Renegade

Of all my 17 years, Penzance has never had a pirate ship in its harbour, so the disturbing tales of thieves of the sea didn’t seem real to me. They sounded more like nightmares than something that could actually be real. Still, there was something foreboding about looking at the distant sea, wondering if beings that were so cruel actually existed and if people actually lived these kinds of thrilling adventures.
Despite the fear that came along with hearing the tales of pirates, I always wished I could live a life of adventures. To feel fear and excitement coursing madly through my veins. Unfortunately, I was stuck here, and I never thought I would have the chance of seeing distant lands across the mass of ocean.
Until he showed up.
He swept into my life unexpectedly. Notorious and aggressive, I was his key to fortune. He had to have me. Not only was I taken from my life before, but I was swept and thrown into a life I had never known existed.

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12. Cutting Edge

Well, the old man’s unlikely prediction on Renegade turned out to be true.

 

In what feels like moments, dark clouds fill the sky, covering every span of blue until nothing but dark remains. The rain that follows is cold, relentless, and utterly ruthless, gusting winds encouraging it. The waves crash against Blackheart’s ship as the town grows smaller and smaller behind us. And the farther we sail from land, the less birds I see - until there is nothing but the darkness of the storm.

 

“Hey! You heard the captain!” A voice booms right in my ear, and moments later, loud thunder booms overhead, making me flinch. “She goes to the brig!”

 

My heart immediately sinks. The brig? The image of Zayn’s warm cabin suddenly fills my mind and I find myself longing for the safety it brought.

 

“Where-where is the captain? Please - can I talk to him?” I ask for the tenth time, but the two pirates snicker and grab onto my forearm with their icy fingers and forcefully tug me behind them. All around me, the pirates are shouting - some sending orders, other following them. And the ship is rocked back and forth so violently, that if not for the pirates holding onto me, I may have fallen over.

 

My stomach twists and churns with nausea as I struggle to see straight, my world tipping all around me constantly.

 

Up, and down.

 

I know I thought Zayn’s men were disgusting - but these? They’re absolute animals. For instance, the two rogues dragging me across the deck smell like a decaying animal carcass, mixed with the heavy smell of rum. The ship alone has a staggering stench, one that I can’t quite put my finger on - I’ve never smelled something so awful before.

 

I keep begging and pleading, but my words fall on ears that refuse to listen. I can’t quite understand what they’re saying, though, over the thunder and crashing waves. Everything is chaos, and -

 

Freezing water splatters all over me, drenching me in moments flat from head to toe. I come to a dead stop as the two pirates begin snickering again, despite the danger that’s upon this very ship.

 

The waves are so powerful that they’re crashing over onto the deck. I’m not a pirate, but that surely can’t be a good sign.

 

“No, please don’t put me down there,” I’m crying now, my tears mixing with the rain. There’s more water being splattered everywhere, and through the blurry onslaught of rain, I see obscured figures moving rapidly, working to get the ship under order. Men fighting the storm.

 

The pirate on the left - the tall one, throws open the door and shoves me sharply inside. I lose my footing on the steps leading downwards and violently hit the wall inside with a groan.

 

“Please…” I murmur again, feebly.

 

“Come along, lass,” the shorter pirate scoffs at me. Rolling his eyes, he grasps my hair and scowls into my face. “What do you think the captain needs her for?”

 

The taller pirate grabs my forearm, pulling me sharply against him. “I don’t know, aye. But we’ll ask ‘em later.”

 

I’m dragged mercilessly down the narrow hallway, and overhead I hear the thundering of footsteps and the howling of the wind. All I can think about now is how I’m ever going to get out of this - maybe I should’ve never have left like that. Maybe I should’ve waited for Niall.

 

Maybe…

 

So many maybes, with no concrete answers. Renegade was bad - I counted myself lucky enough to have escaped.

 

But here, with a man like Captain Blackheart?

