he can’t get to.
“I’m also going to have to take the weapons in your room.”
I glare at him, hoping that he’d back down. “You aren’t taking shit from my room.”
He lets out an exasperated sigh and drops his shoulders. “Come on Captain. Rules are rules, you share a room with a mortal.”
I also share a ship with a bunch of mortals, so it is a good idea that I don’t have weapons in case things go wrong and I fall under the trance of the moon. However, he isn’t taking anything from my room. “It’ll be fine.”
He doesn’t look so sure but he doesn’t press me further. “Everytime,” he mumbles.
Hours later, I sit on the floor of Scrat’s floor, leaning against the wall in Scrat’s room while he sits against the bed and Helena took the only chair in the room, holding onto an old book. I feet a little awkward because despite having spoken to Helena and am beginning to spend more time with her, I can’t shake the thought that they don’t want me there.
Scrat sat on the floor with me so I didn’t feel left out. It’s stupid thinking.
Sitting like this, I’m reminded of times with Iris. We always sat like this on my old ship. There’s not much difference between them except this one is bigger to be able to account for my vast collection of wealth. We’re a bottle of red wine away and a Cain to be able to replicate those memories perfectly.
I’m not a wine drinker; the headache the next morning is horrid and most who drink it look like a pretentious twat. Iris loved the fruity drink so I didn’t mind too much.
“Urg, wine,” I complained when Iris pulling out a few bottles of the stuff. Cain pulled a face at it.
She rolled her eyes at us. “What’s so wrong with it?”
“It makes you look… stuck up and pretentious,” said Scrat. He looked a lot younger in those days but there was something. There were dark bags under his eyes and he wasn’t sleeping. He smiles much brighter these days.
Iris sighed and her shoulders dropped, not expecting that she would be outnumbered. “Bart not you too! Nobles against criminals!”
“Hey!” I sat up straighter and frowned at her. I wasn’t mad, I could never be.
“He’s both,” said Cain. He could be caught committing a crime and he would be untarnished as long as it wasn’t treason. I don’t think we have done that. We definitely swindled some rich prick with a crown before. That went down as well as we expected with us in prison.
“He was noble first,” Iris retorted.
Scrat stretched, “I have to take the Cap and Cain's side on this. I’m more criminal than noble nowadays.” I give him a small smile. He found out that his father announced that Scrat was dead to all of his friends, and he was so pissed off. He didn’t dwell on the conversation for long and switched back to the wine.
“Those who drink wine usually spout out some bullshit about how they can tell where the fruit was grown,” Cain said.
“They can!” Iris said.
The three of us glanced at each other. “Bullshit!” we said at the same time.
We laughed a lot that night. She brought a bottle for each of us and naturally we got drunk. I don’t remember much that night, but I loved it so much. I think we woke the musicians up and got the entire crew to dance. Iris and Scrat were adamant on teaching me and Cain one of their fancy dances, which I never got the hang of. I tripped over so much and ended up pulling Iris down more than we actually danced.
Scrat hoped to replicate those moments with Helena but didn’t realise that it would be this awkward. None of us are talking to each other and it feels a little forced. It doesn’t help that Helena has her nose in her book and is smiling at it. Good to know that a book is
“What you reading?” I ask her, hoping it would start a conversation.
“My mother’s diary.” Oh… I’d read the book over talking to people too because it was written by her. “This entry is particularly funny. Here.” She hands the book over to me while trying hard to not leave her seat.
I reach for it and look at the page. The words don’t make any sense. On the bright side, I recognise my name so I can assume that it’s about me but I can feel both pair of eyes on me so I stare at the pages and fake a laugh. Scrat gives a low chuckle. One day I’ll have to open her box and I hope that she hasn’t wrote a letter. If so, I’ll pester Scrat to read it to me, even though I want it to be private. I hand the diary to diary to Scrat, praying that he will read it and give me some hints about what it was about.
“What do you think?” Helena asks. I glance at Scrat who smirks at the question.
The bastard isn’t going to help me. “Helena, I-”
“Oh, it’s the time me, your parents and Cain got horrendously lost in the woods because Iris wanted to lead us there,” he says, clueing me in.
“She can’t read maps,” I chuckle.
She was so frustrated at herself. We all were but she was too stubborn to let us help her figure out the map. It turns out that we were going east the entire time when we should’ve gone west. At least when we had to head north we actually went north rather than south. When she finally let us help her, we had to travel a day to get to the castle in Norway. For some reason she wanted to go back to the castle in Kjerag. However, when we finally got there, the castle was gone.
“Apparently she had her first kiss in the ruins,” Helena says.
Scrat, nodding along, says, “They did and it was awkward to watch.”
She was so disappointed to find it in that state because she didn’t know that Síf destroyed it after our last encounter, the bald bitch. No wonder Loki cut off her hair, she deserved. I wonder if she ever got it back?
Any way, she was so upset that I kissed her. I thought it might cheer her up and it did. I assumed it did anyway because she kissed me back. We pulled away so she could stop crying and she kissed me again. She wasn’t the best at it but I couldn’t ask for a better first kiss amongst castle ruins of our first near death experience together. It was very romantic. Or would’ve been if she hadn’t been crying and Scrat and Cain hadn’t cheered.
“She never mentioned Captain Rhodes the Elder before but it seems he was an integral part of her life before my father.”
“That’s because your father didn’t like the late Captain.” The late Captain didn’t like him either. The long nosed cunt tried so hard to keep up apart because he knew that she loved me much more than she loved him. “They both loved your mother but only one could marry her due to her social status and the threat of being disowned,” Scrat says.
“Apparently, the last time they spoke to each other was her wedding day.”
That was a day to remember. You know it when it’s going to be a delightful marriage when the groom blackmails the bride’s other lover into never seeing the bride again by threatening to label his bride-to-be as a witch on their wedding day. He took the whole 'if I can't have her then no can' very seriously and he was so red in the face I couldn’t help but laugh.
Then he spat in my face.
So I punched him with my rings on to give him a black eye as an early wedding present.
“I just don’t see how he let her go, they both seemed so very much in love.”
I guess he never told her why I left then. My excuse wasn’t exactly detailed either, just told her that it would keep her safe.
“Safe from what?” Iris demanded.
I never answered. How could I tell her that the man who loved her would keep her away from me no matter what? I understood why. Langdon wanted her safe and would she ever be safe with me? How many times has she nearly died because of me?
I didn’t show up to the wedding and that was the last conversation I had with her. It was a bitter farewell.
The sun disappears behind the horizon as the sky is warm with purple and the sea is dark. Not that far off in the distance is a ship. Do they know what’s to come?
A match behind is struck and the room fills with a warm glow. I drop Galahad’s tapestry to cover the window. While I prefer to gaze out the sea, the tapestry makes an interesting view. In the centre is an off-white fountain surrounded by green trees ripe and bearing red bananas and apples, green pears, purple grapes and pink blossoms. The outer edge is decorated with brown, wilting trees that are bare of fruit and leaves.
There's also a person, well three, but it’s all the same person as they all shared the same nose and eyes. The first image, on the left of the tapestry, is of a man with white hair and hunched over a cane. He seems to be shuffling to the fountain and the next picture of him shows him drinking it. His hair is brown instead of white. The man stands up straighter too without his cane that has been discarded on the floor and his hunched back has disappeared. The final version of him is smaller and younger, a child. The boy isn’t drinking from the water, but his hands are dripping with water.
“I still don’t get what’s so scary about it.”
Turning around with a sigh, I find Helena rocking in her hammock. Lucky, I wish I had two so I could join in or not have to share a room. “If you look at the reflection of the moon, then you are no longer you.” Why can’t she just take my word for it? She’s just like her mother. I walk over to my desk to get a bottle of alcohol, finding that a space has been cleared in the gold and jewellery. “Did you clean this?”
Helena nods, “I wanted a place to write letters.” Before I have a chance to ask anything more, she asks another question. “How do you become no longer you?”
Picking up a full bottle from the desk, I say, “Most try to kill others, then themselves.” I unscrew the bottle and take a swig of the liquor. It’s bitter but perfect.
Not wanting to admit that I don’t know the answer to that, I remain silent and inspect the bottle, to seem too engrossed in it to be paying attention. The moon’s trance at sea is just one of those things that just is and questioning it will only give more questions rather than answers. Well, that’s what Galahad told me when I asked him.
“Does it hurt?” She asks instead. Her curiosity is endearing, but dangerous.
I drink again. “It feels like a dream. If I close my eyes, I can still remember it. The blissful haze and all my problems cease to exist when I stared at the water." Limbs feel light and weightless, each step I took was too heavy to be real. Nothing seems real. It’s delightful.
“Doesn’t sound scary to me.”
“It isn’t, until it is.” Until you wake up underwater, trying to scream. You can’t breathe, water fills your lungs. It’s cold, but you burn all over and on the inside. It’s dark. You can’t see the surface. The one thing you know is that you’re going to die, and the moon didn’t have the decency to keep you in your high.
“Is that why you drink?”
I take another swig and smirk at her. “No, I drink because I’m thirsty.”
She rolls her eyes at me and sucks her teeth. Then she sighs at me. I laugh at her frustration with me and my half answers, so she switches to something else. “Everyone refers to you as ‘they’ or ‘them’, as if you’re multiple people.”
Walking over to my bed, I say, “I told you. I don’t feel connected to either, so why should I pick which one to go by. ‘They’ works just fine.” I flop down onto the bed, careful not to spill any of my whiskey. Precious resources should not be wasted on carelessness.
She doesn’t say anything and picks up a book that’s leather bound. It definitely isn’t mine as I don’t have any and I can’t read. It’s not Scrat’s, I recognise the covers his books and he usually doesn’t buy new ones. I wonder if it’s from one of the other masters, but she doesn’t seem to like any of them.
I hate not having things to do but she’s reading and I don’t want to interrupt. So I drink. It’s a slow way to pass time but it becomes more fun, even if I’m not talking. Part of me wants to dance and make rude jokes to fill the silence, but she won’t like them and there’s no music although I can always sing a song or hum one. There’s no floor space to dance.
I drink more.
What else can I talk about? There’s her mother but if the unfathomable truth spills out, she won’t be able to fathom it. I giggle and Helena glances at me through the blurriness and warm dancing colours. I watch her read. She looks like her mother and less like her father now. Am I chasing a ghost by having her here?
I drink more.
The dizziness begins to set in, so I rest my head on my hand with my arm dangling beneath me, just about able to hold onto the bottle. I still sway. The problem with being on a ship. Is it rude of me to constantly compare the two? I suppose it is, she’s not Iris and Iris isn’t her. It’s an insult to her memory to say that she is someone else.
I drink again.
My eyes become heavy, my head spinning with thinking and not thinking. My vision becomes dark and I plunge into darkness.
