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Unholy Trinity
(Rated R-18 for language and content - do not go further if under age or sensitive to such.)

Date: 09-15-11
Poster: Brendan O'Sionna
Post # 1

Ship Sighted

On a balmy day when the breeze from the Mediterranean filled the sails of the Lady Jane, Brendan "Raven" O'Sionna, stood at the rail and watched the horizon. He was taking a break from his duties as Gunner's Mate, a position he had taken to give him passage back to the lands of Heathfield. He had been visiting Dublin, as he had done nearly every year since he had left, visiting the graves of his mother and stepfather, meeting with the priest of the church to pay for tending to them, visiting the few relatives that were left. The ship's captain was an old friend and he had lost his gunner's mate when the man married and his wife wanted him to stay home. Though Brendan made it clear he'd be leaving too, the Captain was grateful. Before they headed for the lands of Heathfield, they had to travel the dangerous waters where the Barbary pirates sailed. And lately, they spoke of other pirates, every bit as blood-thirsty and dangerous.

Brendan's thoughts weren't on those things, however. He would be taking over as Captain of the Brigantine, Storm Cloud once he arrived home though Joseph would remain her owner and Captain when he felt the need to sail.. And there would be a trip to Boston in the future in an attempt to find the half brother and sister who had gone off with his aunt and uncle and their children. Jamie would be fourteen now, the same age Brendan had been when he left Dublin, and Margie, his sweet little Margaret, a young lady of ten. He only hoped he could find them but the story of the Callihan cousins finding their own sister gave him hope. He wouldn't expect them to return to Heathfield with him, but he needed to find them for his own sanity. In the midst of his daydreaming, the lad in the crow's nest gave out a shout of 'Ship ahoy!' brought him back. The other officer's had been down in the galley, still enjoying their meal with the shout. By the time they reached the deck, Brendan had out the spyglass.

"She's flying the jolly roger, Captain Weston." Brendan offered the spyglass to the man. "Though I don't recognize the colors."

"Sound the call, Master Crowley," the Captain spoke to his first mate. "Gentleman, we can hope they'll turn away but if not," he looked at Brendan., "I expect them to be sorry they attacked us."

"Aye, Captain, that I can promise." Brendan grinned and made a quick check of the cannons on the upper deck. The gunners were already uncovering them and preparing. Without another word, he headed below deck. That would be where he would spend most of the battle.

It was a fine day, and one that had the captain of the other ship up on the main deck, spyglass to eye, studying the ship across the expanse of sea. He didn't move, legs spread to hold his stance steady, and just ... looked for some time. Several of the men standing closer to him looked from the captain to the object of his attention and back to the captain, waiting for orders but none came. Instead, he jerked the looking glass from his gaze and collapsed it shut with a quick slap of it to his outer thigh. "Steady dead ahead." Eric growled, turning his still squinting gaze from the speck of a ship to look straight. The men around him groaned out their disappointment but didn't say anything, instead they returned to their duties. "What did you see?" His first mate asked, not looking to the brooding captain but wisely keeping his gaze on the horizon of sea. "Nothing worth our interest." Westmoreland responded, and for just a moment more, stared in the direction of that ship before he snatched his gaze away to look at his first mate. "At least not now." He handed the spyglass over to the man and started toward the ladder that would lead him to the lower deck.

On board the Lady Jane there was silence as the men had prepared and were waiting, waiting for the first flash of fire, waiting for the smallest sign that the pirates would turn their attention toward them. There was a collective sigh perhaps when that object of their attention kept on course and one of the young lads who served as a powder monkey grinned at Brendan. "Skeered 'em off, we did." Brendan just smiled and ruffled the lad's hair. "Don't tempt fate, lad. Let's hold our positions until that ship is good and gone." Or the Captain ordered otherwise. On deck, the rest of the men were going about their duties again. Brendan squatted, watching the ship through the cannon slot, his eyes narrowed slightly. True, their merchant ship possibly held little interest for the pirates but it had him wondering just what game they were going after. Finally, he told his men to stand down and headed back up onto deck. One of the deck guns needed attention and he wanted to see to it. Next time the Lady Jane might not be so lucky.

Date: 09-17-11
Poster: Brendan O'Sionna
Post # 2

Once Again

Two weeks. It would be a fortnight before the crew of the Putain d'eau and the Lady Jane crossed one another again. The port of Sri Lanka was a half-way point for ships traveling east to west and vice versa, so it was without question that eventually, every crew upon the seas might cross paths here in this city of spices. Seaside teamed with activity, inviting trade and those who brought that trade. Mysterious as it was open, welcoming as it was private. A grand contradiction, no one could really describe Sri Lanka, there was only experiencing it. Eric Westmoreland had separated from his crew, leaving them to seek what entertainment they would while he ventured into one of the smaller, more sequestered eating holes. The air was thick with curry, causing his mouth to water with just the breathing of it. He was delivered to a table, low to the rush covered floor, and he made himself comfortable on the cushion there. If he could choose a place to retire, to escape, to disappear in ... Sri Lanka would top his list. Soon he was sipping his Ceylon tea and pinching up his bites of milk rice and coconut sambol. Moments like this...ah...moments like ... this.

This was Brendan's first trip to the exotic port and he had spent a good portion of it with three of his shipmates, sight seeing. They had behaved too, not wanting to find themselves in prison but then again Captain Weston expected nothing less from his crew then their best behavior. It was the smells from the small eating establishment that had drawn the three young men. They were seated at one of the tables and had found the language a problem at first until one of the help who could speak English came to assist. After ordering, they talked quietly though Brendan didn't hide his curiosity at their surroundings. He even studied the man who sat alone for a moment before looking away. There were other ships, other crews. Nothing unusual there.

Westmoreland found it highly amusing when a man came to a country and didn't know the language. Oh the damage that could be done with a simple nod of agreement to words spoken with a smile which otherwise made no sense. "Screwpups, you should have asked for a lower chili content...considering your virgin
palates." If you can't say the foods, you sure as hell can't eat them like a local. He brought up his tea, squinting over the rim toward the three boys... all pretty enough to make a horny captain drool, if the captain was one to drool over arses.

Luckily for them, their Captain was a proper Englishman though there the English navy had plenty of the droolers. Brendan looked up and grinned at the man, though he considered his words. "We're in trouble, lads." He knew he would probably not be finishing the meal but they had to try once. "Didn't know we could ask for it to be made milder. You been here long?" Brendan was sure if the man didn't want to talk, he'd say as little as possible. And maybe he'd just let his friends try the food first. The tea was good though. Better then the English brand.

"Did they sever and serve your balls elsewhere, Puss? Always tell them what you want...never ask. And learn the damn language." Two fingertips scooped up another bite and the mix was scraped between his teeth. A rub of fingertips followed to clear away the residue. He didn't answer the question about the length of time, it really wasn't that important to know the answer.

The other two snickered as Brendan's smile faded and he shrugged. Damn, the man was straight forward if nothing else. "Won't be here long enough to learn" was all he managed. Usually he could come back with a quick enough retort but not this time. He motioned to the lad who had helped them order and spoke to him a moment. With the smile, the native headed back into the kitchen. Hopefully there wouldn't be a problem by them changing their order but he wasn't about to have his mouth set on fire and be laughed at again. He cut a glance toward the man once more, then looked away. There was something ... Shaking his head, the gunner turned his attention back to his friends.

"Damn right won't be here long." Eric muttered under his breath. Didn't speak the language, and it was that much easier to be gurgling from the slit in your neck. His head was dipped but he watched the boy speak to the English speaking employ. Did he ask? Or did..he tell? The pirate snorted out a grunt and scooped up another bite of his meal. "What ship are you on?" He didn't bother swallowing, just spoke through the rice and greens and the onions and coconut.

For some reason, he was surprised the man kept speaking. "The Lady Jane, out of Dublin though she's an English ship." He would have seen her in the port flying the English Jack in any case. Not the fastest ship but it did well enough and the lads with him were proud to serve on her. "Sailin' under Captain Weston." One of the others added. By then their food had arrived. The one that had added the Captain's name had insisted he could handle the food. The other two, well, they knew better and yes, Brendan had told. Partly out of embarrassment at acting so green around the gills. "What about you, sir?" The other lad continued before he tried the dish in front of him. And immediately his eyes began to water and he fanned his mouth vigorously while the other customers, mostly Sri Lankans laughed. The tea didn't help cool his mouth any -- it was hot too! Brendan watched as he ran outside then he started to laugh as well. "Uh, thanks for the advice." It might still be hot but they'd not be dancing around trying to cool down their mouths!

Eric watched, taking up the rose petal to crush between his fingers and take the edge of the smell from the fleshy pads. "Didn't ask with the hopes of sharing a bath, boys...just wondering who might be sailing minus three of its mates since you can't take the time to learn about the lands you'll be wandering about in." But he remembered that ship, from a good couple of weeks past. He remembered it well. "Hodgepodge dance there's none about that would rather slice you from nuts to nipples rather than look at you." And the look that passed over the remaining two, chin dipped, dark eyes narrowed, made it quite clear this man was all too familiar with that sort of soul.

Brendan sampled the food that wasn't quite as spicy though still hot enough to make him blink. He snorted then shrugged. "Wasn't planning on sharing a bath in any case." He glanced at the doorway, wondering if they should check on their mate when he returned, sheepish, eyes still watering and contrite. He had proven only that he could be a fool. "Didn't know we were making port here." Brendan frowned since it sounded like he was making excuses. He didn't like the way the man was eyeing them in any case. "Captain's good at making unexpected stops." His second friend muttered, figuring he couldn't be heard. "But you'll get to Heathfield soon enough." Brendan just shrugged again, and continued eating, using his fingers like he had seen Eric do. No more making excuses. Somehow he kept managing to make himself feel like a greenhorn every time he opened his mouth.

Now there was a place that had the man's head lifting to look at the boys fully. Did he mind asking? Hell no. If the boy didn't want to answer, there were other ways to get a satisfactory response. "What's your business in Heathfield?"

Eric would have to wait a moment while the lad chewed. He wouldn't speak with his mouth full. "We're making a delivery there." He wasn't surprised the man had heard of it. Plenty had. "More'n that." And before Brendan could shush him, his friend was answering. "It's his home even though he was born in Dublin." Brendan gave the younger lad a glare but Jimmy didn't see the harm in what he had said and just looked confused. "Aye, and I'm going home." Brendan looked at Eric, with a slight smile. It wasn't that he was ashamed of his homeland but something was starting to make him nervous. "Have you been to Heathfield?"

Eric watched the interaction between the boys, not even realizing he had rolled that rose petal up in a tight cocoon instead of just using it to cleanse his fingertips. "No." Was his answer to Brendan's question and he tossed that curl of bud aside, twisting to the side to stand. Payment was tossed to the table in the coins of the lands and he brought up the scarf tied at his waist to dab at the corners of his mouth. "Been to Dublin though...a time or two." As he spoke, he studied the Heathfield boy's features, setting them to memory. The Lady Jane might just have some cargo, after all, worth borrowing.

"Grand place to visit." Not so grand to be alone in but he had managed well enough. "Smooth sailing to you." He was relieved the man was leaving before Jimmy blurted out the whole of his life, what he knew of it. Intending to head back to the Lady Jane as soon as their meal was finished, he said as much to his two companions. They had been warned to be back aboard come dusk for their own safety as much as the Captain wanted his crew on board and ready to leave as soon as dawn lightened the sky. "Jimmy, you're going to get fat." He muttered for no other reason than to look away from that far too intense gaze.

Was there something there that seemed...familiar to him? Westmoreland couldn't draw his gaze away at first. There, in his eyes, dammit. With the mention of Dublin, and now the boy's eyes, Eric growled and started for the door which was left open to the street beyond. Lady Jane. Things were about to get rather dark and dangerous, for the likes of that crew.

Brendan kept looking over his shoulder as they returned to the Lady Jane. His friends teased him but he ignored them and was glad to be aboard. He headed down to his quarters, catching a few hours sleep until the claxon was sounded to wake the crew. He checked over the cannons before heading on deck to help. Once the ship started for the open seas, he climbed the rigging and watched the port disappear. Again, there was that off feeling but he couldn't explain why. Finally, he climbed down and went below deck again, mostly to check on the gun crew. A few of them had come down with an illness while in port and he didn't like the idea of being without a full crew. There was also that nagging feeling that he ignored by rationalizing it had only been the meeting with the grumpy seadog that unsettled him. He pushed it aside by concentrating on his men and the preparations to leave.

Date: 12-11-11
Poster: Eric Westmorland
Post # 3

In the following days, the incident with the man was nearly forgotten. Most of the crew had made a recovery from the mysterious illness and settled into their routine. Brendan was training one of the others to take his place once he returned to Heathfield and was below deck, talking to him. His name was Noah and they were discussing some of their more interesting adventures ashore. Around them, the cannons were being cleaned and polished while above deck, the Captain was speaking to his First Mate. The sky was clear, the ocean smooth with just enough breeze for them to make decent progress. The sun was setting and soon the evening shift would take over.

For the crew of the Lady Jane, things had settled to business as usual. The passing of time did wonders for waxing the memory, relaxing the intuition. For the crew of the Putain d'eau , it was business as usual as well. The captain knew the minds of men, the way a calm and easy sea could bring a mesmerizing feeling of serendipity. The whore had been trailing the Lady for some time now, way off in the distance, no more than a speck in the eye of the spyglass. But today, she had gained some leverage and Eric knew all too soon the Lady would be tying on her garters and pulling up her hair to take on the impending arrival of a much less polite female.

It was the sailor in the crow's nest who spotted the ship first. He had been slacking some because of a late night and too much ale, but it had been worth missing sleep to fill his pockets. He caught sight of it in his spyglass though it was too far off yet for details. "Ship off the stern and gaining." No cause for alarm yet. It wasn't exactly a well traveled route, but an occasional sighting wasn't unusual. Brendan pause when he heard the call, then stood and slapped a hand to Noah's shoulder. "I'm going to head topside. Check the powder and make sure it's dry." It was unlikely it had gotten wet but Brendan wanted Noah to get into the routine of checking it daily.

Eric waited until he could see the men on the Lady Jane begin to scurry, then knew the time to play had arrived. "Hoist our mantle, lads, let them know we've not come to tickle their twats but to f'eck 'um deep and hard." Roars of excitement followed immediately, echoing over the silent, dark waters as the scarred and seasoned pirates geared up for what was to come. Eric remained by the wheel, his legs braced, his eye on the prize through the length of spyglass as his first mate held the vessel on course. The closer they came, the better he could see the swarming of activity on the other ship, the wider his grin. "Hello, Laddybuck, remember me?" He muttered to himself, squinting that eye to focus on the figures in search of one certain form. "Heathfield, heh? " He knew it was too dark to recognize him, but damn if he wouldn't try. "Boy, you will rue the day you called that piss-hole home."

Just as Brendan hit the deck, the watch called out that the ship's colors were seen. Pirates! He cursed softly as the call to battle was sounded, turning on his heel and heading right back down the stairs. "Take your stations, lads! We've got to show 'em the Lady's not one to be taken lightly!" He didn't think about anything else but getting the cannons readied and firing. "Easy, Rook." A hand came to the youngest of the gunner's shoulder. "Just remember what I told you and keep your head about you." He watched as the cannons were prepped then leaned down to peer out one of the doors. And his heart caught in his throat when he saw the colors. One of the Unholy Trinity though it was hard to tell which one! He may have paled as well, but damn, they weren't going down without a fight. Even if things did look grimmer then they ever had.

The dark holes of cannon doors made themselves seen and while most captains might halt a breath, Eric lowered his glass to look to his first mate. "You know what to do, Rhazor." He was easing his sword from its sheath as he started walking away. "You let that damn ship harm my whore, and you better know a deeper pit than hell to hide in." The threat was sincere, and the first mate knew it, but Eric also knew that the sharp-as-his-name pirate could out maneuver the most experienced cannon crew. Westmoreland started whistling a tune as he came to curl his fingers around the rope of one of the sails. The sound of his off keyed melody only fueled his crew, shouts of what they would soon be doing and bawdy desires of what any treasure captured would provide filled the air as they prepared for the danger they relished. Eric heard the familiar sound of his cannons being rolled into place, the flaps slamming tight to the side of the ship. Music. Seductive and stimulating. Promising the explosion of impending climax.

"We're going to die." Jimmy muttered as he rushed by Brendan and up the steps, not giving his friend a chance to answer. Brendan closed his eyes, said a quick prayer, then spoke. "Listen for the Captain's signal, lads. Steady.... " He glanced at the top of the steps where a young lad stood, waiting to convey the order, and then it sounded as the dark ship came closer. "Fire!" Brendan repeated it, and for a brief second, grinned when all obeyed, setting off the cannons at brief two to three second intervals. It was deafening so other signals would come from a touch to the shoulder of the first gunner. As soon as the cannons were emptied, they were loaded again while some of the crew readied buckets of water to cool the guns down. On the decks above, the other sailors prepared to use swords and muskets to defend their Lady.

The flash. The boom. The splash. The cheer from the pirates. "Lookie, MeBastard Sons, they are opening their legs to us already!" The Sea Whore was a sleek and swift vessel, easily guided and agile and Rhazor knew how to make her perform without the slightest hesitation. In response to the Lady's invitation, six of the twelve cannons on the quarter deck roared out. "A kiss in return." Eric murmured, swinging around that rope and lifting his sword to point to his first mate. "I want to rub her side and not feel her teeth too deeply implanted in my flesh, Rhazor." The first mate knew to mark the cannons, which ones fired and then how quickly the crew of the Lady were able to reload. It was timing, as was any act of making a lady moan. It was all ... timing. "Aye, Cap'tn, you'll be stroking her side now in a minute." He shouted back, Rhazor was even smiling. Victory was far better than death but death was far better than failing to provide what Eric Westmoreland demanded. Either way, the man was smiling.

The crew of the Lady were seasoned sailors, and though they'd be fighting for their lives, they knew their chances were slim. The cannonballs hit the water, sending up sprays and curses from the men. "Watch it, they're about to .... " Brendan's words were cut off as the cannons of the other ship fired and he was thrown to the floor by the impact. Coughing, he fought to his feet, only to see three of his men dead, others bleeding. One of the cannons was destroyed but he shouted out orders for the men still on their feet to fire again, He moved to the third cannon and took to loading it himself, ignoring the blood from a cut above his eye. On deck the men prepared for the fight. And again, the cannons fired, filling the air with acrid smoke. Another man from the portside battery came to take Brendan's place, motioning to where one of the gunner's close friends was laying. One of his legs was missing and as Brendan fought his way through the rubble, he felt knew Mike was dying. "Mike, I'm here." "Tell me lass me last words were for her, and give her the ring..." Those few words and the gunner was gone. There was no time for grieving, the dark ship was close, so close that he shouted for the men to go up on deck to fight and flee the next barrage. Brendan headed for the area in the stern where the men rested and found Mike's possessions. He knew where the ring was and pulled it from its hiding place. The box was small enough that he slid it into his boot. If he survived, if he escaped, he'd see the girl got it. Glancing where his own hammock hung, he took note of the small wooden chest that held his few precious possessions. But the claxon call came again and Brendan left it behind to take his place on the deck.

The Lady Jane put up one hell of a fight and the crew aboard the Sea Whore appreciated every blast of cannon or musket, every attempt to maneuver from their inevitable fate. No man worth the steel of their sword would not appreciate a woman with spirit, even if that spirit would be for naught. The dark ship butted up against the soon-to-be-vanquished, grappling hooks and planks smacked across the distance. Pirates swarmed over the boards, swung over by the ropes, shouts and roars accompanied them. Eric held back, smiling to himself as his men stormed the expanse. His gaze scanned the mingling of fighting men, seeking out one face. A boy to him, with familiar eyes, born in Ireland, residing in Heathfield. And then...the evil smile spread and he nodded to himself when he noticed the lad racing to take his place with the others. He watched a moment more to study the youngster's skill and when he was satisfied, he stepped up on one of the planks and strode forth with determination. He slashed and skewered on the way as an aside, not once taking a steady gaze off of that one particular male.

He was angry, scared, but one would never know it by the way Brendan ran into the battle. He used two weapons, a cutlass and a dagger, something learned when young. One man was slashed, elbowed aside as he turned to attack a second. He stepped in to help Rook, then turned to see where Captain Weston might be. That was when he spotted the man from the restaurant. For a moment, Brendan froze, then another moved into his line of view, breaking that spell just in time to fend off an attack. He felt the slash of the sword across his back as he moved aside just in time, not deep but it burned. Cursing himself for losing focus, he spun around and caught the man by surprise, sending him sprawling lifeless. There was no time to see where the dark haired man was but the gunner had no doubt, he was leader of these men ... Brendan had been talking to Westmoreland himself!

That very man cut his way through the mayhem with ease. No small man to begin with, his reputation added yet more to his size. His skill with the blade, his ruthless opinion of life had not been exaggerated. He didn't give the men left in his wake a second thought, indeed, he hadn't given them a thought at all. He lost a good many hard-core pirates in the fray, neither did he give them a thought. You fought and lived...or you deserved to expire. Soon enough, what remained of the Lady Jane's crew were lined up before the drooling, snarling lot of Westmoreland's men, Brendan included. Eric strolled between the pirates and the defeated and came to stand directly in front of the lad. The sharp tip of his sword touched beneath the gunner's chin and lifted his head up, up until the boy's eyes lifted to meet his. "Hello again, Boy." His smile held no hint of amusement but more of malice. "Your dead comrades are all because of you." The sword tip zinged as he scraped it off the lad's chin, the blade drawing blood in the process. "I am...intrigued." He didn't look back to his men, just growled out his next to them. "Tie them to the masts and burn the bitch." The dark eyes sparkled with the order as he watched the lad and one of the pirates spoke up. "What of any treasure, Capt'n?" Eric pulled his eyes from the lad to look around, and as he did, the swift motion of sword plunged deep between the breastbone of the inquisitive one. He stood for a moment, elbow lifted, sword deep in that cavity as he watched the life fade from the pirate's eyes. "I said ... burn it." The others surged forward to follow the captain's orders but as one of the crew grabbed hold of Brendan, Eric slashed his blade toward him, but with no intention of contact, just to get the man's attention. "Not him...he goes with us. Rhazor, take the boy below to gather his things." Even as he spoke, Eric eased the point of his blade beneath the chain around the boy's neck and lifted until the trinket was exposed. "Be quick about it or the both of you will be fodder for the flames." Rhazor stepped forward and grabbed Brendan by the upper arm, his grip tight and offering no mercy. "Let's be about it then, Boy." The battle scarred pirate did not survive this battle to be burned with those who failed to do so.

Brendan had been forced to drop both sword and dagger at the end, and found himself in a line that did not include Jimmy. Rook was beside him, badly injured but somehow standing. He closed his eyes again, head down until he felt the tip of the sword under his chin. Though he tried to keep his expression blank, there was a glint of fear and then anger when Eric spoke. His words cut deep, even if the sword did not and the very last word had him confused. Intrigued? Even the burning sting of the cut didn't break through his confusion. He didn't bother wiping the blood away from his chin, just watched as Westmoreland killed one of his own men. The gunner watched the man die -- too shocked to even protest though his eyes narrowed when Westmoreland discovered the locket, shield and shark's tooth he wore around his neck. Brendan had no time to relax when they were dropped back against his chest, tensing as he was grabbed. Once more, the Pirate Lord surprised him. This time the youth stared with his mouth open slightly until Rhazor brought him back to his senses. His friends, his comrades were being dragged away as he was led below deck but he was barely aware of their plight while considering his own. The sea chest was grabbed and then he was again made to go above again. He stopped dead, watching as the others were tied to the masts. "Why?" Finally the question croaked out, but in truth, he doubted the man with him would answer, even if he knew.

Eric had stepped back onto the gangplank that connected the two vessels and when Rhazor returned with the boy in tow, the pirate captain nodded and turned to return to his ship. Brendan's question had him stop instantly, turning to face the lad as the youth was shoved to take that first step to his new life. "Why?" A twitch tugged at the corner of Westmoreland's lips. "All for you, Boy...all for you." He said no more, his gaze lingering for only a moment before he continued on his way with the confidence that his orders would be followed, the steady thud of his steps echoing through the now silent night until he jumped to the deck of his ship. Rhazor gave Brendan's arm a jerk to get him moving again.

Again, he stared but this time at Westmoreland's back. The push had him stumble, accidentally kicking a knife and sending it skittering across the deck. He watched it hit against one of the masts, then shook his head. "No... I'll die with them." He tried to pull free of Rhazor's hold, even with the jerk to his arm. He didn't want to die, especially not burned to death but he was no coward. These were his friends, his comrades. Captain Weston, and others shook their heads when Brendan looked their way, trying to tell him to not be a fool, but the gunner was stubborn and tried again to break free. Rook had slumped against the ropes holding him, barely breathing and it was toward him Brendan started. He'd use the damn sea chest to break free from the scarred pirate if he had to.

Westmoreland's steps faltered only slightly when the boy spouted out his meaningless words. His head dipped, canted as if getting ready to glance around his arm, but he didn't. The Captain just started forward again, motioning to some of the men who had remained on the Sea Whore during the battle in order to protect her longevity. Brendan's efforts would not be dismissed by the pirates. A few even stopped what they were doing to watch the lad's attempts while others chuckled knowing the outcome of any struggle pitted against Rhazor. The man allowed the boy his show, watched the response by each of the ships' crews. The bulk of man leaned over and snatched the box from the gunner's grip, tucking it under his arm and then spun him to face his former shipmates. "Say your goodbyes, Boy." Rhazor's voice was deep, vibrating like rock over rock with the evidence of previous injury to his vocal chords. "You're not staying and they aren't living...and your time to join them will probably not be long in coming. So blow your farewell kisses because this puppy has been fucked, and there's no more use for it." Only the count of five provided the time for that last order before Rhazor's massive grip yanked Brendan away, stumbling or not, without even taking into consideration the lad might be injured.

It was like struggling against the bite of a shark. Brendan felt like a rag doll as the chest was taken right out of his hands and he was turned around. He gave one last tug then gave a helpless shrug before he was yanked, dragged and forced onto the other ship. If he was injured, he wasn't feeling it in any case from the adrenaline built up by the fight. "Dammit.... " The word was growled out as he stumbled and caught himself then turned to look at Rhazor. Nothing he could say or do would make the man move so he turned from him and watched as the remaining pirates set fire to the Lady Jane. He didn't watch for long, lowering his eyes and swallowing hard. The question still remained ... why had he been allowed to live? He looked up, watching Rhazor, muscles tensing. Maybe one last attempt at the last possible moment...

Quite a few men had been under that experienced hand, and this was a boy compared to them, so when the lad tensed and the pirate recognized the intention, he swung his arm around and cold-cocked the gunner against the side of the head with the log sized forearm wrapped around Brendan's chest. When the boy crumpled, the hulk of a pirate easily hefted the rag doll of a prisoner and continued on. The fire crackled as it took hold behind them, sizzled as it ran the trails of oil and gunpowder set out for it. One of the chained men was used as kindling for the others and he screeched in misery as the flames ate through his flesh in order to spread to the others near. This was no haphazard affair, timing was everything, and the pirates had the blaze well underway before they retreated back to their own vessel. The Putain d'eau would be well away before the ship exploded with its artillery and sunk into the sea. Rhazor delivered the boy to the cabin reserved for 'honored guests' and the limp body was tossed into the hammock. "Don't go anywhere." Rhazor rumbled out his version of a laugh and closed the door followed by the grinding of locks sliding into place from the outside.

If nothing else, the move had saved Brendan from watching his shipmates burn to death, or hear their screams. He wasn't aware of being carried, or tossed onto the hammock. He didn't hear the locks sliding close or Rhazor's laughing at him. But he did wake suddenly as if from a nightmare, sitting up so quickly that the hammock twisted and turned, dumping him onto the floor. He groaned, feeling every cut and bruise, every aching muscle and waited for the laughter from his friends. When it didn't come, he remembered and buried his face in his hands. When he calmed enough, he peered through his fingers. Of course he stood to try the door but didn't expect it to open. A porthole showed the fire in the distance. "It doesn't make sense." He muttered to himself. "No sense at all." That's when he became aware of the sharp pain in his thigh and found a piece of metal. Pulling it free caused bleeding but he ignored that too and tucked it away. Maybe he could use it as a weapon. But then... there was no way off the ship. He felt like weeping, screaming out his rage and sorrow but damned if he'd give the Pirate Lord or his lackeys the satisfaction.

It was well after dark before anyone came to that room. Empty except for a chamber pot and that hammock, sliding the plate of stale bread and cup of sour ale through the slot at the base of the door would meet with no resistance. He could relieve himself of the pot and the plate in the same way. No human contact, only the dark and the faintest of light from a quarter moon leaking through the tiny porthole. He was far from any activity, so silence was his roommate, that and the soft lapping of the sea against the side of the ship to remind him he had no place to go from here. The hours of night trudged on, the boy's thoughts to plague him, the knowledge of what his friends must have suffered to keep him from the sleep that would have otherwise relieved him of his thoughts, only to find them again in dreams if he drifted. The chill of the night would not be tempered by a brazier or a blanket. His injuries left unattended. Alone and unsure. Above in the Captain's chamber, Westmoreland sat with his shining black boots resting on the desk opposite him, crossed at the ankles. He sipped from his glass of port, watching the toe of one foot sway back and forth in that relaxed position. He waited, enjoying the passing of hours as he had many times before.

Brendan wasn't hungry though the chamber pot was used and pushed through the door. The ale was drank in spite of the taste, leaving him thirstier then before. After the first few hours, he stood and began pacing. Back and forth, counting off the steps. It didn't help. He could see Rook, slumped against his chains, the Captain's helpless look, hear the pleading of some of the younger crew. Sitting didn't help because he'd start nodding off and his dreams were horrible. He could use the sharp piece of metal on himself but the thought of suicide left him terrified. Finally, he let out a wail of anguish, more animal then human, and fell to his knees. He had never felt so completely alone, not even after he had left Dublin after the death of his parents.

