19. 12 - Extract from Midnight Shadownight-Rogue's Journal
Every human is cursed with at least one fatal flaw. While I had several, Thomas only really had one major flaw. His minor ones included drinking, gambling, swearing, etc. - but those had toned down after we'd married and had become extremely scarce after Des, Kitty and Ginny were born. Some might include his obsession with me a flaw, but I don't see it. If it's just with me, how is that a bad thing?
But his major flaw? It was greed. It was one of the reasons he became a pirate in the first place, and why he continued acts of wild piracy and violence well into his fifties. Before we married, Thomas was a mass-hoarder, owning expensive houses only to keep his trinkets and clutter in. Shadownight Manor itself used to be one such a storehouse.
But the Fountain of Youth - a treasure that no man had ever discovered before, and opened to the world...?
That was a treasure that could not be priced. Before we set out, Thomas and I had agreed that if we did find the Fountain, we'd destroy the map. Saying is one thing, but now? I didn't know. Thomas's ambition was driven by avarice, but he'd always dreamed of adventure and discovery. And now his dream had been fulfilled. I couldn't tell what it meant, whether it was a blessing or a curse, and what it would lead us to.
We spent a few minutes in silence, Thomas pacing the floor of the cabin and me sitting on the table.
I decided to start the conversation in an indirect manner, “Any sign of Cortés?” I asked.
“No,” Thomas said, standing straight and putting his hands on his hips, “he must've escaped the galleon while we were fightin'.”
“And no news? No sightings of him?”
“Not that I've heard.”
The chain of speech stagnated.
So much for the indirect approach.
I took a deep breath, “Thomas, we agreed you would destroy the map,” I said.
He looked away, “I know, Midnight. It's just...”
“You know what that thing can do?”
“I know, I know.”
“What could happen if it falls into the hands of a king or queen?” I tried, “People would live for decades more, maybe centuries more - and fight over that pool of water for twice or three times as long! We can't risk that,” I got up and held his shoulders, “The world doesn't need that.”
“I don't owe the world nothin'!” he growled.
I felt like backing away, but I brushed some lint off his shirt instead and replied, “I suppose that's true...”
“I've spent years and years out at sea, lookin' for accomplishment, searchin' for somethin' that'd make me someone more than...” he pointed to himself, “More than this! A sour drunk that robs people! And I accomplish it. I find what no man has found before, and I'm just suppose t'throw it away? Destroy my success for...” he gestured around him, “For the world? A world that's given me nothin' but strife?”
I didn't say anything.
“Answer me,” Thomas said.
“Thomas...” I said softly. I moistened my lips, wondering how to phrase what I was about to say, “I'm not going to make your decisions for you. You know what the right thing to do is, but... I understand.”
He raised his brows.
“Whatever your decision is, Thomas, I... I stand by it.”
He looked at me with a searching gaze, “Ye don't have t'be afraid to tell me what to do,” he stroked my cheek, clearly remembering that he'd hit me.
I touched his hand and placed it on my hip, “I don't know what you should do,” I admitted, “Sure, holding onto the map would be dangerous - but that's hardly a problem for us, right? And you do deserve recognition for it. I believe that. And besides... there are a hundred crazy things I've done in the past, and you've supported me through every single one of them.”
“This ain't for a lark. You aren't jokin'...” he murmured.
“It's about time I started pulling my share of the weight in this marriage,” I whispered.
Thomas pulled me closer and bent down to kiss me. Even so, I has to tip-toe to reach him.
He said, “I love you. And I'm happy t'carry everythin' while you commit to meaningless madness all o'er everywhere.”
I scoffed when he kissed my neck, but then I added, “Just, promise me one thing.”
“Eh?” he gave me a look.
“One thing. Promise me.”
“Never sell that map, never reproduce it in anyway, ever. Never let another soul - not family, not friend - know the directions to the Fountain of Youth,” I said.
He nodded, “I promise.”