I wake up in a cold sweat and gasping for air. I can’t see. After a few minutes, my breathing calms. I feel around for my bottle in the dark because the candle has long since gone out and I hope that I didn’t drop it in my sleep. My hand nearly knocks it over, but the lid is back on. Helena. I smile to where she is in the room. I must have had a bad dream and Gods know what it is. Opening the bottle, I watch the tapestry wave in the wind as my eyes slowly adjust to the dark. It’s hard to see the details in the cool blue glow of the moon. There’s a breeze in the room and I sit up, taking a swig of the bottle. The wind is cool on my cheeks.
My head snaps around to the door that sits wide open.
We forgot to lock it.
I glance at the hammock, finding it empty of Helena. Dashing to the door, I trip over my sheets and stand on my gold, but I don’t care about the pain shooting through my feet or denting and damaging the historical relics. I stumble out of my room and frantically looks around for Helena. The outside world has a blue tinge from the moonlight. The ropes are blowing in the strong wind, but the ship isn’t moving because of the anchor. Shame. We would’ve made great distance.
“HELENA?!” I shout and I spin around, trying to spot her. The lower deck isn’t locked but the latch is still closed and the sailors know not to go out, unless they’re stupid.
“Here!” There’s a musical laugh following after. It’s coming from the bow of the ship and I run towards her.
My breath catches. She stands on the edge, her white nightgown blowing in the wind and the moonlight hitting her from behind, making her hair appear white and her skin luminescent like a ghost. If I was still drunk or a moron, I’d have thought she is an angel that is giggling childishly at the water, but I’m no fool or madman. I slowly step towards her, cautious about startling her. What can she see in the water? Hopefully nothing. Desires in the water are a deadly game.
“Helena?” I say to get her attention and she turns around to face me. The moon is caught in her eyes. I hold my hands out towards her despite being a few feet away, but she needs to know that I’m no threat if she decides to attack me.
“The water is so lovely.” Her voice is soft and airy, only just audible over the wind and the waves. She turns back to stare out at the sea, at the other ship in the horizon.
“Helena, please step down,” I say as I walk closer to her.
She ignores me and points at the boat. “They should look at the moon.”
I glance at the other ship. It’s too far away to see their flags, if they have any. It’s impossible to tell if she’s Navy or Pirate inclined or who she belongs to. Neither would be good because the Navy will arrest us and send us to the gallows. We’ll be hung the first morning we get to their serving country. Pirates, well… that could end badly. Battle for each other’s ship if negotiations don’t quite go to plan. The Navy would definitely sink the ship and The Star would go down fast with all the gold in her. That’s if they had the indecency to not keep it for themselves, same for the pirates. If they keep it, I can steal it back. But rather than sinking my ship or trying to attack me, it bops along on the water.
Angry shouting starts coming from the other ship. Boom! Boom! Boom! The cannons go off and then follows the sound of splashing. They’re firing aimlessly at nothing rather than us or a monster. Helena laughs and claps, “They are coming to the moon!” She shouldn’t laugh, the moon shouldn’t laugh through her.
The screams begin. Children cry and wail, the women reach notes that should be impossible and the men… It’s unnatural to hear them scream in fear. It’s a passenger ship with defence and it can’t defend against the moon.
Pins prick my eyes however tears don’t fall. “Helena get down,” I whisper, not taking my eyes off the other ship. When she doesn’t listen, I don’t pull her down. She can’t help it but they’re losing their families and their lives.
They looked at the moon.
The latch bursts open and my head snaps around to find the gunner from earlier clamber out, breathless and whimpering. He scrambles across the floor like an injured antelope running from a leopard. He grabs at my clothes, cowering behind me and crying.
“He’s trying to kill me!” He points at the latch. Helena laughs still, presumably at the boat and not the man. As bad as it sounds, at least it means she’s distracted. I freeze up and swallow. If he’s chosen me as the human shield, I don’t doubt that I’ll pay his price. I hope to God that he doesn’t have a gun.
Mr Pots crawls out from the below deck, a little ungraceful. He points a knife at the gunner, or rather at me. Even in the dark, I can see that there aren't moons in his eyes, unlike Helena. He isn't tranced. His breathing is heavy and the gunner is whimpering as he presses his face into my leg and digs his fingers into me.
My instincts kick in and I raise my arms. The children’s screams run down my spine as they get louder. There’s more of them now. The fear they must feel, they don’t know what’s happening. A tear rolls down my face, but I can’t help them. I can, however, help this man.
“Put the knife down,” I say without commanding.
He doesn’t. Not that I expected him to because it’s hard to reason with an angry man but I’m a little disappointed that it didn’t work. "I’m going to kill him!" He shouts as he walks towards us.
"I see that, Mr Pots. I rather you didn’t.”
He walks forward on his tiptoes, trying to be bigger than he actually is, so I stand up straighter to make myself appear bigger than I actually am. Neither of us are intimidating. Well, maybe he is as he is the only one with a knife. Damn my article. I have knives in my room, I wish I picked one up. Or Helena, but then she might’ve stabbed me if she had.
"Get out the way Cap and take the lass in, we'll blame it on the moon.” He has it all planned out and under different circumstances, I’d be impressed. I’m impressed about the fact that he has got a knife too. All of them found and locked up. Well, all but the one in Mr Daniels’ room.
Helena gasps and claps her hands. "The moon!" She sings and giggles. "Isn't she lovely?" She's not even looking at it, but I think she means the damage it's doing to the ship. The screams are getting quieter, I think they’re all dead. The survivors might be hiding.
Mr Pots peers around me to look at her. "She's mad with the moon Cap."
I glance at her before saying "Aye, I see that too. I should promote you to Captain Obvious, be a fun title.” I joke. This is the wrong time to joke but when you’re faced with death, there are two options: cry or laugh. It’s easy to laugh when there’s not much to lose. Thank Devil for that.
“This isn’t funny!” He screams, voice strained and desperate.
“Put the knife down!” I demand.
The gunner cries into my leg and holds onto me tighter so I can’t move if I wanted to. "Please, no!"
Mr Juthers presses his lips together and cries. His body shakes. So much for each man being battle ready. Someone needs to come out to distract Mr Pots, but they won’t. It’s breaking the rules. Damn them all for obeying my law.
"Put the knife down and you don’t have to be a part of it. Just walk away and we can talk to the quartermaster in the morning." Then when we get to Alexandria Port, the pair can battle it out.
He laughs, “This man has been sleeping with my wife, he has to die! If we tell Scruffy Bart, then I might die instead!”
Pointing out that it takes two to tango isn’t a clever idea no matter how tempting it is. “No one has to die.” Well, he might for threatening the life of another and threatening the life of an officer. I get voted out, not killed off. That’s not the game. “You should talk to her about it.”
With my foot, I nudge Mr Juthers so he’d say something, anything to help his case. “She hates you! You hit her.” I let out a sigh.
“Ar, well that would be your fault Mr Pots, so maybe you should point the knife at yourself.”
He huffs at me and charges at me, knife held in front of him. My hands go out to catch his but, Helena shouts, “I’m going to join them and Sister Moon!” so I turn my head, watching her disappear behind the banister. Mr Pots collides with me, his head hits mine and he punches my stomach I tumble backwards over Mr Juthers.
My head snacks the floor. It stings. My stomach stings more, then it burns. It burns like Hell Fire. I can't breathe, why does it hurt? My ears are ringing. Oh god it hurts.
There is a knife in my stomach.
Helena is drowning.
There is a knife in my stomach. At least Mr. Juthers can't die. I have the knife.
It burns. My body is on fire but soon it’ll get cold.
I'm wasting time. I have to save Helena.
I need to pull it out.
I need to heal.
Helena is drowning.
I pull the knife out, screaming at the pain, but I can heal now. I roll over and stumble to my feet. It burns to walk, however Helena needs me. She will die. I press down on my stomach because that’s what they say to do to slow the bleeding. My head tingles and my ears ring, I think because of the blood loss. My blood is warm on my fingers and wet. I think I might end up dying and that’s okay.
I look at Mr. Juthers’ face which is shiny under the moon with tears and snot. His hands are holding his head and his mouth is moving. Grabbing his hand, I shove the knife into it for him to hold, "Here," I say. Or did I shout it? The man falls to his knees and wails. I might have shouted, but at least he can defend himself against Mr. Pots, wherever he is.
I press down on the wound again. The bleeding needs to stop soon, I need to heal soon. Stumbling over to the barrier, I peer into the water. Helena isn’t at the surface, she’s not amongst the foam. The waves or current might have pulled her under or she can’t swim or worse yet, she doesn’t want to swim. I need to save her because the bumbling coward and the pissed off soon-to-be murderer are uselessly caught up in themselves to do anything. The pain is getting colder now and my face feels strange and half there. Part of me knows I shouldn't jump in because I'll die. But so will she.
I pull myself up onto the banister and someone tries to grab my waist. I struggle against them. Everytime I pull myself free, their hands try to pull me back away
Their hands keep grabbing everytime I manage to pull them off until I slip through their fingers and over the banister.
The fall goes on forever.
The stars decorate the sky and the moon looks down at me. Are you laughing at me, Sister Moon? You didn’t do this. Or are you laughing at Helena? Or the ship? Those poor children. I can hear the waves again, they’re getting closer and they’re beautiful. It’s comforting.
The sea smacks my back as I’m engulfed by her. My stomach lights on fire again and I bite down on my cheeks to stop the urge to scream. Air is limited in the deep blue. I press a hand onto my stomach; I want to curl up in a ball, but instead I spin around in the water, searching for Helena.
She’s sinking deeper and deeper into the darkness.
She’s not moving.
Dear god, she's not moving.
I swim with one hand, slowly reaching her as she gradually drifts off. I'm losing her. I can't keep up. My lungs are burning, my whole body is.
I’ve lost her.
I relax completely as my body goes colder and my medallion floats before my face. I watch the blood leave my body, staining the sea. It should stop soon. Why isn't it stopping? I’m going to die down here, I hope someone fishes me back out. I take a breath and choke on the water. My hands go to my throat, I want to breathe. I. Need. Air.
I'm sorry Iris. I couldn't save her but at least she won't die alone. Both of us with the sea. A peaceful death. My body turns around and around in the water; I can see the moon peering around the ship to watch us die.
A shadow joins us in the water. Will he save her? He swims towards us however I can’t see his face. Just a shadow. I can feel the water moving around me as he swims past me to get to her. She’s going to be saved.
I close my eyes.
Sister Moon, Sister Moon, show me my desire.
Sister Moon, Sister Moon, stop my body's fire.
Sister Moon, Sister Moon, I'm dying in the sea.
Sister Moon, Sister Moon, is this all that I can be?