There it was. Rhazor sucked in a breath of acknowledgement, looking down the corridor to the sound and shoved up from his lean. Finally! He hadn't thought the boy would have lasted this long. He might be a tad bit impressed. Just...a tad. Eric waited, almost too patiently, until the knock sounded on his door. The voice seeped in through the thick wood barrier, never opening. "Captain, it's time." Nothing else. Boots lowered to the floor and the glass was set aside. Brendan wouldn't hear the footfalls as they neared his door, but he'd recognize the sound of the locks sliding back from their sockets. Where his eyes had become accustomed to the dark, the bright light of lamps would be blinding. Westmoreland entered, blocking the light for a moment with his body, but as the door closed behind them, the two pirates holding the lanterns had stepped in to the side. Eric didn't seem to hesitate when he approached Brendan, but he was no fool. He squatted just out of reach of the boy, any lunge forward could be easily knocked aside "Was that your attempt at singing?" He didn't wait for an answer, just made a motion of head that had one of the beast-like men coming around the captain's crouched form and behind Brendan. A meaty fist gripped the boys hair and jerked his head back, shining the light right in his eyes. "Are you hurt, boy?" Eric continued. "Do you need medical care?" He stood slowly, looking down at those eyes that held some odd fascination for the pirate.

Brendan was wary as the door opened, trying to keep from scurrying back like some street rat about to be beaten for stealing bread. The light had him shutting his eyes, holding up an arm to keep it from hurting as bad as it did. Squinting beneath his arm, the gunner scowled at Westmoreland's words. There was no time for a retort as he yelped when one of the men grabbed his hair, blinking furiously. "Dammit, let go of me." His swinging at the man was ineffective and only resulted in the man pulling harder. He closed his eyes for a heartbeat, opening them slowly. They were pale blue like his mother's but harder, colder. "Aye... my leg." It was hurting from the cold, still bleeding. "Other then that, no." He wasn't thinking now, only answering automatically. The fear of being alone was gnawing at him even as he tried to ignore it.

Ah, but the boy shouldn't give away his weaknesses to those who held power over him. When he answered so innocently, Westmoreland lifted his hand and waved the second man forward. That one circled around behind. "Blood on his back." The inspector commented low and then lowered to a knee beside Brendan, holding the lantern over the thigh where his pants leg was soaked with blood. Slowly the pirate looked up to Westmoreland and the Pirate Lord cocked a brow. A large hand clamped down on the injury, covering the lad's thigh and squeezed tight, a thick thumb digging deep into the wound. The other pirate held the boy in check, pressing his knee against his spine and keeping his throat exposed with that hold on his hair. The boy could flail and swing and punch and kick, but the more he moved the deeper that thumb burrowed into the opened flesh and the tighter the hold against his leg.

Damndamndamn! He had forgotten to whom he was speaking and now he was paying! Brendan did flail at first, trying to get away, punching, even kicking at the man pressing his thumb into the wound, only to find his vision turning red with more pain. He stilled, eyes closed tight, his hands clenched into fists. It made sense now. He had been spared to be tortured and he'd join his friends soon enough. Instead of being silent, he spewed out curses in Gaelic, anything to keep from screaming, begging for mercy like some accursed dandy who had never known a day's work. He began to sweat, panting as he tried to keep from passing out.

With his eyes closed, Brendan wouldn't see Eric give the silent order for the pirate to cease. The man wiped his hand on Brendan's shirt and stood, walking toward the door. The other gave his head a shove, snapping it forward, and followed. Eric leaned forward, hands on his knees as he looked at the captive. "I like you, Boy." He reached out and smacked the lad twice on the side of the face and straightened. "Next time, shut the hell up. You are never in pain. You are never in need of care. If you can't take care of yourself, you are less than useless. No one here will be wiping your nose or your arse for you, Boy. So now...tell me..." The men stood by the doorway, lanterns held high so Eric could see the boy's face. "Are you hurt? Do you need medical care?"

He was going to remember each man. Somehow, somewhere .... Brendan growled low in his throat, not even aware he had done so and sat straighter. His eyes opened slowly, focusing on Westmoreland. He looked away when he was slapped, wincing at the sting. He glanced at the men then back again to Eric. "No." Sharp, brief and clear. It took a moment for Eric's words to register. No one here? He was going to remain alive on this hellish ship, trapped in the dark and silence? Westmoreland liked him? Liked him?! He just stared with narrowed eyes at the Pirate Lord, watching, waiting for the next unwelcome surprise.

Good answer, and slowly Eric's chin dipped down in a single nod. After the boy's response, one of the men opened the door and Rhazor stepped through, walking over and lowering as the other pirate had, to a knee, and placed an ornately decorated box on the floor next to Brendan's injured leg. He spoke low, that roll of gravel. "Clean your shit, Roach, and wrap it up. There will be clothes put through for you in the morning with your meal. Eat whatever they give you, no matter how foul. They won't poison you, and you'll need your strength." He made eye contact, only briefly and stood away. " finished?" Westmoreland drawled, looking from Rhazor to the boy to Rhazor. "Will he allow you to grease his asshole before you stuff it in?" Rhazor stopped right next to Eric, the two men shoulder to shoulder facing in opposite directions. The lesser slanted a gaze to the superior. "Fuck you, Westmoreland." Rhazor growled, moving past the Captain. Black Beard bellowed out a laugh and followed his first mate's departure with his gaze. Still chuckling, Westmoreland glanced back once more to the lad, then turned to leave as well. All four men abandoned Brendan to his darkness and his solitude, the bolts falling into place with that distinctive sound of captivity. If Brendan was to tend his wounds, he would have to do so with what little light the stingy moon provided.

Date: 01-11-12
Poster: Brendan O'Sionna
Post # 4

Face to Face

The passing of time would be difficult to track in that small room except for the path of the moon which soon moved from view of the porthole. Above though, Eric had returned to his cabin and stood now before the boy's sealed chest which he had placed on a sturdy table. His hands rested on either side of the box's lid, not yet attempting to open it. The gunner's choice of trinkets around his neck had more than piqued Westmoreland's curiosity. Lacking interest separately, but together, the locket and Celtic knot screamed of familiarity. The Pirate Lord's dark gaze stared at the top of the box, not moving to reveal the contents. Was he even seeing it?

"Wear it always, Anna, it is in this way I will be with you." The man watched as the woman's delicate and pale fingers worked the clasp then her hand lifted to sweep her hair to the side. He stepped around behind her, taking the chain from her in his larger, calloused fingers and slid his gaze over the slender length of her neck exposed to his view. He drew in a breath, taking in the fragrance of her skin, her hair and then secured the chain to rest against the nape of her neck. Anna had never feared him, had offered the innocence of her frailty to his dark and evil existence. From the first she had never shuddered with fright or repulsion, and though she still did not often lift her gaze to meet his, she would at times dare the soulless depths. At those times, the Pirate experienced the weakness of a devotion he would kill for.

Westmoreland's jaw tensed and his fingers clamped tight on the lid before he shot a look to the closed door. "Rhazor!" He bellowed at the wood. "Bring me that boy!"

Brendan had opened the box provided by his captors once he was alone, feeling the items inside in the dark. It took longer to tend to the wound on his leg then would be usual could he see, but it was finally as clean as he could make it and bandaged. He paced again then finally slumped into a corner of the room. He was tired, cold and hungry and his leg throbbed. Rubbing the heel of his palms against his eyes, he sighed and leaned his head back. In the quiet, he thought he heard voices, maybe screams but he knew they weren't real, they couldn't be. He tried to focus on the sound of the sea but even that was faint. Finally, just to fill the silence, he began to hum, low and slightly off-key. It was a comforting song, one his mother had sung.

Rhazor stood outside the door, the sound of the hum pausing him. His gaze narrowed and his head bent forward before he took a deep breath and began sliding the locks from their restraints. He brought the lantern up as he pushed in. Wrapped over his shoulder was a length of chain and the shackle knocked against his broad chest as he walked toward the captive. "We can do this one of three ways, Roach. You can come with me, walking as a man of dignity and honor. I can chain your puny ass and drag you. Or...I'll knock you into oblivion and deliver you unconscious. Of course, those first two ways could always end up as the third, so mind yourself. Regardless, the Captain wants you and so, guess you'll be keeping his company for a while. Now, decide how you'll get there."

The gunner stood slowly when he heard the locks slide back, fists clenching. He hadn't expected anyone to return so soon. He eyed the chains, then looked at Rhazor as he spoke. Pointless to ask questions. He bit back a comment about pirates and honor, deciding he wanted to keep from adding a worse headache to his woes They were far from land and he had little choice but to keep his temper. "I'll walk." He stepped closer to the man and met his eyes. "And I'll not be causing trouble."

Just as this lad had not always been amongst this gnarly, evil lot, he would meet some others who had not always been in the ranks of pirates. Still, here he now was...and so were they. "Oh, I know you won't be causing trouble." The large man chortled deep. Even though he didn't chain the prisoner, he clamped a hand to his upper arm and escorted him from the small hole that would be his room during this trip. In silence they walked until Rhazor delivered him to the sealed entrance. He raised a hand and knocked once, turning his gaze down upon the boy. "Don't ask questions, Roach. You let him do the asking. And for the love of God, Boy, don't give anything away that will jeopardize yourself or anyone you care about. Answer him, but chose your words carefully. Got it?" How the hulk of a man knew when to enter was anyone's guess, but he waited a moment longer, then lifted the latch and continued in. Eric had not moved from behind that chest, his hands remained on either side of the lid. When the door opened and the two entered, his head lifted slowly, a dark, menacing gaze found and locked on the boy. "Go." He growled to Rhazor and the man immediately backed from the room, his gaze lowered, even if he flickered a look Brendan's way before closing the door with the echo of a click.

He flushed a bit at the laughter then shrugged. And didn't flinch when he was grabbed. It seemed that was going to be a normal thing for now. Rhazor might have felt his muscles tense slightly -- he didn't have to like being handled. Brendan glanced around as they walked, careful not to make eye contact when they passed anyone. When they stopped in front of the door, Brendan glanced at Rhazor then looked at the door as if it were a monster about to devour him. Rhazor's advice surprised him but he nodded slowly. "Aye, sir." He answered in a quiet voice then drew a deep breath when Rhazor reached for the handle. Inside, the look from Eric near took his breath away and he looked down from the intense, deadly gaze, focusing instead on the chest that carried his possessions, frowning. He didn't even look at Rhazor as he left.

The Pirate Captain kept his gaze on the lad until the door sealed behind him. "Sit down." Came the order and as he spoke those words he gave the chest a shove, sending the weight of it sliding across the expanse of his desk toward the prisoner. As the scrap of wood against wood ceased, Eric's gaze narrowed on the object of his attention and he came from around the desk toward the lad as well.

Brendan barely kept from squirming under the intensity of Eric's gaze though he finally looked up when the man spoke. His eyes lowered to the chest briefly as he sat then lifted again. He didn't show fear but rather curiosity and confusion as the Pirate Lord approached. Remaining silent, he merely watched, and perhaps there was a reminder there in the way he tilted his head just a touch.

That tilt of head exposed the lad's neck and as the looming evil stepped up alongside, his hand extended and his fore and middle fingers dipped under the chain. He flipped and lifted the digits at the same time to lift up the boy's necklace and expose the trinkets previously hidden beneath the neckline of his shirt. Leaning in this close, the pirate possessed the fragrance of imported tobaccos and expensive liquors. But beneath it all, beyond the warm aroma was the dark, lethal scent of power and evil. "Take it off so I can better see or I shall jerk it free of your scrawny neck." He slid his fingers free of the chain, almost with reluctance, then rubbed his fingertips to his thumb as he eyed the two pendants that had dropped back to the boy's chest.

The scents were not what the gunner expected and he blinked in surprise. The pirates he had associated with when he was younger had less expensive tastes but then again, Westmoreland was more then a mere Captain. The other, less tangible scent and that feeling made the youth stiffen and even more so when the reminders of his mother were lifted and studied. He didn't answer the demand with words but carefully removed the necklace and handed it over, leaving the shark tooth with the others. He watched as they left his keeping for the first time since his mother's death then once more, his eyes lifted to Eric's face. The Pirate Lord hadn't asked anything about them so Brendan said nothing. But if they left his sight, things might change.

The pirate's gaze finally lowered and fastened on the items placed in his palm. Light in weight but heavy with memories, he couldn't even close his fingers around the items. Instead, his hand remained open, fingers stiffly extended as if he wished not to make any more contact other than where the gold lay in his palm. His breathing had slowed, had actually stopped until the touch of gold met his skin. The finger of the other hand nudged the Celtic design, flipping it. What he saw there caused his eyes to narrow. "Are you a thief, Boy?" Ever so slowly his eyelids lifted and the dark gaze followed to pin the lad to his chair.

Brendan was watching the man's face but then his eyes lowered to what lay in the Pirate Lord's hand. They meant more then he could have explained to the man but when Westmoreland spoke and looked at him in that way, Brendan actually flushed with anger. "No. They were my mother's. She gave them to me before she... " He paused and looked down at the pendants once more, remembering his mother's words. "Before she died." He didn't add her reasoning. It was no one's business but his.

Those words almost caused the pirate to flinch. With a twist of wrist, he slung the object back at the gunner. "How...sentifuckinmental." He droned in a monotone, turning as he did to tap a knuckle to the top of the chest. "Open this."

Brendan caught the necklace as it came toward him, lips pressed together. At least the man didn't laugh or try to keep them from him. He took a moment to put the chain back around his neck almost in defiance before he stood. A slit in the inside of his belt held the key safely between layers of leather. The key was placed in the lock and turned, and the lid lifted. Inside was clothing, a pair of good boots, and partially covered by the clothing, a wooden box with his mother's initials. He smiled slightly at the sight of it. Though it had a lock, the small key was in it. If anyone had gotten into the sea chest, he didn't want the box destroyed.

No sooner had the box been opened up then Eric swept his large arm around to clear the boy from his path, knocking the lad back toward the chair. He cleared out the clothing, the best boots a gunner could buy, and ... that box. A broad hand flattened on the desktop next to the chest and the pirate leaned to that arm, as if to steady himself. His jaw worked, tensed, loosened, no words, just that gritting of teeth. "Rhazor!" The captain bellowed, his free hand dipping to the interior to trace a fingertip over lid of the box within it. The man didn't enter fast enough because the captain barked again. "Goddammit, Rhazor!" But even as he shouted the name for the second time, the door was opening, the man entering and asking, "Done?" Eric didn't look back at him, just shooshed with his hand. That was enough for Rhazor to continue in and take Brendan by the upper arm to escort him out. "Fifteen, Rhazor. Don't let him get comfortable, I want him back in fifteen. And let the Twins keep him company for that time." The box was lifted out of the chest and placed with reverence on the desk top. Rhazor stiffened. "The whole fifteen, Captain? But with little food and his current injuries..." Westmoreland's stroking appreciation of that box ceased, and just that pause of motion was enough for Rhazor to shut immediately up. "Aye...Captain." He said, tugging the boy by the arm to make their departure.

The gunner grunted as he was pushed and landed back in the chair, nearly tipping it backward. His mouth opened to protest then snapped shut when the Pirate Lord called out for Rhazor. He was watching Eric though, and once more his confusion showed until the First Mate grabbed his arm, jerking him to his feet. Fifteen? Fifteen what? Twins? He looked at Rhazor then back at Westmoreland who was lifting the box. Without thinking, he tried to jerk free from Rhazor. That was his!

Rhazor's grip tightened and he almost jerked the arm from the socket in retaliation, dragging the young man from the room. "Fuck the twins, its you and me, Roach." He continued to snatch and grab Brendan all the way down to the cabin assigned to the prisoner. He would beat the boy and good, but it would be nothing compared to the torture the Twins could inflict and for fifteen minutes...the boy would be lucky to be alive. No, he would take care of the boy, let his time be well spent with proof of a visitation, but not the Twins. Good Lord, not the Twins, not yet.

Brendan let out a yip in surprise, wincing in pain when Rhazor jerked him again and dragged him out, causing him to stumble about like a drunkard. He suddenly realized what was going to happen to him and didn't make the trip back any easier, digging in his heels. And he ignored the men around them who laughed and made comments. It wasn't the first time Brendan had been beaten but it didn't mean he'd go along peacefully. Damn, the man was strong!

Rhazor dismissed the guard at the door with a motion of head, snatching down the Cat as he passed where it hung beside the entrance. "Lock us in and then leave us be." He graveled in that low tone to the guard before he left. The door was opened and the boy was shoved in, the large, scarred man following. When the locks were heard to fall into place, Rhazor swung the barbed strips of leather by the side of his knee. "You'll be stripped of flesh, Roach, and you'll be thankful that is all you lose this night. Take off your shirt. You'll be beaten until you fear the sound of your own breath, and then the bastard will build you back up into what he wants to create in you. But if you're lucky'll be dead instead. Turn around, Boy. Fifteen minutes we have together."

The gunner nearly fell over his own feet when he was pushed through the door, but he caught himself and turned to face the bigger man with fists clenched. He looked at the cat'o nines in the older man's hand and visibly paled. These men were brutal devils, with no care for anyone and nothing he could say would change Rhazor's mind but... the scarred man was keeping him from something worse. He watched the first mate for a long moment before reluctantly undoing the laces and pulling the shirt over his head. As he turned he exposed the raven tattoo on his shoulder. It occurred to him that he would have to have the tattoo re-done and he shook his head, pushing the inane thought out of his head. He realized he was shaking even before the whipping began. This would be the longest fifteen minutes in his life. But before Rhazor started, Brendan walked to the closest wall and pressed his forearms against it, bracing himself. He likely wouldn't be on his feet long but he'd try. He'd try.

Date: 01-12-12
Poster: Duncan Graham
Post # 5


It had been an uneventful New Year for the man known as the Stirling Scourge. Jonathan had made a few runs along the coast of Africa, ran a blockade near Spain and returned to Tangier to complete a transaction. It had been profitable but there would be no contact with the one who had set the deal up. It seemed he had become mixed up with another man's wife, and it had ended badly for that contact. So now he sat, bored and somewhat irritated with his sometime partners. He had seen neither of them for some time though he knew they both traveled the same waters. The Spanish had grown cautious and they needed to let them feel safe again. He sat at a table in a dark corner, booted feet resting up on the table, a pearl handled knife in his hand. He was stabbing the table, lifting the knife and twirling it in his hand and stabbing again. A glass of absinthe sat at his elbow, untouched, the green liquid shaking each time the blade struck. It was mid-day and most were hiding from the heat, not even the dancers were performing. A fly landed on the table and he watched it a moment before using the blade to kill it, then he went back to his mindless pastime.

Time was rarely ever uneventful for one Percival Duncan Graham. Know as Black Doom by most and few by Duncan. Most did not want to know him at all even if they thought they did. His mind never gave him rest on the cruelty he possessed expressed in his dealings with others. He was one to keep track of those worthy to keep track of so that he was always one step ahead. He never worked on only one project but had a few in the works. This last one had him leaving his new and improved slave island to track down one who moniker himself as the Stirling Scourge. Such high thoughts of himself had Duncan chuckle. Such high off the hog attitude had Eric, aka Black Beard, riled more often than not. It was always enjoyed to watch how fast Eric's feathers ruffled when Stirling came up in conversation or better, was there in person. That brewed a dance of death but of whom had yet to be determined. The Dance wasn't over yet. Perhaps an upbeat was needed, the tempo to accelerate. Ah yes. It was one of those hot days that had the streets in Tangier as a ghost town. He came with two of his men per usual but they stayed outside the Inn in which he knew he'd find Jon. The sheer brightness of sunlight would daze those within as the door open and closed to yet another taking refuge from the heat. A form that came in then back out before another was through the doorway making many squint trice. A few moments later, as his man informed him that not only was Jon in the place but exactly where he sat, Duncan made his move. Before eyes could adjust, a chair was drawn out as Duncan took a seat calling out to the barmaid as he sat, "fifth of your best whiskey and a tankard of your coldest ale." He was not a connoisseur of ale so it was more the cold part and the whiskey.

He seemed not to pay attention to the comings and goings in the common room with his own men sitting here and there, though leaving their captain alone. Still, he hadn't expected Duncan to appear just as he was mulling a decision to either find the two or strike out on his own again. There was no mistaking the voice even if he couldn't see the man clearly and he gave a half smile as he finally lifted his eyes. The color of steel and just as cold it took a moment more to adjust and allow him to study the man. "You're looking well," spoken in a dry voice. "And with no shadow? Has the third finally met Davy Jones and none came to tell me the tale?" He was certain he would have heard if Eric had been killed but it was his hope the man was somewhere about and would hear what he had said.

"I have shadows but presently I don't have a certain shadow." As if Eric followed him. Whether that was true or not, didn't matter. A hand came up to run over the trimmed beard and moustache. "I thought it looked better trimmed too." Was that just a slight spark of mirth to touch his eyes? "I thought it a novel idea not to have one certain Shadow around," for quite a few reasons but certainly he didn't need to state them to Jon. "You're a man about business and I've some word on a cargo being sold that you might be interested in as I've already got more than I can handle presently." Oh, he would come around in speaking on the Shadow, "as a certain other has more than he needs including ships and men. Such a fixation of the ruin of a young usurp." Which he was sure Jon would recognize the reference on himself.

Jon had put the knife away when he recognized Doom. Now he lowered his feet to the floor and sat up straighter. What was Doom up to without his second? "Fixation on ruin. Strange. I thought he was more interested in the fate of a certain beauty but no matter. I appreciate your ... thoughtfulness in relaying this to me. Of course I'm interested. What do I need to do to obtain it?" He looked about the common room and back to Duncan. "I grow weary of doing nothing." He might have to purchase another tavern for when there was reason to hide.

"Oh, there is her but he had two fixations. Surely you know this.." now the woman was one he'd like to get his hands on and hold just to watch Eric implode. He didn't loiter on the topic of the Callihan lass, instead moving onward after the barmaid set his fare. The coins place would not only cover what he ordered but whatever Jon had been working on. "I'll take the standard 30 percent cut for giving you the information being it will be you facing the danger with the goods," which went along with certain black marketing traffic. "Third pier, Casablanca, three past noonday. A man with a red bandana around his neck and answers to the name of Tanaris," which was some ancient god of Celtic origins he discovered. "Something from the east, something from the west and something of a token to working together." Which he lifted a hand having thumb and finger giving a snap. Immediately two got up from a table across the room and headed over to them. A man, obviously one of Duncan's guards and a woman. One slight of figure except where it counted. "A token which is yours now to do with whatever you want. I have." Which the woman said nothing, eyes trained on the floor. In a way this was her lucky day she was the one picked.

He watched Duncan a moment, amusement in his eyes. He knew of both fixations but he was the lesser. He nodded slowly in agreement to the cut, tucked the information on the where and who and watched as the man and woman approached. Standing, he walked around the woman and nodded. She would do nicely as a 'token'. "I've no doubt you've trained her well, Duncan." Since few knew the man by his first name, it was safe for using. Elsewhere, when there were no extra ears, it would be his proper title. "Is the man there every day, or need I rush to my ship now and head to that port?" He placed two fingers under the woman's chin and force her to look up though her eyes remained down. Again, a slight smile appeared before he released her and joined Doom in sitting down. Pointing to another chair, he spoke to the woman. "Sit."

Jon might be the lesser but he was the one presently more obtainable. "If you have the money, I'm sure it will cover something from the north and south as well." Implying the man would let him know what he had for sale. He didn't need to make any response to how well he trained the woman. Just how fast she sat without a word was proof enough. "The man does not linger, first come, first serve so best you get your ass in motion before the seat is gone." His ale was gone and a good portion of the whiskey as he stood, "I leave you to play with your new toy before you best be off quickly but hopefully not too quickly with the first." Such implications which had a gruff laugh to follow as he stepped away. Another man was up from another place in the tavern, they had both come in it seemed. One was at the door to hold it open for Duncan as he departed into the brightness of day.

He inclined his head about the other two directions then laughed and stood. It might seem as if he were standing in respect, but that was unlikely. He waited until Doom had left then looked at the woman. "Come along, girl. We'll have some fun on the journey to Casablanca." With good winds and the right currents, they'd be there in no less then six hours after high tide came in. Until the ship was ready to sail, he'd see just how well the woman was trained, in all ways. His men stood, following Jon and the woman out and back to the ship.


Date: 01-18-12
Poster: Eric Westmoreland
Post # 6


Every second seemed an eternity unto itself when leather stripped flesh, when pride withered beneath barbs of metal, when bravery faltered against the support of a wall that would soon no longer support the weakening body. Rhazor did not hold back on the strikes administered to the boy. To do so would only have the gunner tortured further. The lashes sliced with each stroke, blood splattering on the wall, soaking into the waist band of the young man's pants. He timed the blows carefully, waiting for the prisoner to catch his breath or brace for the next contact. When the lad's knees buckled at one point, the pirate growled out the threat of an order. "Stay on your feet, Boy, or I'll continue to beat you where you lay." When the allotted time had passed, Rhazor was breathing heavily, the boy's blood speckling the shirt covering his broad chest. He watched the boy as he leaned to the wall, having taken the blows better than any man he had set the Cat to. "You have three minutes to get your self together." He muttered under his breath, his voice deeper, raspier than usual. "Come out when you've seen to it."

Brendan couldn't remember ever being in pain like this, not when his nose had been broken in a fight, or even when a ball from a pistol had gone clean through his arm. His lip was bleeding where he had bitten nearly through, tears were rolling down his face, streaking through the soot and dirt. Just when he thought he couldn't take anymore it was over and he leaned his face against the wood. His nails were bleeding from his digging his fingers into the wood and his breathing was ragged. He thought his heart would explode from his chest. Three minutes? He managed to push away from the wall and picked up his shirt, then he tossed it aside again. The damn thing would stick to his skin when the blood dried. He staggered to the door and leaned there a moment more before pushing it open. There was still defiance in those eyes but he kept his gaze down to the floor. This was as presentable as he was going to get.

As they walked along the narrow corridors, one of men let out a long 'meeeeow'. Rhazor's hold released from Brendan's and while the boy continued on, the cat-like sound ended in a grunt and then a thud. Rhazor had not taken the boy's arm again, but had let him walk ahead since he knew the way and was intent on getting there. It took the first mate only a shuffled step forward to regain the distance he had lost when he shut the bastard up. "You remember what I told you before, aye, Roach?" Rhazor passed a gaze over the boy's back, large gashes of skin and muscle leaked and oozed but damn if the fellow didn't carry himself ramrod straight no matter the amount of pain he must be suffering. "And don't f'eck'n bleed on his furniture." He reached past the young man and rapped his knuckles to the wood of door. There was not verbal response, but the pirate opened the door and stretched his arm around so that Brendan could enter through.

"I remember." His voice was likely as raspy as Rhazor's, and a hint of a smirk appeared. "I'll do my best." His words were spoken in between breaths and he remembered Rhazor's words. The man was right. He was afraid to breathe too heavily because it sent ripples of flame through his entire body. When the door opened, he stepped through, looking down again. He stood where there were no rugs, nothing for him to bleed on and waited. Looking up through his lashes, he watched the Pirate Lord. It was easy to understand now why the man he was facing was so feared, so hated.

Eric was seated at his desk, a plate of pheasant and mushrooms before him. He tore off a strip of fowl and tucked in between his teeth, chewing, while the boy found a safe spot to plant himself. Everything that had been in Brendan's chest was upon the desk. "How did you find the twins, Brendan?" He tapped a greasy fingertip to one of the lad's letters from his mother which sported the two letters of an initial. He still didn't look to him, but tucked his slick finger between his lips to suck the flavorful juice from the length. From behind the gunner, Rhazor spoke up and though his voice was steady, it was strained. "I saw to the lad myself, Captain. I refuse to allow the bastards to have all the fun." Eric tilted forward a bit, popping his finger from his mouth and pinched up a overly buttered mushroom. "You...refuse?" Rhazor shifted but didn't fidget. "So kill me for enjoying my work too much." Was the retort which actually caused Eric to smile as he pressed the bulb of fungi into his mouth. "So maybe you'd rather take the lad's place, I did promise the Twins their entertainment." To that Rhazor canted his head with a nod. "Aye, Captain, if you think they'd live through it." Eric's dark gaze darted briefly to his first mate and he jerked his head in dismissal. "The boy said if he bleeds on your floor, Captain, he'd be happy to take a few more licks from me after he licks the mess up off of the boards" Eric's eyebrow twitched up in an arch and he chuckled softly, pulling off yet another bite of bird. "Is that so." He chortled through his bite, still not looking at the boy. Rhazor took his leave without further comment, closing the door behind him. "When did your mother die?" Since Eric really didn't expect an answer for the first question, he continued on to the crux of the matter.

The smell of the food was not helping the gunner's condition and he closed his eyes while the two talked until Rhazor spoke about taking more after licking up the floor. He couldn't stop himself from cutting a side look at the man, watching as he left. Brendan took a shuddering breath then answered in a near whisper. "Nine years ago, sir." He realized he was calling the Pirate Lord sir and mentally shrugged. What could it hurt? As far as the use of his given name, well, there wasn't much he could do about that, was there? He looked at the table, and bit his lip, wincing when he made it bleed. He caught himself as he was about to add that she had been ill, wiping at the blood instead.

The Pirate Lord knew what he was about to wait those fifteen minutes before having his meal delivered. Such a delicious aroma wafted through the room.  "Too much butter makes my gut and my mood sour." He grumbled, pushing the plate just a little to indicate he was done. No more than a chunk taken from the bird, it perched in its roasted state, filling the room with its fragrance. "You didn't read the letters within the box I noticed." Although Eric had, the envelopes once sealed with the initials EW on the front were, every one of them, passed beneath his gaze not once, but thrice in the time allotted for the boy's extracurricular activities. "Were you not in the least curious?"