 

Who knows how I’m going to survive this. I don’t know much of him, but his name alone is enough to cause panic…

 

“Hey, Wench!” the short pirate opens the door to the brig, and we’re greeted with a darkness so thick that for a couple of seconds, I see absolutely nothing. Then, as my eyes grow adjusted, I see the shady form of stairs leading down. “We’ve brought you a, uh, visitor!”

 

He snickers again, shoving me forward like a puppet without strings. I purse my lips and stifle protests, figuring it’s futile right now to reason with men like this.

 

I jump as the door behind me slams so hard I feel as if the whole ship has rocked at the contact. But obviously, the brewing storm outside must’ve played with my mind and added to the slam’s intensity.

 

A shiver racks my body, my drenched clothes doing absolutely nothing to help me feel strong while locked in the ship’s blackened stomach. Shaking yet curious, I find myself heading for the stairs leading even deeper into the ship’s body.

 

To my great relief, there’s a flicker of light as I tentatively walk down one step at a time. Keeping my breathing controlled through the clatter of my teeth, I focus on the light beneath, hands clenched tight around the meager railing the stairs provided.

 

When I finally reach the bottom of the stairs, I realise the light is but a small lantern, the flame flickering weakly as it’s container balances from its hook on the wall. Illuminating a figure every time it balances to the left. A girl who looks to be around my age, if not younger.

 

She’s huddled near the lone crate keeping her company, doing the very best she can to hold the pieces left of her clothing over her shivering body. She too seems to have been soaked to the bone, and my guess is that she’s in a much worse situation, her blue lips and gaunt features almost frightening in the dim light.

 

I approach her carefully, not quite knowing how to interact with the poor thing without scaring her even more than she already is.

 

“M-m-my name’s Rose-lina,” I begin, fighting my chatters to make myself seem less intimidating. “Pl-pl-eased to me-ee-et you,” I continue, trying my best to smile.

 

“Lilijana,” she responds, her voice barely above a whisper. “My name’s Lilijana.” She shifts a little in her position, wrapping her arms around her knees before tossing a strand of wet hair away from her face. Her eyes meet mine, the striking green contrasting almost hauntingly with her darker skin.

 

“How l-long have you been he-re?” I ask, worry lacing my tone.

 

“Too long.” She hides her face in her knees, before a violent cough escapes her lips, shaking her whole frame. “Did you fall for it, too?”

 

I sit myself next to her, hugging my knees to my chest. Confused, I ask, “F-f-fall for what?”

 

“Him.” she exhales a shaky breath, and her voice is so hoarse. “Blackheart. Did you fall for his facade? Is-is that how he got you?”

 

I quickly understand what she means by ‘facade.’

 

“Yes,” I mutter, rubbing my arms, desperate for some kind of warmth.

 

“I did, too,” she murmurs. “He seems so-so...proper. But he’s everything but a gentleman. He’s a monster.”

 

“Why are you Blackheart’s captive?” I frown, finally managing to stop my teeth from chattering. I don’t know if it’s a good sign or the first steps to hypothermia.

 

“I was a princess,” Lilijana murmurs, water flooding her emerald eyes. She begins sobbing, the sound soft and heartbreaking to say the least.

 

“Was? I don’t understand...He’s a pirate, but he can’t take away your title--”

 

“He took that away from me when he…” she looks lost for words before she shakes her head. “I don’t feel like a princess. I don’t deserve to be a princess, not after what I let him do. He took everything from me. I’m nothing now. Absolutely nothing but a being worth money. He’s holding me ransom.”

 

I shake my head firmly, my shaking hands encompassing hers.

 

“Lilijana, you are not nothing. Whatever that horrible man might’ve done to you cannot rob you of your value as a human being.” I state firmly.

 

“I feel like nothing. I look like nothing,” she motions her ragged clothing, pulling the sleeves of her torn dress back on her blueish shoulder. “I might as well be nothing.”