I choke and cough up water onto the deck. My chest burns but I can breathe. Sort of. My clothes stick to my body. Why am I drenched? My body is heavy and I don’t feel real. I think I died. Someone is tapping my face. That someone is annoying. I push his arms away and wave him off to continue gasping for breath like a fish out of water. I want to sleep again.
“Rhodes? Rhodes! Wake up!” Scrat says.
I moan. There’s no reason for him to be so fussy with me when he should worry about the one in the water. The one in the water...
“Helena!” I breathe out and roll over to stand to my feet. My head spins, am I drunk? No, I’m healing. I stumble forward and go head long into the floor. Hands catch me before I smack my face off the wooden boards.
“You know to wait a few more minutes before you stand up,” he says in my ear.
I ignore him. I take the moment to steady myself in Scrat’s arms and look around. The world is distorted, the shapes and colours being pulled left and right, up and down, and spinning. There’s two others around her, Charlie and Mr. Daniels. Mr. Juthers and Mr. Pots aren't anywhere to be seen, so I'll ask about them tomorrow. With my eye on my destination, I push away from Scrat and fall towards her.
Charlie moves to hug me. Why is he being comforting? Is she dead? Oh God if she’s dead then her father would have my head. Pirate and murderer. I’ll be hung, drawn and quartered for sure, not that I wouldn’t deserve it. Iris would hate me if she ever knew that her daughter never married or had her own family or lived her life.
I try to feel for a pulse however Charlie grabs my hand and holds it close to him. “She’s okay Captain. She’s alive.” Her eyes open and I let out a sigh of relief. Her eyes don’t have the moon in them anymore but she looks a little dazed.
Mr. Daniels nods in agreement. “We need to take her clothes off, so she doesn’t catch a fever.” He stares at me, he expects me to do it.
“Take her to my room.” I stand up.
Despite not needing his help, Charlie holds onto me. I let him. Scrat comes over to pick up Helena in a bridal style and takes her back to my room. Mr. Daniels holds the door open for him before following behind, but he stops after two steps in. He scratches his head with a baffled expression at the floor because like most people on my ship, he hasn’t seen beyond the door.
Scrat places Helena on a chair, “Daniels, find her a blanket.”
Charlie lets go of me so we can squeeze past him. I head to the hammock to find some matches and light a lantern while Charlie goes to fix the tapestry down properly. Helena dithers in the chair and shakes, remaining quiet. Not that I can blame her. I still can’t believe she went and looked at the moon. At least she’s alive.
“Normally the light would help but now I’m more confused. Where are the blankets?”
“They’re in the armoire,” Scrat says. When Mr. Daniels stares at the floor to get to there, Scrat sighs and does it for him, hopping over the floor. He pulls the blanket from Iris's box, which I still haven't opened, and chucks the blanket to Charlie who then passes it onto me so I can place it on her shoulders.
“You can leave,” I say to them. Mr. Daniels didn’t need telling twice and he leaves for his own room.
Scrat and Charlie stay put. I hate their insistence to make sure that we're both okay. She has me to take care of her and I'm alive, if exhausted. Dying and coming back to life, while I’m used to it, is draining to do.
I cut Scrat off, “We can talk about what happened tomorrow. Tonight we need to sleep." I really don’t want to deal with Mr. Pots and Mr. Juthers now. It’s a problem for tomorrow.
Charlie nods his head, "Tell us if you need anything."
"Thank you. Goodnight."
They leave as well, both of them saying, “Goodnight.”
The moment the door shuts, I find one of my own nightshirts for Helena to sleep in. I don’t know where hers are and going through her stuff is rude. I might find something I shouldn’t. There’s nightshirt that doesn’t look worn, brand new even. Chances are that I brought it and forgot all about it but she might appreciate that one. I walk across the room to hand it to her.
“Really? That?” She asks, frowning at it.
I sigh. Save the girl and she judges you for the clothes you give her. “Really? You’d rather look like a drowned rat?”
Helena rolls her eyes and snatches the nightshirt from me.
I turn away from her to give her some privacy and I find some clothes to change into, which is essentially wearing a baggy shirt and trousers, like I am currently. Pirates have a limited choice of outfits that are also practical for the sea. The stuffy outfits are too stiff for the ship, too hot under the sun. Baggy shirts and trousers are perfect for the hot weather as they give some sort of breeze without making me sweat as much. Shirtless, I check my stomach for scars, which there are none, so I poke at it. No pain either. It’s like I was never stabbed.
When I finish changing, I climb into my own bed and I look over at her. Her face is pale, even under the orange light, and her shoulders are hunched over with her arms across her chest. She still dithers and shakes slightly. The nightgown is too big on her, it drags across the floor. She’s staring at me in my bed.
"Do you want to sleep with me? It'll warm you up," I offer.
Helena doesn't hesitate and immediately heads over to my bed. She doesn’t blow out the lantern but that might be a good thing. The bed is big for one person however perfect for two to lie together, so I wrap my arm around her. She tenses up at my touch for a few minutes before she relaxes. This close she smells like the sea. I close my eyes and I’m lured into sleep with the swaying of the ship, and the closeness of another's warmth is calming. The lovely and welcoming fogginess begins to set in my head as-
"They said that you jumped in after me," she whispers, dragging me out of the comfort of sleep. "Why?"
I sigh and take a few moments to mull over my words. Why can't this wait until morning? "Your parents would kill me for one." That's too selfish. It doesn't make her feel better about herself. Think, damn it, think. What's a kind thing to say to someone who nearly died? "For another, you're part of the crew and you share my room. We might not have spent much time together but your absence would be felt."
"I'm surprised you care that much."
Guilty, I would've felt guilty for never getting to know her before she died and her death would be partially my fault. Her father would be an arse to deal with but I'll come out alive like always. Her mother is dead and I can't meet her in the afterlife because I'm never going to die. Although, I don't doubt that the Devil will tell me about her if I asked.
I don't say that to Helena and instead remain silent.
"Well… thank you." I can feel her properly relax so I do the same.
"It's no problem."
"Good night Captain Rhodes."
"Goodnight Lady Helena," I murmur.
The plank of wood hits the banister of the other ship and someone checks to see if it’s secure. The other ship is a carrack, judging by the fact that the bow and stern are taller than the midship. A battleship is not what I’d have picked for a passenger ship. A caravel is much better for voyages, like my own ship. A handful of bodies lie scattered on the deck, some lying in puddles of their own blood. The Star’s crew all peer at the other ship, waiting for someone to stand up and say they’re alive, but their ship has the English flag, we have none. Their sails are up so the sun casts down on them, as if it’s laughing at the bodies or honouring them, in the sun’s weird way.
“Who goes first?” I ask the masters and mates that surround me.
Someone nudges me forward, “I think you should.” I turn to Mr. Walsh and scowl at his nervous but grinning face. I roll my eyes at him. “You’re the only immortal on the ship.”
I wasn’t twenty years ago, back before everything went wrong with Cain. Dying is painful so we used to take turns who goes first into these situations, who dies first, even though he wanted to end his life for good.
"Bet you a gold piece that you die first," Cain said many times. But this is the first time he said it at that cave.
"Bet you a gold piece that I don't," I said back, standing at the mouth of darkness with him behind me.
The cave was a mystery to us but we knew that there was something interesting inside of it and that we wanted it. People had lived there at one point, at the time we didn’t if they still did. We still don’t know if there are people down there. We found some homes, old fire places, evidence and traces of life, and many, many traps. I gave him the gold coin even though he technically pushed me to my death, the bastard. The cave was impossible to navigate and we ended up at the entrance again and again and again. We left it, it was something we were supposed to go back to. But then things happened and we didn't. Well, I didn't. He might have. He might have found out what's inside too.
I sigh and take the gun off Scrat. I climb onto the beam and walk forward, trying not to look down at the water. Then I do. The waves are a long way below my feet. My balance wobbles and my heart races as I drag my feet together and shift my centre to the middle of the plank. Then the wood bounces. My eyes widen and I remain still until it stops. When it does, I run and jump onto the deck of the nameless ship.
I breathe out and my heart races. I realise where I stand. I walk through the bodies, taking it in.
A few of the men are dressed in their finery, silks and satins. They must have already been awake when it happened. Did one of them look at the moon first? They still wear their jewellery and gold pieces. Even with my greed, I have enough respect for the dead to not take the clothes they wear. There’s men in their nightwears. They ran out in the midst of their panic, I can feel it. The white is stained with red.
Hel, great goddess, daughter of Loki,
Guard of the spirits of the dead.
Our friends have come to you now.
As they kneel before you, Hel
There’s echoes of a battle, the majority of the top deck is men. Some of them are wearing wool and linen clothes, I think they were the crew. Most of them young men, they wouldn’t know not to look at the moon’s reflection. With the right captain, they might have had a longer career on the sea. What a waste.
Know how much they were loved in this life
And how many they loved in return.
Before they crossed over, they were an honourable soul;
A soaring spirit, a brave warrior.
There’s a ragdoll at my feet, lying in a pool of blood. A woman’s hand is wrapped around the doll. It’s handmade, dirty but very well loved. I leave it where it lies and step over the mother. She must have ran out to find her child in the chaos, but there’s no children up here. Did the child escape or did they drown?
Watch over them, Hel, as they cross the bridge
From this life to the next.
And welcome them with honour and glory
So that they may live on forever
In our hearts and memories.
I don’t know who they were, or what lives they led. I hope they were happy. They should have been. They were rich. They might have lived fruitful lives with lots of privilege and power. A few of these lucky souls might have even married for love and children might have come out of it.
Turning back to my crew, I say, “Everyone is dead here. We can go to the lower levels.”
"Or you could go," says Mr. Taylor, glancing at the wooden beam with worry. No one wants to fall, but they won’t fall to their death. Cowards.
I roll my eyes and head below deck, wishing that Cain was here. He wouldn’t let me go alone on this ghost ship. The boards creak under my steps and below deck is dark, I also wish that I brought a lantern but no. I couldn't think that far ahead, could I?
Opening the first door, I point the gun in first before sticking my head in to find two hammocks and a chest of drawers. I check under the bed. Nothing. Whoever was in this small room is probably dead above ship or in the corridor. I rummage through the drawers, discovering a ring that I then pocket. The owner won’t be needing much more.
Once I know that there’s nothing of value left, I leave the room and head back down the dark corridor. Calling out is stupid. It announces to people that I’m here and some scared soul might shoot or stab me. I am not about to let myself be stabbed again so soon. Panicked people are worse than angry ones because it’s near impossible to reason with someone who is terrified. They’re irrational. Angry people can see the logic. But the question is, do I have the ability to not let my tongue run away with me?
I’m doomed to die at the hands of emotional people with weapons.