He was caught off guard by the conversation. It was as if he wasn't standing there bleeding like a stuck pig by the man who had put the crew of an entire ship to death. "Aye, sir I was but I couldn't read so I put them in the safety of a bank in Dublin. I just retrieved the box before this... the voyage to Sri Lanka." Mention of the ill-fated voyage deadened his hunger, at least for the moment. "Hadn't had time. I knew me birth certificate was in there, and the adoption papers. Letters from me mother. Wasn't sure what else." He clamped his mouth shut again, irritated with himself. He was being downright chatty with the Pirate Lord! Instead, he concentrated on not swaying. And while he was doing a decent job on that, he couldn't keep his mouth from watering or his stomach from growling as he tried not to think about the food.

Eric leaned forward, bracing his elbows on the desk, his chin on the top of his uplifted fists as he studied the boy. What he noticed was: The gunner's shoulders were straight, despite the lacework across his back. His eyes were clear, no matter the pain those same stripes and his leg must cause him. He spoke with intelligence, but couldn't read?  "Are you yet a dumbfuck, boy? Or have you since learned to read?" Eric reached over and collected the letters which had been returned to their envelopes and then placed in a small stack.

He flushed with anger this time looking directly at the Pirate Lord. "No, sir. Me mother tried but she had ... a hard life." There had been money he had been told, money that the lawyers in charge had said was gone when it should have lasted a long time. It had been why his mother married. Funny how that was all coming back to him. Maybe he was dying as he stood here, his life passing before his eyes. He looked down again. "I learned to read after I left Dublin." He wanted to ask Westmoreland why he wanted to know, demand it but he resisted. What he didn't want was to feel the taste of leather again. "There was .... going to be time once the Lady Jane made port again." Time lost in a burst of flame.

"Awww." Eric pushed out his bottom lips in a feigned pout then licked a thick tongue over it to clear any buttery residue. That show of anger spoke well of the boy, but it did not bode well for the boy. Although, Eric was satisfied that certain things unread would remain so. He took the letters and tucked them within one of his drawers. Slowly he returned his gaze to the prisoner, daring him to protest. "Don't think the Lady Jane is going to be making anything." His hand returned to the top of the desk and he tapped his fingers lightly there. "Except maybe some sharks frenzied feeding. Not sure how well done they like their meat though. Might be overly cooked for their tastes." He pushed up from his chair, tossing some of the items that hadn't interested him back into the chest. "When you leave, take this junk with you."

Brendan watched as those letters were put away and frowned. He was about to speak when the Lady was mentioned and looked down, his lips clamped together. It took a moment but he stepped forward to pick up the clothing tossed on the floor and his good boots which he put into the sea chest as well as the box. At least he had been allowed to keep those. The gunner picked the chest up then paused, unable to stop the defiant words that slipped out. "If it's junk, tell me why you're keeping some?  And my mother's hair... " He was too close to the Pirate Lord so he took one step back, too quickly for he winced in pain. Those eyes were on Eric again and he hadn't realized that when he spoke that time, it was without pausing, without gasping for air. For the moment, his focus was on the Pirate Lord, and those questions, even suppressing the one he wanted to ask the most.

Eric didn't move. His expression didn't change. His voice almost a dull monotone. "You did not just demand an answer from me."

"Yes, sir, I did." He raised his chin., still looking at Eric, "and I'm thinking it's too late for me to take it back." His voice had dropped to a whisper again and he waited as his heart pounded with fear. He knew he couldn't take much more, that he would likely end up dead if he was to be punished further but he was beyond caring. So many unanswered questions, including one that niggled on who E. W. was.

"Aye, Boy, aye it is too late." Even as he spoke, he drew his arm across his chest and backhanded the boy, catching him square in the jaw. "As fond as Rhazor is of you, I would have thought he would have warned you." For now, and probably for always, that was all that would be said to the gunner about the items that Eric had chosen to keep. "Get the fuck out of my sight before I come to the realization of just how much of a mistake you really are."

That backhand spun the gunner around, sending him off balance and to one knee, nearly half dropping the sea chest. He stood slowly, painfully, his back to the Pirate Lord. "Yes, sir." He wanted those things back and somehow, he'd get them. Brendan nearly laughed out loud at himself. He'd likely be killed first. He looked back at Westmoreland over his shoulder before he opened the door and stepped out of that cabin. He wanted to scream out his frustration but just looked up at Rhazor. If the Pirate Lord called his First Mate back inside, Brendan was likely to face more punishment.

But before the Pirate Captain could say a word, Rhazor reached forward and closed off the door. "Dammit, Roach." He growled, looking over his shoulder and shaking his head. "Come on, let's get you back to your room."

"He kept things that are mine, things that have no value to him. I just ... I don't understand why." He flinched, waiting for the First Mate to react. "I'm sorry. I just... " Brendan trailed off. He was exhausted and hungry, in pain and all he wanted to do was sleep and never wake up. Or wake up and find this was a dream but he was certain there'd be no sleep this night. Nor for many more to come. Sighing, he started back for the room, but he refused to let his shoulders sag in defeat. He had been babbling like a schoolboy, but damned if he'd let his captors know how lost he felt.

The familiar door of the boy's room was left open so they could just walk through. "Bucket of fuck, Roach." Rhazor pressed his body in behind Brendan's and then used a back kick to slam it shut in the guards' face. "Get over the best buds bullshit. There is no understanding, only surviving." A bucket of clean water had been delivered in their absence and Rhazor crossed over to it. He tugged out a clean handkerchief from his breast pocket and dipped the cloth into the liquid. "You trusted me with your back earlier, care to repeat?" He brought up the rag, no barbed strips of leather. "Just to take away the cakes of blood, boy, no scrub-a-dub-dubbing."

Brendan rubbed his hand against his forehead, hard. No best buds, no friends, just surviving and stop running his damn mouth. "Survive... " He repeated dully, then shrugged and even that sent pain shooting through his entire body and he cursed. "Aye, why not?" If the Pirate Lord wanted him to not care what happened, the gunner had reached that point. He hadn't turned to look at Rhazor, just stood where he was. He'd survive all right. And get what was his back.

Rhazor was not a stranger to the wounds on the boy's back. The cloth passed with surprising gentleness over the laid-open flesh, that large, rough palm holding against the exposed shoulder to keep the boy in place, unmoving. Several times the fabric found the water and then skin before it was left to float in the bucket. "Try to get some rest, Roach." The older man graveled, turning to walk to the door. "You'll probably be dead come the morrow." Rhazor would repeat those words every evening the boy managed to stay alive, until either he or the gunner actually were no longer.

Brendan's eyes were closed the entire time though the water actually felt good. He stayed where he was after Rhazor had finished so likely the man didn't see the smile. "Aye, probably." Once the door was shut, his shoulders sagged and he allowed himself to silently weep. Finally, he went to the bucket and used the rag to wash off his face even if the water was tainted with his blood. After a few moments, the youth stood and eyed the hammock. If he could just lay down for a few moments... just rest. He neared sprawled on it, face down. At least he could lay there without being pain. And somehow, he managed to fall asleep.

Date: 01-21-12
Poster: Brendan O'Sionna
Post # 7

Next Day on Deck

Brendan had awakened early, surprised that he had slept. It took him a few minutes to get out of the hammock as stiff as he was but he managed to not dump himself onto the floor. More clean water was brought in, as well as a change of clothes. They hung on him from losing weight but they weren't stiff with blood or smelly. He washed up as best he could, choked down the food he was given and was told he could go on deck. Not to rest, or lollygag but to work where he could. Grateful to leave the cabin, even if for just a short while, he headed up on deck, the key to his sea chest once more tucked into the belt. He had checked as best he could what was missing before he left the cabin. The letters that the Pirate Lord had kept of course, the knife was expected, his mother's lock of hair he had watched disappear. But his birth certificate? The adoption papers were there. Letters to him from his mother. He paled at the mention of his younger siblings but then there was the letter from his aunt saying they were going away in terms that made him feel unwelcome even now. Best not to think of them as anything but dead to him. Finally, he made his way up on deck, taking a deep breath of fresh air. He wasn't moving too well and he shuffled like an old man but he was alive and that for now, would have to do.

Westmoreland was at the helm, though more as a figure head than manning the thing. Rhazor had hold of the knobby wheel. It was steady at present and his grip was loose. No sooner had the Lady's gunner stepped on deck then both sets of eyes lowered to him. "Well the sun doth rise this morn." Eric's play on words caused the Pirate Lord to chuckle at his own comment, watching Brendan take to the chores tossed at him from all sides. No doubt the boy was feeling the after glow of his previous evening. All the better. Rhazor studied the lad a moment, darting a quick glance to the others who shouted out orders to him then when Eric turned his way, the first mate drew his attention straight ahead. "The lads will be getting stir crazy soon enough, Captain. You gave them a taste of what they enjoy, they'll be wanting a repeat all too soon." Eric nodded slowly, as if in thought, the feather on the large buccaneer hat floating with the motion. "They'll get what I give them." He cut a look at Rhazor again and then started down the steps that led to the main deck. Below, a pirate caught Brendan up by the scruff of his collar and proceeded to shake him. "I have half a mind to ..." But that's all he got out. The captain's black gloved fist cracked into the man's jaw. "That's your problem, Millard. You've only got half a mind...get this bastard off my ship. I haven't the patience for halfwits today." Black Beard didn't have to order twice, the two large men from Brendan's first encounter snatched the man up by either arm and escorted him to the railing of the ship, slinging him over. The man howled with fright and realization and following the splash, that death knell faded as the ship continued on. Eric looked the boy over, as if checking that he was okay, but instead only growled..."Get the hell back to work." He narrowed that dark look on all the men who had stopped to watch. "All of you!" And continued on.

Brendan had expected to be given work but not from all quarters. Still, he did his best in spite of the pain from his back and leg. In his sea chest was a jar of salve from Heathfield and he had put it on the worse wounds and it had made moving almost bearable but using it was risky. He knew he had to be careful not to use too much, or he'd likely be whipped again. Luckily he had peeled the label off one day out of boredom. He had been ordered to mop the deck and was doing so as quickly as possible when he slopped water on the fine boots of one of the men standing near. Before he could apologize, he was half lifted by his collar and forced to stand on his toes while the man shook him like a wayward pup. It made him dizzy even after he was suddenly released and staring at the Pirate Lord. Stepping back as the two men approached, he watched them casually toss the man overboard. His back had started to bleed again, seeping through his shirt but he wouldn't notice until later. Slowly he looked back at Eric, his expression one of shock. Snapping out of it when the Pirate Lord growled, he looked down. "Aye, sir." He grabbed up the mop as Eric moved away, then looked to where the man had been thrown overboard. The other men were moving away as well, leaving Brendan to his chores and his thoughts. Mopping the deck took most of the morning and soon the bell sounded for the afternoon meal. Brendan hadn't been told he could stop but he did briefly, to take a drink of water. He had been set to work cleaning sails after swabbing the deck. It was a job the young sailor had been grateful for. The loss of blood, the lack of food and now, the work he was doing, made him feel as weak as a kitten even if he did manage not to show it.

With the day progressing in the same manner it started, the newest member of the crew poured sweat much like the rest of the pirates. The captain had disappeared downstairs for a goodly spell during the hottest part of the day, but the most begrudging of the manpower never found himself alone. Heat pressed down on them all, a precursor to a hell they were all undoubtedly headed to. It may be midwinter to most, but to the crew of the Putain d'eau, the burden of work thwarted any possible chill. Not a man bullied Brendan overly much, not after the one had sailed off to his afterlife, but that didn't mean they didn't work him and work him hard. As night approached, Rhazor walked by him and, in passing, handed him over a chunk of bread no bigger than his palm with cheese tucked within it and a tankard of ale. He didn't stop to chat or pause to offer the boy a break. Westmoreland was once more on deck and the act was one that the captain had demanded but sure as the stars starting popping their faces free of the darkening satin of night sky, Brendan would be required to eat, drink, and work.

Brendan's fingers were cramped but the sail had been repaired to the satisfaction of the man watching over him. He had the gunner help roll it up until needed then was about to have him help carry it below deck when the First Mate gave the youth a bit of food. It wasn't much for a lad of Brendan's size but he accepted it gratefully and took a few moments to eat, drinking the ale to wash it down. He had tied a bandana around his head to keep the sweat from his eyes earlier and left it in place as day turned to night. As he ate he tried to remember what all he had done but gave up. The long day was starting to take its toll, but he was determined not to show any weakness. Unfortunately, he couldn't stop his hands from shaking as he was set to work again, this time to see to the lanterns scattered about the ship. Glancing toward the Pirate Lord, he lowered his eyes before starting his next task. Otherwise, Westmoreland might see just how Brendan was starting to feel.

Once again, it was the first mate that came up to Brendan. He may have looked the younger man over, searching for signs of fatigue. May have. None would be sure. "Captain wants you at his table tonight." The older man drew in a deep breath, as if he prepared himself for that particular interlude, his gaze darting to the captured gunner. "I repeat. No questions. Answer carefully. And for your sake and mine, Boy, keep your friggin' temper in check." Rhazor had not missed the look that had passed over the captain when the man returned to the deck, no matter how quickly Brendan had lowered his gaze. "You won't win, not on this ship, Roach. There's none that has ever lived through a confrontation with that man, so don't attempt to be the first. Your time will come, but it won't be on Blackbeard's turf." Rhazor's gaze had shifted around as his voice lowered with that warning. "Now get you going below, you have ten minutes to make yourself presentable for the Captain's company."

Brendan started when he turned to see Rhazor so close and then listened as he spoke, his eyes lifted to the man's face.. "No questions." No matter how badly he wanted to ask. "And I'll keep me temper." His shoulders sagged as the man spoke of confrontation and Brendan nodded. He knew how to fight, how to hold his own but there was a reason Blackbeard had stayed alive longer then most pirate captains. Truth was, the gunner was starting to realize his chances of getting away were next to none. "Aye, sir." He limped his way down to his quarters, collecting clean water for himself on the way. Once in his cabin, Brendan took a minute or two to collect himself, then got into the chest. The ring was in there now, instead of in his boot but he was certain it would never be delivered. Not for a long time. He wondered for a moment if being at the Captain's table meant he'd be serving but shook his head. It didn't matter, did it? His best clothes and those good boots were brought out, and the chest locked. He was back up on deck before the ten minutes were up, cleaned as best he could and decently dressed with his hair still damp. His hands were still shaking not only from exhaustion but nervousness. If the Pirate Lord wanted Brendan to serve him his meal, the gunner would have to be very careful.

Date: 01-23-12
Poster: Eric Westmoreland
Post # 8

Dinner with Eric

Brendan returned on deck and the murmurs caused the first mate to pull his gaze from the horizon over to where most of the men were looking. He nodded slowly to himself, proud in some odd, unexpected way that the young man had done precisely as he had been told and appeared as prepared for his night as he could possibly be. Rhazor didn't say anything, just tweaked his head to the side for Brendan to start below. The gunner was on his own tonight, by order of the Captain, and there would be none to interrupt or intercede where this meeting was concerned. Only Leonard, a young lad of around thirteen, would be below. Not another single man who valued his life would step foot in that direction until the Captain came back on board. One of the pirates actually swept his fingers from head to heart and shoulder to shoulder, but not because he knew what was in store for the prisoner, better yet, because none of them had any clue. Rhazor purposefully did not keep eye contact with Brendan. No sooner had the order to go been delivered he turned back to study the horizon. All the better, concern was a weakness, and weaknesses were never accepted well aboard this ship even if every man, to the darkest soul, held some tinge of that emotion for the lad. Below, Leonard scampered around, making sure everything was satisfactory for the Captain, even going so far as placing a cushion near the legs of his chair in case the man's back began to ache from sitting and Leonard could tuck the softness behind to comfort him. By the time Brendan would make his way down, Leonard had everything set...and stood off at the far wall....just waiting.

Brendan was neatly dressed in black pants tucked in those good boots. He wore a pale blue Buccaneer's shirt under a black vest and had even pulled back his hair. The reaction of some of the men had him swallowing hard before he looked up at Rhazor. He was so used to the man escorting him, he was surprised at the motion toward the Captain's cabin. He gave a single nod before he turned and made his way down, feeling like he was going into the depths of hell itself. Even the air felt oppressive, heavy. All too quickly he was standing before the door where he knocked and waited. At the moment, he felt no pain from any of his wounds, just that empty gnawing fear in his stomach.

"You're causing me to wait."

The gunner nearly jumped out of his skin, turning to face the Captain with wide eyes. He swallowed hard, forcing himself again to stay calm, then opened the door for the man as he lowered his eyes unable to meet Eric's own for long. "Sorry, sir." Biting his lower lip, he stepped back to allow the Captain to go through first. Hell, he was too scared to realize his hands weren't shaking... for the moment.

Eric's eyes narrowed on the young man lingering at his door, passing him by without any contact at all. "Leonard, why isn't my wine poured?" Black Death continued around the table, standing beside his chair until the lad bustled over to pull it out. "And my guest's? Surely you do not wish me to be disappointed in your service tonight." Leonard gasped and rushed forward, seeing to the chair and then with speed fed by frenzy he had the bottle of red up and was pouring. He should have been shaking like a leaf against a harsh November wind, but for all appearances, his actions were steady. "Sorry, Captain." He muttered, skimming around to the other side of the table to start to pour the same for the captain's guest. "Sit, Boy." Eric nodded toward the chair arranged for Brendan, leaning forward to collect his glass. "You'll tell me if Leonard does not please you in any way. He has grand designs on being my cabin boy." The captain's assessment swept over the youngster as he placed the bottle on a side cart and then turned to the important pair. "If it would not offend, Captain, I can serve the meal now, or wait until you enjoy the company of your guest for awhile." Eric didn't look to Brendan, expecting him to do as ordered, but kept his eyes on Leonard. "Now would suit well enough."

He watched Leonard who seemed quite comfortable with the Pirate Lord then immediately moved to the chair waiting for him as ordered. Once again, the unexpected had happened and made him resolve not to second guess anything on this ship! "Aye, sir. I will." He doubted the lad would do anything other then his very best. After sitting, he picked up his own glass but just took a sip of the wine. He needed his head clear and didn't want to drink much, especially in front of Eric.

Eric eased the napkin from beside the empty plate, opened it with a snap and then draped it over his lap. Leonard brought over a bowl of soup, placing it gently in the middle of the empty plate on the table. "Onion soup, Captain, with that crusty bread at the bottom and the cheeses you prefer baked on the top." With the captain served, he made his way around to bring Brendan the same. The bowl was hot to the touch, but the boy didn't flinch in the least, placing it without a sound upon the china plate which sat in wait of it before Brendan. Eric took up his spoon, cutting through the thick cover of cheese to dip within the steamy, thin liquid beneath. "Did your mother ever mention your birth father?" Although Eric addressed his meal it would seem, since that is where his attention and actions centered, all in the room would know better. Leonard lowered his gaze and took up his place against the wall without another word or action.

Brendan imitated Eric to a point. He didn't snap open the napkin. It was just unfolded and placed on his lap. Leonard was given a quick smile of thanks before the gunner stared down at the soup. His stomach grumbled but not too loudly and he took the first spoonful. It tasted like heaven and not even Eric's question took that away. He looked up then down again. "Aye, sir, she did. Mostly when we were alone." He didn't know how much the Pirate Lord wanted him to say but he was certain he'd be told. In the meantime, he was going to enjoy the best food he had been given on this ship.

To that the pirate captain nodded, and for a time no more words were spoken while they consumed the soup. Leisurely the captain enjoyed the fare and then, when he had his fill of that particular course, he scratched a finger along the rim of his bowl to collect some of the darkened cheese there, and then crunched the remnants into oblivion. "Are you capable of speaking while you eat?" A glance to Leonard had the lad in motion again, collecting Eric's bowl and bringing him a dark, green salad. Even out at sea, the ruler of this water-worthy kingdom did not go without that which he enjoyed most, including fresh, green leaves of lettuce. Leonard waiting for a sign from Brendan that he was finished with his soup by standing with his hands linked in front of him. Eric continued, taking up his salad fork. "Or perhaps you cannot do two things at once and we will needs wait until you stop swallowing in order to start conversing."

He paced himself, knowing that he likely wouldn't be able to eat all of the soup and have room for whatever else was prepared. It wasn't easy because it was quite simply delicious. Looking up at the younger boy, he nodded that he was finished then looked at Eric. No temper this time, his eyes dropping as the bowl was removed. "Aye, sir, I can do both. " He paused a breath or two. "I didn't know how much detail you'd want." Or why.

Lickety-split Leonard was on it, taking away the bowl and replacing it with the plate of greens. "I'll leave the details to you, I'm eating." The motion of skewered lettuce upon his fork invited the lad to speak all he wished about this particular subject before it was directed to his mouth. He sat back, chewing, a dark regard resting upon the younger man.

Brendan nearly laughed but didn't. Instead he nodded, looking down at the salad. "She said he was a sea-faring man, teased me that I took after him because I was always talking about ships. She said he was good man though many didn't see it and that she loved him with all her heart. Even my stepfather knew that. She never really said his name but said she had named me after him." He didn't know if she had meant his first or second name but it made her sad so he didn't press her.

When the young man began, Eric's motion of eating slowed, it was the final comment that stilled his hand completely and from under a furrowed brow, he looked up and over to the man across from him. "What ..." He jerked his eyes back down to his plate and started fishing around in the lettuce. "What ... name would that be?"

"She never said for sure. I asked once or twice but she grew so sad I never asked again." He looked up. "My full name is Brendan Eric. I don't know if she put his name on my birth certificate or not." He didn't sound bitter. It was something he accepted. "Until my stepfather adopted me I had her last name." He was reminded again that the Pirate Lord had his birth certificate but said nothing, remembering Rhazor's warnings. He regretted more then ever not having read it.

Complete and utter stillness, the pirate captain did not even seem to breathe. That lasted so long, in fact, Leonard cleared his throat and started forward to collect the salad, thinking the man might be finished. Instead, Westmoreland jerked a look the waiter's way and growled. "Get out, I'm finished with you for now." Leonard sucked in a halting breath. "Captain, I did not mean to offend." The older man's lips thinned and his words were strained as he fought to control whatever might be boiling about inside him. "Get. Out." "Ayeaye, Captain." Leonard practically squeaked and darted to make his departure. The door slammed behind him, but he was quick to open it back up, which had Eric looking his way, and the lad croaking out, "Sorry about that." and then closing the wood with more care so not to make a sound. "Get you gone!" Eric bellowed, though it did not possess the usual threat of dark deeds. Almost instantly, his attention riveted on Brendan. "She said he was a good man? Good?"

Brendan stopped eating, lowering his fork to the table and leaving it there. He watched the action between the Pirate Lord and the lad then looked slowly back to Eric once the boy was gone. "Aye, she did. Though... " it came unbidden, a memory of words that he had forgotten. "She said he was frightening to most. Stern, a quick temper that he sometimes could not control." He couldn't stop the slight smile as he thought of his mother. "She was a gentle soul, and always saw the good in others, even if no one else did." And she had loved his father completely. He didn't pick up the fork again, nor did he lower his eyes though he couldn't help but wonder at the Pirate Lord's reaction.

The stare that bore into the man across the table could have physically skewered a lesser man. "Boy, I knew your mother...and your father. And while I will agree she was gentle, he was far from good, although her ever constant desire to find it in him was probably what kept him coming back to her. That...and he loved..." He paused, gritting his teeth, and then with a jerk and an upward bolt, shoved the chair from behind him and strode toward the cart which held the remainder of their meal. "He loved to fuck her." His back was to Brendan, but his shoulders tensed as he spoke those last words, his voice once again forced to form them. He turned slowly, one meaty paw resting lightly against the hilt of his sword and the other on the same of his fighting dagger as he continued. "She was a damn good fuck. Had at her myself a time or two, and she and I, both, enjoyed every sweat-slicked moment of it." His heart, God, his heart...was it beating still? Saying the words to the young man all but ripped the pumping, blood filled organ from his chest. But what good was it to him when it, even now, failed to rum-a-tum-tum to the rhythm of the pulse needed to sustain his life. "Don't you fuckin' move." He growled, anticipating the lads need for retaliation.

Brendan watched the Pirate Lord, hiding the confusion that was normal lately though he couldn't keep his brow from furrowing. He stood when Eric said he knew both his mother and father, watching, waiting to hear what else the man had to say, actually ignoring that harrowing gaze. "No... you're lying. She wouldn't do that." His breath was coming faster, his fists clenched. He refused to believe what Eric was telling him, he couldn't. "She wouldn't have done that, and he... he took care of her until... " He tensed then forced himself to relax, eyes lowering to the weapons then slowly back up to Eric's face. There was no way he could fight unarmed. "She waited for him to come back. She would have even left my stepfather for him. There was no other man. " Defiant, and waiting for retaliation for the defiance. And then his expression changed. "You're protecting him." He sat again, and looked away from Eric, his shaking hands hidden under the table.

As the boy came to his feet, Eric's dagger was withdrawn, but when he only spoke, the pirate's fist tightened on the grip, nothing more. Eric chuckled so deeply in his throat with the lad's final assumption that the sound came out muffled and heavy, lacking any amusement whatsoever. "Boy, trust me when I say, that man sees to his own protection. And aye, he did take care of her, until ... until he could no longer." One. Two. Three. Steps brought him right up to Brendan, the bejeweled tip of the dagger's hilt drilling into the gunner's upper arm to gain his attention again. "And I did spend time with your mother, boy. And we did enjoy every single goddamned moment of it, until I craved more and more of her, and she, she made me think I might possess just a little of that fuckin'....good. My name, name? My name is Eric Westmoreland. And those letters, you little ratbastard, those letters your mother wrote, were for me."

That got his attention alright, very quickly. As he looked up, teeth gritting he found himself looking into those dark eyes, caught like a bird hypnotized by snake. He was still breathing quickly, still trying to keep his anger under control and then it all stopped. He didn't notice the jabbing of the stone on the hilt or the way his heart missed a beat. Now he understood the EW on the pendant. "For you? You... you're my ... " His words were caught in his throat and he slumped in the seat. "She loved ... " He felt his world go gray. "You should know then, it wasn't that you didn't send her the money," his tone had become monotone, almost lifeless. "it disappeared." It was going to take time to recover from this... if he ever did.

Any other boil of confession that may have been building pressure to be released after years and years and fuck'n years of festering in silence were forgotten the moment the lad finished talking. "What the hell do you mean...disappeared? I made sure she had enough to support herself well unto a ripe old age and then some."

"That's why she married." He managed to look away, gaining some composure but his voice was still dull, the fire gone from it. "One day, when I was two, men came to our home. They allowed her to take our clothing, personal items." He paused to take a breath, still refusing to look at the Pirate Lord. "And kicked us out. When she went to the lawyer, the bank, they said there was nothing left. She had receipts, the amounts on them, but they said it was all gone." He reached for the glass of wine but just held it. "She worked but there was never enough though I don't remember any of it. Just what she told me." And he hadn't the means to learn the truth when he grew old enough. He looked up at Eric again and wondered what his mother had seen that had her falling in love with the devil himself.

Anna had been his obsession, because he never felt worthy of her love or her devotion. He was then who he is now, the evil so deeply seated that every moment he spent with her was a threat that the darkness might lash out at her. He would not bear that risk. Could not take the chance that Anna might be subjected to the truth of his base and wicked ways. To be with her, put her in danger in more than just that way. All who feared or hated or sought revenge, would learn of his weakness, and strike there first. No, there was no staying, there was only making sure by leaving, she was safe. Physically and financially. But, she had married to feed her son, his son, and then had died young. The two things he had hoped to avoid. He glared at the young man opposite him, as if by doing so, he could reverse the path that fate had set their feet upon. If will alone could have it so, it would be. His next words were spoken low. "She mentioned none of this in her letters, she spoke only of you." Then he growled out a long, drawn out: "Fuuuuuck." The one word rippled up his throat and over his tongue, past his lips, and drew him back to the here and now. The darkness descending again, seeping in, erasing Anna's memory, blotting it out as if an ink well had tipped and bled its black contents over her image, until she was no more. The dagger twirled in his palm, the blade tip touching along the pulse beat of vein on Brendan's neck. "You are a liability to me, Brendan, the longer you live. But, we have a meal to complete, we shall do so and then...I shall decide what to do with the likes of you."

"Of me... " It took a moment to register then he nodded. How like his mother to want his father to know everything about their son and not want to cause the man she loved pain. He became perfectly still at the touch of that cold blade, eyes down again, focusing on the glass of wine in his hand. "Aye, sir." What else was there to say? He could see why the Pirate Lord felt that way and in the gunner's own mind, there was likely only one answer. He would never find out what had happened to the money the Pirate Lord had left for his mother. Never find his siblings. He wasn't sure he could manage another bite knowing what he did. No. He'd go through the motions and get through it and then ... wait.

There really wasn't much left to discuss, now was there? So the two ate in relative silence, the sounds of silver touching china the only break in the monotony. The Pirate Captain had actually served the dessert, poured the remaining libation and then, when all was done, walked to the door to hold it open. "No doubt Rhazor has already informed you that you will probably be dead by this time tomorrow night." It was a staple comment for the first mate, one the pirate repeated often to all the new arrivals on the ship. A jerk of head indicated the way out, the gunner was being dismissed. "This time, the man is probably more right than he even knows."

No, there wasn't much left though he would have answered any other questions. As it was, Brendan was relieved when it was over and that Eric had not asked any questions about his life. He wiped his mouth and stood when Eric walked to the door. It had been a perfect last meal. "Aye, he has." He hesitated for only a second to the last comment and stepped out. There was a tingle between his shoulder blades as he waited for that final blow. Once he was on deck, he didn't look up at the wheel or at any of the men. Instead he made his way below deck, to his quarters. After he changed out of his good clothes and put them all away, he sat on the floor and covered his face with his hands. How ironic to learn the man was his father, and that he would likely have him killed before the sun rose again.

