[Mock-Fiction] V - Fures Misericordiam

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Aye. Tis me again.

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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25. 23 – Nassau

The Jackdaw slid into the harbour of a Caribbean island.

“Drop anchor, lads!” called Edward.

He left the wheel and got down the steps, taking a deep breath and then sighing. He paced slowly to where Mariqah was standing – leaning against the railing and overlooking the sea and the islands. He stood behind her, wondering what to say. It’d been three days since they had arrived in the past, and she hadn’t said a word to him since the little incident on the fore. Now that he thought about it, she hadn’t quite looked at him either.

 

He looked up at the sky, and then stood next to her, holding the rail.

“Nice day, eh?” he said.

Mariqah looked away from him, staring idly at the large tortoises that stoically moved about on the sandy banks of the island.

“Look, come down to Nassau. There’re people you’d like to meet.”

No reply.

Edward sighed, frustrated, “Mari!”

“I’m not going. Leave without me,” she muttered.

“Oh, come on, don’t be like that.”
She looked at him, “Like what, Edward?” she asked harshly, “Like what? You clearly don’t need me around anymore,” she looked away, “Go to your tavern, have a few shots, pass out piss-arse drunk, wake on your backside in the middle of nowhere with a splitting headache, come back to your brig and ship out somewhere else to get wasted.”
 

He furrowed his brows and frowned. He opened his mouth like he was about to say something, and then took a small purse from his belt and handed it to her, “Look, there’s a tailor on the island. Get yourself some clothes made, maybe weapons.”

She spat at him and threw his purse in his face, the coins spilling out onto the deck, “I don’t need your charity, Kenway.”

He rubbed the back of his neck, “Come to Nassau with me.”

“For what?” she snapped, “So you could enrol me into a brothel?”

“I was teasing, Mari.”

N-o, you weren’t.”

 

“Lass, I…” he sighed again, “I know I owe you, a’ight?”

She faced him, “There’s a world of a difference between knowing and learning. Jus’ ‘cause you know, don’t mean you understand.”

“I wish, for once, you could give me some credit…” he murmured.
“Credit? Edward, I know and I’m the first one to admit that I’m not the greatest entertainer of guests – but I did turn around, didn’t I? Tell me, did you give me any credit? By feeding me iguana and throwing me out of your cabin?”

“So then let me make it up to you! Give me a second chance.”
Mariqah scowled at him, glaring at him for a long time, before she said, “It’s your last one, Kenway.”

 

Edward turned and sighed inwardly, Mariqah grabbing her drawstring and following behind him. As the crew parted their own ways, Mariqah and Edward made their way to the tavern that Mariqah was well-acquainted with in her knowledge of Edward’s life.

The streets looked unkempt, some of the houses in disrepair or abandoned. Fat rats scurried around in the street. Mariqah saw women in short dresses standing and displaying themselves as assets. They were singing and dancing:

 

Lovely ladies, waiting for a bite;

Waiting for the customers who only come at night.

Lovely ladies, ready for the call –

Standing up, or lying down, or any way at all:

Bargain prices up against the wall!

 

Old men, young men – take ‘em as they come,

Harbour rats, and alley cats, and every kind of scum.

Poor men, rich men, leaders of the land,

See ‘em with their trousers down, they’re never quite as grand –

All it takes is money in your hand!

 

Lovey ladies, going for a song:

Got a lot of callers, but they never stay for long.

 

Mariqah stared at them for a while. Their sore, tired faces beneath the heavily painted mask of false pride,

Come on, captains, you could wear your shoes,” she mumbled to herself,

Don’t it make a change to have a girl who can’t refuse?

Easy money, lying on a bed –

Just as well, you’d never see the hate that’s in their heads:

Don’t you know you’re making love to those already dead?

 

They journeyed further into Nassau, until Edward pointed up and said, “Here’s the place,” he had a smile on his face.

Mariqah rolled her eyes, knowing just how stupid she looked with her hair so unevenly cut. She followed him, listening to the minstrels on the veranda as they sang a ballad about some sea voyage, climbing the stairs as two tall men came into view. One had a clean-shaven face, though his side-burns were prominent, and a button nose that had always stood out to Mariqah in the images she’s seen of him. He had dark, neatly-cut hair and wore a blue coat and tan breeches. This, she recognised, as Benjamin Hornigold – one of the privateers-turned-pirates that instated the Pirate Republic of Nassau. The other man was tanned, with thick brows and had a large black beard. He wore a long dark coat and a large-brimmed black hat, and had half a dozen pistols strapped into the belt across his chest. This was Edward Thatch, better known as one of the most fearsome pirates of all time, Blackbeard.

 

“Aren’t you a sight for salty eyes?” said Hornigold, laughing, “Come you in and have a drink!”
“Ahoy, Kenway,” said Thatch, before his gaze fell on Mariqah, “Who’s this?”