I trip over something and it screams. Panicking, I scream back and point the gun at them. They scream louder.
"DON'T HURT ME!” He cowers behind his hands and curls up in a ball to protect himself, not that it would do much against point blank range.
"I'm not going to. Please calm down."
"YOU'RE POINTING A GUN AT ME!"
He has a point so I drop the gun. It clatters on the wooden floor and thankfully not on a body. I show the man my hands. “Not going to hurt you, I just wanted to see if anyone's alive."
He is shaking on the floor still. "I'M ALIVE!"
"I'm aware,” I say with a hint of sarcasm. “Please stop screaming at me, I put the gun down." I gesture towards it and he follows my hands. "I'm Captain A. Rhodes of The Star Catcher . I’m here to help.” I hold my hand out to help him stand him.
He stares at it for a second before taking it. I pull him to his feet, only to find that the man is taller than me. "I’m Dr. William Mellick of Wind Whisper. "
The ship has a name. A boring one, but a name. When we’ve looted her, we can then give her a proper send off during the funeral. We should make her an underwater graveyard. The people need to be allowed to rest for eternity and where else is better than the sea.
Dr. Mellick straightens his tunic and runs his shaky hands through his hair. In this low light, it’s hard to see many other features. "Everyone went mad. They were killing each other or themselves. I lay down and hoped they wouldn't find me. I guess I fell asleep and then you kicked me."
"Actually, you tripped me up." I flinch at my own words. That’s not the thing to focus, this man is traumatised.
He ignores me. "I don't understand what happened," he says, looking into my eyes. There’s confusion, desperation and fear.
I swallow. I have to be truthful, but I can’t deal with his emotions. "Would you believe me if I said that the moon did it?"
He laughs nervously. "No, I wouldn't."
"Well, the moon did it." I pat his shoulder as I walk past him, then I pick up my discarded gun. We don't have many guns, even though I keep meaning to buy more. It's an expensive commodity despite being a useful one.
He pauses, trying to process what I said to him. "What do you mean, the moon did it?"
"I don't know. The full moon is dangerous. It plays tricks on your mind.” I’m going around and around in circles with the conversation with the moon. First with Helena and now with him. “Where was the ship heading?”
I scrunch my nose as I check the next room. “This isn't a slave ship, is it?” This room is almost identical to the previous one, except this one is stained with blood. There has to be more on the ship. He can’t be the lone survivor.
The doctor follows me and immediately looks away, covering his mouth and nose with his hand. "No, it's not.”
Good. I don’t want to find the hold stuffed with dead slaves that never get to taste freedom again. The whole idea is barbaric and disgusting. I can understand Gods feeling superior because they have power, but taking someone as property based on them looking different to you is childish. When I shared that with Galahad, he chuckled, claiming that I am ahead of my time but he refused to elaborate further. I take that as a good sign.
I search through the drawers, finding a little more in this room than the previous one. A bracelet, necklace and ring, all part of the same silver set I believe, even though they are a little bland to look at. One of the crew members might want them for their bride to be back at home.
Dr Mellick steps into the room. “Sorry, who are you?" His tone is accusatory.
"I told you, Captain Rhodes." I turn don't around.
"You don't look like a Captain."
"Pirate?" He steps forward slowly, the boards creak under him.
Spinning on my heel, I point the gun at him again with a scowl on my face. "You're not about to start panicking again, are you?" People hear the word pirate and they react as if… as if I said that I'm a pirate. "Not all of us are murderous, rapey or after gold."
"You're taking gold now." Should I applaud him for pointing out the obvious? There's a gun in my hands, I can't. "Remind me how you're not like other pirates?"
I sling the gun over my shoulder again and squeeze past him. "I said 'or'. I'm not murderous or rapey, but I do like a pretty piece." An understatement, but no one needs to know. Except Charlie, Helena, and Scrat. Anyone else might steal my gold. "I'm also on this ship to find survivors. I heard what happened, I knew if anyone survived they'll die anyway. It also happens that I can take their money and belongings too."
"Thank you? I think."
"You're very welcome." I grin at him and then keep looking throughout the ship. I go down another. He still follows me. "We can drop you off in Egypt if you're going to Africa."
"Are you going to sell me as a slave?"
"Pirate not slave trader." Honestly, I don't think he'll understand that pirate doesn't equal cunt. He isn't very bright, is he? "Did you say you were a doctor?"
"Yes. That was a joke, by the way Captain." Oh, don’t I feel like the fool? My cheeks turn pink and I’m glad that he can’t see them.
On this level, I search every nook and cranny to pick up any piece of jewellery I can to pocket, as well as money. I’m not sure where in my room I can put it. Although, I could give some to my crew members. No, I’ll find someplace to put it. If they want gold and money, then they should’ve come with to loot the rooms. They can share anything in the hold. The medallion keeps falling out from my shirt everytime I bend down to look under beds so I suck on it to keep it out of the way.
Dr. Mellick stays close behind me, like a shadow or a lost puppy. The more I go through the ship, the more I’m beginning to think that Dr. Mellick might be the only one. He might have been the only one smart enough to pretend to be dead so he wouldn’t actually die. I could do with him on my ship.
"Why are you going to Egypt?" he asks, breaking the silence as I fall to my knees to go through someone’s bag.
I don’t think twice about my answer. "To bring back the dead," I say through the corner of my mouth. I pull out a lavish ring, silver sapphire with small diamonds surrounding it. Despite my pockets growing heavier and heavier, I take it.
"You can do that?"
"I don't know. Some God is bound to be upset by it and try to stop me. Or at least the underworld gods will be." For some odd reason, resurrection has pissed them off a lot in the stories. I don’t know how the Egyptian Gods will react. I haven’t told many of my crew members either because it sounds absurd. Helena only talks to me and Scrat so no potential spy might find out through her and Scrat doesn’t care enough about the ship’s direction to engage in gossip about it. Although, the devil could be listening in.
The medallion falls from my mouth and bounces on my shirt when I stand up. I’ve checked everywhere except for the officer lodgings, which I can do with later.
“I believe you.” I stare at him. That’s surprising. Most need proof and he is blindly following me into this. “You’re strange, you haven’t killed me and I think you are right about the full moon being dangerous because nothing else makes sense.”
A grin spreads across my face. Finally someone gets it! “Welcome aboard The Starcatcher then Dr. William Mellick.” I stick my hand out for him to shake. When he takes it, I shake it vigorously. “I’m sure you’ll fit right in.”
The Dr. doesn't say anything and goes along with what I say because I suppose it beats being alone in the sea. We head back up. He flinches at the bodies and I wonder how good of a doctor he really is. Too emotionally involved for a career where death is encountered on the daily. I step over the bodies and cross the plank back to The Star Catcher before he does. My men are back to work, scrubbing the deck or sorting out the weapons again.
Scrat leans on the banister as he waits for me. "Assuming it's safe for the lads to loot the hold?"
I nod, "One survivor, Dr. William Mellick." I gesture at him and the Dr. smiles nervously at Scrat as he glances at the plank. "It's not that difficult Dr."
I roll eyes and I hold my hand out for him to take. It doesn't reach but it makes the distance seem smaller. He stands on the banister and shuffles across slowly. I sigh. Doing that makes the fear worse.
"Ah, we could put him under Daniels."
I glance at the Dr. It's a clever idea but it could go horribly wrong. Mr. Daniels could be offended that a qualified doctor works underneath him and it doesn't seem like Dr. Mellick has it in him to deal with death. Finally he takes my hand and steps down onto the floor.
"We'll talk about it later, Scrat." When he isn't here to hear what we say about him. "I'm going to my room to drop off some things." I hope he doesn't ask what I have to drop off, he'll tell me to take it to the hold to share. He doesn't so I walk away but he grabs my hands to pull me back. I scowl at him.
"You should talk to Mr. Pots," he stutters. My stare hardens. What's gotten into him? "Trust me." Is Mr. Pots dead? I hope so. Makes the next bit a lot easier.
Sighing, I pull my hand from Scrat's grip. "Keep Dr. Mellick company, his shipmates have passed." Scrat nods at me and smiles at Dr. Mellick.
I leave for the brig that's nearly at the bottom of the ship but above the hold. It's an unpleasant place, slightly damp and very dark with a strong smell of piss. Fortunately, it only has one prisoner; Mr Pots. He sits on the floor with his head in his hands, clutching the brown mess of hair that he has. If I didn't know any better, then I'd say he was remorseful. Last night he was pissed off and I don't doubt that he feels wronged for the events that happened. Mr Juthers is alive and I'm not dead.
Picking up a stick, I hit with the metal bars of his cage. His head shoots up at the clanging, his eyes wide with horror.
"They said that you can't die, Rhodes." The horrified expression twists into a sadistic grin. "I didn't believe them but now… Fascinating."
Did he mean to kill me? Happy little accident? " Captain, " I correct. "I don't appreciate your little experiment." My stomach twinges with the memory and I rub it to ease it away.
"You slipped your tongue, had to be taught a lesson," he speaks so casually. As if he hadn't committed murder.
I narrow my glare at him. "Do you take the same treatment towards your wife?" I tilt my head.
His laugh is cold and dead. "Woman demand answers."
My hand itches to punch him. It's a shame that he's protected by that cage. Nevertheless, he'll be out soon for a short time. "You should know that you're not seeing her again. You're being drowned soon for threatening a life on another, killing me and nearly costing the life of a different innocent."
Mr. Pots runs at the bars, growling and baring his teeth like a wild animal. "That's not fair, you can't die! No one died!"
"You beat women."
"I love her!" He screams.
I almost believe him. His eyes are desperate but I think it's because he doesn't want to die. Like a child, he doesn't want to be in trouble so he'll find weak excuses. Soon his wife will he safe from his wrath and with 800 gold pieces in her pocket. She'll be rich and free, while he will be at the bottom of the sea.
Having enough of him, I turn on my heel and finally head to my room so I can drop off my newly found gold. I storm across the deck, glancing at Charlie whose eyes widen, and Scrat, who watches me carefully. I can't shake the feeling that they know something that I don't. Something bad. Despite that, I open my door and I scream.
"What have you done ?!" I shout at Helena, glaring at her as I walk into my room, the door swings shut behind me. If looks could kill she'd be dead on the floor, I'm sure of it. The room is barren and cold without the glow of the gold.
“I wanted to say thank you for saving my life.” She looks at me with her big brown eyes, but my blood boils.
That is a terrible way to show gratitude. It's more of a punishment than anything else. "So you got rid of all my gold?!" I pace around the room for the first time in decades and try to find two small boxes.
“It’s in the hold.”