Date: 02-04-12
Poster: Brendan O'Sionna
Post # 9


The Sea Whore anchored out in the deeper waters off of the coast line of Namibia. Boats were being lowered from the sides, men already jumping into the wooden bellies. The desert was cruel to those who resided here, but, to the pirates, it was still leave to find distraction on land. Eric stood to the side and watched the men scramble like rats for shore. Rhazor came up along side him, pausing there. "What of the prisoner, Captain?" Westmoreland didn't look to his first mate, just continued to watch the mass exodus. "Do with him as you wish, but know this..." He cut a glance in Rhazor's direction. "I want him on this ship when we set sail again." Rhazor dipped his head only once. "No worries." Came his reply and he turned, but Eric reached out and caught the heavily muscled upper arm in his grip. Rhazor's head turned to see the captain over his shoulder. The Pirate Captain didn't say anything and that silence spoke volumes. "Aye, Captain." Rhazor replied, then with a slight jerk of his arm, removed that contact and headed to retrieve the gunner. Rhazor rapped on the boy's door, then let himself in whether the young man was 'accepting company' or not. "We're going ashore."

Brendan had fallen asleep where he had sat, waking at dawn, his eyes gritty. He still was feeling the need for more sleep but he was restless too and paced that small cabin until he finally forced himself to stop. He wasn't hungry so he ignored any thoughts of food. Instead washed his face and clean up a bit. The gunner was sitting again, tailor fashion, holding the pendants and shark's tooth in his hand. He wasn't sure he should keep wearing the two pendants but they were all he had of his mother except for her letters to him. When Rhazor rapped on the door, he tucked it all beneath his shirt and came to his feet. It wasn't a quick movement since he was still healing so when Rhazor entered, he had just turned to face the door. Instead of speaking, he just nodded, wondering if the Pirate Lord had decided to have Rhazor kill him. The heat was already oppressive and he pulled back his hair again with a bit of rawhide. "Where are we?" Even with the threat of death over his head, he couldn't help asking questions. At least Rhazor might not hit him for asking.

"Namibia, South Africa. The Captain has business here. Diamonds, gold, silver, salt, but mostly ... casks of oil. We get to endure the desert while he sneaks the goods on board. Not always a good thing to share everything with pirates." He waved the boy to him. "As I've told come on."

He nodded and headed out the door. Not sharing meant not giving the rest of his crew a portion. It made sense if one considered who the Captain was. He headed out and up onto the deck, squinting at the bright sunlight and that terrible heat. A glance back at Rhazor and then he was heading to where one of the boats was waiting. He saw Eric and stiffened, looking away quickly. No more looks of hate or defiance. He couldn't feel anything, but dread.

What it meant was, the pirate captain didn't trust anyone, and least of all his crew. So any 'sharing' he did was on his terms, period. Eric may have watched Brendan until he stepped over into the last of the ships being prepared to lower, but before it started down, he met Rhazor's eye. The first mate shrugged the bulk of shoulder, heaving a leg over and then the other to join the descent. "Here's to shore leave." He grumbled under his breath. Rhazor would rather be out on the water, there was too much trouble to be had when the pirates were let loose on an unsuspecting town.

He heard the grumble but not the words and cut a glance toward Rhazor as he settled in the boat. Glancing upward, he studied the Sea Whore then looked away again. He didn't want to meet Eric's eyes if the man was standing there. Looking toward the shore, he grimaced. Though he knew he'd be watched like a hawk, it didn't seem to be a place that would be easy to hide in. Still, he'd watch for his chance. The others in the boat were already rowdy in anticipation of their leave. Most of them ignored Brendan but one grinned at him. "Make sure ta try th' food here. S'good." More then likely, it would burn his mouth but he just nodded at the man. Maybe it was because he had survived at least one more night that the man thought to speak to him.

Rhazor shot out a boot, catching the man right on the shin. "Nobody asked you, Paulson. The boy and I have business, so you keep your opinions to yourself and we'll do the same." Two of the pirates in their boat jumped into the knee deep water and pulled the vessel to the sand. The desert town of Namibia. You actually had to think God had forsaken it, unless you realized the truth. He just kept his most treasured commodities...well protected by scorching sands. "Let's go, Roach."

The man yelped, rubbing his shin and grumbling but he didn't protest. Brendan cut a side glance toward Rhazor, then looked away. Business? That could mean anything from Brendan being sold off to left for dead out in that desert. He waited for the boat to steady then jumped out. There was no point in running, at least not yet, so he waited for Rhazor and studied the town. The buildings seemed to be made of baked clay and of course, there were camels, one of which was giving his owner a very hard time.

Namibia was inhabited since early times by bushmen. But like any country with the potential for treasure, traders and settlers primarily from Germany had started to arrive, claiming possession of land and power. No port was created in order to keep the British from getting any bright ideas so when the 'chosen few' dropped anchor, it was as the Putain D'eau, far from the shoreline. With the desert looming, the general populace stayed close to the water. What homes that had sprung up housed the governing elite known as the Authority, those men who served and slaved under them, and the male children used to run errands and do the menial chores. There was one tavern. One merchant. One Brothel. Women were few, guarded well, and expensive. The recently arrived pirates would make the most of every last one of them until their pockets were emptied of all coins. Rhazor didn't follow their mind set though, he directed Brendan in the opposite direction to a domed-clay abode that looked no different than all the others except for the muscular, dark skinned man standing by the door. Yellowed eyes watched the two men approach and when Rhazor stopped at the door, the erect mountain of a man leaned to open the entrance for them without taking a step away from his place. The First Mate didn't say anything, the man didn't say anything. Rhazor just entered, squinting to adjust his eyes from the bright desert to the darkened interior.

Brendan watched as the others headed in one direction, their words giving away their intent -- drink or women, their coin would be gone when they returned to the ship. Since he didn't have any coin, or rather had left what was in the chest back on the ship, he didn't mind that they were going somewhere else. What little there was to look at was forgotten when they approached the dome. The gunner watched the mountain at the door, then followed Rhazor inside. The change from sunlight to darkness was a lot like going into the small cabin on the ship. He blinked several times to help his eyes adjust, and he stayed as silent as the First Mate.

Though the room they entered should be stifling, the darkness helped to keep the heat at bay. Seven bare chested men were stationed throughout, sweeping large leafed fans to move the air. Centered in the middle of the room on the floor, amidst large satin pillows of bejeweled colors and throws of the same material, lounged the Head of the Authority. Nothing more than a blob of humanity, the fleshy male could barely shift for all his size, decked out in all white and, with the contrast, stood out like the eyesore he was within all those colors. Rolls of extra fat and skin propped his head up on what used to be a neck, and only his hands rested on his gigantic belly since his short, pudgy arms could no longer reach around that mass. He wasn't without his defenses, no matter the appearance of immobility. Every single man with a fan was strapped with wide bladed, angled swords and throwing stars laced in belts, tied to their heavy thighs were daggers and long reed-like straws, the darts with tip covered encircling their massive upper arms. "The Sea Whore." The man gurgled through his fat-thick throat. "I do believe we've been expecting you."

The first thing he saw was that monstrosity of humanity sitting in the middle of all that luxury. Brendan blinked and looked away quickly for fear of causing the large man to become angered. Instead he found himself looking at one of the fanning men. The amount of weapons each carried was astonishing in itself, not to mention their size. When the man spoke, he couldn't help looking back toward him, then he cut a glance toward Rhazor. He figured the First Mate would keep his expression blank. Of course, there was the question ... how did the man really feel about this great blob?

Rhazor just nodded, feeling Brendan's eyes on him, his narrowed with a twitch of warning. Thick, short fingers fluttered on that mound of belly and two of the men set aside their fans and disappeared into the back room. "Same transport, Lackey?" The landmass chortled. "Aye, the same." Rhazor answered in return, this time not moving, not even to nod his head. "I do so appreciate predictability. A drink, Oh Scarred One?" Only then did Rhazor move his head to the negative. "Like always, I'll meet your man at the appointed location to start the transfer." Again, the heavy man shifted a hip beneath all that weight. "I thought perhaps this time I might see to the transfer myself. Your task master wouldn't mind now would he?" Rhazor's chest ceased to move as he held his breath, no doubt struggling to find the perfect way to respond in order not to offend. "Only if you wish, although, I am confident in your choice of men to see to the job properly." A gurgling laugh followed. "Be gone with you then, you and your ..." Beady eyes swept over Brendan, as if with appreciation. "playtoy. Unless this is a gift from your captain." Rhazor tensed and fought back the pressure of his teeth against the back of his bottom lip and the word fuuuuuck that threatened. He swallowed. "Again, only if you wish it. Although, I think you should know, he is a favorite of the Twins." To that, the drool that had started to collect at the corner of thick lips was sucked back in with an audible slurp. "Too bad." He grumbled, that fluttering of fingers again and Rhazor reached over to take Brendan by the upper arm and spun him around. "Go." He growled under his breath, giving a light push toward the door which opened from the outside.

Brendan kept his eyes focused firmly on his boots after that look of warning. He listened to the conversation, looking occasionally up at the mountain of flesh through bangs that had fallen to cover his forehead. His head snapped up, mouth slightly open in surprise and he felt his cheeks heat up, not in anger just shock. He had to suppress a shudder of disgust and looked down away, nauseated. Rhazor didn't have to give a second order.. He was moving toward the door as soon as it opened. Not a word until they were outside and away from the guard, and then all that came out was a whispered, "Holy hell!"

Rhazor didn't look at Brendan, just continued to walk, long, purposeful strides carrying him as far from that dome as their steps could take them. "There is nothing holy about it, Roach. But hell, it surely is." At the shoreline, two of the boats they had arrived in were being filled with casks and large chests, the strong, black males climbing in to set the vessels afloat toward the ship. "We'll stay here until all is loaded, and then we'll return as well." Rhazor didn't worry about the boy attempting to flee. With the Authority and the desert, there really wasn't any place for him to go. But, at the moment, it was up to Brendan where he preferred his last breath to be taken.

He had to agree with that statement as they hurried away. Brendan didn't look back either, forcing himself not to think on the man they had just left or the Twins. Instead, he watched the men loading the boats. He didn't sit either to watch, though his leg was aching. Sweat from the sun was running down his back, making the healing over wounds itch like the devil. He just nodded at Rhazor. A small town, hostile lands. This wasn't where he wanted to die. Worse still, if the Authority got him, he probably would be wishing he was dead. While they were waiting, two boats came from another ship that had anchored a distance from the Whore. Only two, and only the men who manned it. They had no intentions on staying but there was a need for water and this was one place they could get it, no questions asked. Brendan glanced as they came onto the sand, then looked away. He recognized a couple as being from the Executioner, the pirate ship he had served on. He nearly turned completely away but it was too late. "Raven!" One yelled, then another. He looked at Rhazor, watching the man for a clue what to do when a gruff voice yelled, "O'Sionna. Ta guide ta be talkin' ta yer old shipmates?" Brendan's fists clenched in anger as he started to turn.

Rhazor's gaze was trained on the other ship for obvious reasons, and that only two side boats came toward shore did not ease the tense brace of shoulders. The call and the direction of that call had him jerking his attention from the men over to his companion, a dark frown growing. Raven? Shipmates? "Who the fuck are they, Roach?" He growled, reaching around his hip to pull his fighting dagger free from the sheath.

"I was gunner on another pirate ship. They were part of a mutiny. Put ten of us ashore after the captain was killed. The others were hung." He glanced at Rhazor. "I only got away because I looked too young." He turned back to the men, fists still clenched. "Raven was my nickname." His voice raised. "You're no friend of mine, Silva. None of you are." Silva, the gruffed voice one and the leader just laughed. "C'mon, Boy. The Captain would be right glad ta see ya again. I'm sure yer friend there wouldn't mind if we take ya." Brendan was unarmed but dammit, he was ready to fight if need be. "The only way I'll see that boy buggering bastard is if he's hanging from the yardarm."

"Enough." Rhazor graveled toward the bantering back and forth for Brendan's benefit. "Indeed, quite enough." The silky-smooth threat in just those three words weren't spoken loudly, but carried any distance none-the-less. Westmoreland shouldered between Brendan and Rhazor, continuing forward on his way toward the men beyond. No weapon drawn, his hands shifting casually by his sides. "His friend might not mind, you limpcocked asslickers, but I sure as hell am taking offense to your shit smeared tongue wagging. And if you don't know who I am, then you better go tucktailing to your captain to find out, because I'll be willing to bet your next assscrew that he does. Not bragging, boys, but just giving you a heads up to keep those very same heads on your shoulders, aye?" He gave a wave of hand, the lace around his wrist providing another fluff of dismissal for the motley crew. "Get to it." A wink followed. "It is in your best interest. Trust me in this."

Brendan was half-turned by the Pirate Lord as he moved forward. He looked at Rhazor as if to ask where the hell had he come from, then watched Eric. A half smirk appeared as Eric spoke though that was all he did. Silva's face went from red to purple, even after one of the men grabbed his arm and whispered frantically. "This fancy pansy is him? Yer out o' your bleeding mind." One of the others shook his head. "Ain't worth it Silva. It's him." Silva stared for a moment then looked back at Brendan, pointing a finger. "Ya better hope I never sees ya without your ... friends, boy." It was the first time the gunner had ever seen Silva back down, except from their own captain. He just shook his head, watching as the men backed away. Showed some common sense. Silva kept fingering his knife even when they were a distance away.

Eric didn't move from where he stood, watching the men take their ... leave. He didn't say anything, knowing that if it had all come down, right there on the sand, one or several of them would have been staining the small stones to red. He looked around to Brendan and Rhazor, mostly Brendan, then turned completely. "You come with me." He nodded to the gunner and his boots cut through the grainy terrain on his way back in the direction he had come from. When he crossed between them again, he continued. "You, get the rest of my dickstuffing bastards back on my ship. And don't take any mewing if they haven't finished either. One hour, Rhazor. One. If they don't come, then slit their throats where they hump." Eric had not stopped walking, calling back to Rhazor as he went and damn well expecting Brendan to follow obediently.

He realized he had been holding his breath when the men finally disappeared and let it out in one soft huff. "Aye, sir." Of course he wouldn't argue though he did look at Rhazor before following after Westmoreland. He had to hurry to catch up, not so close he was on the man's heels of course, but he was following as best he could. He near slipped once, caught himself, and hurried after again. Shit. More then likely, he was heading right to his final resting place. No point in explaining about the men either. He sure as hell hadn't expected to see Silva ever again.

And he sure as hell may never see him again after this day, either. Eric led the way around one of the dome huts, where a row boat had been pulled to the sand and the Twins remained on either side, waiting. Westmoreland just climbed in, taking a seat, and waiting. When Brendan approached, one of the Twins passed his gaze over the gunner with more than just a desire to see the man aboard. He touched his thick, red tongue to the center of his upper lip and then grinned to him. "Climbing on, Ponyboy?" He drawled, causing his sibling to chuckle low as he started pushing the wood through the sand. "Can. It." Eric growled, and though the Twin still smiled, he dipped his head in a nod, jumped in and didn't say anything else while the other set them to float.

That just made his day complete, didn't it? He had heard a few whispers about the Twins though most of the men didn't speak around him and from Rhazor's reaction to them, he knew he didn't want to be anywhere near them. Not that he'd have any choice if it came down to it. He dropped his eyes at the comment, sitting where his weight would keep the boat from tipping. It suddenly seemed to him that waiting was every bit as bad as knowing when the end would come. As they slipped through the waves, he glanced at the Executioner, eyes growing dark again. That was one ship he'd rather never see again!

Trepidation, when used correctly in torture, could be just as affective a tool as any hook or blade or rod. They bobbed their way back to the ship and the Twins let the captain board first, and then Brendan, before they latched the boat to the riggings to haul it up and then mounted the roped ladder themselves. In the distance, the remainder of the crew returned to their boats, except three, and where those three were wouldn't be questioned, especially since Rhazor was wiping his dagger's blade to the outer thigh of his pants.

It was certainly being used well in Brendan's case. He was sometimes afraid to breath deeply and yes, he remembered that warning from Rhazor all too well. He waited until Eric was halfway up the ladder before he followed. A wince followed as he swung his wounded leg over the rail, then came to stand. He'd be glad when it finally healed. Tugging his drenched shirt away from his back, he moved to the side and looked toward the shore. He'd notice three were missing but it seemed the Pirate Lord had no trouble at all gaining crew.

Date: 02-06-12
Poster: Jon Stirling
Post # 10

Third Pier, Casablanca Harbor

Rain slick the wood planks of the pier but it didn't stop the unloading and loading of ships. It didn't stop the crime of goods being stolen or the fights that broke out. It didn't stop the police shrilling whistles nor the pounding of feet with the rain splashing beneath. This was the workings of a busy port and no less this night when certain cargo would change hands for a hefty price. Still it would be far less than the value if one had a means to sell it. It was almost three past noonday but it seemed like the start of evening for the overcast and haze that came with the light steady rain. Presently there seemed to be only workers moving crates on that pier and even those few disappeared off along the main drag, blending in with the many hooded others pressed against the rain. Some in hurrying steps, some under an overhang watching.

There was one among the watchers, an oilskin slicker worn with a plain wide brim hat to keep off the rain. His face was shadowed like so many others, showing only his chin. A neat goatee marked him as a man who cared about his appearance. Nothing else could be seen but boots, worn not folded down like many a sailing man, but knee high, and meant to keep out the rain. Jonathan Stirling was watching for one, though he was only sure about one thing. The name Taranis. Beside him stood a slight figure, caped and covered to hide a shape. A young lad, perhaps. No one paid them any mind, neither the other watchers nor those that passed.

The minutes seemed to drag on and certainly counting near ten after three as the rain only seemed to get heavier. One could wonder if the information had been accurate or not. Nine minutes after the hour a hooded slicker clad man appeared from the haze and sheets of rain not far from where Jon was watching. He loitered there on the pier that was completely vacated at this point other than him. It was when he lifted his hands to cup the pipe to light that the bit of red showed at his neck.

There was another standing near. One of Jon's men to watch over the smaller figure. Jon moved out from the protection of the overhang and approached the man with caution. He studied him as he approached, appraising. Finally, when he was close enough, he spoke, though he was looking forward instead of at the pipe smoking man. "I bae lookin' for someone. A man mentioned by a mutual acquaintance." His was not the refined accent of a gentleman, but one long at sea.

From the distance and no others to compare him with, Jon would find that
Taranis stood a good six foot eight. Far taller than most men and built like a lumberjack. The pipe was cupped within one burly hand to be lowered as the smoke was exhaled in Jon's face. On purpose or just the light breeze taking it there would be hard to tell. "Aye, yea bae, bae yea? An'who bae yea look'in fir?" That was the start as the man was sizing up Jon. He also notice the two others that lingered in the background from where he stepped from.

He had dealt with many men, including his 'partners'. Jon ignored the smoke, and the size of the man. "Called Taranis." He offered no more information, and the tone of his voice didn't change. There was a glint in steel blue eyes, perhaps of amusement. Perhaps not. It was never easy to tell with one like Stirling.

"Aye? T'en w'o bae send'in yea?" The man took things in careful steps and each stepped had to be answered correctly. The pipe was lifted to take another puff before the dampness had it needing to be rekindled. If there were others with
Taranis, they were not seen at this point. Perhaps there were, perhaps there were not.

"The name isn't important.." Jon paused for a moment, turning his head slightly, looking out over choppy waves. It would be a dangerous time for a ship to leave port, yet, there seemed to be one attempting that very thing. "He said to mention Twilight Heights." Looking away from the ship, Stirling focused his gaze on the man again.

"Iffin yea gots eight hundred pound notes, t'en walk wit' mae." The rain had eased as the man studied the two in the distance, "an' lose yea friends." They would not be coming along nor did he want them to see his face. Jon would either refuse in not trusting to go further than this or not have come prepared with a good amount of money being it was always different the amount he asked. This was a bigger one and so a little more pricey, or Stirling might figure he was going to be 'taken'.
Taranis was not a patient man but patient enough to have the right information and situation.

Jon made a motion with his hand, telling the two to remain where they were, or better yet, return to the ship. The larger of the two nodded and spoke to the smaller. "I have it." Trust? Not at all but there was money to be made. And if it was worth the price, he had little problem with it. Men like Taranis rarely haggled. For that matter, neither did Jon if the price was worth it.

Tar never haggled at all. You either did the deal or be far away somewhere else. He moved at a normal pace and said nothing although he was keenly watching all around him. They went through one of the streets cutting down an alleyway. It was not really that far from the pier but far more people about that didn't necessarily mind their own business. When they got partially down the street, Tar turned to a locked warehouse door. It was a smaller building, one of many, that a wagon could be brought up to. "The money," or he didn't get to go any further.

Jonathan did not like following, so he kept beside the man. He was studying the route of course, mostly to make sure he knew the way back. Taranis didn't seem to be hiding anything, but when he stopped and demanded the money, Stirling's eyes narrowed. He didn't trust Doom and he didn't trust this man. The hesitation didn't last. The man wouldn't be in business for very long if he cheated his customers, especially this one. "Very well." A glance around, and Jonathan handed over four packs of notes, 200 pound increments in each. "Yae countin' it here, or ou' o th' rain?"

Tar looked over one, knew the weight to be right rather than count them out. "Ye kin w'at 'appens iffin one is s'ort." It went without saying as he gave a missing tooth or three grin. He tucked it away under the slicker then handed the key to Jon. "One hour." Which meant he had that amount of time at this point to get the crates that he'd find inside out of there. He gave a nod, which could have been deal done or someone else that may have seen it and was on his way. Jon would find triple worth in what he paid, if gotten to the right buyers, within that warehouse stored in ordinary looking crates.

Jon took the key and pocketed it, just nodding at the man. He'd have the slave girl delivered here, left chained to whatever was handy with a note, if he felt the cargo was worth the price. "One hour." That gave him time to head inside, figure out how many wagons, and find his quartermaster to deal with the load. That said, he went inside, leaving a short time later. He went to his cabin to dry off and wait for the return of the guard and girl. They should have been there. When the man did return, it was with a limp and no girl. He had lost her when she had kicked him in the shins and ran. Though the man had chased her, she had slipped away into the crowd and the haze of the storm. Jonathan listened and sent the man out.. He stood in the door a moment, then motioned to one of his guards. "Willard has failed at keeping the girl. See to it." Shutting his door, he moved to his desk and marked in one of his books, payment for the cargo. When the wagons arrived, the Song was less one crew member. A replacement would be found that night before they left port.


Date: 02-06-12
Poster: Eric Westmoreland
Post # 11


Once all the remaining men were back on the ship, Eric turned away from the rail where he had been watching the Executioner. "Rhazor, bring her around, you know the course." His gaze sought out and found Brendan. "You two take him below." A nod in the Twin's direction had Rhazor halting in his steps and pivoting on a heel to find those two indicated. "Capt'n" He started but Eric wasn't finished talking, just shot a glare over to his first mate. "They won't be lingering, Rhazor. Be about your business, Man, or I'll have to be about it. That makes you useless to me." Rhazor dipped his head, quick-like, touched a look to Brendan then spun to make himself ... useful. The larger twin leaned in to swat Brendan on the backside to get him started along. "Alrighty then, Ponyboy. Git'y'up." Eric's brow darkened but he didn't say anything. With the Executioner on his mind, he had little thought space for the gunner and his 'friends'.

Brendan had been watching the Executioner as well. The boats had returned and he knew Silva would hightail it to their Captain to tell him what they had seen. He didn't think Captain Scarblade would be stupid enough to attack the ship of one of the most dangerous pirates alive. He looked at Eric when he spoke, dropping his gaze to the floor when the man looked his way. He felt as if the man could look right into his soul and sniff out the fear he was trying so hard to hide. When he spoke of the twins, there was no hiding it in the look he gave Rhazor, even if the Captain said they wouldn't linger. That slap had him yelping and moving quickly in an attempt to stay ahead of the Twins.

The captain would be busy figuring out what to do about the Executioner. The Twins were sharp, and they were greedy and they sure as hell knew that Black Beard would be detained with his decision. A few more minutes below was not lingering, it was settling the lad back into his prison cell of a cabin. Styrkar nudged the gunner into his hole with a firm placement of palm on his shoulder, and when the three had stepped into the chamber, Vott turned and, with a short comment to the guard there, shut the door behind them. Black Beard wasn't here to give them the orders, jab a finger in a wound hole, brace a body for pain, they had free will and free want for the next couple of minutes. And they could manage a good ride from a pony in no time flat. One bulky form stayed standing in front, the other made a slow path around back and then to his other side. "You've been avoiding us, Ponyboy. Could start to thinking you prefer the company of that scarred, boring Rhazor to more ... interesting .. play." Styrkar stopped at Brendan's side and slid a dagger from the sheath, bringing it up to his tongue and running the flat of blade over the wide muscle. "You like the taste of metal, Pony?" Vott chuckled low with Styrkar's words, rolling a shoulder with the promise of preferential playtime.

Brendan stumbled forward then turned to face the twins. This was a situation he had hoped to avoid. He stayed perfectly still as one circled. He watched Vott then cut a side glance toward Styrkar. "It's more that the captain prefers me isolated." He shrugged as he as he held out his arms, indicating the cabin then he continued. "I prefer the taste of ale actually." He took one step back then another, bumping the bucket still on the floor. "Don't you two think the Captain will be missing you?" No, he had other things on his mind. Brendan stopped, measuring the distance from those two to the door and back. No chance of running... yet.

"That's just because you've never been taught right to appreciate it." With that, Styrkar turned the blade, drawing it slowly under the inside of his bottom lip, blood welling up so that he could dip the tip of his tongue into the gathering mixture of blood and saliva. Vott took a step toward Brendan, but a quick, sharp rap at the door stopped him in his tracks. The Twins met each other's eyes, then Vott changed his direction, jerking the portal open. A nod from the guard indicated the lad trotting toward Brendan's room. "Leonard." Vott greeted the boy, giving him a once over that caused the lad to skid to a halt. First the vision of the large Twin and then...that look. Eyes wide, he attempted a smile. "I've been sent to make sure you didn't get lost." While the boy's eyes spread with that comment, Vott's narrowed. "By whom?" Was the growl. Leonard looked to the guard, to Vott, then a quick glance over his shoulder. "Rhazor, he said, he said the captain didn't want you lost in the prisoner's room." The boy took a cautious step back, considering his message was delivered. Vott was shoved aside, and Styrkar stepped out into the hall, a trickle of his own blood oozing from the corner of his mouth. "Rhazor?" Two long strides caught the boy up by an arm. "Well, now, we don't want Rhazor concerned over the prisoner, but since you've nothing better to do with your time, Boy." Vott grinned, his square jaw contorting with the expression as he looked back to Brendan. "Another time, maybe, Pony. Looks like Rhazor has a liking for your ass today." The door closed Brendan in, but Leonard's cry of alarm wasn't closed out. Heavy footfalls sounded down the hall, and the sound of any struggle didn't last long before silence filled the cabin, leaving Brendan to his thoughts alone, once again.

The bucket was still beside Brendan and though the two men were bigger, he was sure he was faster, even wounded as he was. He grimaced as Styrkar cut himself a brow lifting. The knock had him looking at the door but only briefly. You didn't take eyes off men like the Twins. He didn't show any fear because for once, he wasn't feeling any. Dammit! "No... don't ... " Stepping forward, he nearly had the door shut in his face. He clunked his forehead to the door and closed his eyes. Then he smashed his fist into the door and whispered. "I'm so sorry, Leonard." After a moment, he stepped back and made his way to that small porthole for a breath of air, even as hot as that air was. Another piece of guilt added to his growing burden.

Five, maybe ten minutes later, the sound of male voices out in the corridor filtered in under the cabin door. No definite words to be understood, but the door swung open with Rhazor leaning in, looking Brendan over for a suspended moment then jerking the door shut again. The lock clinked back into place from the outside and then silence again. Food was brought at meal time, slipped through the swinging gate at the bottom of the door, along with a tankard of ale, and then, once again...silence. Nothing following. The moon moved in its predestined course past the porthole of the cell, an acknowledgement of pale light to the prisoner within before continuing on its way. Beyond that, daylight blushed and then forced away the darkness, bringing with it another tray slid under the door. Morning passed and the heat of noon threatened when the door was unlocked and Westmoreland was framed within the opening. His gaze lowered to the bowls of food, then back up to Brendan. "Come with me." Was all he said and turned, in true Westmoreland fashion, expecting his orders to be followed without question. Up on deck, men were gathered around a common mast, a man strapped to the pole with his wide, muscular back stripped of shirt. His head was dipped and resting on the wood, and while the flesh was tanned from continued sun exposure, the previous pale stripes of healed scars crisscrossed along the strong surface. "I'm the Captain of this ship." Eric roared, striding right up to the man and bending his head so that it was his nose to the tied man's cheek. "I. Am. Captain." He growled, then straightened. "I am the only one...the ONLY one..." He barked, dark eyes scanning the crowd but seeing no one until they rested on Brendan. "That decides a man's fate. There is not a man on this ship, no matter his age, that should not fight his own battles. You fight or you suffer, but you fuck'n fight." He jabbed a forefinger to indicate just beyond Brendan's shoulder, and from behind him Styrkar was shoved into the gathering. Bloodied and bruised, his shoulder hanging from an unnatural angle, the boot of his right foot slit down the outside to allow for the swelling of ankle. Blade marks marred his previously perfect complexion, deep and gaping, the muscle in places revealed. "And I'll be damned if anyone has fun without my permission. Fun is a waste of valuable time, unless I say so. Clear?" Immediately, the men let out a roar of "Aye, Captain." Eric spun, nodding to the man strapped to the mast. "Twenty, Clarke, and if you ease up on even one lash, I'll take five out on you my own damn self." The man at the mast rolled his forehead to look out to the men, Rhazor's gaze finding and holding to Brendan's before he turned his head again and braced for the blows.

Brendan had eaten, remembering he needed to keep up his strength though the food had little taste and he only managed half each time. He kept pacing, thinking of ways to build up his strength, regain muscles. Rhazor had saved him again and he was grateful but it would have to be kept quiet. He had been sitting on the floor again, in a spot of sunlight when he heard the door open. The gunner was up on his feet, facing the Captain, with little pain thankfully. "Aye, sir," answering though Eric was already on the move. He had to nearly run to catch up then he stopped among the men, watching as the Pirate Lord moved forward. He was certain he knew who Eric had meant when he said about fighting one's own battles. Stiffening when the captain pointed past his shoulder, he was stunned to see it was one of the twins. Where was the other? And had it been Rhazor who had beaten the twin or Eric? He turned back to look at the man at the mast as Rhazor looked his way, his lips tightening into a clenched line. He closed his eyes, swallowed and opened them again. He wouldn't look away, even if he flinched with each crack of the whip. He knew then he wouldn't let this happen because of him.