“This,” said Edward, putting an arm around Mariqah, “is my undoing. Calls herself Mariqah.”

“A Moor?” asked Hornigold, looking at her queer hairstyle, “Or p’rhaps a Turk?”

They made their way inside the tavern, where Mariqah saw more faces she recognised only in recordings and images (only vaguely paying attention to what was being discussed about her breed, and why she was being allowed to carry a sword). Mary Read – a young woman who dressed herself as a lad, operating under the alias ‘James Kidd’. Charles Vane – a devilishly handsome man of about 45, who was more a cheating cut-throat than a honest captain. Anne Bonny – a young bar-keep, and not-yet scourge of the sea. Jack Rackham – a surly drunk of a man, who was making his way to–

 

My band of soaks,” he said, pulling Mariqah away from Edward and put an arm around her waist,

My den of dissolutes,

My dirty jokes,

My always pissed as newts,” he gestured to his drunken crew, who all cheered at his gesture.

My sons of whores –

Spend their lives on my ship.”

 

He took Mariqah by the hands, and spun her around,

Welcome, madame, sit yourself down,

And meet the best capi-tan in town,” he threw her into a chair,

As for the rest, all of them crooks –

Rooking their guests and cooking the books,” he handed her a bottle of rum and took a seat beside her, leaning in to say,

Seldom do you see,

Honest men like me:

A gent of good intent, who’s content to be –

 

Captain of the ship, doling out the charm,

Ready with a handshake and an open palm.

Tells a saucy tale, makes a little stir,” he pinched her arm,

Most pirates appreciate the bon-viveur,

Like to do a friend a favour, doesn’t cost me to be nice,” he got out some coins and stuffed it down her cleavage,

But nothing gets you nothing, everything has got it’s little price.” Mariqah slapped him across his face and tried to get away.

 

Bonny came up behind her,

Mistress of the house, keeper of the zoo,

Ready to relieve ‘em of a coin or two –

Watering the wine, making up the weight,

Pickin’ up their knick-knacks when they can’t see straight.

 

Rackham put arm around Mariqah’s shoulders,

Everybody loves a captain. Everybody’s bosom friend –

I do whatever pleases – but, Jaysus, won’t I bleed you in the end!

 

The pirates all joined in the drunken song,

Captain of the ship, quick to catch your eye,

Doesn’t want the passing ship to pass him by!

Servant to the poor, looter of the great:

Comforter, philosopher and lifelong mate!

Everybody’s boon companion, everybody’s chaperone–

 

Lock up your valises,

Jaysus, won’t he skin you to the bone?

Bonny muttered.

 

Food beyond compare, food beyond belief –

Put it in a mincer and pretend it’s beef.

Kidney of a horse, liver of a cat:

Filling up the sausages with this and that.”

Rackham batted an eye at Mariqah,

Stowaways are always welcome–

But bridal suite is occupied.”

Rackham shrugged,

Reasonable charges, plus the little extras on the side.”

 

Charge ‘em for the lice, extra for the mice.

Two percent for looking in the mirror twice!

There a little slice, here a little cut –

Three percent for sleeping with the window shut.

When it comes to fixing prices,

There’s a lot of tricks she knows,

How it all increases –

All those bits and pieces –

Jaysus, it’s amazing how it grows!

 

Bonny shook her head, and pulled a flustered Mariqah into a seat and handed her some water,

I used to dream that I would meet a prince,

But God A’mighty, have you seen what’s happened since?

she turned and looked at Rackham,

Captain of the ship, isn’t worth my spit.

Comforter, philosopher and lifelong shit.

Cunning little brain, regular Voltaire –

Thinks he’s quite the lover, but there’s not much there.

What a cruel trick of nature, landing me with such a louse:

God knows how I’ve lasted, living with this bastard in the house!

 

Captain of the ship!

Captain and a half.”

Comforter, philosopher–

Don’t make me laugh.

Servant to the poor, looter of the great!

Hypocrite and toady and inebriate!

Everybody bless the captain!

Everybody bless his spouse!

Everybody raise a glass–

Raise it up the captain’s arse!

Everybody raise a glass

To the mistress of the house!

 

Bottles clinked as the song ended. Mariqah had just about had enough, when a pirate – who’d clearly had more drink than he could handle – came and vomited all over her.

“Good grief,” she muttered, looking around for Edward.

She undid the cords and pulled off her dress – leaving her only in her corselet, chemise and leggings. There was silence as all stared at her.

“Blast, look at those scars…” muttered Kidd.

Mariqah looked at Kidd, “You see the rest of these men – they aren’t looking at my scars. They’re looking at my corset,” she leaned in and jeered, “and wondering for all Hell’s sake – which lucky bastard tailored it,” spotting Edward, she raised her chin and said, “I’mma go find that tailor you were talkin’ of,” she picked up her drawstring, laying crumpled in a corner, and left the tavern.

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