Anything she couldn’t carry by herself, such as small but heavy statues of gold and stone, is left on the floor, placed in a decorative manner except for a locked chest that lies on its side. It’s a little dented and battered from being thrown around during storms. Helena put some of the accessories onto the shelves. That won’t do, the rings and earrings will fall off onto the floor and I don’t want to keep picking them whenever they roll off. It’ll be an easy way to lose them for good too. The boxes are nowhere to be found.
"Helena, where are they?" I run towards her, grabbing her by the shoulders and shake her.
Helena stutters, "Where are what, sorry?"
"There's two boxes, both with engagement rings inside." I've never been engaged, but I've been asked once and I nearly asked someone else. I couldn’t accept his and I couldn’t bring myself to ask her. I couldn’t give either a family, I can’t grow old with either of them and they’d die without me. James stayed by my side until he found someone else who he loved and loved him back. I gave him my blessing and let him live his life, just like I did with Iris.
"Oh I thought they didn't mean much, that you stole them, so I put them in the hold too.”
Iris tried to tidy the room once, but she did it while I was on the ship and not our first trip. She did it on the third, on the way to Russia because she’s never been and I wanted to widen my connections. She would grab something that she deemed as stupid, like an overly decorated lantern with jades and emerads, and place it on the deck. I, following behind, picked it up and put it back inside.
“You really don’t need that lantern! You don’t light it!” she said after moving it outside for the fourth time. I pick it up again and a red tunic. I got it fifty years ago and it looks it. The fabric is worn has been patched up three times and needs to be repaired once more.
“Why would I? It’s beautiful.” I didn’t want to tarnish it with soot and oil.
“What about that tunic you never wear?” She points at the fabric in my hand.
I hide it behind me. “What tunic?”
Iris sighs, rubbing her brow a little exasperated. “Fine, I’ll help you put it all back.”
She never did it again and I hope Helena doesn’t try this shit again when I move back into my room again.
I let go of her and walk around the room again. "Don't. Touch. My. Gold. Got it?”
"I'm-I’m sorry, I thought-I thought I was doing a nice thing!" I think she might cry. I hope not, it’s difficult to be pissed off at someone who is crying with a snotty face. "You can actually walk around now!"
She’s right and it’s nice to be able to pace around my room, calming even. I fiddle with my rings, turning them around and around. "Most people when they show gratitude, get me gold," I point out. “Not take it away!”
"And put it where exactly?"
I stop walking to glare at her, despite her having a point. I have more gold to drop into the room too. "You should've asked if you could do that!"
"I'm sorry! I didn't know!" She glances at my feet and I realise that I'm tapping my toes heels on the floor, so I place them firmly on the floor. "Why is it so important to you?"
I sigh and rub my temples. “It’s the stories that come with them. My own and my friends'."
“Doesn’t the ship keep a log? My mother did.”
"Mr Meier and his mate keep the log, it's not that detailed. Just basic details of the daily events. They don’t follow me to land either so they can’t give details of those adventures.”
"Why not you? Your room won't be as cluttered." When I don’t answer, she tilts her head and steps towards me. “Captain, can you not read or write?”
Ignoring her, I run my hands through my hair, the rings getting caught a little in my wild ginger mane. I’m too pissed off to reveal that level of information and she doesn’t understand the true value of the show. I have to lie to her, she might get it then. "Some were my father's. He couldn't write, his stories live on through the gold." My life is remembered by the gold. The people I've met to get it, the people I travelled with.
Helena looks at her hands. At least she isn’t about to cry anymore. “I'm sorry, I'll help you move it back.”
I let out a sigh. “I just want the two boxes because the rings mean a lot to me. You’re right. It’s nice to be able to walk around the room.” As much as I hate sharing a room, we have to compromise a little bit. Her own house was too neat and tidy with lots of space, my room is not. But this is a massive compromise to make her feel more comfortable.
I empty my pockets of the trinkets I found on the Wind Whisper, dropping them onto my bed. Helena lets out an exasperated sigh. I turn to grin at her. “Why do you have them?”
“If I have to explain that I'm a pirate once more today, I'm going to scream.” I look at my bed and try to organise them a little seeing as she made the effort to tidy up. Bending over, my medallion slips out, but I ignore it for now.
“You already did that.”
“I'll do it again,” I glance her. Everything for the rest of the day better go to plan. There better be things of value in their hold, Mr. Pots better not cause much trouble when he drowns and the other ship better sink without much issue, or heads will roll.
Once I’ve finished organising the accessories into piles of rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, then by their metal (silver, gold or fake), I stand up straight and tuck my medallion back under my shirt. I head to my door. “Come, you can help me find the boxes.”
I open my door, finding Scrat and Charlie standing on the other side of it. I scowl at them and cross my arms.
Charlie grins sheepishly at me, “I wanted to see if you were okay.”
I don’t say anything and tilt my head at Scrat, ready to hear his excuse. “I was eavesdropping.” At least he was honest, I can’t be mad at him about that.
"We tried to tell her. She didn't listen."
“We helped her.”
“I thought I told you Scrat to look after Dr. Mellick," I snapped at him.
"This was much more fun. Charlie helped," he gestures towards Charlie with his head. Charlie drops his mouth and his eyes widen at Scrat for snitching on him.
Rolling my eyes, I push past and ignore them both. I stomp my feet across the desk, fuming again. "You two twats can keep an eye on things while we get the important pieces."
Of course they wanted to wind me up like this. Then again, both of them have been bugging me years to buy a house to put the gold in seeing as banks won’t do. However, keeping a house full of gold isn’t a good idea either. I could be robbed.
Without looking at her, I gesture for Helena to come and follow. She follows me on my heel below deck.
"There's a doctor? A real doctor and not someone like Mr. Daniels who's not a doctor?" she asks as we pass a few of the sailors that talk amongst themselves. I glance at them, they seem deep in conversation to even hear what she said.
I chuckle. "Don't let him hear you say that, he's worked very hard to be good at it." Even if he does find out what she said, there won’t be much that he’ll do about. Maybe a few snide comments about how she was saved by him. Well, I don’t know who dragged us out of the water, I assumed it was Charlie, Mr. Daniels did his best to help when she was out of the water.
"He's illiterate," she says it as if it means he's stupid. The privilege of the rich
I scowl. "I'm illiterate, what of it?"
Out of the corner of my eye, I see her grin. "I knew it, you stare blankly at books.”
I hadn’t realised that she had been watching me, but then again, she doesn’t have anything else to do other than read and watch people. I’m surprised she figured out that I can’t read, but considering how pleased she is with herself, I’m glad she did. As long as she doesn’t make out that I’m not as intelligent. The doctor could help with her loneliness and she could give him access to the nobility so he would have wealthier and more clients. It would be a near perfect match if he was noble too. I’ve tried to convince her to talk to the girls but it wouldn’t shock me if she thought that by association, she would be labelled a whore too.
We reach the locked door that guards the hold. It’s the lowest part of The Star, and now she’s filled with more of my gold, she definitely won’t be blown over in strong winds. A storm might have a good chance at succeeding however.
Checking the door and finding it locked, I smile. She took my gold but has the common decency to protect it from piracy. Or Scrat and Charlie did anyway. I pull out my key and unlock the door.
The hold is filled with valuables. As well as gold, I also have satin and silk of various colours, mainly pinks, blues and purples, with one or two rolls of green. I even have barrels of lace. Not mine to begin and I suppose legally they still aren’t. But Captain has to eat and the previous owners didn’t need it and it should be a lot easier to sell than the gold. If the wrong people notice, I’ll have to explain it and they might not believe my story. The fabrics are more believable, I can be a small time merchant.
There's some precious jewels that I've taken from the pyramids years ago. Rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphires. Opals are my favourite. Their colours reminds me of the sea. There's a small Buddha statue from the monks. I can't remember why they gave it to me, I might have been drunk the entire time, which isn’t unusual. I go through the stuff, I only really care about those two boxes.
“You said that the moon makes some people aggressive. Why not me?” Helena asks as we search. She must have had some idea where they are.
“You might not have had in you.” Not everyone does and those people I admire. She did try to kill herself, so her reaction wasn't entirely unique. “You laughed at the moon and the water.” Telling her that she laughed at the dying people wouldn't be a good idea. I don't want to upset her.
“Do you get violent?”
“I can't remember.” It's hard to say. I wake up surrounded by the dead and dead men tell no tales. Who's to say if I killed or did the killing. Everyone tries to kill themselves in the end too.
We spend a good hour trying to find the two boxes. We move everything around as best we can in this space and still nothing. I desperately want those boxes.
One of them is the last memory of James I have. Showing him the sea creatures is one of my favourite memories. He laughed so much and he smiled so bright as he played ball with them in the shallow waters. One time, I showed him a nesting dragon with eggs. That was a mistake because he wanted one and as we got close, the mother dragon wanted to kill us. We ran for ages and we had to give a peace offering of gold to calm her. That day we learned that there is nothing more deadly than a mother protecting her children. My heart twinges to think about my first love.
Iris… she never had her ring. There's nothing worse to have as a memory than something I never gave her or asked. She gave me that box, but I don't want to open it.
Eventually we head up to the deck, empty handed. Helena apologising constantly about losing them and while I'm angry, I'm more sad and I don't have the energy to be pissed off, so I repeatedly tell her that it's okay.
Everyone is gathered on the deck and looking at the Wind Whisper . Charlie plays a slow song on the harpsichord to set the mood while gunners are below deck, loading up the cannons. In the early hours of the day, it was decided that the Whisper was to be sunk with cannons rather than blowing it up. It's too messy and disrespectful. Knowing that she has cannons, it means that she has cannonballs which we can use rather than waste our own resources. It's selfish but practical. What else can we do?
Helena runs straight to the front to see what's happening but I stand next to Scrat, muttering to him that we couldn't find the rings.
“You still keep them?”
I nod, “Of course.”
He nods and hums but doesn't say anything else.
First we hear someone, shout something and then... BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Normally everyone would cheer and clap but this time is different. This is a funeral. When the cannons go off, those wearing hats take them off and hold them to their chest. People mutter personal prayers, the most notable one being:
“We pray for all whose lives
Have been touched by tragedy,
Whether by accident
Or a deliberate act.
For those who mourn,
Immerse them in your love
And lead them through this darkness
Into your arms, and light.
For those who comfort,
Be in both the words they use
And all that’s left unspoken;
Fill each heart with love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Whose own suffering brought us life,
Here and for eternity.
Scrat and I both say nothing. Scrat doesn't follow the church, no thanks to his father. For me, there's too many different Gods to pray to. The choice is too great.
The cannons stop and we remain silent but Charlie keeps playing the music to create an air of remorse but I know the crew really want to watch the ship sink. I can't blame them, a sinking ship is interesting.
The next set of cannons go off and I look around for the doctor. How does he feel about this? His clean sandy hair and nice clothes make him stand out in the crowd. Tears run down his face.