The first strike hit solid, causing the man to tense and grunt, a single line of red flesh opening. Eric stood where he was, close enough that when the lashes deepened, he was subject to the spray of blood, but, by God he was not at the moment caring. Leonard was dead, used to such a degree by the Twins by the time that Rhazor stepped in the young boy's soul had fled the torture. The cabin boy had not put up a single struggle of his own, which incensed the Twins more, and increased the suffering. The scarred pirate had lost it, Eric couldn't tolerate compassion or regret. While Rhazor had taken his fair share of the Twin's rebuttal for the interruption, Rhazor managed to slice, dice and pummel Styrkar to such an extent that Vott fell away from the battering being administered in fear. Fear. Another unacceptable response. Eric had walked in on the scene and taken them all to hand. He cracked Rhazor's jaw with a fisted backhand, sending the man spiraling in one direction, the weapon in the other. Thick boot crunched into Styrkar's chest, crushing ribs and collapsing the already useless form to the floor. And then...Vott...the fuck'n coward. With one glance at the small, huddled lifeless body, Eric took care of Vott. That man should have chanced it with Rhazor. None had seen him since, and none even dared to speak his name until his whereabouts and howabouts were known. The pirate closest to Brendan leaned toward him, hissing out words from the corner of his mouth, pausing oly when metal laced leather straps met flesh. "Damn captain didn't like that Rhazor tried to save the boy's life." Beady eyes darted from gunner to captain to Rhazor, then stayed there, watching to make sure he wasn't seen conversing. "He also didn't like much that the Twins seemed to enjoy taking it. The Capt'n wasn't so much irked that they did take it or enjoyed taking it, that is, just that he didn't give them to go ahead and all, aye?" The pirate flinched as the last of the gashes were set deeply into place.

Each lash of the ray made Brendan's resolve deepen. He would never be responsible for any man's punishment on this ship. When the sailor spoke, he kept his eyes on Rhazor in case Eric looked his way. Everything the man said was taken in, including that Leonard had died. "Aye." Came the answer, his voice as soft as the man's. As the final lash was landed, Brendan tore his gaze from Rhazor to Eric. Slowly he forced his hands to unclench. How... how had his mother loved this man? He would never understand.

Eric bobbed off a nod of satisfaction then turned and walked away, not meeting anyone's gaze, not even Brendan's. The man beside the gunner yelled out. "'Cut the man loose!" And all around, demands of the same were being shouted, from letting Rhazor free to cleaning him up. Though none of them probably would have done what the First Mate had done, they couldn't help but be a little in awe off the deed, or the fact he had taken those blows without once crying out or buckling. Especially considering the Captain had a hand in punishment even prior to this public display. Rhazor was sliced free from the restraining ropes and only then did his knees weaken but he growled out against any help and stepped away. This was not their responsibility, but his own, and he would not have anyone showing any weakness toward him lest they find themselves in the same shape. As he crossed close to Brendan, he passed the kneeling Styrkar, and with a growl of hatred, he kicked out his foot. Although the action pulled the already gashed flesh across his back, he planted a solid blow against the side of the man's head, tipping him over and leaving him groaning in pain. No one stepped over to help the twin, but the large man would eventually manage on his own. "Watch your back." Rhazor graveled to Brendan but didn't even slow further to do so. With the Twins' punishment, both by Rhazor and by Eric, they would be a testy pair of knife wielders. Never a good thing.

Brendan didn't call out, he didn't dare for fear his voice would crack with emotion but he took a step forward, stopping with a warning sound from the sailor who stood beside him. Instead, he watched Eric leave and then Rhazor. He wanted to grin when Rhazor kicked the Twin, nearly biting his lip to keep from doing so. Blues lifted to the First Mate and he gave a single nod. Brendan was making some friends among the crew but he was definitely making enemies as well. He considered following Rhazor but knew the First Mate would refuse his help as well. Finally, he moved to the rail of the ship, hands resting on the rail, and stared out over the water. Maybe no one would notice he was still on deck.

Date: 02-14-12
Poster: Jon Stirling
Post # 12

Several days and nights had passed since the punishment of Rhazor. For Brendan it meant lonely days in his cabin, fed and given drink, sometimes a bucket of water for washing. He did his best but longed for a hot bath even as he laughed at himself for it. That was a luxury that happened only on shore. Finally, the door was left unlocked and he was allowed on deck again. The round of chores began all over. Polish the brass, clean out the lanterns, and add new winks. He had just finished swabbing the deck, and was dumping the water over the side when he paused, and leaned against the rail. There was wood floating in the water. "Wreckage to the port side!" It was automatic that he called out, though no one seemed to mind. A few others even came over to have a look.

One of those few was the Captain himself, pressing an arm against Brendan to peer over the side. "Look for survivors." He called out, shoving from the rail to go further up the ship and lean over to look again. "Jensen, up!" He barked, and the man known as Jensen scrambled up one of the ropes to get a better view from above. "Rhazor, mind Her hull, I'll not have Her slutting up against the body of some dead ship carcass." Once again he shoved away, scanning the deck. "Gunner! Find me proof of whose ship this is!" The pirates' gunner jerked off an "Aye-aye" and started to dart off, but Eric stopped him with a growl. "Not you, you sorry bastard...him!" And he jabbed a gloved finger at Brendan.

Brendan watched as those given orders started to move and when the Pirate Lord pointed toward him, he snapped out an. "Aye, sir." Moving forward to gain a better place to watch, he saw broken boards, chests that were opened, what looked to be a dress, and a doll, There was a long stream of material, rich red and sparkling with jewels, and then.. "There!" Another man stood by a long boat and Brendan joined him. Together they lowered the ship and Brendan helped row in the right direction. They had found the board with the name painted in sparkling gold paint. "Gloria de la Reina is the name!" Brendan yelled out. The ship was Spanish definitely. The watch in the crow's nest called out. "There's th' remains o' a ship afire ahead and another near her, wit' damage. Flyin' the Jolly Roger... crossed blades, one skull... can't make out... " The man paused, knowing this wasn't going to please the Captain. "Tis the Gypsy Song, Cap'n Stirling's ship."

"Stirling!" Westmoreland strode forward, knocking men aside who had stepped in his way so that they could get a look at the burning ships ahead. "Do you see bodies? Boats?" Westmoreland wanted Stirling's body, dead or alive, either worked for him. Could Eric be so lucky that the cocky upstart would have been on that ship? If he was a praying man, he might just lift up a supplication for such a streak of good fate. He wasn't though. "Twenty gold for any who can find me Stirling's body." And twenty more if they drug him aboard the Whore bloody and flopping. But then Eric hissed out a curse. The Song wasn't incapacitated, only played over hard. Dammit.

Brendan had never seen Stirling but it seemed that the man in the boat had. The Gunner looked around, and spotted one body then another. Other men were along the rails, leaning and looking. The bodies were Spanish soldiers or sailors. No women or children so perhaps they hadn't been any. At least the gunner prayed so. "No point in lookin' further, lad," the pirate said. He and Brendan rowed back to the ship and climbed back onboard. Brendan helped pull the long boat back in place, then he turned to watch what was happening.

The Song turned and limped it's way toward the Whore. It had taken some damage but alas, as they grew nearer, there was Jonathan Stirling himself, standing on the figurehead of the ship, handing on to one rope. "Ahoy Putain! Permission to come aside!" Oh, he was going to enjoy this.

Eric wheezed out yet another curse under his breath. "Granted." He called out, positioning himself so that Stirling would rise up right in front of the Sea Whore's captain. At least Eric wouldn't have to be counting out any gold for his crew. Brendan's return on deck was not missed, a flicker of notice there, but for the most part, Eric knew better than to take his attention fully from the Scourge.

Scattering the flotsam in every direction, the Song came close enough that each sailor could see the other. There was some grumbling from the crew of the Song but a look from the Scourge silenced them. He smiled and waved when he saw Eric, as if this was a friendly visit. "Ah, there you are." He yelled over the distance. "Just a little sooner and you could have joined in the fun. If I might come aboard, I've a gift for you. A portion of the plunder as it were."

Now the gunner saw the second of the Unholy Trinity and from the tales told, there was bad blood between these two. He studied Eric, knowing the man wouldn't be paying attention then turned to watch as the Song came along side.

Westmoreland crossed his arms against his chest, nodding off his own greeting to the sarcastic wave of hand. The Whore's crew stood, to the man, with a hand on their weapons although none were drawn. "Aren't you the ever thoughtful one, Stirling." He waved a black-gloved palm in a sweep to welcome the bast'age aboard. "You and two of your shadows. No more." If Jon was smart, he'd not be on the Whore alone. If Eric was smart, he'd not allow more than the three to cross over. They were neither of them dead, as yet, so they must both possess some semblance of ... smarts. BlackBeard did not have to give any orders for his men. Two pirate ships, this close, wood practically kissing wood, didn't make for cozysogladtoseeyou attitudes. Both sides were eager and ready, and actually wanting...but both held their edge for now.

Jonathan would never forget how dangerous his two partners were, and they should never forget that in spite of his youth, he was also dangerous. He gave Eric a bow with a flourish. Unlike BlackBeard, the Sterling Scourge was dressed simply, in black pants, tucked into folded down boots and a silken shirt of white, not quite pristine since the fight with the Spanish merchant ship. A silver sash around his waist held his weapons. He shouted out an order, then using the rope in his hand swung over as two men joined him. One was known simply as the Moor, dark and powerfully built. It was unknown if he was truly a Moor, or just accepted the name. The other was Grim, also powerfully built but shorter then the Moor. He carried a chest with ease, leaving none to doubt his strength. As Jonathan landed on the deck, he glanced over the hostile crew until it came to rest on Brendan. He noted the lad wore no weapon before he nodded, looking away and waited for Eric.

Brendan took note of every look, every nuance between the two men. The tension on the ships became a living thing, hissing around the heels of the men, curling up their bodies. The gunner felt it too, feeling a cold shiver down his spine. If battle between the two began, he'd certainly be a casualty with no weapons to defend himself. As Stirling came onto the Whore, the gunner couldn't help studying the contrast between him and Westmoreland. The men with him seemed to have ben chosen for their differences. He felt Stirling's eyes on him and looked from his men. He didn't return the nod, just stood frozen. When Stirling looked away, Brendan looked up at Rhazor, to see his reaction to the whole affair.

  Rhazor's reaction was a physical one, when the pirate captain and young man made eye contact, the scarred pirate stepped closer to Brendan. The boy would be responsible for himself with Stirling's crew as antsy as the Whore's. All it would take was one mismovement and that would start a frick'n war. The tip of a blade pressed into Brendan's side, then flattened at his lower back. All the gunner had to do was reach behind him and accept the means to some sort of self-protection. But he better die silent if he was ever asked where he received it.

Eric followed Jon's gaze, his own narrowing before he started away. "You can clean up a little in my cabin." Blackbeard growled continuing past Rhazor and Brendan, he caught movement between the two but didn't witness the handoff. Considering the circumstances, the Captain may not have objected. It was better he didn't see though, better safe than sorry where Westmoreland was concerned.

Jonathan inclined his head, that sly smile still in place. He looked back just in time to see Eric's reaction to the boy but said nothing. This was going to take some looking into. Carefully of course. "How very kind." He motioned to the two men to bring the chest. The other had turned to retrieve a second, swung over by a rope. Stirling didn't bother to glance back at his crew. His First Mate had better keep them in hand.

Brendan was freed from that state when Rhazor came up beside him and felt the tip of the blade. He didn't look at Rhazor just watched as the two Captains strode by and when Eric was gone, he reached to grab the blade with an inward sigh of relief. Now if anything happened, he could at least fight. And he'd claim he had picked the blade up from the floor. He tucked it into his boot sheath, hidden by the other men.

Leaving the others on the deck, Westmoreland led the trio toward his cabin. Jon's empty comment caused Eric to snort, not looking back to Jon or his men. "Getting you cleaned up isn't for your benefit, Pricklicker, but for mine. You insult my sensibilities." As if Westmoreland had any sensibilities! "You fuckin' disgust me right now." He opened his door and strode on in, pointing off to the side where a table sported a bowl and pitcher of water

Jon laughed outright, shaking his head. "Ah, I see. Well, we wouldn't want to do that. Grim, go out and have one of the lads get a shirt for me that won't offend the Captain's delicate constitution." He pulled off the stained and dirty one while he headed for the table and tossed it to the man. Grim would have to go through the gauntlet of Eric's men in order to do so but Stirling was sure Rhazor would keep it all calm.

Eric continued over to a highbacked, winged chair, lowering down into the comfort of it while Jon cleaned himself up. No reason to comment on that undertaking further, instead he jerked off a nod to the man lingering with the chest to place the thing down, right...there. All without a single word on the topic. "So was this sacking planned, Stirling? Or did you just get lucky?"

"I got lucky." Jon wasn't complaining about being able to wash up. Had the Sea Whore not been spotted, he would have done so on his own ship. By the time Grim returned, he was ready for the shirt and the second chest was placed beside the first. "I was making my way along the coast when they fired on me." He shook his head after pulling the shirt on and looked at Eric. "And they had quite a compliment of cannons. Unusual for a merchant ship not to mention the soldiers." Tucking his shirt in, he made his way to the first chest, and opened it, lifting out a brick of opium and tossed it to Eric. "The cargo was even more interesting." The other chest was opened as well. It contained doubloons and jewelry, gold plate and other valuables. "The fact the soldiers were on board makes it a sanctioned cargo. And there were these." He held out three posters, but those had him grinning. They were wanted posters for the three men, offering 500 gold pieces, written in Spanish of course. "We should be flattered, aye?

Out on deck, the crews were still staring at one another. Brendan caught sight of one of the Song's crew that had a brow raising. He was a dwarf, with a rather splendid head of brown curls that fell below his shoulders. His coat was red, trimmed with gold and he even carried a sword. In fact, he seemed to be wearing clothing similar to what the dead soldiers had been wearing. The small man disappeared again, into the crowd of sailors.

Eric caught the wrapped square against his chest, bringing it out to look at it, a dark brow lifting. The other chest opened and the Whore's captain leaned forward to take a gander at the weight of riches captured by Stirling. The last bit proffered, held before him, had him snorting out a laugh. "Hell, I'd turn you both in for that myself." But he nodded, although not flattered, more so wondering about the soldiers and this particular cargo. "Did you manage to take any of the soldiers to question, Stirling?" If not for the merchandise, a pirate could believe these bastages were only out here 'looking' for the Three.

"I have one in... custody now." He closed the second and sat on it while his men stood like statues. "But, I found someone more willing to sing like a bird. There was a Dwarf on board. For the amusement of the Captain, apparently. Dressed up like a soldier, but misused. He nearly ran over to the Song on his own when we began to fight. He told me that not only are these ships on the look out for us, but the Spanish and French are allies now. So we need to watch for them as well." He paused for a long moment. "And some of those ships will be out looking for us, in the guise of merchants." A grin slowly grew. "These two chests are yours. I've Doom's share which I will give him when I find him." That grin became sly again. "Now, tell me about that pretty lad you have on board, and I'll tell some rumors of a certain Captain." He half expected to be sailing out on his ear.

Well didn't this just reek of horsepiss. Eric took it all in with only the faintest of frowns, but the fingers of the hand resting on the chair arm had tightened into a death grip. "The boy? What do you wish to know?" He waved away that question. "You have your dwarf, you have no need of that boy. Speak to me of the Callihan Captain, Stirling."

"Just curious. He wasn't armed, doesn't look like your usual crew." He laughed with the answer, then shrugged. "I thought you had decided to take on a protege, Westmoreland." He wouldn't press however and continued. "She's been seen in Bridgetown quite a bit. The Dream's been staying in the Caribbean, though tis said she's sailed for her home. And the Captain's been seen in the company of one captain quite a bit. Some say it's more than a business partnership but there's been no proof."

Eric surged to his feet with that last bit of information, but caught himself, redirecting his reaction and walked toward his desk, placing that package there. His back was to Jon and the two sidekicks, and while he didn't trust the man, at the moment he wasn't concerned with his exposed back. He held tight to the brick, allowing his gut to settle before turning back to Stirling. When Eric did, he leaned against the desk, both hands gripping the edge, ankles crossed. "No proof is as substantial as a fart, might smell like shit but usually holds no real weight. I'm only interested if there's a shit stain up the back of your britches, Stirling. Then...I'll be more apt to pay attention to that release of air." The first of the information, though, he locked away for future use. He shoved up. "Since we're not here to swap spit and tongue motion, guess we're done." He started for the door, but paused. "What do you need to get that ship of yours sea worthy?"

He watched Eric with a hooded gaze, a slight smirk on his face until the man turned. "Don't you even want the name?" He wouldn't mind if Westmoreland went after the man but well, looked like he have to get more proof first. Pity that. "You have such a way with words, Westmoreland." Getting up from his seat, he sighed. "And here I thought you'd offer dinner at least." He was about to follow Eric out but stopped. "Wood and tar for patching the hull. One sail." His had caught on fire and it was the Devil's own luck that it hadn't burned completely, and men with buckets.

"You'll have it." Eric growled. "Wood and tar that is, and the sail." Jon would be wanting for his meal just like Eric was wanting for a name
. Hell yes he wanted it, with or without concrete proof. Proof was - Regan Callihan was seen in the man's company more than once, that condemned him whether or not they were more than just business partners. He wouldn't ask though. The Song's Bastard of a Captain already knew too much about how to tweak Eric's interest. Asking was too much like begging, and Westmoreland would use his own blade to castrate himself before he allowed Jon to do that very thing...castrating Eric by requiring him to beg.

"Then for that, I'll give you the name." He felt... generous. "Captain Marcus DeHaven. His ship is the Benevolence." Jon paused and studied Westmoreland. "You wouldn't be heading for port, would you? Luanda?" The port of Luanda was, at the moment, under Portugese control. There would be no problem for the two ships though Stirling's journey would likely take a bit more time since the repairs needed to be made. . As long as there were no interruptions.

"DeHaven?" Eric had heard that name well as his ship's name, the Benevolence. The Benevolence. The Bene...Westmoreland's lips thinned and his gaze narrowed. That encounter with Regan, when Eric hadn't seen the Dream, the only ship he hadn't recognized was the bloodyfuckinbenevolence! The answer to Jon's question would wait as Eric fumed, then he looked over to his ... guest. "I may be, why?"

"If you're still there when we reach the port, I'm wondering if I could borrow the boy." He held up a hand to stop Eric's protest. "I have a 'client' there who is not comfortable with men the likes of any of our crew. The boy would merely accompany me for a few hours and then I'd bring him back." It was the truth but he was also seeing just how much Eric would allow. Stirling had no idea of course that the Gunner was really a prisoner. Not that he would have withdrawn his request.

Westmoreland stood without answering for quite some time, just staring at Stirling. "He's not a fuck toy, Stirling." Eric growled, but nodded. "He is a run risk though, know that. And if he is successful, I'll not only find him and skin him alive, I'll be hanging your rotting hide to dry beside it. We clear?" A mental debate continued to rail inside his brain, but with Jon, a man needed to be ever cautious.

Jon's lip actually curled. He preferred women, not some pretty boy but he kept his opinion of those who did to himself. "And I won't allow him to be used as one." He pulled himself together, then nodded. "Perfectly clear. And whatever you want in payment if he does, will suit." The client was that important. "I only need him for those few hours." Of course, not all those hours would be with the client.

A curt nod. "All right then. I'll have Rhazor arrange for your supplies. See you when next we cross paths, Stirling." Time to goooo, time to goooo, get a move on, Boy-O.

Stirling nodded, motioned to his two shadows and headed out of the cabin. He ignored the men surrounding him and crossed over to his own ship, using a rope tossed to him by one of his crew. As soon as his feet touched the deck, he was shouting orders. And laughing inside. He had not expected Eric to agree. He didn't want the boy to run. He wanted information but he'd be careful about asking, very, very careful.

Brendan watched as Captain Stirling crossed to his ship and still the crew kept watch. He had tucked the knife away so if Rhazor wanted it, he'd have to ask. Some of the men around him muttered as Stirling left scot-free. They didn't move either. If there was an attack, they'd be ready, including the gunners below.

Rhazor had walked away from Brendan, what he held, was his to take care of. Since the boy was standing practically by himself, Eric walked up to take a place by his shoulder, watching as Jon and his two crossed back over. "You'll be going with Stirling when we make port." He growled, not even looking over to him. Those words. Stated. Then he walked away. "Rhazor!" He called. "Tar, wood, a sail for the Song. And damn, Man, make it quick so they can get the fuck away from us." One pirate ship was a cockspring for any captain of virtue set to clear the waters. Two? Uncontrolled, instant ejaculation.

Brendan turned his head when Westmoreland came up beside him. He was surprised of course, but he held his tongue and only answered, "Aye, sir," as the Pirate Lord walked away. He wasn't even questioning anymore. Everything would be known in time. As Rhazor snapped out orders, and the crew followed, the gunner slipped down to his cabin. The knife was hidden away in his sea chest. Best not to be caught carrying it though he'd be keeping it in his boot once he fixed the sheath a bit more. Then he headed back up to help see to the supplies being handed over to the Song.

Date: 02-14-12
Poster: Jon Stirling
Post # 13

The city of Luanda sat at the edge of the ocean. The Portuguese had made it into an imitation of their homeland so it seemed out of place. But it was a perfect stop for those ships with cargo, looking for trade or for repairs. The Song had been in port for only a few hours when Stirling disembarked and made his way to the Whore. His two shadows were behind him of course. He stopped at the gangplank of Westmoreland's ship and yelled out. "Ahoy the Sea Whore," not caring how anyone around him reacted. "Permission to come aboard."

Brendan had washed up and put on his best clothes, and of course, his best boots. He had pulled his hair back with a strip of rawhide though the humidity still made loose strands curl around his face. The knife Rhazor had given him fit nicely in the sheath and was hidden. He heard the call as he sat on a barrel on deck. The gunner realized he was sweating and not from the heat.

Stirling would wait, and wait some more. Since the captain wasn't on deck, a man darted below to announce the Scourge's arrival and request. Jon...waited some more. At last, Westmoreland stepped up to the rail, looking down to the threesome. "Get their asses up here." He grumbled out a growl and turned to walk away. "Granted!" One of the men closest called out, activity picking up all around as the Scourge planned to come aboard. Pirates were an odd lot of miscreants. Backstabbing, lifestealing, coinrobbing, sneakyasshit bastards, almost to the man. But they also recognized their superiors, because those were even more vicious, more bloodthirsty, more scheming than the common herd...and therefore even more feared. The pirates aboard the Whore may be calloused and hardnosed, but this was the Scourge, by God, and he was coming aboard to speak with Blackbeard. History, folks, another page in history here. Eric looked to Brendan, meeting his gaze only momentarily, before he turned, his arms behind his back as he waited for Jon to join them. The back of his arm was to the gunner, but his words were for him alone. "Be ready, Boy, he has come for you."

Jon seemed to be quite patient with the wait, but inside he was not dealing with it well. He would not let Westmoreland know of course so when permission was finally given, he looked at his men and started up, a half smile on his face. "Good morning, Captain." He looked from Eric to the boy and back. "Does he have a name?" For the moment, he was ignoring Brendan.

Brendan came to his feet when Eric appeared and met his gaze calmly enough. When Eric turned, the younger man rubbed his hands on the sides of his legs. It helped some. "Aye, sir, I am." As much as he could be. When Stirling asked his name, Brendan bit at his lip. He wanted to laugh but put it down to nervousness and kept his mouth... shut!

Wasn't Jon the epitome of ... pretty. Eric snorted softly to himself as the man and his two goons approached. "Captain." He returned the greeting with the very faintest motion of head, evidenced by the flutter of feather in his hat. "I'm sure he does, but you'll know him as votre le pire cauchemar if he manages to slip through your skinny fingers. Otherwise, call him what you want." Rhazor was to Eric's right and he cleared his throat. "His given name is Brendan, Captains." Eric dipped his head, sliding a look Rhazor's way because of the offer of information. Rhazor nodded once to the look, the brow where the scar began arching. "You have a pet name for him, don't you Rhazor?" Westmoreland's chin lifted, one eye squinting to the quartermaster. Rhazor's pause in reply was due to the tightening of his lips. "Aye, Sir." Damn if he wanted Stirling to use it though. Rhazor bloody well couldn't not continue. "Roach. But I'm sure Captain Stirling will find a more suitable name for the boy." "Oooh, really." One side of Eric's lip twitched before he looked back to Stirling. "How long did you say? Two days and a night?"

Stirling watched it all with a hint of amusement and yes, he was dressed up. Even to wearing a hat, though not one as fancily feathered as Eric's. He looked at Rhazor, and nodded, then his lips twitched at the nickname. No, he wouldn't use it, not out in the city. "I can keep him that long if you wish. But I said until my business is done." He looked over Eric's shoulder at the lad. "C'mon Roach. We need to get moving."

Brendan relaxed some as Rhazor spoke up then his eyes grew wide. That long? He nearly winced at the use of his nickname, catching himself just in time and nodded. He was as ready as he was going to be. He glanced at Eric and Rhazor's and squared his shoulders. "Aye, sir."

Then his business better be completed in two days, one night. No longer. "Votre le pire cauchemar." Eric called to the men as they started away. "Have fun, Sweethearts!" He gave a little wave toward Brendan and Jon. Turning away, Westmoreland started walking toward the door that led to his cabin. "Not fuckin' liking it." He snarled, but sometimes, you had to eat shit with a knife and a fork, in order to keep your fingers clean enough to strangle the neck of the one you were eating with. "Rhazor!" He snapped out, turning to look for the man, only to find those scarred features all tightly drawn into a frown and watching the foursome depart. Gave the man a deadly mean appearance, to be sure. Not bad. Not bad at all. The first mate looked around to the Captain. "I'll have a word with you in private."

Jon went down the gangplank first with Brendan following and then his two men. "Well, since we have a bit more time then expected, have you eaten, Brendan?" He was about eight years older then Brendan. Maybe a little more so he was going to treat the lad like a younger brother. All for his own reasons of course.

"No sir, I haven't." He hadn't been able to take a bite of his breakfast. For that matter, he wasn't sure he'd be able to until this was all over.

Jon looked him over then chuckled. Brendan didn't look like he was starving. "Food, then we'll see to a bath and clothes. You smell like a ship rat." He paused and when the boy looked at him again, he spoke in a low voice, in a tone that made his own men blanch. "Those words Blackbeard spoke on deck. Do you know what they mean? Your worst nightmare. If you try to escape from me, you're going to be returned to the Whore all right, but dead. Do you understand." He watched the gunner's face until Brendan nodded. "Good. Don't try and we'll get along famously. Now, let's see about that meal."

Date: 02-16-12
Poster: Jon Stirling
Post # 14

Jonathan Stirling was certain that most of those who knew of him, did not truly know him. Yes, he was cruel, with streaks of madness. He was ruthless, cunning and a touch vain. But he could show kindness, generosity and even mercy when it suited him. It didn't mean he was any of those but it did leave some to wonder if his soul had not been totally lost. He was showing kindness and generosity to the younger man who walked beside him on the road of Luanda. They had just finished their meal and ventured back out into the hot sun to visit a tailor. "You'll need something to put on after you bathe and I don't think you want to put back on what you're wearing. Your boots will do though." It was hard enough to keep clean for the average sailor. Washing clothes was even harder.

Brendan was stuffed. The meal had rivaled the one he had been served on the Whore. It was definitely more exotic though he had turned down a few of the less appetizing dishes much to the amusement of his 'host'. It was hard to remain suspicious of Jonathan, who he learned was only eight years older. The Pirate Captain had answered some of his questions, deftly avoiding others and hadn't lost his temper. He had even asked a few himself, keeping away from any that involved Westmoreland, his crew or ship.

The tailor's shop was cool inside, having been built with baked clay rather then the wood the Portuguese favored. In fact, he wasn't Portuguese but Dutch. Master was lean and good natured, and tended to wear bright colors. On Jonathan's orders Brendan was given several changes of clothing to try on, in spite of his unwashed condition. Master Beeres waved his concern away. It was Jonathan who decided on the clothing. A shirt of light cotton, dyed a pale blue, a vest of navy linen and navy linen pants. All much cooler then the heavier cotton Brendan was wearing. The tailor's eye was so fine, no adjustment was needed. He didn't bother to tell either man that the clothing had been ordered by a noble of the city. The coin was in hand and he could re-make the items quickly enough. "Now for the most enjoyable part of the day." Jon clapped a hand to Brendan's shoulder. "A hot bath and a bit of... company."

Company? He wasn't quite sure what Stirling meant but nodded. While it was true that baths were rare on board a ship, and sometimes even washing up was next to impossible, the ships the gunner had been on made port enough for one to enjoy the luxury. While they walked, he took in everything, the way the buildings looked, how the dust blew up from the streets, the people who watched them walk by. Some nodded, some watched and some looked away. A pretty Portuguese lass, dressed in the newest style, smiled at Brendan from behind a lacy fan, causing him to grin and half turn to watch her, much to the displeasure of her middle-aged escort.