 

“No, that’s not how it works,” I shake my head, scooting closer to her. I want to hug her, but I know it’ll only make us colder. “There’s something I don’t understand...if he’s holding you ransom, isn’t he supposed to keep you safe if he wants his money? Surely the king of your country wouldn’t accept giving him large sums of money if his daughter is harmed in any way?”

 

“As long as I’m alive when I’m given back to my father, the rest doesn’t matter,” she mutters morosely. “Somedays, I almost wish he’d end me like he ended his wife…” she adds, mostly to herself.

 

“His wife? What happened to his wife?” I enquire.

 

The ship suddenly rocks violently sideways, throwing us onto the floor. I wince, pain flaring up my forearms. There’s no doubt I’ll have bruises in the morning. If I even get to see the morning. The thought sends a shudder down my spine.

 

Lilijana helps me back up to my feet, and the both of us slide back to the corner of our prison, attempting to warm ourselves by rubbing our arms with our hands, to no avail.

 

“Blackheart killed his wife in a fit of rage,” the princess starts finally. “Threw her into the sea and let her drown in the cold waters with nothing but a small buoy. My guess is that the cold numbed her to sleep before she died. That’s exactly how I want to die. Sleeping in the arms of the ocean.”

 

“You can’t p-p-possibly be thinking of dy-dying already,” I exclaim, teeth chattering once more. I take a deep breath. “There’s so much you haven’t seen!”

 

“You think I don’t know that?” she sighs, a rough cough escaping her thin lips. “It’s not like I’ll see them from the castle anyways. That’s exactly why I fell into Blackheart’s trap, blindingly falling in love with his promises of adventure and discovery,” Lilijana exhales loudly. “He’s a ruthless manipulator.”

 

“Tell me about your country,” I say, wanting to get her mind off the subject.

 

“My c-country?” she lets off a bitter scoff, then, through gritted teeth, seethes, “I’ve always wanted nothing more than to leave my country.”

 

For a moment, I’m speechless. I’ve never seen a prince or princess in person before - not even close, but this, I never would have expected. I’ve read books where princesses would lay their lives for their country - often, they seemed to love it more than themselves, and it surely goes beyond the title itself. But her voice is full of disgust, and her beautiful features are upturned in an ugly grimace of detestation.

 

To think a princess can possibly hate her country?

 

“Why?” is all I can ask, to which she scoffs. Again.

 

“My feelings towards my country has nothing to do with the landscape,” she retorts. “It had the most beautiful cliffs hanging over the oceans, though I’ve only seen paintings, and truthfully, some of the best food - and art. But the people, especially the royals, were nothing but monsters. My father, the king, being the biggest one of them all. Because my father never bore a son, I’ve always been told that I would be given the crown someday. And that, I had nightmares about. To think I’d rule over people like that…”

 

“Well, maybe we c-can focus on the positive side of this. Now that you’re gone from...your country,” I don’t bother asking her what it’s called because she obviously doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, “you’ll have the freedom to become whoever you want, and live wherever you want.”

 

For a moment, she’s silent. And then she turns to look at me hard, her face emotionless.

 

And then she starts laughing. No, cackling. Despite her beautiful self, this kind of laugh is nothing but bitterness and mockery.

 

“You think we’re going to be free?” she breathes between laughs. “You think we’re going to escape?”

 

“I know we will,” I retort, feeling slightly insulted by her laughter.

 

“You don’t know who Blackheart is. You don’t know…he threw his own wife overboard, you know. Did I already tell you that?”

 

“Yes, you did.”

 

“Well, t-there you have it.” Her eyes glaze over, and her lips seem to be turning blue. I can’t stop shivering.

 

All my life, I’ve heard religious people reciting what Hell is supposed to be like. Wickedly scorching flames to burn the skin, with no deathly escape. Forever torment.

 

But this? To feel cold, all the way from your blood to your very bones? I believe that would suffice.

 

“We’re going to die,” she continues, coughing again, her hair hanging over her features. “Right here, on this bloody ship - you and me.”

 

“You don’t know that,” I mumble.