I understand him. I've been here perhaps too many times with too many ships. The moon has massacred my entire crew a few times. It's lonely sailing across the sea by myself and difficult without a crew to do everything. I couldn't drop the anchor so I crashed into ports a few times and then had to pay for them to be repaired. The loneliness was worse. I spent weeks talking to myself and the sea creatures that bothered to show up. Lucifer visits on the first Tuesday of the month and I beg for him to stay. He agrees, eventually. After I threaten to drop the medallion into the sea. He doesn't help with the sailing, but that's to be expected when he doesn't do anything.
However, I got numb to it so I don't understand anymore. His pain is fresh. He has us now, if he wants us.
9th June 1446
We’re supposed to be out at sea for two days, but I wish it is longer. I love the sea and with the Captain, it’s amazing. There’s so much I never knew about. For one, not all sea creatures are dangerous or want to hurt you. There was one giant creature with tentacles that at first I was terrified of. She (the Captain says that she’s a she) was a murky grey colour and peaceful. Bart says that she’s much larger than a whale, and now I want to see a whale. The Captain promised that we would eventually. The food on the ship is something to be desired. It’s very bland and basic, but the crew says that’s how peasants usually eat. When I am at home, I will make father throw a feast for those land workers, the sort royals and nobles have.
I asked Bart about how he came to travel with Captain Rhodes. He didn’t say much, just that like me, Captain Rhodes just happened to be doing business and he asked to come along. Except it wasn’t his father that Captain Rhodes was dealing with. I don’t think either of them like Bart’s father, not that I can blame them. He seems… vile. He makes me uncomfortable despite not knowing what it is. Maybe his smile?
Captain Rhodes is fun to watch. They sort of bounce around as they talk and they’re always talking. Sometimes I can’t keep up as they switch conversations. One minute they talk about the stars, and somehow they end up on politics. I've been sleeping in their room with them, on the hammock because it's "more comfortable" even though it's tricky to get in and out of. Especially with all their gold on the floor, which they refuse to clean. I don't understand how they can live like that but I don't press them. They drink a lot too. Father says it’s a sign of a sad man. When I asked if they were sad, they didn’t really answer. “How can I be sad when I have all this?” I don’t know what that means and I still think they are. Although, they do argue with Cain a lot. Apparently Captain Rhodes isn’t living up to their end of the deal, whatever the deal is. No one will tell me so I'll find out for myself.
The sky is filled with oranges and pinks that are slowly turning to purples and deep blues. Peeking from behind dark clouds, the sun sinks lower and lower behind the gorgeous blue sea. There’s a small crack in the window and I can hear the waves moving. He should cover that up.
Charlie kisses my shoulder. His warm breath and lips on my bare skin brings me back to the present. I drop my medallion that I was fiddling with and the warm metal lands on my stomach.
“I know you love the sea Cap, but the window isn’t what you came for.”
I chuckle lightly at him and face him. He takes my hands and kisses the back of them. “When you’re all dead and gone, it’ll still be me and the sea.” I step away from him, pulling my hands from his gentle grasp to look around for my clothes. We threw them off in the moment, my rings too. Maybe they’re hidden in the bed somewhere?
He laughs. “You really know how to say the most romantic things, Captain.”
I pick up my shirt and put it back on, pulling my hair out my shirt and beginning to plait it while I look out for the rest of my clothes. “Aye, romance is my forté. Aphrodite was my mistress.”
Charlie sits down on his bed, watching me. He frowns for a second and pulls out a ring he was sat on. “You met Aphrodite?”
I shake my head and take my ring from him. It’s gold and encrusted with a ruby and fits perfectly on my pinky finger. “No, but can you imagine? I haven’t met many of the Greek Gods.” Although I'd love to. Or I might if they weren't so entitled. Briefly I met Posiedon because he was curious to who devoted a hundred years to the sea. But when he made himself known to me, I only remembered thirty years.
"Met plenty of norse gods though.”
“You are fascinating. Your stories are brilliant.”
“Did I ever tell you about the time where I was trying to break into one of the nine realms with Galahad? Well, he was trying to stop me more than help me.” With good reason. Odin hates outsiders and it turns out, he doesn't like me. But that's nothing new. I rub Gods the wrong way more than I please them. My tongue is too free for their liking and the All-Father is a dick. The Vanir Gods and the Giants can tell you that.
“Yes, it was a wild tale Captain,” Charlie says with a smile.
He rummages through the bed and finds a few more gold rings with red jewel and lays them out for me. None of them are from the same set but that’s the beauty of it. They aren’t supposed to match. He stands again and places them on my fingers.
“Don’t treat me like I’m delicate.” Charlie knows which ring goes on what finger. That's surprising, I never thought he noticed.
“I know you’re not, but you deserve to be treated well.”
I smile at him, he was always a sweet talker but… “You don’t love me, do you?” I ask him. I wouldn't be angry if he did but I can't love him back.
He laughs a little. “No,” he lies. He twitches his nose whenever he does, it's really sweet when he does that. “But I admire you for who you are. I heard that people kiss the rings of the wearer to show respect.” Charlie kisses my fingers and I smile at him.
I can’t help but feel that I’m being worshipped so I pull my hand away from his grasp. I'm a Captain, not a royal or a god. I'm not supposed to be worshipped but respected.
“Scrat mentioned you haven't been able to find the rings.”
I shake my head and grab my trousers. “We've been looking for days now too.”
We've searched our room twice, looking under the furniture and the corners of the room. I emptied the drawers and Helena cleaned up after me. I found clothes I don't remember buying but they're too rich and fancy to wear normally.
Mr. Pots met his fate with the sea since we started too and now lies at the bottom of the sea bed. Everyone jeered at him because word got round that he beats his wife and he nearly caused 3 people to die. My girls hated him the most, as I found out from Ms Nancy later on. Mr. Juthers watched on silently and I wondered if he planned to marry the widowed wife.
I put my trousers on, hopping around the floor. I now have this luxury in my room. Before I hopped around and I stood on some metal; the pain is unbelievable, then I end up falling into it. A few scratches and bruises are nothing but it still stings. The issue with Charlie's room is that he has a harpsichord that I can fall into it.
“With my money I will get from being a famous composer, I'll buy you a ring. It won't be much to replace their memories but it's something.”
I shake my head at him. “You don't have to do that.”
“I want to."
“Charlie, you don't even know my name.”
He smiles at me. “I don't have to. I know you can't stand saying it, let alone anyone knowing.”
“Surely you have something else your money can go on. What about that house you wanted to buy?"
“Captain, I'm black. Even if I could, no one let me buy it.”
“I'll help you. I'll buy a house with your money and sign it over to you.”
“You're a woman. You can't buy it.”
I sigh at all of these problems. This stupid society and it's stupid rules. Racist and in favour of men. I rub my head. “Then we'll buy it under Scrat's name.” He'll hate it but if I bug him enough, he'll do it. Then he can pass the deeds onto Charlie and he'll finally get that house.
I think he wants a family but seeing as I can't give that and he prefers men, it's going to be a tricky one unless he decides to open an orphanage.
Charlie pulls me in close. “How far you'd go for me… Let me do something in return.”
I kiss him for a few seconds, his soft lips on mine. I pull away. “I don't want anything back." I don't need anything and the rings will show up. Eventually. Hopefully. “But I have to go. Helena will be lonely.”
“I'm surprised that you still want to talk to her, considering the lack of gold in your room.”
“No thanks to you.”
He scratches his head and laughs. “It was funny though.”
I roll my eyes at him however I smile. Looking back, I overreacted. It's just gold. It's not my friend, it's not alive. There is no meaningful or personal connections with it. But it's beautiful and it helps me buy a life that I wasn't born into. The jewels are gorgeous, nothing is prettier except maybe...
I look at Charlie. “I should go. Sleep well.”
We wave each other off and he steals another kiss before I step out onto the deck, hit by the cool evening air and Mr. Meier. My nose smacks his chest, pain shoots through my face.
“I'm so sorry Captain!” he says. I hold my nose to help with the sharp sting. The weedy man is like a wall to walk into. "Funnily enough, I wanted to talk to you."
Yes, so bloody funny and painful. I don't voice this thought. "What is it?" I let go of my nose and I scrunch my face up to test the pain. It's quickly subsiding.
"I heard… I heard you hoped to bring back the dead. From the doctor."
I'm not surprised that the pair would talk. The doctor seems friendly enough and both are educated men, they must have a lot to talk about. At least he isn't isolating himself unlike Helena, despite knowing my crew's true nature. I imagine that the doctor was shocked to learn that none of the other masters know.
"Yes Mr. Meier. I am doing that." I haven't gotten around to telling them and they don't have to know the full truth. Just that there's some business in Egypt. But I'm not going to lie if they ask.
He twiddles his thumbs nervously. "Do you think that's wise?"
"No, I don't. But it can't hurt to try." It could. I don't know what the underworld demands if you take a life away from it. All Helena knows is that there's an Ankh in Abydos, where Osiris was worshipped. I'm mainly hoping that someone in Egypt knows how to do it.
"The devil might get angry. He visits soon." The first Tuesday of the month, 7th of November, is in 5 days.
"What he doesn't know can't hurt him, Mr. Meier." It's impossible to say how he'd react until I tell him, if he doesn't already know. Sometimes he listens in, but I'm not going to bring it up unless he does. I'll definitely tell him once I've done it and then he can throw a tantrum if he doesn't like it or congratulate me on my attempts regardless of if I'm a success. "Is there anything else?" I want to go and sleep more than anything else.
Absently, I gaze past him and out at the sea. The sky is darker, rich with blues, blacks, and purples. There is a fog rolling on the horizon at an unnatural speed with a song sung by one.
“The fog that hides us rolls
With the tide to be,
I tell you what I need
To carefully to conceal me.”
In the corner of my eye, he nods, “The waters we're heading towards they have-”
“Sirens,” I breathe out. I know the song too well, they're going to kill us. The second untied rope.
“Yes how did you know?” He asks, genuinely surprised.
I point behind him and run past to ring the bell. The clanging wakes people up and I can hear thudding below deck as they get themselves together.
The masters come out, except for Charlie who's probably still dressing or fell asleep.
“What be it?” asks Mr. Taylor. His buttons aren't done up properly, and I nearly laugh at the disgruntled sight of him.
"Sirens! Can't you hear?" Scrat scowls.
Mr. Taylor nods and goes to instruct the sailors to drop down the Atlantic sails rather the lanteen ones that allow us to be more maneuverable. The square sails are faster and the only way to fight sirens is through speed. When they’re dropped and the wind catches, I fall forward. They move fast, I can see them swimming on the surface of the water. Only one is singing the song that brought the fog.