"Careful, lad," Jonathan chuckled as he put a hand on Brendan's shoulder and turned him toward a large square. "You'll have her duenna coming after you with her umbrella." They crossed the square, moving passed the fountain where several young boys sailed toy wooden boats, then down another street. The building they headed for was large, with balconies of wood, and painted white. Jonathan knocked and spoke to whomever peeked through a small opening in the door. It was covered over again and the door opened. The guard there was as tall as Rhazor and as powerfully built. He bowed to Jonathan and Brendan, eyeing the bundle the boy carried though he said nothing. Jonathan greeted a woman who was older but still beautiful. "And who is this?" She asked in a heavy French accent as she eyed Brendan. Jonathan ginned, knowing the younger man was likely blushing. "Brendan O'Sionna. Brendan, then is Madame Després. " She linked her arms through those of both men and lead them into another room. There were young women there, all in diaphanous gowns of various colors. All were quite lovely and as varied as the colors of their gowns. Some had pale skin, some were as dark as coffee. Their hair, also varied in color, and styles. Jonathan spoke to the Madame Després in a whisper and she laughed. "Come, gentlemen. Our bathing rooms are this way."

Brendan grinned at Jonathan's words, though the way the lass looked at him had him coloring from the neck up. He could tell from the heat that followed. "No, we don't want that, do we?" He turned quickly to step up beside Stirling. The boys at the fountain had him smiling, then he was paying attention to their surroundings again. Of course, he was curious about the building until they stepped inside. When he saw the girls, Brendan realized they were in a brothel. He looked at Jon then grinned at Madame, coloring just a touch. One day he'd get over that but it seemed to please her and the girls. He was still grinning like a loon when she took them into another area of the house.

"The house, she is build over hot springs, so we always have hot water for bathing." A kiss was placed on the cheeks of both men before she left them. "Enjoy!" Jonathan chuckled as he pulled his shirt off then he looked at Brendan. "You're not a virgin, are you?" Continuing to undress as he spoke.

"No!" Brendan's answer came quickly, causing the gunner to grimace. "I'm a sailor, not some protected landlubber." He laughed and shrugged. Turning after he pulled off his shirt, he finished undressing. Couldn't help being mode

Jon laughed at the answer then shrugged. "Just curious is all. Nice tatt." He frowned slightly at the bright pink scars lacing the younger man's back, some even through the raven tattoo. "Why'd were you whipped?"

Brendan grinned over his shoulder. "Thanks. I got it when I was called Raven. Yours is interesting too." He paused at the question, turning away. "I gave a smart answer one too many times." It sounded good enough. "I heard how you got your scars."

"Aye, I'm sure many have. Trophy of war, more or less." He was glad the lad turned. He wouldn't see the expression on the Captain's face. "I'll take the room on the left, you take the one on the right." And he left Brendan there

Brendan heard the subtle change of the pirate captain's voice but didn't look at him. He knew better. After Jonathan closed the door, Brendan headed into the other room. He slipped into the water with a sigh, closing his eyes as the warmth soothed aching limbs. There was soup and washcloths beside the tub which was more a hole in the ground with pipes that constantly moved the water. He didn't open his eyes until he heard someone step into the water. When the gunner did open them, they grew wider at the sight of a pretty dark haired lass joining him. "Uhhhh.... hello." The girl giggled, talking up a washcloth. Brendan grinned again. This was turning out to be quite a day!

A few hours later, the two were headed for the meeting with Jonathan's client. "He's an eccentric old man who calls himself Sheik Wasie al Tomas. He's neither a Sheik or Arabian. What he is, is rich and, in spite of his appearance, dangerous." Jonathan looked at Brendan. "If he speaks to you, answer but otherwise, keep quiet. He's had men torn apart for speaking out of turn." He looked at the extravagant palatial mansion at the top of a hill overlooking the city. "Supposedly he has the mayor of this town in his pocket and pretty much does want he wants." Grim had supplied Jonathan and Brendan with horses and though Jon teased the gunner about not being able to ride, Brendan was doing all right. The two shadows followed as they rode the road up to the gate. Once inside, Grim and the Moor waited with the horses

"I'll keep quiet." He had learned how to in the last few weeks, and did not intend to die at the hands of some crazy old man. Though he wasn't as good a rider as his companion, Brendan did well enough. He dismounted and looked at Jonathan as they walked toward the house. "You've met a lot of different people, haven't you?" Sometimes it was easy to forget Stirling was as dangerous as the other two members of the Trinity.

"Aye. Some through others, some by luck." He wiggled his brows at Brendan. "Some had no choice but to buy my services. Here we go, Boy-o." The door was opened by a young boy who smiled and bowed and didn't speak much English at all. Jonathan frowned as they were led up two flights of steps, down a hall and another pair of steps that led to a door where the boy knocked. "This isn't usually where he conducts business." He told Brendan in a low voice. "Be on your guard." They stepped into the room where the Sheik sat on a mound of pillows. He wasn't a large man but extremely thin. Dressed in white and gold robes with a white turban on his head, he was smoking a hookah. Incense burners surrounded him as well. Jonathan wasn't pleased with what was burning but he bowed as the man stood. The Sheik also had an extravagant beard and mustache, curled and scented, and dyed an odd shade of red. His fingers were covered with expensive rings and he wore many gold chains and necklaces around his neck. "Ah, Captain Stirling. Welcome, welcome. Please, you and the young gentleman, sit." His accent was British. He smiled showing imperfect teeth as he motioned. "Refreshments? Smoke? How may I address the young gentleman?" Jonathan looked at Brendan and back. "This is Raven." "Ah, welcome Master Raven. Sit. Sit." He clapped his hands and a young woman appeared. "Yasmine, wine for the gentlemen. Please." The wine Jonathan accepted. The smoke he would not. It was opium, even in the incense burners. "We'll do nothing until the windows are open. And if that doesn't suit, I'll take my business elsewhere." As soon as Jonathan spoke, he turned to open the door. "No, no. Yasmine will take care of that." It seemed the man called all his female servants Yasmine for another appeared to open the windows. They were in the dome at the top of the house and from there one could see the entire city spread around them. Jonathan finally sat and nodded at Brendan to do the same. Though the ocean air helped to clear the smoke some, it still lay heavy. Jonathan ignored it.

Brendan just smiled at the Captain, then turned his head to once more study the building as they walked through. The boy was small but wiry and his dark eyes showed intelligence. He grinned at the gunner as he let them into the room. The smoke in the room made Brendan sneeze which he stifled. His eyes were watering as well and even when the windows were thrown open, it didn't seem to help. As he sat, he began to feel oddly euphoric. Somehow he made it through the meeting without interrupting. When they left, he found it hard to remember what had occurred, and he even had trouble mounting the horse. Finally, they were heading back down into the city.

Jonathan was well aware that Brendan would be showing the affects of the drug -- not that he cared. He was enjoying it in fact. The boy had been given a day he wouldn't forget, and if it irritated Westmoreland, all the better. "All right, Raven, we need to get you back to the old man's ship." He gave the gunner a grin then motioned in the directions of the docks as he dismounted. "Let's walk and clear our heads a bit, aye?" By the time they reached the docks, Jonathan's head was clear. He studied the ship again, taking note of the activity of the crew. He intended to visit the Whore again. This was a mystery he was going to solve.

Date: 02-18-12
Poster: Brendan O'Sionna
Post # 15

It was dark when Jonathan and Brendan finally returned to the Sea Whore, Jonathan's shadows following. "Ahoy, the Sea Whore. Permission to come aboard." Jonathan yelled out, amusement heavy in his voice. A sweetish pungent scent surrounded them both. Jonathan seemed unaffected but Brendan had a bemused expression. The pirate looked at the younger man and chuckled. This might not go over well.

Brendan had been more affected by the smoke from the Sheik's hookah then Jonathan. He didn't realize it of course and he certainly didn't mind it. This had been quite a day for the Gunner. One he wouldn't forget, and he hadn't had to answer any questions other then what ships he had been on and his duties, and where he was born.

Since the crew had been directed to watch for the Scourge's possible return, they shouted down and waved them on up. The stimulating, telltale waft of lingering smoke had a few of the men muttering to each other, eyeing Stirling and his entourage from beneath lowered or turned heads. Rhazor was the one to step up in order to collect their charge, forcing himself not to react to the recognizable 'perfume' of an evening well spent. "He's waiting for you in his room. But your lackeys...they stay with me. Aye?" His gaze drifted past Stirling to settle on Brendan, looking the young man over for any signs of misuse or abuse.

Neither Jonathan or Brendan had smoked the stuff, just been confined to a room filled with the smoke. Stirling just hid a hint of a smile and nodded to Rhazor. "As you wish." He motioned to the two men who frowned, but had no choice but to obey. When they reached the door, he knocked before opening the door and motioned for the boy to enter first. Brendan was literally feeling no pain and he just grinned at the First Mate when they walked on deck. He was wearing a new shirt, pants and vest. There was also another scent on the boy. A woman's perfume, subtle and delicate but there it was. He was carrying his old clothes in a package, wrapped in brown paper. When Jonathan motioned him in. "After you, Roach." Loud enough for the First Mate to hear.

With the knock, Eric's eyes and head lifted from the scattered parchment on his desk. These he shuffled into a pile and had started to his feet by the time the two entered. The fragrance of an evening of opiates and ovaries drifted in courtesy of the evening breeze. One glance and Westmoreland recognized the change of clothes for the younger and the smug grin of the elder. He brought his fisted hands behind his back, vicious thoughts darkening his countenance, tightening wide shoulders. He strolled around his desk, approaching the two. A tilt of head made his survey of Brendan even more noticeable, moving his chin down and then back up to the boy's face with his study. "I distinctly remember telling you, Stirling, the lad wasn't a fuck toy." The dark visage that had settled, shifted, and locked on Jon.

"And he wasn't used as one." Stirling crossed his arms over his chest, looking for all the world like a defiant son rather then a Captain. "He had a bath at Madam Depres and a bit of fun, by choice. Unfortunately, my client met us in a room filled with smoke. By the time he had the windows opened, Brendan was feeling the affects." Which were wearing off and for the moment, didn't seem as bad as if he had smoked it directly. He looked from Jonathan to Eric and swallowed, his mouth dry. He hadn't thought about the consequences of the day ... still it was worth it, even if it meant another lashing.

"That included using him for fucking ... me. You damn asswipe." He shot a look to Brendan, but didn't keep it there. "I trust your business went well then." He didn't wait to hear the answer before continuing. "You reek of cheap perfume and mind warping, Boy. Get to your cabin to air out before one of your shipmates gets the wrong idea and attempts to take advantage of both of those. Or before I decide it might be the best thing for you." Never once looking to Brendan again as he spoke, just keeping eye contact with Jon. He didn't say anything else, and wouldn't, until Brendan could make good his escape.

Maybe the smoke had affected Stirling because he just looked at Eric for a long moment, then he nodded. "It went well enough Got what I wanted, the Sheik got what he wanted. And I enjoyed myself on top of it all." Odd that he admitted that but he was hiding his amusement well.

Brendan snapped to attention, his eyes going as wide before he nodded. "Aye sir." He turned on a heel and high-tailed it out of the Captain's sight. Ignoring everyone, he made his escape to his cabin, closed the door and covered his mouth to keep from laughing. Not funny, Brendan, not funny!

Once Brendan was off and away, Eric nodded slowly in response to Jon's revelation. Not that he really even cared. "Glad to hear." Bullpiss. And Stirling would know it. Not that Westmoreland wasn't glad to hear, but more so, he really didn't give a frog's warty ass whether or not business went well or if the Song's Captain had enjoyed himself. What'da'fuckever, dronedronedrone, pilf.

No, he wouldn't care. Jonathan nodded, then lowered his hands. "At any rate, the boy is back. And thought I'm sure you're disappointed, he didn't try to run. Now, if we're finished, I'll be on my way." He studied Eric a moment., seemed about to ask a question, but shook his head. "I'll give Duncan your regards when next we meet." He had thought Eric would have more to say, but apparently he didn't. Brendan in the meantime, took advantage of the time alone to pull off the new clothes and set them aside. Water was used to wash off the smell as much as possible then he threw the clothes into the bucket. At least he didn't smell like a brothel anymore. The other would take time to be rid of.

Hell no Westmoreland didn't have more to say. He and Jon had never swapped spit, had never scrubbed each others asses, and they sure as hell weren't going to be sharing intimate secrets. Or any secrets for that matter. Skimming the surface kept you safe. What dark waters beneath was where the danger lurked. Westmoreland's home turf, those deep, black depths. He stepped to the door, sweeping a hand for Jon to head on out. "I was finished with you roughly ..hmmm...what...five years ago?" A twitch pulled at his lips, the only evidence of an amused smile. For all of Jon's ability to crawl all over and under Eric's skin, the man showed promise. He'd proven himself over and over. And, he lined Eric's pockets. Didn't trust him, didn't like him, but hell, Eric had to sort of, kind of, begrudgingly ... respect, hellno, accept him. "You do that, Jon...and do tell him, I miss him so, will you?" All just a monotone of nonfeeling blather.

Jonathan laughed outright, nodding. "Something like that. Finished, but not rid of." He had his own code of honor after all, and sharing the bounty, well, kept him alive. "Aye, I'll do that. Five years? Damn, didn't time fly. Still, if he learned how to stay alive as long as the two old men ... he could deal with whatever he had to.

Date: 03-03-12
Poster: Eric Westmoreland
Post # 16

The Spanish Battle

When Brendan woke the next morning, he felt strangely lethargic, maybe a touch headachy. He splash water on his face, ate what food was left for him and took the clothing he had soaked all night out of the bucket from yesterday and wrung them out before he hung them over the hammock. When he tested the door, he found it open. After a moment's thought, he went up on deck, carrying both buckets to empty over the sides. No sooner had he finished, when someone pushed a mop into his hands. Ugh. The day had begun.

The day had only just begun. The captain had set the Whore back into open water once Stirling had finally relieved them of his ... self. No reason to be snuggling up to a port where there was no business but sour business. When the Putain D'eau was docked, too many people took notice. When BlackBeard's and The Scourge's ships were sharing a port, damn sure not only notice but word was spreading. No good sense in that. Because they were a good ways back on their course, Eric had taken a break from the helm and had leaned a hip to a well polished rail, eyeing the water beyond. Conversation started up, which could mean one of a few things, and so Eric pulled his gaze from the horizon to the source. A mop wielding gunner. "Boy!" Eric called, jerking his head for the lad to come over. Worked far better than a wave of hand.

The motion of the ship was comforting, and Brendan's brain fog started to thicken. He set to work, watching the water swirl around the floorboards. That is until he heard the Pirate Lord's voice. He looked up, placed the mop in the bucket and leaned it against a barrel, then hightailed it up to the navigation deck. "Aye, sir?" He was suddenly very alert as he stood there, eyes down. He really didn't want to look Eric in the eyes.

Up there, only three men stood. Eric, Brendan and Rhazor. The latter kept his gaze straight ahead, as if he were the only one around. Westmoreland turned, propping himself in a lean of backside to the ship's support, arms crossing over his chest. "You had quite the outing as I hear it. With Stirling." The boy wasn't looking up at Eric, Eric was looking from the corners of his eyes, his head barely turned in Brendan's direction.

Oh hell. Brendan squared his shoulders and nodded. "Aye, sir. I did." He glanced up at the man, biting his lower lip as he did. He wasn't sure if he had done wrong but... hell, he still thought it was worth it. Not a glance toward Rhazor was given. He didn't want Westmoreland to think he wasn't giving the Captain his full attention.

"This life isn't all hardship, Boy." Eric had nodded once to the gunner's honesty, but still didn't turn to him. If anyone looked, it would seem he wasn't engaged with the young man beside him at all. "More of what you make it. It can be rather enjoyable. Eh, Rhazor?" Rhazor didn't say anything at first, hands tightening on the wooden knobs although with the calm water, such a grip was not necessary. "Aye Captain, depending on what you find enjoyable and if you can stomach what you don't." Westmoreland tilted his head, considering this with lips pursed, then nodded his head slowly again before he continued again. "Were you just en route, Boy? Or were you set on a life at sea?"

His shoulders would have sagged with relief had Brendan allowed it to happen. He glanced at Rhazor then turned his attention back on the Captain. His question had a brow lifting. "I've been at sea since I was fourteen, sir. Swabby at first, then up to Gunner, First Gunner's Mate, finally Gunner's Mate. Life at sea suits me." Maybe more information then the Pirate Lord wanted. Brendan wasn't sure why he was being asked, not with the possible sentence of death over his head. Didn't matter much though. The answer was the truth and would stay the same.

"Life at sea..." Eric let that comment ride the breeze for a while, floating around them, drifting off. "But life as a pirate, now there's a ..." He didn't get to finish his comment, a shout bellowed out from up high. "Company, Capt'n! Two ships! Flying the red and yellow of Spain! And by God! They are coming about in this direction!" "Fuck me." Eric hissed between his teeth, shoving up from his lean to snatch away the spyglass Rhazor was handing over. A jerk pulled the thing to full length and he pressed it to his eye. "Well, boy, looks as if you're about to play pirate, at least, for a little while." He swung the spyglass around, smacking Brendan in the chest with it for him to take, and then stormed those few steps over to Rhazor. "You better bring her about, Man. Looks as if she's going to be dancing the flamenco with those Spaniards." He jerked his hat off, tossing it to a nearby bench and jumped from his elevated height down to the main deck. "Brace your balls, ye scurvy bastards. For those of you who don't hablar, you're about to hear pain in espanol!" Men darted off in every direction, chaotic order as each man set about doing what they knew they had to do best.

Brendan watched Eric again, his expression becoming thoughtful though it disappeared when the watch yelled out their warning. He turned to look in the directions of the ships and though he couldn't see the flags clearly from the distance, they were definitely bearing down on the Whore. Brendan left out a oomph as the spyglass connected with his chest. Catching it, he closed it with a snap. He stood for a moment after Westmoreland left the deck, looked at Rhazor, then sped off. "Going to the gun deck." He didn't want to use the knives he had been given until he absolutely had to.

Rhazor opened his mouth to protest when Brendan took control of his own course. But then clamped his mouth closed again. The young man knew the cannons and knew them well. May he prove himself this day, and save his earthbound soul yet another night. The first mate worked his jaw as he spun the heavy wheel to place the Whore in her best position to welcome their uninvited guests.

If it would keep him alive, Brendan was willing. He could have retreated to his cabin, had the door locked and played prisoner but dammit, he was on this ship until Eric either decided to cut his throat or free him and he didn't think the latter would happen. They were short a gunner since the man had refused to leave his pleasure in Nambia and found his demise instead. Brendan ran his hand over the metal of the third cannon, then leaned down as the ship was turned. He couldn't explain his connection with the big guns, but somehow he usually managed to set them right and get a good bead on his target. The exception had been the Whore when he was on the Lady Jane. He looked heavenward a moment, maybe asking forgiveness for what he was about to do, maybe just praying in general, crossed himself and looked at the man with him. "Powder and ball, man and be quick about it. Those ships are gaining." Within minutes, the cannons were ready and waiting for the first call of Fire!

The Spanish ships were sleek and quick. They weren't merchant in mind by any means. Eric watched their fast approach, a wicked grin spreading over his features. Come on, come on, closer now...some whores you couldn't just pounce, you should wait for the invitation. The Spaniards had started an advance, but the Putain D'eau was now...inviting them in. "A little closer pedazo de mierda lo siento." The man closest to the captain stopped in his tracks, looking over to him but Eric didn't even notice. Dead centered on the advancing attack, he had the equivalent of tunnel vision. Judging the distance, he shouted out, startling that man who had been watching the silent captain. "Give the order! In five...four ... three ... two..."

Finally the order came, and those cannons rang out, starting with the first, each of the others a second after. Immediately they were loaded again, the rounds starting over. Smoke filled the deck, good as opium to Brendan. For a while, he forgot who he was fighting and that he was protecting those who should be enemies. The Spanish ships moved apart, one avoiding the balls, the other taking hits. Their cannon doors opening, they were preparing to fire on the Whore. "Look alive, lads!" The Gunner Mate yelled out and Brendan glanced over his shoulder to see the port side cannons being readied before another round of firing began.

Ah...the sound! The blasts that rang out caused several of the men to cheer with anticipation of the approaching battle. Eric though, closed his eyes, counting each deep bark of 'fuck you' intended for the Spanish. He could have waved a finger as a conductor to the beat of such perfection. Smoke rolled up and out of the gun ports, bringing with it the scent of impending blood loss and death. Westmoreland sucked it in deeply through his nostrils...ah yes. He didn't need to instruct Rhazor, it was the reason the man was still alive. For all the shit the scarred pirate pulled, he was extremely valuable for his expertise in battle. In the ranks of pirates, especially with Westmoreland, to stay alive, you had better make yourself 'extremely valuable'. Eric braced for the next round of cannon fire, as a man would for the topping off of his release...muscles tight, jaw tensed, and the expression of nothing short of ecstasy. The ships were close enough now that men could be seen without the spyglass... waiting... waiting... ooh God! Yes!

A bit of candle wax kept the ears of the men on the deck from ringing as those cannons kept at their work. The metal was burning hot to the touch. Brendan frowned when the Spanish cannons began to fire and re-aimed the gun in his care. When the next round was set off, the ball made a direct hit on one of the cannons, exploding it and blowing up a cask of gunpowder. He let out a exhale, then started again. They'd be on them soon and though the guns could still fire, most of the gunners would likely head up to help. The first ship had taken a good share of hits. He couldn't see the second but heard the guns firing behind him. The air was thick with smoke, and the men sweating. Someone tossed the Gunner a rag to tie around his head. He took a few seconds to tie it then started again. The first ship was starting to list but they hadn't caused enough damage yet to sink it.

Holding tight to a rope, Eric glanced up, grinning as the triple skulls flapped in the whoosh of air that came with the breeze, the ship's movements, the onslaught of battle. He knew they wouldn't come out of this unscathed. These were hardcore, determined warships, not fat, lumbering merchant vessels. But any man could enjoy a good, hard fuck once in a while, if he managed to walk away from it with only a limp and a hitch.

The first ship nearly scraped wood against wood as it slid close to the Whore. A plank was lowered to connect the ships and several of the Spanish started acrossed. Perhaps it was expected they'd die but they followed orders. Others grabbed ropes to swing over, some never touching the deck of the Whore before they fell to the water, an iron ball cutting lives short, a throw of a knife cutting rope. Below deck, there was a shout as more of the Spanish cannons blew, the doors on the Whore shut against the blasts. The Gunner's Mate tapped Brendan on the shoulder, motioning him to the other bank of cannons. One of the gunner's was wounded, unable to stay at his post. Brendan took up his position but the Mate shook his head and pointed up. then tossed the youth a sword. He was sending some of the men upstairs and the Gunner was one of those chosen. Grimacing, Brendan had no choice to obey. This was what he wanted to avoid.

Westmoreland had stripped free from his coat and tore the sleeves from the light weight frill of shirt. His sword at the ready in one hand, a poniard in the other, exposed arm muscles bunched and flexed as he prepared for the arrival. He didn't yell or shout or cry out his curses to the attacking Spanish. Silent as a last breath, he started the Spaniards who happened in his path toward that very end-their last breath. From the corner of his eye he saw that the cannons had done their darnedest, the vessel under the red and gold was a good man's height lower even now, pitching starboard enough to cause the Spanish to practically climb upwards to continue over. The other ship had come about, slamming into the Whore from behind Eric, nearly tossing the captain into the men he met blades to blades. All around men hollered from anger or pain, ships moaned and bumped, weapons clanged and boomed. Smoke curtained the scene, from the cannons, the fires set, the haze of murder and survival.

Rhazor was stripped bare on the top, large back and arms glistening with sweat with his hacking, jabbing, helm-punching. His torso was riddled with scars, past battles survived and past punishments healed. When the men below started pouring through to the battle on deck, the large man was distracted in his search, but managed to ward off his attackers sufficiently with a skill which needed not his full attention. No sooner had the younger man stepped boots to boards than a red-cloaked privateer cut through the melee toward him. Rhazor cursed, slashing out to cease what kept him detained. "Roach! Dammit! Watch yourself!" Unless the lad had grabbed up some other means of a weapon below, he lacked proper defense or offense. The sailor skewered on the length of Rhazor's blade no longer needed his sword, so the scarred man jerked it from that death grip and hurled it, end over end, toward the young man. It crashed into the wall wood just beside Brendan, twanging to the floorboards just left of the gunner.

What met the Gunner's eyes was nothing more then mass chaos. He had the knife given to him by Rhazor in his hand but that wouldn't do him much good. And he saw the privateer moving forward. He heard Rhazor's yell, cut a quick glance to the sword, switched his knife to the other hand and pulled the sword free of the boards. Just in time as he turned, ducked slightly and brought the sword up to block the man's blow. Grimacing, he used his knife to cut into the man's belly, twisting his sword at the same time. He delivered a blow to the man's nose with the hilt of his sword and moved away from the entrance to the gun deck. He was in the midst of the raging battle in no time, doing his best to stay alive. Another bump rocked the Whore, sending some men sliding but the gunner was light on his feet and jumped over one man to fight another. He had no choice to fight since he certainly wasn't ready to die.

Brendan bloody hell wasn't ready to die because -- Westmoreland would be damned if he let anyone make that decision but himself! Powerful, skilled blows cut through the Spanish as they swarmed from both sides now. Eric heard Rhazor's call and snatched his head around to see where the gunner threw himself into the bedlam. A sweep of blade over his head and pointing in Brendan's direction was met with a fast, hard nod from Rhazor and a path through the bodies was cleared until the first mate came up behind Brendan, back to back as he shouted his next comment so the boy wouldn't spin and stab through him before he realized who it was slamming into into him. "Stay plastered to me, Roach, dammit. You're my eyes in the back of my head and I yours...don't you fuck'n blink!"

There were more damn Spanish then Brendan had realized and they kept coming and coming. He felt a bump to his back and had Rhazor not shouted, he would have turned with blades ready. "Aye, sir!" The answer was shouted back and for the first time, the gunner felt a bit more confident. He caught the tip of a sword on his arm, but used the knife to slice his attacker and his foot to send him reeling. The Spaniard fell into another of the pirates who ended his life. Blink?! He could barely catch his breath before another attack began!

Brendan bumped and butted up against the larger man behind him and the separation while the gunner fought caused the pirate to grit his teeth until they were close enough again that Rhazor could be sure that Brendan still lived to fight. Soon enough, another large, wet with sweat, body joined them, a triangle of attack and defense. The Spaniards forged forward, the threesome fought them back or floored them where they stood. At last, as the numbers of navy and red coats were far more on the boards than standing, a man shouted "ejecutar" and then shouted it again to make sure he was being followed, the survivors scrambling for the ship that was not half submerged in the water. The pirates might not have understood the word, but they recognized the running retreat and retaliated by chasing after the uniformed men.

Brendan was quickly caught up in the rush of battle, the bloodlust, the sounds. It didn't matter who he fought for, not when they were fighting for their lives. The third man joined them but he didn't look over his shoulder. He just fought. His shirt had been left behind on the gun deck, and like the other two, he was sweaty, dirty and was blood covered. As the Spanish retreated, he looked around and discovered who he had been fighting beside. "Permission to return to the guns, Captain?" Damned if he didn't want to make sure that other ship didn't return to Spain. If they did, Brendan was sure he wouldn't have a chance in hell to prove he was innocent, providing he escaped the Whore, and Eric Westmoreland.

BlackBeard stood firm to his spot when the pirates set off after the chickenshits in blue and red. He used the back of his fist to swipe over his brow, still clutching his sword tight. The gunner's question had him tearing his attention from the fight that was underway as men dove for robes and planks to scurry back over to the Spanish ship. "Aye, get you below, Boy! Blow that bitch out of the water if she tries to kiss and run."

Rhazor spun, giving Brendan a shove to get him moving even though the gunner probably didn't need the encouragement. Rhazor bellowed out to the hoard of dark and deadly. "Below, you blackguards! Help that boy with manning the feck'n cannons!" Then he jerked to his side to race back up to the helm.

He let out a laugh when Rhazor gave him a shove, caught up in the excitement again. First down, he found the deck empty save for the Mate who grinned to see the lad. Others came down behind him and in a few minutes, the guns were primed and ready. As the Spanish ship began to turn tail, the first round began, hitting her amidships. "Aim for the rudder!" That was Brendan who shouted, so used to giving orders, he couldn't help himself. The Gunner's Mate gave him a look but since it made sense, he nodded. "Aye, aim for the ruddy, first, second and third cannons. Rest of you make sure she can't use her guns to do anymore damage." And the booms sounded again.

The Whore shuddered with the explosions in her belly, almost like a shiver of orgasmic return. The Spanish ship didn't have the time or the man power to return the blows What few sailors that had managed to flee would barely be enough to set the ship to float. Eric smiled to himself with a slow, single dip of head when he saw shards of wood and flaring of fire shoot out of the Bitch.

Above, Rhazor was already attempting to catch the wind and pull the Whore away, giving the cannons a better advantage and also separate any possible explosions from slamming into them as well. The pirates were tossing dead and mortally wounded bodies from the sides, theirs and their enemies'.

The sharks were going into a feeding frenzy around the ship as more bodies, dead and dying, were thrown into the drink. A hit to the rudder had the ship disabled completely. Another round hit where their gunpowder was stored and the ship began to explode. "Cool the cannons, lads." The mate spoke. "They're done for." He clapped a hand to Brendan's bare shoulder. "I should reprimand ye, but ye were right. Ye all done well, m'hearties." Brendan grinned then looked out the gun doors and swallowed hard. He had no choice but to fight, but had he done the right thing by helping to take both ships down? It was too late to worry about it. A few more moments passed before he found his shirt, or at least one that would fit, slung it over his shoulder and headed back on deck. This time with ringing ears.

One of the pirates watching the ship start to go down joined in the cheer that went up as the gunners did their assignment to perfection. As he turned and started away, he stuck up his middle finger to the dying men and vessel. Eric's narrowed gaze had also watched as the cannons condemned the last Spanish ship to hell. The pirate's gesture caused Westmoreland to grunt out. "Save that finger for the next port, Ornolf. It will bring you much more satisfaction there." The captain pitched around to look up to Rhazor. "Back on course, Quartermaster. We have time to make up." Pirates were already hurrying around assessing damage, already starting what necessary repairs could be accomplished while en route. Eric snatched up one of the shirt sleeves he had torn off and wiped across his chest, under his arms, his gaze latching on Brendan as the lad returned to the deck.