 

“Oh, yeah? Who’s going to come rescue us? Part of me wonders if my father’s even willing to pay the price for me anymore. Blackheart is one greedy man - he keeps raising the price. But I’ll tell you what, my father is the greediest man I know. Maybe this is what Blackheart is planning. Maybe he never wants to return me - maybe he does want me to die here in this-this…” she’s cut off by a round of violent coughing, and my heart aches. She’s halfway mad, I realize. How long has she been down here? Left to wait endlessly here in the darkness for her father to rescue her.

 

“Before I came on this ship, I was on the ship of Renegade. Have you ever heard of it?” I say as she quiets down.

 

Clearing her throat, she nods stiffly. “Vaguely, yes.”

 

“The captain - Captain Malik, he’s a nightmare of a man, too. I don’t quite know his past, though I know he wants something to do with my necklace that I’ve had for as long as I can remember.”

 

She hums in reply, leaning her head back against the wall. But she stays looking at me, calmly.

 

“I lost track of time, being held prisoner on that ship,” I say. “But, I found a way out. And I did it - I escaped.” I pause, realizing that if I had never gotten off of Renegade, then I’d never be here with a man such as Blackheart, but I decide to leave that part out. Forcing my voice to stay steady, I continue, “If I can escape that, then surely I can get us out of here. After all,” I muster a grin, “pirates are all the same. I got past one, I can get past another.”

 

“You really think so?” she murmurs hoarsely, and I purse my lips and nod.

 

“I know we can. But we’ve got to keep it together - we can’t give up just yet, okay? We’ll get through this, and then you’ll be free.” As an afterthought, I quietly add, “We’ll be free.”

 

I don’t know if it’s the cold or actual fatigue that knocks us out, but the next thing I know, light is seeping in from cracks in the hull, and the sea seems to have calmed down. The two of us are still huddled to each other, our clothing just as wet as it was last night. I feel nauseous.

 

I wipe the back of my hand on my forehead, only to find it scorching hot. This is not good. I shift, carefully moving away from Lilijana, trying not to wake the poor thing.

 

I hear the door above us creak open, followed by heavy, uncoordinated steps toppling down the stairs.

 

I wince as the pirate’s loud voice echoes loudly in our small area, his bulging eyes focused on me.

 

“You. Capt’n wants you in his cabin. Now,” he grunts, stepping down the rest of the stairs before his grubby hands latch around my arm.

 

I feel dizzy, but I don’t fight him as he tugs me upwards, shooting one last glance at Lilijana. But it’s only then I realize the princess doesn’t seem to be breathing. Her chest doesn’t seem to move up and down like it should.

 

“Wait!” I protest, wrenching my arm out of the pirates grasp. I run to Lilijana and shake her a little, fear creeping up inside me. Her lips are blue. Way too blue. “Lili? Lilijana wake up. Wake up please,” I beg, searching for any sign of life from her.

 

I’m roughly pulled backwards once more, this time by my hair. I squeal in pain.

 

“You try running away again, little wench, and I won’t be afraid to slice your pretty hands,” the disgusting pirate warns behind me.

 

“No!” I fight back. Lilijana is not dead. She can’t be. But everything about her posture suggests otherwise. The princess had given up against the storm last night, dying in a cold slumber. “No please!” I beg, struggling to try to warm her frail body.

 

I’m brusquely spinned around. The pirates’s blade is so quick I nearly miss it, but the searing pain igniting my palm confirms that he has indeed injured me. I cry out, holding my bleeding palm.

 

“I warned ya!” he retorts, grabbing me once more. This time, I’m thrown over his crusted shoulder as he takes me up the stairs and out of the brig.

 

I’m dizzy. I’m nauseous. I’m hot. But that doesn’t make any sense because my clothes are wet. I’m hauled out of the ship’s intestines and out into the open deck. I wish I could say the air is fresh, but it isn’t. It makes my stomach churn even more. I feel faint.