Soon we are engulfed by the fog. The crew begin to light the lanterns on the side of the ship. While we know our bounds, the enemy can see us. We can’t fight them with cannons and guns, we’ll miss them in the fog. The sirens are a deadly race to be in battle with and more often than not, they win. It won’t be long before they start their song and we’ll be enchanted by their voice, but the faster we go, they won’t be able to sing as they catch up. Eventually they will get bored or they will catch up. At times like this, I wish I was a God of the Wind.
“Are we safe?” Helena asks from my door.
Everyone who heard groans and I swear someone says, “Famous last words Miss.”
I brace myself for their song, it’s one I know like the back of my hand. It never comes. Instead they sing something different but I can't help but feel like I've heard it before. A long time ago. A dream maybe? Unlike the usual song, this melody sounds more like a warning.
Are they not the second untied rope?
The song stops and we sail silently in the sea. An uneasy feeling sits in the pit of my stomach; it makes me feel nauseous. Nothing feels right. Why did the sirens change their song? What's coming?
I try to look at the people around me but the misk is too thick I can barely see the banister in front of me. The lanterns help.
The sea is quiet. Too quiet.
The sky roars like a starved beast. A storm is coming, and fast at that.
Somewhere in the fog, something lets out a deafening roar. My hands immediately cover my ears. Once it stops, I remove them cautiously. There's a splash not that far and water sprays all over me. It begins to rain. Whatever it is, it causes the fog to clear and reveals the hundreds of sirens staring at the ship.
The nearest one has a white face and stomach while her back is covered with blue scales. It's unusual to see a siren without her cloak but not completely rare. Her black, blank eyes stare through me and she raises her webbed hand to point behind me.
The feeling of dread grows stronger me chest and my stomach twists and turns in unnatural ways. I could throw up. I don't need to look to see what's there.
I do it anyway.
A green scaled beast has shot itself out of the water and into the dark sky. Its eyes are glowing red.
I stare at it, frozen in place. I have no idea how to fight it. I've been told not to.
The Leviathan flies over us and jumps into the water, causing a giant wave that pushes the ship forward. Everyone falls over and I swear someone falls off the mask and into the sea. The sirens have disappeared and lightning strikes.
“Captain! Do we fire!?” shouts Charlie who fell out of his quarters door.
“Do we fire at the guardian of hell?! Are you mad ?!” I scream at him, clutching onto the side of the ship.
It's a death sentence. Lucifer, despite considering me family, would actually kill me if I murdered his beast. Attacking the beast might make it kill us and leave me stranded in the middle of the bloody ocean.
“Drop the lanteen sails boys!” Bellows Mr. Taylor, because the boat needs to travel downwind. The order echoes through the ship as the Atlantic sails are hoisted up. To defeat sirens, we need speed, but this thing… we need to be able to move out of the bloody way.
I need to get my shit together otherwise people will die. The storm is coming in fast, we need to tie ourselves down, just in case.
“LIFE LINES GENTS!” I shout over the thunder.
Everyone runs to grab rope from the cabin boy at the mask, in charge of the life lines. I don't really need one but I take one anyway and tie it around my waist. Dr. Mellick stands frozen on the deck so I run over to him, rope in hand, and tie it around him.
"Captain… What's that?" he says as he points to the beast.
"Leviathan, now don't fall in."
It rains harder on us as the creature screams louder and a wave comes up from behind, drenching everyone on the deck. We'd be dryer if we were in the sea. I push my wet hair out of my face and try to find the Leviathan. It's not leaping through the sky so it has to be in the sea.
Helena stumbles towards me and grabs my shoulders. “SPIRAL ATTACK!” She screams, her face dropping with water. Her hair sticks to her skin.
“THE BEAST, IT'S PIN-POINTING US AND THEN WILL WRAP AROUND THE SHIP!”
We need to blind it. It's better than killing it. Even a semi-fatal injury would be enough to scare him off.
“CHARLIE, HARPOON!" I shout at him. He's got the best throw with a spear than anyone else on this ship. He nods and runs below deck, untying his life line.
The thunder claps as the beast jumps out of the water. It shakes its head and lands sideways into the water.
I share a glance with Helena. I turn around to Scrat and we all nod. We all saw it. He charges to the latch to the lower deck, shouting for the gunners to start firing but not at the Leviathan.
The cannons start going off one at a time. The creature's head pops out of the water and eyes but shakes its head whenever a canon goes off.
Charlie comes back from below deck, holding a spear and heads to the stern.
"MEIER, POINT THE BOW AT THE BEAST!" His request is shouted by various members across the ship so the other man can hear.
"I'M TRYING TOO!" Mr. Meier screams back.
He angles the ships towards the beast while it struggles to locate us. He gets it fairly straight but Charlie doesn't do anything.
"NOW MILLER!" Scrat shouts. "WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!"
The ship breaks through a wave, and falls forward. Charlie uses the momentum to launch the harpoon at the creature.
The creature screams in agony and falls into the water. No one cheers, each of us waiting for it to come back up. I run towards the bow, trying to spot the creature. But he is no where to be seen. I think we scared it off.
"Run it by me again?" I ask Helena. I move the leather chair that I keep in the corner to the desk and move that chair to by my bed. I have an esteemed guest coming and this is the first time he'll be in my room in years. It has to be perfect.
"We can talk to my mother in Egypt by going where they used to worship the God of the Underworld," she says as she watches me walk back and forth.
I don't doubt that we'll meet something there but I don't think it'll end up how she thinks it will. Gods are, for the lack of a better word, arseholes. They aren't fond of mortals toying with them or using them for their personal gain; it's usually the other way around. Most religious texts depict Gods making deals with humans and the Gods get it much better than the humans. I have a feeling that I'll have to pay it.
"Helena how do you know they are real?" Iris' diary doesn't say anything about Egypt because I never took her, and even if it is in her diaries, she still doesn't show much faith in it anyway, like the full moon.
She shrugs. "It has to be real. My mother has written about the Gods in her diaries."
"What's the plan when we get there? Do you have one?" We're about ten days away from Egypt, we need some sort of plan but aimless wandering works too if she doesn't mind being there for a few months. Which I don't. The hot weather is melting, even in October. I'd rather avoid it.
Helena shuffles her feet. "I take that as a no then," I say when she doesn't answer.
"There aren't many books on it!"
That doesn't surprise me. If there are any books, they will be in Egypt. No one on my ship speaks it, let alone read it so we'll have to try to find someone who not only speaks English but reads. It'll be a tricky on but Alexandria has a famous trading port so we might get lucky. We've been lucky a lot and eventually that will run out. If not, we can always find someone in Cairo.
"Well we better hope we can find something in the Cairo and that we can read it." I look at the China tea set and decide that it needs to be rearranged. It doesn't look right. Should the sugar pot go at the back or towards the front?
"Why are you messing around with a tea set?" She asks, changing the topic. She comes over to watch me struggle with the placement.
"The Devil is coming for tea."
She laughs. I don't. "Wait, you're being serious? How do you have tea with the Devil?"
"Easy, he pops in and we have a cuppa tea."
She sighs, "How did you meet him?"
"Now that's a good question."
I know that Luci has known me longer than I've known him. That's the issue when you're missing memories and it's worse when he won't tell you the real time. He just told me that I caught stars, which I don't really understand. It might have something to do with my ship, she's always been called The Starcatcher despite being replaced with a newer model or rebuilt a few times. I woke up to her being The Starcatcher so I kept it.
My first memory of Lucifer was when he appeared on my ship without any warning nearly a month after I woke up without my memories. I was heading somewhere cold. I know that because I was knitting a scarf in preparation. It was a terrible scarf, I missed so many stitches and added some in, but it was my first time trying to knit. I was, and still am, very proud of myself. Back then my room was much cleaner too, mainly because I didn't have a lot to my name. It quickly filled with clothes that I made. Most of them fell apart while being worn. It was a disaster.
Anyway, then a fiery purple portal appeared in my room. I stared at in horror, wondering how I deal with giant fire on a wooden boat in the middle of the ocean. A black-eyed beast stepped through. His skin was covered in scarlet burn scars and he had ram horns on his head. I screamed at the sight of him and threw my knitting needles at him. They bounced off him and he laughed at me. It was a deep laugh, one I expected from a monster that shook me to the core.
"My Captain is knitting," he says with a smile. His sharp teeth were yellow crooked, which might have scared me the most.
I remember being taken back by what he said. His Captain? I thought. We weren't lovers, were we? Part of me couldn't believe it because he was hideous. I didn't know who I was yet but I felt like I would have a bit more self-esteem to love someone who wasn't a beast.
"There's not much to do other than knit," I said, still wild eyed and worried about upsetting him.
He looked surprised. I remember thinking that whoever I was before I lost my memories must have been very different to who I was then. I'm very different now. Back then, my reaction to a strange thing was to sit frozen in my chair and hope he wouldn't eat me. Now if he had appeared in my room and I didn't know who he was, I would've held a blade to his throat and hope he doesn't eat me.
"Sir Galahad didn't tell you I was coming." He didn't say it like it was a question, he stated it. I thought that was odd.
I shook my head, keeping quiet in case that was the wrong answer and he would hate me. Galahad would never have been so kind to have mentioned that little detail to me. When I confronted him about it later on, he said that it was for my good. I didn't believe him. I still don't believe him. My theory is that he wanted to me, in my confused state, to piss off the Devil and start a fresh slate with the Devil already annoyed at me.
"You look terrified."
No shit , I thought. I wasn't brave enough at the time to say that. "That's because there's a monster in my quarters." He scowled and huffed out smoke from his nose. I felt bad about it or I might have been terrified at the idea he would eat me. The two feelings can be similar and it took me a very long time to my head around my immortality. "I'm sorry but you are," I whisper.
He growled at me and his form changed into a handsome man with a defined jawline, stubble, and dark hair slicked back. His nose is a little crooked but it adds to his charm that everyone falls for. I knew that he was trying to help with my fear of him but if anything, it made it worse.
My body was shaking with fear. "What-what are you?" I stuttered.
He smiled sweetly and bowed down before me. "I am the Devil. I won't hurt you, Captain Rhodes."
"Okay-okay." I was confused and still trembling. "Why are you bowing before me?" I wondered, because he was Satan and he was bowing before me, does that mean I was worse than Satan or equal to him? I didn't want to be because that's a lot to process for anyone, let alone someone who can't remember anything.
The Devil stood up straight. "What has Sir Galahad told you about who you are?" He stepped towards me, a little confused.
Terrified, I leaned back in my chair, which caused the chair to topple over and I fell over on the floor. Satan tried to help me to my feet but I didn't take his hand and scrambled away from him into the corner of my room. He didn't take offence to it or follow after me, he let me cower in the corner.