The gunner was in the process of tearing the shirt after he made it up on deck. He watched the pirates running around while he wrapped it around the slice on his arm, then wiped his face, smearing the black powder residue. He'd wash up better. For a moment, his eyes met Eric's then he was handed a mop in jest. He grinned then laughed, then caught himself and looked at Eric again. In the bilge, men were checking for leaks while others were patching a few holes.

Westmoreland watched the boy's every twitch, and when one of the men pushed the mop toward him and then jerked it back in an act of acceptance, Eric's jaw tensed. He turned his back to the scene, looking back over the water, muscled shoulders tensed. Damn if he'd allow anyone to see the pride that he fought to defeat. He couldn't afford to keep the young fucker alive, but, hell, he was finding it difficult to not want the boy fighting alongside him like they did today ... for as long as they both managed to stay nose above toes and breathing.

It took the rest of the day to see to the repairs and when things finally settled, so did the sun. Brendan was sweaty, dirty and exhausted but so was every man on the ship. He sat above deck for a while, cooling off as the ship sailed over the waves. Some of the other men were playing a dice game, another had a fiddle and was playing quietly. Standing, he made his way to the rail and watched the water. It was almost peaceful, except for one thing. He was on Westmoreland's ship. "Dug yourself in deeper, O'Sionna." Thought but not said out loud. At least, the witnesses were dead.

Date: 03-05-12
Poster: Percival Duncan
Post # 17

To Pay a Visit

The Putain d'eau was docked just off the shore of one of the smaller islands of Belize. The cliffs rose steep and tall alongside the resting ship, and some of the pirates had taken to the island to make use of the deep waters and prominent rise. Shouts of diving soon ended in the splashes of contact, with hoots and hollers of accomplishment following from both above and below. Westmoreland sat against the far rail, a glass of port in hand, while he watched the antics land side. Hidden behind the wall of slate and foliage, and tucked so neatly within that coverage, one would think the captain had cornered himself incase of an attack. The far side of the cove, however, opened up just enough for one ship and as long as he wasn't blocked in, Rhazor could maneuver them through that narrow opening like no other man at the helm could. If they did manage to get sandwiched in, then...guess there would just have to be some fighting done. As it were, though, the area was quiet save for those fools leaping from the heights of cliffs into the salt water below.

Brendan wasn't with the men who were jumping from the cliff. He was leaning at the other end of the rail, watching the men jumping into the water with a bored expression.. He had one arm resting on the rail, the elbow of his other there, and his chin in his hand. The day was hot so he was wearing a vest, trousers and his every day boots. His hair was pulled into a tail at the nape of his neck, but that didn't keep him from sweating. Though he was watching the men, he was thinking about snow and colder climes. Finally, he stood and stretched, then glanced around. There was likely something for him to do but as long as he could avoid it, he would.

Those of the Putain de 'eau might wonder if there was an attack on its way for certainly the Diablo was not expected. A ship that would not be recognized at first as to who the captain was. It was his latest exploit, one fought for, won and changed enough no one would be the wiser. A huge twenty two gun brigantine with black sails and her hull as black as night. The only splash of color was the blood red flag that held no other markings on it. Impressive? Certainly. No one on Westmoreland's ship would necessarily recognize the formative figure standing at the bow with the black captain's hat, including the ebony feathers, classy long coat that covered a white shirt and pants just as black as the cloak. A spyglass in hand would obscure his face but there was a twitch at the corners of his lips as he spied what had brought him here. The Diablo dipped and rose with each sliding swell that tapered off as he anchored not far from the Putain de 'eau.

It was because of the sudden appearance and the unknown intent that sent out the alarm which pushed Eric up from his lean to look around to the approaching possible black threat. Men moved swiftly and with deadly purpose as they prepared for the nearing of that vessel. Rhazor brought Eric the spyglass and Westmoreland snapped it open, holding it to his eye to see... Doom doing the same. Westmoreland's slow smile would not be seen by his men. Let them continue to prepare a proper greeting for that bastard. "Boy!" Eric shouted, cutting a look to Rhazor. "Looks like we'll be having company." He muttered to his first mate, then shouted again. "Dammit! Boy!" He was holding out the spyglass and gave it a shake. And it damn well better soon be in Brendan's hand and to his eye!

Brendan jumped when the alarm sounded and turned to watch the ominous ship moving toward them. At least he was armed this go around. "Aye sir!" At the sharp command from Eric, he moved quickly to take the spyglass, lifting it to study the other ship. He took note of the man at the wheel, not recognizing him, then looked from the glass to Westmoreland. And kept from asking the question he wanted to, just barely. If it was an enemy, the Captain would be attacking, so it had to be... he raised the spyglass to his eye again.

Where Eric had his Rhazor, Doom had his Rabid. Rabid Dog to be exact and that need not be spelled out in why he got such a name. All ten guns down the one side faced that of the Putain de 'eau. Silver glistened caught in the rays of sun as the ship subtly dipped and lifted. Even the one at the bow and the one at the aft were swiveled their way. All polished. All deadly and he had one very good gunning crew. It was at that height of wonder he lifted a hand to snap his fingers. The red flag came down and another rose that would be recognized by Eric as to whom it belonged. The dinghy was also prepared to be lowered down the side as he snapped back his spyglass and headed with Rabid and four others of his crew that would be doing the rowing.

Eric continued to watch the action taking place on that other ship. "Mark that bastard, Boy. It will be up to you to make sure he acts accordingly while on this ship." With that comment from Eric, Rhazor's gaze jerked from the smaller boat headed their way over to Eric, then on to Brendan. Eric caught that motion from his peripheral vision and turned his head slowly to look at Rhazor. "You have a problem with that? Better you just go and get 'the Betters' brought out, bloody foul cumlicker won't be settling for just any liquor, he'll be expecting the better of the batch." He turned then, addressing his crew on board. "Stand down for now, but stay alert. Looks as if Doom will be gracing us with his delightful presence." To that, several mumbles, a few curses, and just as man hisses mingled in amongst the men. But was it because, as yet, there would be no battle? Or because of the intended company? Eric lifted a hand and bellowed out his greeting across the water. "Ahoy, Captain! A fine day for visiting." Dammitalltohell.

And his question was answered with a name that Brendan had never expected to hear. He nodded, with a gulp, glanced at Rhazor then turned back to watch the longboat. What in the hell was he supposed to do if Doom didn't act 'accordingly'? He lowered the spyglass and handed it off to another man who took it to its proper place. "Aye, Cap'n." And that was all he had to say to that. He was doing his best to slow the pounding of his heart, jaw clenching. Ah well, he'd do what he always did -- his best in order to keep living another day.

He'd probably die by tonight anyway, so Rhazor always said.

Doom always acted accordingly. Accordingly to how he wanted to act at any given moment. It made him unpredictable. Unpredictable kept him alive more than not. It wasn't long before he and the few of his crew were standing on deck. The dinghy tied off at the side of Eric's ship. He motioned a hand to the Diablo which name had been etched in a flowing real gold script under the mostly naked lady. He removed his hat to run a finger though still thick hair before sliding it back in place. "What better time than a livid hot day in nature's hell to pay a visit. I see you picked out a nice spot." Then indicating to his ship with a slight wave of his hand. "Like my new addition?" Which he would note there were two more ships further from the first that were setting anchor. One good reason he felt he could aboard the Putain d'eau without worry. They would be sunk in two shakes of a dead lamb's tail if anything untoward were to come about. They were being watched. "It is good to see an old friend," term used loosely for they shared many adventures, exploits and downfalls together. It was then he noticed the boy at his side. "I see you got yourself a new whelp." Another twitch at the corners of his lips that never turned into a smile.

Oooohreally? Well, Westmoreland wasn't without the hairy balls to test that lambtail theory. Three to one? Made the dead lamb at least two of Doom's bitches before Eric's might even go down. The finger that sliced through Duncan's hair wasn't missed, and only caused Eric to chuckle. "She's a beauty, Doom. If you like them dark and overloaded." He slapped a hand to Graham's shoulder and motioned for him to continue to the captain's cabin. "He'll do for now. He's to keep you in line today." Another deep chuckle followed and he slid his glance to the men accompany the Diablo's captain. "Your men stay here though, Doom. I'll not have their stench- coated carcasses stinking up my cabin. Brendan...go below and send Rhazor up. You'll stay with us to make sure Doom, here, is a good boy." Oh so jolly, just the thought of it.

Westmoreland did not just say that! The youth's eyes just widened a little though he was relieved that for once, he wasn't called a toy. The men with Doom were studied and then he was looking back to the two men, growling like two territorial lions. "Aye, Cap'n." Ohhellohhellohhell. He headed for the captain's cabin, cursing under his breath. Behave... with two knives? He sure as hell hoped he wouldn't have to face either one of them. And he really did not want to tell Rhazor to go upstairs, though the Quartermaster wouldn't disobey. He just added that Doom's men were up there, knowing Rhazor wouldn't want any trouble.

Eric liked his fantasies. The two extra ships were loaded with slaves. This was a stop off from another mission in progress. Why was he here visiting Eric? Because it was another mission of a different caliber. "Indeed I like them dark and they are overloaded." He liked his women dark and his ships were overloaded with them. Which only had him finally grin. Something that more sinister looking than pleasant as if he never learned how to smile. The whelp was to keep him in line. "Ah good, I can use him as a coat rack then." As if he was no better use than that. How silly of his men as when they went to take that first step the look he gave them stopped them in their tracks. All better. "I hope you have a bottle of that excellent brew you served last time. Good one to talk business over." He would be handing over his cloak and hat to the boy with a warning nothing happens to them and they are returned as given, else a rod would be up his arse to make him a real coat rack.

Eric passed Rhazor, offering his QM only the faintest of nods in that wordless sort of order and received the same in kind. "Aye, Doom. Rhazor set out the 'betters' for you." Westmoreland stopped just shy of the doorway, allowing Duncan to enter first and then went in next. Brendan would take up the rear. BB walked to the bottles Rhazor had placed on the sideboard and popped off the cork. Two glasses were filled and one handed over to Doom. "What sort of business keeps you from delivering your fat cow stock for slaughter straight away, Duncan?" Eric lowered to a cushioned chair, motioning for the pirate captain opposite him to do the same. He flickered a glance to Brendan, then to the door. Best be doing business with that portal closed. Always best if business between these two transpired behind closed do

Brendan just looked up at Doom and nodded, not saying a word just like he had been taught... the hard way. He took the coat and hat and hung them up on a coat rack near the door while the two men talked then turned to see Westmoreland's subtle order to close the door. Oh hurray. He was going to be cabin boy, but then that brought the memory of ... yeah, best not to think of anything else. He closed the door, then took up a position beside it. That way he'd be there if someone tried to come in. At least to take the brunt of any attack.

He wondered if Eric would keep the boy within for their talk. Neither were stupid to try and do something to the other in any physical manner. If he allowed the boy to stay, did he planned to cut out his tongue or just up and kill him later? He took his seat with that idle morbid curiosity. "The Black Market flourishes of late in what it has to offer. Have you been dipping at all?" Just to get the conversation going as he settled in. A drink to follow as he eyed the otherwise barren table. "Got any food there boyo?" Eyes as dark as his ship lifted to the lad in expectation before he would continue. "Some fruit, oranges if you have them." He wasn't looking for a heavy meal.

To Duncan's question about the black market, Eric just lifted a shoulder. Westmoreland wasn't giving over any information to the likes of Doom. When the demand for food followed, Eric slanted a glance over to Brendan. He didn't respond at first, then provided the nod that gave permission to the delivery of food. As he returned his gaze to Doom and brought up his drink, he started to talk. "You didn't answer my question, Doom. Why are you here?" Did Eric have to spell it out for the other Captain? It wasn't like Doom or Stirling to just stop by, all polite-like for drinks and cigars.

Brendan looked at Doom but didn't answer until he saw the glance from Eric. "Aye, sir." He stepped out of the room and nearly ran to get the oranges. It was a relief to be out of there, even if he had to return. The tension with Doom was very different from with Stirling. You could nearly cut it with a knife, it was so palatable.

"You never did have any patience, Westmoreland." Which only had him chuckle. "Obviously my questions would lead to why I am here.." He glanced to the door then back. "If you have been using such a market you most likely heard of the man called Tar. Taranis to be exact but he ain't no ancient god like the name implies." He'd wait for Eric's yeah or nay on being acquainted or more, knew of the man. Usually one knew of the various handlers of goods. Rarely the ones they were handling the goods for.

Eric crossed his leg, resting his glass on his inner thigh in his grip. "And ... ?" His forefinger tapped lightly against the crystal. Eric didn't have patience. Not for tongue flapping. Get to the point or get the fuck out of his face. That motto worked well, always. It wouldn't falter just because it was Black Doom across from him. Hell, it wouldn't falter especially since it was Black Doom across from him.

He almost laughed out loud. Almost. He loved taunting Eric and certainly the next bit should even more. "He's a big shot in the underground market." Not adding one needed a password even to do business with him. Although Eric may have found that out. A password that changed unpredictably too. "He's your old pal's man." Which he gave that pause long enough but not so long that Eric actually lost his patience. He would be hearing a name he had not heard in a very long time. "Andre Bovee," which he would remember but there was a little more that was new from when he knew him from other lands. ".. of Heathfield."

Brendan was back quickly with oranges and other fruit, in case it wasn't enough. Mangoes, Pineapple, what was that? He opened the door just in time to hear the last three words. Bovee and of Heathfield which nearly had him stumble but he had quick reflexes and like any young man his age, caught himself in time and closed the door. The platter was put on a table, along with a knife. "From the cook, sir." Which might save the gunner a chewing out for bringing too much.

Eric was not without his wits, and sure as shit knew that with Brendan entering to the name of that particular location, this could get rather interesting. "Since you are being sarcastic about the whole pal comment, Duncan, I'm still waiting to hear why this should give me a cock stand enough to have you feel the need to stroke it." Only then he looked to Brendan, shifted his gaze to the tray of fruits, then back to Doom. Eric lifted his hand and rubbed at a twitch along his jaw that had started with the mention of Bovee's name, but that was all the evidence he wasn't exactly pleased with the direction of this conversation. "So?"

A spared dipping glance was given the lad as he stumbled back in. Dismissed then for he was Eric's problem, not his. Unless he got out of line and made himself a problem for Doom. "Then you should have learned patience with me by now to know it will come at the right moment as all things worth doing should." he was amused as he stood, leaving Eric perhaps a moment to wonder if there was any other point than what had been already stated. And yes, he used sarcasm a lot. So did Eric. It was a way of conversation they both understood. Here came some more, "our good friend Jon has been seen dealing with him." Giving a slight shrug of a shoulder for that statement could mean more or nothing at all. The implication was that Jon might well be working for Bovee or in the least running goods with or for him.

Brendan went back to his place by the door, and though he was, for the most part, watching Doom, he was also listening. When the man stood, he straightened slightly but not so much as to be threatening. If he could even make Doom feel threatened. He almost waited to hear a "Don't you fuck'n move" when he did. And though mention of Heathfield and Bovee brought a lot of implications, there wasn't much he could do. Unless he could escape. Glancing at Eric, he nearly sighed. Not a chance of that, the way he was watched.

Slowly his foot lowered back to the floor and Eric reached to the side to place his glass on a table there. "Clarify for me, Doom. Jon has been dealing with Tar? Or Bovee?" Of course Eric was wondering. Surely Graham wouldn't be wasting their valuable time by just horsepissing comments out there for the hell of it. But Westmoreland sure wished the bastard would get to the godblasted point already!

"He has been dealing with Tar who it has been learned is Bovee's man." Who they worked for was harder to discover but leave it to Doom to discover any and all of Eric's nemesis. So if Jon was dealing with Tar, even if Jon didn't know who Tar worked for although it probably would not have mattered, they worked for the man they dealt with.

Unfortunately for Brendan, this was not as exciting as he thought it would be. Maybe not unfortunately! But the presence of the two men were enough to keep him alert. He was also wondering what was going on above deck. Couldn't help letting his mind wander that small distance. The whole business had him fidgeting inside. He wouldn't dare move other then a slight shift now and then.

Eric waved away Doom's revelation, that was not anything more than speculation. "So we don't know if Jon knows, he's just doing business." Slowly that dark gaze drifted over to the male by the door. Perhaps the boy was more of a pirate than the youngster realized. He wanted excitement? He longed for more than just a lethal discussion coated with calm reserve? "You're from Heathfield, Boy. What do you know about Bovee?" Well now, the cat was loosed from the bag. How well would it scamper about to save its hairy ass?

"Well, he is pretty stupid so maybe he doesn't know who he is dealing with." Which neither Doom nor Eric would ever make that mistake. "I'm only delivering something that could be of interest to you but you seem that it has been a waste of my time.." anything more went unsaid as the lad was addressed. AHHA! So that is why Eric kept him so close. His focus switched to the hairy ass cat with renewed interest. What was even more interesting, "and you didn't slice his throat on the spot," giving a tsk sound that the boy still breathed at all.

Brendan's eyes went wide as he was addressed, first by Westmoreland then spoken about by Doom. That was the only sign of emotion he showed. He answered carefully, with an Irish lilt to his voice. "Not a whole lot. I know he deals in legitimate goods as well as the black market. We made some deliveries for him when I was serving on the ship there. I don't know if we had any black market deliveries and I do know he and his partner are careful. Black market could even be rumors." Except now there was proof in that he was dealing through a middle man and with the likes of Jon.

"How could it be a waste of your time, Duncan?" Eric chortled, walking over to Brendan before the lad started talking. "You had excellent liquor and hard to come by fruit." And even though Doom hadn't had the proof that Jon was sharing pockets with Bovee, that wouldn't keep Eric from making sure the younger captain knew of his 'disrespectful' activities. Eric cocked his head to the side, considering Doom's disappointment in the boy's longevity. He listened to Brendan in that way, just studying him, and when he finished, Eric snorted out a laugh. "Now see, Doom? Not every chunk of coal should be hurled into the flames right away. Some...can serve in other capacities just as useful." One eye narrowed, continuing to study Brendan, then Eric nodded, turning to look back to Doom. "You want to arrange a get together with our boy, Stirling? Or shall I?"

"Liquor was good, fruit ripe," but he was eyeing the lad with far more interest. He didn't need the proof, he knew Eric would look into it. Jon would not say he'd been setup for how bad that would look. Anything to get the fireworks going. The fuse was set, only a matter of time if it was lit. "Where one is rid of, there will always be more. So you keep a link to Heathfield close." More a statement that didn't need any answering. He wondered if he knew the lass that Eric drooled over in wanting to have his way with her. "So you know Andre Bovee. Know the Frasier family? The King and Queen? Is it true her beauty is renown as rumor would have it or have you ever set eyes on her at all?"

"I don't really know any of them." Brendan had been looking straight ahead while the two spoke around him again. He looked at Doom when the man spoke, not looking down. He faced death every day on this ship. "Not any of the Frasier's personally I know of their history, I know the gossip, the tales. I saw the King and Queen but once and that was at a distance. Her hair did shine like gold." He shrugged slightly. "None of them would have noticed the likes of me." And he hadn't mentioned anyone he did actually know, remembering Rhazor's warning.

Heathfield connections were not so easily come by, and there was more to this particular one than most. "I guess lack of reply about Jonny-boy is tossing it in my lap." Eric nodding over to Doom. "Very well." BlackBeard really didn't give a horny toad's wart-covered ass what the Queen of Heathfield looked like. "Guess you've been a good boy, Duncan. Suppose you should sail on out before that changes and the lad, here, has to follow orders." Eric gave a nod of head to the door next to Brendan for the gunner to open for The Diablo's captain.

"You don't wish the whelp to live?" Which had him chuckling. He got what he came here for. Mission accomplished. "You should come visit my island sometime. Pick out a woman to train this boy into a man before his eyes are closed forever." Patting the lad on the head as he passed through the door he held. Westmoreland might well find his island interesting if he should take him up on the offer. Nothing more said on why it might. "Good day for sailing," his words trailing off as he was soon on deck and his men making ready to board the dinghy.

Brendan opened the door, all nice and proper though he did what any lad would do when someone touched his hair. He smoothed his hair down after Doom and Eric went through the door, then he closed the door behind him and followed the two men onto the deck of the ship. He glanced at Rhazor as Doom and his men started for the long boat, his expression saying "I'm still here." At least for another night.

As Eric passed by Brendan, he slid his gaze along the young man. Then shook his head. Sometimes Doom said the oddest things. "Indeed it is, Duncan. Just take your three little piggies and be doing just that, aye?" As soon as the two captains returned to the deck, Rhazor's gaze had searched beyond them, his scarred chest lifting and lowering with that large breath he drew in. The quartermaster stepped over to hold the roped ladder steady for the
upcoming descent into the boat beneath.

He knew there was a reason he didn't care for Eric as he shook his head not even bothering to retort to his childish references to piggies no less. "Have fun," like he even knew the meaning of that word. Or, let's say, their definition of fun was not of the norm. "Day will be coming when our dealings with that country will have a reckoning." In that they would team together out of necessity than choice. Now he would sit back and hear what became of the seed he planted this day.

Never in his wildest dreams would Brendan have thought the two men disliked one another so much, well, three if you counted Stirling's obvious dislike of both men, and yet, they were all still alive. He watched as the four pirates sailed over to their ship, brow furrowed with thought. Still, they were the most dangerous men he had ever met and he had no doubt if one managed to kill one of the others, the third would either not care or would cheer.


Date: 03-17-12
Poster: Brendan O'Sionna
Post # 18

Finding Benevolence

Five times. Five times Strykar counted the captain watching that untapped asshole. But then, that was five times, five times...since Strykar could only count to five. But the captain didn't watched the gunner the same way Strykar watched the gunner though. No, the captain watched him with more of a study, as if the man judged every move he made, and compared it, weighed it, scrutinized it. A couple of those times, Blackbeard had frowned and looked away. Yes. Strykar noticed. That frown wasn't of disapproval, but a realization that there was something to approve of and only that brought disapproval. Strykar would continue to watch, and take silent notice. All sorts of leverage could be gained from remaining ever watchful.

With their cargo still intact, The Sea Whore docked late in Tangiers. She scraped her wounded side into a slip that would allow a select few to take care of the barrels and crates below in her hold while the others thought this was just an excursion to reward them for a job well done against the Spanish. Eric came out of his cabin, shrugging into a velveteen, royal blue coat as his gaze swept over the ship docked next to .... his eyes slowly widened as did his smile. "Rhazor!" The captain almost had a laugh in that call. "Rhazor!" He called again, starting forward.

"Aye, Captain." Rhazor had taken a bench while he waited for Eric, and had actually fallen asleep. He was awake now, though, even if he was a bit wild-eyed with the jerk from drowsing.

"Did you happen to notice our neighbor?" Westmoreland tugged on that large, wide-brimmed hat, nodding in the direction of the next ship over.

Rhazor turned to see. Usually he would have taken note of every ship near them, but he had not slept well since the Twins were released from the holding cells and ... no excuses, Westmoreland would appreciate no excuses. "Looks like ... " He noticed the figurehead at the bow. "I believe that's the Benevolence, Captain. She's of no importance to us." And he looked back around find Westmoreland grinning in such a way that it made it all to clear that the Benevolence was about to be of some importance to them.

"Good eye, Rhazor. Get the boy. Both of you come with me."

Rhazor hesitated only long enough not to give Eric reason to realize, then started off with a nod. "Aye, Captain."

Brendan was sure if he was allowed to go dockside, it would be in the company of Rhazor, so he had cleaned himself up and put on the clothes he had originally kept in the chest, not the ones Stirling had bought him. White shirt, black vest and pants. The sword he had used during the battle had been taken from him but he took his knife and tucked it once more in the sheath in his boot. He had freedom of sorts since that fight and made his way up on deck. For a moment, he wondered if the Whore ever docked somewhere where the sun didn't beat down and where there was green. But then, he might not be allowed to leave, even briefly. He had started to look for the Quartermaster when he saw him speaking to Eric, so he waited. Patiently. While he did, he noticed the other ships in port, not the names so much but their flags, the activity, and the type. Had he been able to see the cannons, he would have studied them as well.

For all the pirate lifestyle, Rhazor cleaned up nicely enough. A cream linen shirt pulled tight over those thick, ship-hardened muscles of chest, back and arms, the strings at his neck left loose since a proper bow would not be accomplished around such a width. The hem was tucked in beneath a wide leather belt with a huge buckle and then fawn pants and dark brown boots. You could dress him up, but that scar down his face, the air of danger around him, pegged him good and solid as ... pirate. Then, one could consider his companion. Eric Westmoreland. Black Death. Blackbeard didn't dare step a boot on dock boards or sand where the authorities could be notified and snatch him up. No, he'd come ashore only when there was business to be lands that were as ruthless and wild as the company he kept. Rhazor motioned Brendan to join them and together they'd start down the plank toward the dock.

"See that ship, Boy?" Eric started. "That's the Benevolence. Its captain, DeHaven..." He thought a minute, dredging up the full name provided, his steps even slowing before he nodded with satisfaction and started full on again. "Marcus DeHaven. Well respected by most. Which makes him as foul as an unwashed fishmonger's wife." As Westmoreland walked, his sword slapped against the side of his leg, and as he spoke, his hand gripped tighter on the hilt. "Thing is?" Eric's words faded a moment, a smile threatening. "The young bastard has access to something I have been wanting for quite some time."

If he was surprised they were accompanying the Captain, Brendan didn't show it. If, no when, he got away from this ship, he'd be a master at hiding his emotions. As they made their way to land, it took him a moment to adjust from the constant motion of the ship to no motion at all. Blues lifted to the Benevolence. It had been one of the ships he had noticed almost immediately. It's Captain took great care of his lady, and it showed in the way she looked. The gunner wasn't sure why he was given the information but he nodded. "Aye, sir." Of course his mind was going over a hundred possibilities of what that something could be.

Date: 03-20-12
Poster: Brendan O'Sionna
Post # 19

Finding DeHaven

"He'll be surrounded by his men, Captain." Rhazor offered over as discreetly as he could while they wove through the crowd along the dock.

"Aye, Quartermaster." Eric called back, seemingly unconcerned that he was being heard as he strode along the path that opened for them. "And I have you...and the boy."

Rhazor released a halting breath. "Aye, Captain." Was Rhazor's reply. "Aren't we just fucking jolly." Eric wouldn't hear that last muttered addition, but Brendan probably would, especially since Rhazor shot a look over to the boy with a shake of his head. Eric was grabbing this man, and then that, making his inquiries, until the threesome entered into a tavern not too much further down the lane. Establishments like this always made Rhazor nervous. Immediately it was apparent this was not the haunt of pirates, or even subordinate seafarers, but men of standards and standing. "Fucking...jolly." The first mate muttered again, his eyes scanning the crowd not once, but several times.

Eric stopped only a few paces within, looking around and then, his smile spreading, he continued on his way to a table where a few men were seated with their drinks and their cards

The "boy" wasn't quite sure what was going on, so of course he was curious. Rhazor's comment had him almost grinning.... almost. He felt his stomach twist into a knot. Fighting a battle with many against many was one thing but all Brendan had was a knife and he wasn't even supposed to have that. The inquiries caused him to grow even more tense and when they stepped into the tavern, he couldn't help but pick up on Rhazor's nervousness. He let out a slow exhale as he looked around then watched Eric move forward. Without looking at Rhazor, the gunner started after the Captain, staying a few steps behind.

All six of the men looked up when Westmoreland came to stand between them. There wasn't a single one of them that didn't recognize the pirate captain or that the man had to have some agenda to be seen in this establishment. Only one of them looked back down to his cards, studied them, and then placed his bet as if nothing was amiss. And so, it was to that one that Eric narrowed an eye. "DeHaven?"

All heads turned toward the man so named and that man slowly lowered his cards to the table top, flattening his palms over the top. His gaze lifted slowly to meet the pirate, drifting to the muscular, scarred man at his right and the younger man there with them, before returning to the first. "Ahhh, Captain." The dark-haired man began, the slightest twitch and wiggle of a forefinger which, no doubt, held a few hidden blades at bay. "Now why ever would you think to interrupt such a perfect round of cards?"

Eric was no small man, but with him standing and the others seated, he had the advantage of size on his side. He leaned in, pressing his gloved palm flat on the table to look directly to the man opposite him. "Regan Callihan."

That was all he needed to say, which had every man pulling their attention from the Whore's captain to the Benevolence's captain for the mention of the Dream's captain. Rhazor cleared his throat softly, using his eyes to indicate to Brendan the men that stiffened as DeHaven dropped his hands away from his cards.

Marcus didn't attempt to play games with the pirate. Only a fool didn't pay attention when around Blackbeard, Black Doom or their younger cohort, that Scourge.

"Hand on your weapon, Captain?" Eric smiled with a nod.

"Aye, Westmoreland, as is every single hand in this place. You've just mentioned a colleague that we're all rather fond of."

An almost lazy, and truly unconcerned survey swept the room before returning to DeHaven. The man could be considered completely insane to press his odds in this establishment. There was a good chance he actually was just that. Westmoreland continued. "You...more than some perhaps?" He didn't straighten from that lean. He didn't move to his weapon.

Even Rhazor kept those large paws where they could be seen...unarmed. Although he was muttering all manner of curses under his breath and continued to scan the crowd.

Brendan breathed slowly, in, out, in out, keeping himself calm while Eric approached the table and one specific man. He didn't know DeHaven, just his reputation. Apparently most of the men there knew the Pirate Lord. He glanced at Rhazor and took a moment to look at the men indicated though without moving his head. When he heard the Callihan captain's name, his only indication of surprise was the slight widening of his eyes. He watched Eric, watched Rhazor from his peripheral vision and he used that extra sense most fighters had in case of an attack. The more Rhazor cursed, the more calmer Brendan became. It had to be in his blood, and that thought caused him to look at Eric again.