 

“Do you have a physician on the ship?” the words tumble uncontrolled past my lips, and looking down at my hanging arms, I finally see my bleeding palm.

 

But the pain doesn’t even register. All I can see is the princess’s motionless body - her eerily peaceful face, so different than the emotions I saw before.

 

“We need to send someone to look over her - do you hear me, you bloody imp!” I seethe, fury building in the pit of my stomach as the disgusting pirate continues ignoring me. Sending my fists against his back, I snap, “We can’t just leave her down there! Someone has to go -- ”

 

I’m cut off when a door slams open, and I’m abruptly thrown off his shoulder. I land violently on the ground, the back of my head slamming back against the wall. For a moment, I taste blood in my mouth, and my mind whirls. The back of my head immediately starts pounding.

 

“Please,” I choke out hoarsely, vaguely hearing the thudding of boots. “Someone - someone has to...I promised her freedom. I told her...not to give up. Please.”

 

When my vision finally stops swaying, I look up to see a pair of the iciest blue eyes staring intently at me, followed by the angelic facial features of Captain Blackheart.

 

“Take some advice from me, lass,” he practically purrs. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

 

The rage is back, and when his bloody lips curl into an amused smirk, I rack my throat and spit all over his beautiful face.

 

But I don’t get the reaction I was expecting.

 

Rather, the total opposite.

 

He doesn’t flinch or even appear disgusted. Calmly and slowly, and smirking all the while, he wipes my spit off his cheek with his palm.

 

“As a pirate, you honestly think I haven’t had worse things on my face?” he sneers, and my cheeks immediately blaze from his crudeness.

 

“You’re a monster,” I snap, narrowing my eyes.

 

“Call me what you’d like,” he stands from his crouching position and leers down at me, contemplating for a moment. “You’re a pretty little thing, aye. No wonder why Captain Malik wanted to keep you, although…” he trails off, diverting his attention for a couple seconds to something to his left - where, I just now notice is a desk full of crumpled papers.

 

“Tell me, what do you know about that necklace of yours?” he asks suddenly, his gaze turning back to me. I’m pressing my fingers against the back of my head, and luckily I’m not breathing. But I start coughing soon after - which is really not good at all.

 

Weakly, I reply, “A little. I know that…” I cut myself off, cursing myself inwardly. Was I really about to tell Captain Blackheart another reason to keep me aboard his ship?

 

Noting the horrified look on my face from my obvious slip up, Captain Blackheart chuckles. And it’s the strangest sound because it’s completely void of any humor. “I’m fully aware of what that piece of jewelry holds, you know. There’s nothing to hide. I’ll hand it to Malik, he’s a smart man, and he’s got an eye for fortune. I guess you can say that’s something we have in common.”

 

“Other than being a bloody pirate,” I grumble.

 

“What was that?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

“That necklace,” Captain Blackheart crouches back in front of me, his fingers reaching out for my neck, to which I instantly flinch away. But he only calmy approaches again until I have no choice but to allow his fingers to run along my skin, and his fingers are as icy cold as the ocean waters themselves. “It’s every pirate’s dream, lass. To find, that is. Everyone always thought it was a myth - but you see, pirates, don’t believe in myths. They’re as real to us as anything.”

 

“Necklace?” I repeat shakily from his sudden close proximity. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

“Don’t feign ignorance,” he says. “I see it, on your neck. Where it usually sits. There’s a line, aye, where the sun wasn’t able to hit.”

 

My stomach plummets. So, along with him being a heartless monster, he’s also incredibly observant. Perfect.

 

I bite my lip, still unwilling to share the information with him. My defiance seems to amuse him.

 

“Please don’t tell me I’ll have to force the answer out of you, lass?” he chuckles, taking my wounded hand into his. “It’d be a shame for a pretty thing like you to lose a finger or two…” he states, fingers digging into my fresh wound.

 

The thought alone makes my stomach jolt. The blood. The missing digits. The excruciating pain. I can’t help myself - I retch all over his boots before promptly fainting.

 

 
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