"I can't die and I have to look after the medallion," I whispered. Part of me hoped that Satan would tell me everything. My family, my home, my age. Everything. Galahad refused to tell me for reasons that still elude me today.
Satan picked the medallion up from the deck. He dangled the gold with a ram's head centre from the chain at arm's length away from him. "So much for protecting it. Keep it around your neck," he said as he tossed it to me. I caught it and did as he said. "You have to protect it. Our life depends on it."
Our life ? "Sir Galahad mentioned that," I said. "But never said anything about you."
The devil sighed and rubbed his brow. There was a lot that Galahad didn't tell me. "There is a game that happens once a century, which involves about 100 people trying to get that." He pointed at the medallion. "Don't let them and we'll both be fine."
"I don't understand what it has to do with you? Why are you here? Who was I before I forgot my memories? Did agreeing to help you get rid of them."
He didn't answer any of my questions. He still hasn't answered all of them but I found a few of them for myself. "I'm here to have a cup of tea." That's how it's been ever since. First Tuesday of every month he comes to have a cup of tea. To begin with, it was awkward and I was petrified but after a while, I began to relax. We became friends and would catch up or sometimes get drunk.
"He just appeared on the ship one day," I say to Helena. It's the truth, or the truth that I know.
She rolls her eyes at me. "Of course he did."
I sigh at her. I really don't understand how she hopes Osiris exists but doesn't believe me when I say that I have tea with the Devil. "Helena how can you believe in Osiris and speaking to your mother if you can't believe that your own devil has an interest in me?"
"Because I don't believe that the Devil would choose your ship to sail on."
I frown, a little hurt that she can't see how incredible I am. Her mother did. Then again, her other option was Langdon. I don't know the people in Helena's life that could be much more interesting. "I get his attention. The Leviathan is proof of that."
"I think the Leviathan might have been a warning because you anger him."
I pause for a moment. I hadn't thought of that. Normally I don't piss him off but amuse him, no matter what I do. I used to think that I could knock down the pyramids and he would laugh and send Galahad in to fix it. Now, I'm not so sure. It is his precious hellish beast of the sea and Hell's Mouth is not in this part of the world so it would've had to swim all this way to attack us. It couldn't have been an accident, it has to have been sent after us. But why? Maybe there is a line and I crossed it? Nothing comes to mind. I haven't done anything that interesting lately.
I pick up the pot of tea from the middle, where an artist has depicted a myth. I used to know the story but I can’t remember it now. The pot burns my fingers and I drop it into the table. I suck on my burned fingers, not worrying that the china pot might have cracked. When the pain disappears, I check the pot and let out a sigh of relief once I discover that it hasn't cracked.
Helena sighs and rearranges the tea set for me. "You're hopeless. Tea pot in middle, sugar to the left, milk to the right and cups at front." She finished and puts her hands on her hips. "There." She smiles brightly at me.
"Thank you. Now shoo, he'll be here any moment now."
I wait an hour for him to come, twiddling my thumbs and pacing around the room. I did something wrong. That's never happened before, I don't know if he'll shout at me. I've never seen the Devil pissed either. I imagine that things light themselves on fire and considering my current location, that's not ideal. He might revoke me of my role, Satan's Captain or something. Apparently I have an army, his army, to rule. He could take it away from me.
The second hour hits and he still isn't here. I eye my bottles of rum that Helena let me keep in the room after a lot of convincing. They'll help kill my boredom because he isn't coming. But if he does turn up, and he is angry, he will only be more pissed off because I started drinking without him. To distract myself, I play with my ornaments that Helena deemed acceptable to keep in the room.
The octopus, the sea monster that rules the shelf on the left wall, has taken the golden horse as captive. He wants gold, money, and jewels. So the gallant ship has to sail across the dangerous but barren land to get the golden horse back. He sails smoothly across the Bedrock Sea and it's silky, purple waters. Oh shit! He falls off the edge of the world. SPLASH! He was saved because the world isn't flat but layered. The ship sails through the murky waters and the unknown, fearless as ever. A beast rears its ugly head out of the dark water and screams at the boat. The ship, using the waves the creature creates, escapes from the beast and gets to the docks. There is a long climb ahead to get to the top shelf of the left wall, yet he reckons he can do it. He begins his ascent up the wall, using the hammock to-
A portal bursts into flames behind me and I drop the ship. The wooden model's mask breaks when it hits the floor. I pick it up carefully before turning around to see Luci stepping out of the flames and transforming from his hellish form to the handsome human one.
"Hello," I say as I put the boat on the shelf, hoping he didn't hear or see me play.
He ignores me and heads straight outside to the deck. I'm on edge, he hasn't ignored me like that before. Letting out a sigh, I follow him out to see what sort of trouble he might cause but I think I have an idea what he's going to do. At the first sight of him, my crew bow down and get on their knees before him. I roll my eyes at them all for boosting his ego. None of them saw him step out of his portal, transforming between his two different forms and if they did, they wouldn't be bowing before him but getting the pitchforks ready. Not so much the torches, with us standing on a floating bit of wood in the ocean and him being the King of Fire and all.
"That's how you show respect to your King, Captain Rhodes," Lucifer gestures at them. His dark eyes pierce through me with an icy glare.
I cross my arms. "You already have a big head, I'm not going to make it bigger. You might topple over." I am not afraid of him, I am not that person anymore is what I tell myself.
He laughs at me. It's cold and empty but I refuse to show that it scares me. He looks around at the crew and notices Helena standing far away from him by Scrat's door. "They say that you're the devil," she says.
"Let me guess, you don't believe them," he states.
"No, I don't."
A frown flashes on my face, but quickly disappears. Why is she hiding behind a door if she doesn't believe that he's Satan? She might be afraid that he is and will corrupt her. That's not surprising considering she thinks everyone will.
"Why are you hiding behind the door then?" Lucifer walks towards her with a sadistic smile on his face. She cowers behind the door, making herself smaller when he leans over her to whisper in her ear. "You're not scared, are you? Because you think that I'm not the devil."
"I don't think the Devil would appear on their ship." Helena gestures towards me. "I don't understand why they are so important to have the Devil on their ship."
He glances at me. I can feel it coming. "Neither do I right now."
There it is! But it stung despite knowing he was going to say it. Not wanting to hear anymore, I step in and say, “Shall we Luci?”
He sighs. “Excuse me Miss, we need to be in that room.” He stands up straight and points at the door she's still hiding behind.
“We can use my room, I asked the cooky to bring tea to my room."
Luci looks surprised, "You're room is a mess." We started having tea in Scrat's room, which he never minded.
"You just walked out of it!"
Helena has a confused expression on her face. "What are you two doing? Why do you need it to be private."
I walk over to my door and hold it open. "Having sex, now come on Luci." Her cheeks go an even deeper red and I regret saying that now. I have fun winding her up, but not about sex because she gets so shy.
"I give orders, not you. Normally I would make a joke back, however I'm pissed off at you Captain." His tone is still cheery and delightful. It's eerie, and possibly more terrifying than his devil form because it's not often I get in trouble with him.
I don't let my fear show because he lives off it as much as he lives off desire and temptation. I enter my room and he follows behind on my heel. He shuts the door behind us and grabs the red leather chair by the desk to sit on. He always sits on that chair, while I sit on the wooden one.
Lucifer takes a cup from the China set and pours himself tea. He likes it with milk and two sugars, but no one else can make it the way he does except for him, even though it's straightforward. Usually he pours me one too however not this time.
"Your men blinded my Leviathan," he says as he sips his tea. Luci frowns at the cup and blows into it, heating it up so steam rises from the tea again. He should've gotten here earlier if he wanted hot tea.
"Your Leviathan nearly killed my crew," I shot back as I sit down on the other chair. "Why did you send it?"
He smiles coldly at me and sips his tea before answering, forcing me to wait for him. It's a power play, one I've seen him a few times to his demons. They tremble in fear before him as they wait for their punishment. I won't shake, I'm not shaking, even though I'm scared. He can take things off me, like my ship or my immortality. He could even trap me in Hell despite it not being useful to him.
"Why do you think?" He says as he crosses his legs.
"Will you tell me if I answer that?" I ask him. He simply smiles at me. "I don't know what I did," I say honestly, hoping that he will calm down. He likes honesty and can't stand sinners and liars. The irony.
He sighs and puts his cup of tea down on the desk. " My Captain of my Hell is messing around with mortality, with the underworld. How do you think that'll reflect on me when the other Gods find out?"
I hadn't thought of that. Of course it would look bad on him, he's the only one I answer to. The rest I either piss off (like Síf and Odin) or get on well with, (such as Loki).
"You messed with mine." That was the wrong thing to say but I said it now.
He sighs at me. "You know why, it's-"
"The rules for the Game," I finish for him. That stupid Game. I shouldn't complain too much. It made me immortal and will for as long as he keeps winning and I keep protecting the medallion from the contestants, which I've only done once since I lost my memories.
Luci puts his cup down on the tray. "Look, I won't be the only one to have noticed. You're lucky I noticed first."
"You sent your hellmouth guard after me!" I shout, leaning out of my chair towards him. "How is that lucky?"
He ignores me. "Egypt won't be happy and I don't want you to be hurt."
"No, you don't want to send Galahad in to fix my mess," I correct. Galahad complains about it whenever he has to. He still does it. "You don't want it to reflect badly on you!" He picks up his tea and doesn't respond because I shouted at him and I put words into his mouth. He hates it when people assume things of him. I roll my eyes and breathe out slowly to calm down. "How do you even know anyway?" I ask.
Luci glances at my medallion. "I'm always listening."
I scowl at him. "I'll throw it into the sea one day."
"You always say that." He sips his tea again with a knowing smirk. "But you never do."
"We're getting off topic. I'm doing this, Luci. I'm going to talk to Iris."
"Why?" He looks at me from the corner of his eye, trying to not look interested but I know he is. "When you bring back the dead, they can't handle the living world and they want to die again." He sips his tea.
"We can visit her. Or something. I have to try. I want to speak to her again because I never got to say goodbye."
"You never said goodbye to James."
"I did. Galahad took me to his death bed." I cried a lot. His wife knew who I was, which was nice. I'm glad the one of spouses of the people I love wasn't a complete and utter dick.
"Why not open the box in the armoire? I'm sure she says her goodbye in there." He glances at the wardrobe. It doesn't surprise me that he knows that the box is in there and it wouldn't shock me if he knew the contents of the box. I know why he brings it up though.
"If she has a letter, I can't read it," I point out.
"Get Scruffy Bart to read it."
"Touché." I sigh. "Let me do this, Luci. Let me prove to myself and you that this is possible."
He doesn’t say anything and thinks. "Okay. But if shit goes sideways, you're on your own."
“Nothing is going to go wrong! It’ll be okay”