De Haven didn't seem affected by Eric's accusation, just chuckled out a laugh. "Perhaps." He answered and then slowly came to his feet, reaching behind to slide the chair away from the backs of his legs. As the other men started to move, Marcus just shook his head but he kept his eyes on Eric. "No. No." He wagged a hand to still their motion. "Please do continue without me." His tongue poked at a back tooth as he considered the pirate then spoke again. "Parker, you may wish to adopt my hand though...far better than yours." From Eric to Rhazor to Brendan that gaze traveled before he looked out into the crowd. A definite, silent order was given and several men shifted and moved and covered the tracks of any that slipped out. "You started this, Westmoreland, let's see it played through, shall we?"

Eric shoved up from that lean with a smile. "God but I loathe an arrogant fucker. But you? You I'll tolerate ... at least for now."

This time his eyes were on DeHaven, watching, waiting... as seemed to be the norm for him. He'd watched as the other men started to stand, eyes darting to the rest of the room and back. Hell, they were outnumbered. He almost shook his head when DeHaven looked his but didn't dare, not with Rhazor so close. Holding back a sigh of relief, he rolled the tension from his shoulders. Of course, he didn't understand what this was all about, even if the Pirate Lord had mentioned Regan Callihan by name. Unless... he remembered Westmoreland's earlier words. DeHaven had something the Pirate Lord wanted

"Captain." Rhazor had dipped his head, speaking to Eric from the corner of his mouth. "They're dispersing."

Westmoreland moved from the two he was with to meet face to face with DeHaven, but he offered his first mate a barely noticeable acknowledgement. The Pirate Captain was well aware of the strategies, he made it a point to be well aware. It kept him, well ... well, to be well ... well... aware. Eric reached over to rest a hand on Marcus' shoulder, as if they were comrades off to discuss a night of anticipated enjoyments.

DeHaven pulled away from the contact with a shrug, not looking to Eric but continuing toward the door. "I'm not doing this because I wish your company, Pirate." He hissed. "I'm doing this because it makes my gut pitch and roll to think of Captain Callihan in it." The four of them stepped outside but Marcus didn't lead them further than the closing of the door.

"Captain Callihan." Eric repeated, glancing back to Rhazor and then to Brendan to stop them where they stood.

Rhazor touched Brendan on the upper arm to guide him off a little further. While Eric meant for them to be near, the captain obviously had words to share that required no ears other than those of the Benevolence.

Brendan followed again, not really making eye contact with any of the men that followed. He didn't like being in this type of situation, unarmed except for a knife but there wasn't much he could do about it. Once they were stopped and moved away, the gunner leaned against the wall of the tavern, though he could be moving in a second. He looked at Rhazor, then watched the two Captains talk. He wanted to ask the Quartermaster about Regan but didn't dare speak on her. Instead he asked, in a low voice. "What do you know about DeHaven, sir?"

Rhazor leaned back against the support of wall, pulling out his dagger and running the tip of the sharp blade beneath the stubby end of his fingernail. His head was dipped as if he watched his actions, but sure as hell his gaze was elsewhere trained, touching on men stationed here or there close by. "I appreciate the respect, Roach, but I'm no sir. You can call me Rhay, most everyone else does and you've earned that much." A flicker of a glance down and he changed fingers then was scanning the crowd again. "DeHaven is well respected, has a damn nice bitch of a ship, and has in his day caused many a pirate to shudder to think of coming up against him. Hell..." Shift of gaze, change of finger, repeat scan. "He's hit a couple of Spanish and French ships himself it's said, just because they threatened him. Some call him a pirate, but I've not ever seen it done to his face. Knowing pirates as I do though, he's too well respected by every caste to truly be one of them..." That dark gaze shot to Eric. "" He corrected, swiping the flat of his blade on his shirt sleeve then switching hands. The process began on the other side now. "What do you know of him, Roach?"

"I don't know much more than you do, s... Rhay." That would be taking some getting used to but it actually made him feel good, as did the comment about earning it. The gunner had noticed the other men but kept his gaze on the two. He'd know by Rhazor's reaction if any of those men moved to attack. "Rumors were he's involved with black market, and a man in a city out of the realms of Heathfield." Brendan paused and asked, "Right now, this doesn't look good, does it?"

Rhazor shook his head, stopping what he was doing to look directly to the two captains. "No, Roach, 'fraid it looks like a damn shipwreck waiting to happen." And no sooner had he gotten his comment out then deep voices grew a little louder. Not overly much, but just enough that their words could now be understood. Neither DeHaven or Westmoreland appeared to change in their stances, years of confrontation evidenced in just how unchanged they could appear.

"Surely, Blackguard, that was not a threat against the Benevolence or her men."

"Shit" Rhazor graveled, bringing the handle of his dagger around to grip tightly in his palm.

Westmoreland chuckled, none but his closest man would realize that held no amusement even though the sound did cause the Benevolence to narrow his eyes. "Captain DeHaven. You are a man of the sea. You of all people would recognize the truth of possibilities without having to take those risks as a threat by the likes of me."

"Then you'll appreciate these words of advice, Captain." The title seethed between DeHaven's teeth as if he would rather spit it than speak it regarding this man. "You fuck'n come within spyglass sight of Captain Callihan and I will make it my mission in life to not only blast your Whore out of the water, but make sure your splintered body can't be recognized for identification." Marcus jerked his head toward Eric's two men, nailing them with his gaze. "Don't you fuckin' move."

Rhazor growled low in his throat. He hadn't planned on moving, these were just words back and forth between the men. But dang if he didn't like that demand to stand down.

Eric's comment stilled any possible action by the scarred quartermaster. "Now there's a new one I've never heard before." He drolled, stroking his chin and starting away from DeHaven. "Actually thought we might come to terms, Benevolence. Work together sort of, for the good of my future..." He looked right at the man as he passed him. "And yours." He shrugged following. Ohno, the pirate captain had not missed the men that had tightened ranks, moved in closer. That was okay. As he said, this was nothing new. "No threats from me, Captain. Just possibilities. Oh...and you might as well prepare yourself for the hunt. Because, not unlike you, I've got plans for the Dream and her Captain." It was Eric's turn to scan DeHaven's men nearest. "Don't YOU fuckin' move." A twitch of a smile and he continued on, ordering his two to follow along with a jerk of his head.

Rhazor stepped in behind Eric, but he walked those paces backwards, watching DeHaven and his men as they converged to witness Eric's departure.

Ah hell. The gunner straightened, but without a weapon, he held little to no threat, though of course the men might figure he had some hidden. Now he was nervous again and he glanced at the men who were watching then looked at DeHaven when he heard his words both to Westmoreland and then to he and Rhazor. He sighed inwardly with relief when they finally were leaving. The gunner stepped up beside Rhazor, glancing once again at the Benevolence Captain with a look of concern. These men were seeing him as part of the Whore's crew. When he realized what Rhazor was doing, he didn't do the same. It would be his luck to trip or to fall on his arse. He hated the tingle he was feeling between his shoulder blades though and glanced over his shoulder again. None of the men they had left behind had moved.

Back to his captain, Rhazor kept close as they moved further from the group of men. The scarred pirate seethed. "What the hell was that about, Westmoreland?"

Men seemed to appear out of nowhere, stepping in Eric's path. Unconcerned, the pirate lord shouldered past them, even chuckled with their audacity. Castrated, the lot of them, because they didn't have the balls to do more than just move in his way. "Need to know, Rhazor." He answered through his amusement, casting a final look to the last of the barrels being hoisted from the Whore.

"I do need to fuckin' know, you Bastard. We were outnumbered and outgunned back there. My balls shriveled to the size of peanuts with what you were setting up for us...and I sure as shit didn't like that all. The boy, here, isn't even armed for Christ's sake."

The men appearing in Eric's path surprised Brendan, one even bumping into him. Not so the Pirate Lord's amusement. He was beginning to believe Westmoreland truly was insane or close to it. He looked at a few of the men, studying their faces, even if they gave him one of those hate-filled looks. Gods, if he could just make them understand he wasn't there of his own free will! That was all forgotten when Rhazor spoke out and Eric answered. He got that uh oh look again when the Quartermaster made the demand to know then glanced back over his shoulder to see if any of DeHaven's men were still standing around and were close enough to hear. And he couldn't imagine how anyone couldn't feel nervous in the situation they had been in, but the Captain hadn't been at all.

Eric spun around to them, which caused Rhazor to stiffen for an attack even though Westmoreland grabbed hold of Brendan instead and shoved him back by a grip on the gunner's shoulder and pinned him to a pier post. The captain made quick work of snatching the dagger from Brendan's left boot and then, he stabbed it at the younger man's head. The blade dug deep and solid into the wood beside Brendan's left ear. Still holding the younger man firm to the post, Eric jerked his poniard from its sheath and stuffed it in where the smaller bladed weapon had been. He gave the boy a firm shove, although that shoulder could go nowhere. "Isn't he?" Gaze to gaze, Westmoreland's eyes bore into Brendan's, a steady twitch of unknown emotion at the outside of one brow. "Get aboard, but take that dagger with you." Pushing away using Brendan's shoulder as momentum, Eric turned to Rhazor. "And you, there's history here ... between you and I ... but I will gut you and leave your innards to drip between the boards the next time you confront me like that in public. Hell, even in private. Get the boy above...I've just about had it with arrogant fucks today."

Brendan was still looking over his shoulder when Westmoreland grabbed him. He grunted as his eyes closed briefly. "Hell!" Was all that managed to come out as shoulder met wood, hard! Damn, that hurt. He was staring, wild eyed, his mouth opened slightly from surprise at the Pirate Lord when he saw the blade come up. How the hell had the man known it was there? Flinching as the blade hit the post, the youth felt the splintering wood nick his ear but he didn't make a sound. He didn't move a muscle except to close his mouth. Westmoreland's dangerous gaze had him caught again. This time, when his shoulder was pressed harder against the wood, he didn't make a sound until he was given a command. "Aye, Captain." Brendan grimaced as Westmoreland pushed away, then turned to Rhazor. The gunner took hold of the dagger handle, and pulled it until it gave way, sticking it in his belt. Later he'd switch it back to his boot and find a belt sheath for the poniard when he remembered. As Eric continued to speak to the Quartermaster, Brendan started for the gangplank. He knew the Pirate Lord wasn't making an idle threat to the scarred pirate and dammitall, he felt responsible again. Rolling his shoulder, he started up, stopping at the top to wait for the Quartermaster. Blue eyes drifted to where the Benevolence was docked and he worried at his bottom lip for a moment. There was no doubt about it now. Brendan was part of the Whore's crew, whether he wanted to be or not.

Date: 05-12-12
Poster: Eric Westmoreland
Post # 20


Brendan. Stirling. Doom. DeHaven. Life could be good when a man enjoyed conflict. Thrived on it. Encouraged and welcome it. Westmoreland's life, therefore, was just fuckin' grand! Although the seas had been calm, both by way of nature and by traveling ships, that didn't mean Westmoreland wasn't on edge. But that's what kept his men sharp, that edge they constantly had to rub up against. Day in, night out, day in they sailed in relative peace save for a few skirmishes amongst the chaos-starved pirate crew. Those were allowed to progress until the others had enough and intervened before Rhazor, or worse the captain, did. It seemed Brendan's presence was now accepted, none paying him much attention at all unless he managed to get in their path. But that was the way for any of them. All too often it was in the path of one or the other of the Twins that Brendan found himself. A smirk from this one. A growl from that one. Nothing was ever without ramifications where those two were concerned and Brendan had yet to meet those consequences to the liking of either Twin. With the growing boredom...came the need for growing caution on Brendan's part.

Like the rest of the crew, Brendan dealt as well as he could with boredom, though it was always a constant in a seafarer's life. He was glad to be ignored, though he had made a few friends among the crew, especially if it kept him out of trouble. Of course, staying out of the way of the Twins all the time was down right impossible. When he did cross their paths, he avoided making eye contact, even if they growled, grunted or commented. Sometimes though it was hard not to take a look at their ruined faces. Brendan wished the Pirate Lord had killed them, but apparently, like Rhazor, Westmoreland had use of them. As far as himself, the gunner made himself as useful as possible, as invisible as possible, and waited for the storm that would surely come, whether it was the Twins, another shipmate, or the Captain himself.

Eric growled under his breath more often than naught with the bothersome antics of the men. What they needed was a ship...or a release their pent up frustrations on rather than on each other. Rhazor slid a look over to the stewing captain. "We've a mere night's travel to Montserrat, Captain. We could shove them ashore." Eric drew in a deep breath and nodded, shooting a look the Quartermaster's way before dipping his head again. "Do it." Just those two words and the Captain strode away.

When the sun rose on the following day, the Whore dropped her anchor in the deep, blue waters off of the coast of the island of Montserrat. The resting volcano loomed in the distance, a most impressive sight. Men who had earned shore leave had dove for the boats and heave-hoed their way toward solid land to partake of the entertainment provided there. As the last boat filled, Eric moved over to Brendan. "Get to shore, Boy. Before I change my mind." When those words were spoken, Rhazor stepped forward to join Brendan but Eric stretched out his arm to stop him. "Not you, you stay." Rhazor looked from Eric to Brendan. "But Captain, if he..." Eric turned fully to Rhazor. "Not. You. You. Stay." He repeated and with a jerk of his head, the Twins lumbered aboard that last boat. "'Ello, Boy. Fine day for an outing, Aye?" Eric smiled to himself, and started away from the men on that boat. Rhazor watched the captain start away, allowed him some distance, then leaned in tight to the rail of the ship. "God help you if anything..." Vott laughed, cutting off Rhazor's threat. "We don't believe in your God, Foolman. Besides we need not his help."

Brendan nearly leapt into that long boat. He didn't want to give Eric an excuse to keep him on board. He hadn't bothered to change into his best clothing because he figured he wouldn't be allowed, but his every day was better then what most of the crew wore. There was no chance he'd run either, unless the opportunity proved to be absolutely perfect. That had a chance in hell in happening once he saw Rhazor wasn't coming along and the Twins were. He cut a quick glance toward the Captain and Rhazor. blue eyes wide then narrowing as he looked away. He bloody well made sure there was some distance between himself and his two nemeses. The gunner helped to row as well, eyes down so he wouldn't have to look at either. He was grateful for the time on shore but dammit, why did the Pirate Lord include those two? Just to torment Rhazor and himself? More then likely!

Rhazor stood where he was. He stood there until the boat made shore, then he turned to look to Westmoreland. He found the Captain doing the same thing. Eric didn't look at Rhazor, just spoke. "I don't have to confide in you." Rhazor nodded, knowing Westmoreland could see the movement. The captain turned just his head in the Quartermaster's direction. "Good." He said then walked away.

Strykar landed with a splash in the water, dragging the boat to the sandy beach which made up the shoreline of the island and the men crawled out from there. He stroked his palm over the sweat beaded, shaved bald pate as he eyed Brendan. "We're to let you have at it on your own, Pony. As disappointing as that may be for you." Vott chuckled in the background as Strykar continued. "I would recommend you stay with a cluster of our own but then you might not make a run for it." Vott pushed between them, shouldering Brendan back a pace with his stride. "And we want you to run, Boy. Because then, then we get to have at you." He spun, shuffling a few steps backwards. "And I can't think of one damn thing I have wanted more in my entire life." A cant of head and he turned again, broad back exposed to Brendan. Strykar leaned toward Brendan, lips curled back in what probably should have been a smile if the disfigurement of his previous injuries weren't so apparent. "And I want it more than my brother." Then he trotted off to catch up with his twin.

Brendan was studying the island with a slight smile as they made shore. The island's coast matched that of his homeland. He quickly snapped out of his reverie as the others began to climb out and he followed. He felt those eyes on him and turned to face the Twin, Strykar his scars. His eyes narrowed slightly at the threat, his expression changing little as Vott pushed by. After both walked away, he let out the breath he didn't know he was holding and shuddered. "Have to catch me first." Of course, he muttered that once they were far enough away not to hear. He wasn't stupid after all. But now he understood why the Captain had allowed him to go and made Rhazor stay. Have to be a damn good reason to run and one that would work. Shaking his head, he ran to catch up to a few of the men, ones he knew wouldn't give him as hard a time as some others. Thoughts of escape fled when he saw the city they were near. Finally, some freedom, even if he did have to go back to the Whore.

Montserrat wasn't a booming place, but it was a favorite of those who wished to stay clear of the larger, more populated islands. Because of this, the volcanic isle saw its fair share of activity. And because of it, the Island Patrol beat a steady path up and down the busy streets. Disturbances were handled quickly here, before men of quick tempers and quicker blades let loose with either. Easily spotted, the Montserrat Patrol, or as the red and gold badges on their navy blue uniforms indicated, MP, were none of them small men and each one well trained with their weapons and fists. They also fought as dirty as their adversaries, considering the type of men and the chosen occupations of the majority of those opponents.

There was plenty to see since this was the gunner's first time here, though the pirate ship he had served on before had made a stop. He was told then to stay on board not only because of his age, but he had been very naive. Even Brendan had to admit that had been true. But now... even with the Twins there, he could see what all the island had to offer. The patrol had him watching as they walked by. He was tall enough and muscular enough for his age, but he certainly didn't want to have to deal with any of them. Of course with all his looking around, he was trying to see where the Twins were. And if they were actually watching him closely.

The pack of pirates that Brendan had blended into practically teamed down the main thoroughfare to the nearest tavern. The place shook with activity. Male voices raised in camaraderie or controversy or hailing over a serving lass, but all laced heavily with the alcohol that flowed beneath this roof. The pungent odor of unwashed bodies, fetid breath, of splashed ale, of spilled whiskey, of cooking meats assaulted the nose as soon as the door closed behind but once enough of the liquor was downed, it mattered no more. The five burly men that accompanied Brendan did not even phase the crowd stuffed within. One, three, five, they all appeared the same, and size, in this certain circumstance, didn't matter. Tall, small, brawny, scrawny ...They were all as deadly as the next. As faces were recognized, shouts went out, morphing into the general plethora of noise and by the sheer momentum of forward motion, Brendan was sucked into the sordid masses along with his pirate counterparts.

Brendan was taking in the sights and sounds of the town, noticing the only women out and about were as brazen as the men. He stayed with the men right up until they entered, and at least knew they were close if there were separated. The gunner fully intended to drink away the smells, though he hoped not to get so drunk he'd pass out. He did
not want to be carried back to the ship, especially not by either of the twins. Still the smell of the ale served was enough to clear his head of those smells, and likely ruin his taste for a few days after. A hand clapped to his shoulder and one of his shipmates, Lloyd it was, grinned. "Now ye be a man, with your first drink of the devil's brew."

Bodies bumped and brushed up against one another. There was no helping it. The contents overfilled the container as it were. A sweaty side slammed up against Brendan, giving no quarter, and smearing the scent of odorific perspiration along the boy's chest, shoulder and arm. "Blimey, ye' wee bas'tid maggot, watch yer walk'n." The man growled, then spun back around, slamming a meaty grip onto Brendan's shoulder. "Gimme' back me money pouch, ye bloody begga' " And he gave the boy a shake before one of pirates that had accompanied Brendan jabbed the man with a heavy fist to broad chest. "Hands off, the boy don't need your meager coin." Shouts started up all around, shoving, pushing, accusations, threats and all the time the large pirate kept a hold on Brendan's shoulder so the younger man was jerked this way and that. "Oooh! So he's the Prince of Egypt now, and not needing coin, eh?" The first man bellowed, leaning forward so that his sweaty self was practically leaning on Brendan while he argued with the gunner's shipmate. "If he be, or if he not be, he don't need none of yours." Press from the other side brought pirate over Brendan as well until the gunner was pinned tight between warring factions. "I don't 'preciate no pocket pilfererererers..." The title dragged on and on, as if the man didn't know when to let it cease, or perhaps the amount of alcohol in his system rolled it longer than needed. The Whore's pirate gave the man a push where his fist was already pressing. "And I don't ap'preciate no bloody Moor keeping us from our drink!" The larger, more sweaty of the two kept holding on to Brendan but reached with his other hand to smack a shove to the pirate's shoulder. "I'm no moor!" To that, the pirate laughed, amidst all the other jostling and shouting, cursing and knocking going on. "You're damn right you are no more!" And then, with Brendan sandwiched between them, the fighting started in earnest.

Brendan was fine with the noise though the smells were another thing. And when the man covered him with sweat, he couldn't help making a face. "Wasn't on purpose... " Before he could finish, the man had grabbed him. There went his drink onto another pirate. "Hey! Leggo!" Gah! It was like being in Rhazor's gripe and being shaken didn't help matters. He couldn't even answer the man but one of the crew stepped in. He made an erk! noise, then an eep, and tried to get away from the man and the smell. He hadn't paid attention to much of what was said other then he did say, "I didn't take your bluidy coin." Unheard of course. Had he not been trapped as he was, he might have laughed at what was said but he was right in the middle of a fight! He finally jerked free of the bigger man, and joined in, though one of the pirates pulled him away, then another until he was out of it. "What the hell...." He didn't want to be protected and he jumped right back in. Someone crashed through the door and out in the street leaving room for some to escape but it sure didn't ease the crowd or the smell!

Even with the tight confines, the MP stormed into the tavern, snatching out anyone their paws could latch onto whether they were involved in the mayhem or not. Although, considering the clientele of this establishment, it was unlikely any were not involved. While Brendan added his two fists to the fray, a leather noose circled above his head and then tightened around his neck, strangling him into submission as he was 'coaxed' from the tavern into the street. The MP who had captured him spun him around when clear of the crowd and sent a powerful fist into his ribs, then with a forearm slammed him back up from the doubled-over posture that the previous blow had produced so that the gunner was plastered to the rock wall behind him. "Always too much to drink, too much attitude." The man growled, snaking out a large hand and spinning Brendan around so that his cheek was pressed to the rough surface while the MP clamped another thick leather cord around his wrists, tying them together. Brendan would only hear, not see, the two MPs now in discussion since his jaw played intimate with the slate. The first to speak wasn't the same voice as the one Brendan had already dealt with. "Two dead, another four close to it. Said this one here started the whole damn thing." There was a pause then the patrol who had captured Brendan started wrapping the lacings tighter around Brendan's wrists. "Figures. Always the young ones. Young, dumb and full of ..." Both men laughed, not finishing the statement.

He hadn't had much of a chance to do any damage when his air was suddenly cut off. He reached up to pull at the rope but the pressure applied had him stepping backwards until he was outside. As he tried to get a look at his captor, he felt that reminder of being helpless and doubled over with pain. "Hel.... " Bam! Into a wall, and he winced. The slate was giving him a brush burn but that wasn't the worst of it! "I didn't have a chance to drink!" Came the first protest, "and I did not start it. Man accused me of taking his coins." He spoke in spurts because that shot to the ribs had him a little breathless. Always bluidy convenient to blame the youngest bloke around, wasn't it? He wasn't going to be able to get away yet for the way he was pressed against the wall, but hopefully there'd be a chance before he found himself in prison.

The noose around his neck tightened. "Save it for the Constable." The MP growled, twirling Brendan back around to face them then, with a tilt of head, encouraged the prisoner to start forward to follow the line of other men arrested in the melee.

Brendan did not like that noose around his neck but he couldn't even pull at it with his hands bound. He stumbled slightly, then cursed silently. This was just grand. As he stepped up behind another, he frowned even more. He could smell sweat and it came from him. That blasted drunk! All kinds of curses came into his head but he kept silent. Some of the other men weren't quiet at all, and he didn't want to draw more attention to himself. He raised his eyes heavenward just briefly and glanced around. Were any of the crew in sight? Did it even matter? Not for the first time, he considered the thought of freedom, even if he had to serve some time first.

The Patrol nudged Brendan along until he joined the line fully. Then the strap around his neck was tied off to the metal hoop chinked within the leather leash that extended down from one man to the next to keep them double file and connected. They filed down the street toward a large building made of gray rock, the very make-up promising no means or hope for escape. In that line, several men up, were the two pirates who had set up against each other, as well as a few other familiar faces among the crowd. The Twins stood off to the side, leaned against a rail post as the train of prisoners trudged by. One of them scraped the sharpening stone along his dagger, only his eyes marking the members of that assembly from beneath his brow. The other blatantly studied the procession with his arms and ankles crossed in that comfortable, lazy stance. He counted off the crew with a faint nod of his head until he noted Brendan. His lips twitched, a brow arched, and he chuckled low offering the lad an uplift of squared jaw line when he looked their way. Noted and oh so enjoyed. Their captain wasn't one for stepping in to save any pirate's hide, this would be very interesting to say the least.

The gunner was one of the youngest among the prisoners, equal in age perhaps to two behind him. At least there were others of the crew with him, as if that mattered. He saw the Twins and gave a slight shrug. What else could he do? Whatever happened next had nothing to do with them, nothing to do with Westmoreland or Rhazor. He knew his youth wouldn't save him either. All he could do was pray he wouldn't be hung, though the man he had been arguing with was still alive. He cursed under his breath as one of the Patrol nudged him for looking around, nearly causing him to stumble, which would have cause the whole line to do the same. Dammit, he should have stayed in Ireland or gone straight to Heathfield. Maybe he could get word to someone from there, perhaps Captain Walsh or another Captain.

Two by two the men stepped through the threshold which led into the dank, dark interior of the building. No windows, no other doors but a hole in the middle of the floor that led down. One of the MP stood on either side of the front door and as the men stepped in from fresh outdoors into the foul indoors, they marked down the prisoner's names and their relative ship name if currently employed. Not one of the Whore's crew mentioned that name, but gave alternate ships seen in port or claimed they were 'currently without lady". The men outside had no way of knowing what transpired beyond those rock walls until they passed the doorway unless they had been detained previously. The procession moved slower, at times stopping completely before beginning again. The Twins watched until Brendan was nearly to the door, then they shoved up and started across the way. Might as well let the Captain know...and then await the repercussions to follow. Perhaps they would even be rewarded for their effort. In the end, though, blood would flow.

Brendan had forgotten the Twins as the line moved forward. He imagined he could smell that prison from outside and maybe he actually had. He was smart enough not to mention the Whore, and since he hadn't taken noticed of any of the other ships, his answer would be he was without a lady at the moment. The gunner had never been in a prison, never wanted to be and certainly wasn't happy that he was here now. He glanced up at the blue sky, wondering when he would see if again, and then was forced to step forward. The doorway was dark, foreboding and offered none of its secrets.

There was a tug and pause, tug and pause, that moved the men along when there wasn't a complete stop and then tug to set them in motion again. Once inside, one flickering lantern marked the activity that caused the halting then jerk. The neck restraints were yanked from the metal loops, and the men were shoved beneath. Whether they took the steps in a stumble or just sailed below to the earthen floor mattered not to the MP. But it was a deep fall, and if it could be helped, one would definitely not want to land on anything but the dirt steps leading below. The line would stop..."No current Lady?" And the MP jabbed a metal clad fist into the ribs of the crewman. "Are you sure?" Depending on the answer, another blow might follow, but in the end, a name was offered over. "Aye, Jon Trefler is it? We'll be checking on that." and the line moved again, leather straps snatched free, prisoners shoved below and then pausing for the next..."Currently without Lady, is it?" And the blow.

He was heading into hell, that was obvious, and each man that was questioned brought him closer and closer. As he stepped up to the man waiting outside, he lifted his chin slightly. "Raven O' Brian. Currently without Lady." Just a calm answer though he felt anything but calm inside. He heard what sounded like a cry, and then a curse but he couldn't quite be sure. His mouth was dry, his heart pounding but he managed to face the MP with a mild expression, unlike the shaking man behind him.

Hearing the name offered, the pirate two men up looked back at Brendan. "Raven...of the pirate ship, Executioner?" The man hissed to the fellow linked to him at shoulder's distance. There was only one Raven to the best of anyone's knowledge and the lad had been making a name for himself. Obviously. A hiss of rumors spread and fill the dark confines even as the name and ship affiliation was barked to the interior by the guard by the door. That MP smiled in the darkness, tugging off the neck strap of the man in front of Brendan. Then, as that one slip-struggled down the steps, the gunner was relieved of his tight leather choker. "Currently without Lady, O' Brian?" The line came to a halt and that solid blow of metal-rimmed knuckles cracked into the side of his ribs. "Care to rethink that answer?"

The gunner didn't hear the whispers as he stepped forward. He didn't have time to even rub at his neck when the question came. Grunting as the blow came, he bent to the side and shook his head. "No." was that how he was supposed to answer? Didn't matter much did it? He was still going to go down into the dark hole with the others. He did notice the smell and shuddered. Shore leave might lose it's appeal if he survived this.

Same spot. Same force of blow. Same threat of cracked ribs. The MP had to actually pant out his next question, such was the effort put into that punch. "Are you ... sure...O' Brian?"

That one brought Brendan to one knee, gasping as he felt a rib crack. "Aye." He managed to answer through gritted teeth as he struggled to his feet, half bent over. "No... Lady." It was slowly dawning on him that he shouldn't have used his nickname but he wasn't about to name a ship. "I ... can't give any other answer." His voice was husky, thick with pain. What did they want him to say?!

Whatever the hell that blow would make him say. But as it was, he remained firm, so the MP nodded with satisfaction and the man standing next to him gave the boy a shove, sending him down the steps, however it was the injured gunner would take them. Down below, there was nothing but darkness, and the smell of dank and damp. The earthen floor was stamped down solid, almost to the smoothness of granite from so many shuffling feet passing over it these many years. The underground hole was large, but it was full of men. Prisoners from today and many days past. There really was no telling how long some had been stuffed down here because, in a place like this, time stood still. There was no seeing anyone else only hearing and smelling them and that all blended together after awhile. Moans and whimpers, curses and threats. Even below in the darkness, shoving and punches were thrown, some making contact, others just black air.

Brendan stumbled with that first push and nearly fell down the steps, barely catching himself on rough stone that tore at his hands. He was almost at the bottom, mostly by feeling his way, when the man behind him came tumbling down, knocking the gunner's feet from under him. Though he didn't hit his head, he hit his back. Cursing, he joined that mass of unwashed, noisy crowd. Somehow he managed to find a space along a wall and leaned there. Did anyone ever get out of here? That idea of freedom faded some as he listened and tried to breath. Brendan was certain the smell of death mingled with the rest of those loathsome smells.

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