The first time I e’er laid eyes upon Captain Douglas Francis O’Reily was when I was still a maiden Priestess. I don’t think that I could ever forget that handsome, powerful figure, even if I would wish it. Dreams of him always disturbed me and I did not know why. That is, I didn’t until the day when he and I actually met face to face.
I’faith I swear there is no worse death than burning, and t’was the Inquisitor’s decree that I should be burned at the stake in Tortuga. Father Francisco Alvarez, the leader of the faith on the Island was in fact gleeful that he should have a Wytch to make an example of. I think that it was the fact that I may have stirred the sluggish blood of the man beneath the frock that the decision had been made so imperative to him. Upon my incarceration, his words were a touch to tender, his insistence on private confession with him was too persistent, and he touched my hand too long. Upon my rebuke of him and his ways, I became the original Temptress of Sin in his eyes, and for that transgression I should pay. What happened in that dank, filthy cell that was worse than any hell that any man could imagine – and mankind, as a rule, has the deepest imagination to conjuring the most hellish trials, more so than any creature on the Goddess’ Earth!
And so the cart took me to the centre of town to be put upon the pyre made of brush and logs. ” Do you repent of your wicked and lascivious scheme to pervert all who around you with the aid of the Prince of Darkness?”Alvarez said, his eyes black and glittering.
I swore that I had nothing to confess and that my soul was not nearly as wicked nor my sins any greater than their own! With cold eyes and a vengeful heart, the pyre was lit by his own hand. Would that I had some belladonna to ease my way, I thought to myself. As the flames leapt higher I let my mind go as much as I could. The pain was excruciating, but I was determined not to have the gathered crowds see me scream in pain and writhe to give them the show that they wanted while I died before them! Damn ye all! You have no idea how each one of you, even here in Tortuga, are slaves! n Ye are slaves to yer own fears and to the machinations of Monarchs and Papal edicts born of hate and superstition! And ye have the temerity to curse and ridicule the Wytch! Damn the lot of you infernal daemons walking around in the sheep’s clothing of human flesh! Nay, you are all sheep! I leave for the Summerland to rest while the rest of you will remain to writhe in your own misery! To Hell with the lot of you; you who are hanging on to false promises of hope after death while your day to day lives are naught but misery!
And then I saw him! Dear Goddess of Mercy and all Love, he came!!
As the flames were edging ever closer to me, the wood about my legs catching fire, out of nowhere came a man on a dark steed – with ne’er little effort he did scoop me up, a brand falling ‘cross my foot in the escape, and I cried out, more out of surprise than pain. Across the saddle near to him, I could feel his grip tight around me as we galloped through the streets and out toward the beach. The soldiers of the papists gave chase is strong I glanced up as we made our escape and my heart thought that it would burst for seeing him! The man that I had dreamt about for years e’er since I was a lass of thirteen! He was more handsome in the flesh than e’er I could have imagined – and yet here, now he was real, flesh and blood!
‘afore I knew it we left behind the mount that we had road, his neck and chest, frothed with foam from our escape. I was carried and placed into a jolly boat and He rowed us out toward a large vessel. I was scarcely aware, it is even now a blur to me. As we reached the ship known as the Reape. He cried out to the men aboard.
” Throw down a bosuns chair ye poxxed whoresons! ” he bellowed to his crewmen. His orders were headed in an instant and the chair was thrown down. With frantic, yet ginger and almost reverent hands, he secured me into the bosun’s chair. Through the haze that was starting to clear for the spray and being away from the madness of the crowd, my eyes caught his. ‘Twas concern that knit his brow, that and something else. I know you! I thought, too long have we waited! At last the day had come!
” Hoist her up laddies and be careful with it! This be precious cargo!” he cried to the men above. Immediately I felt myself being lifted as tenderly as he could have commanded them to be. Precious cargo indeed I was made to feel that I was!
He, Himself grabbed up a running bow line. Hand over hand he scaled the hull of The Reaper until he was standing on the deck amongst his crew which milled about, murmuring, taken aback. He looked over to me with a reassuring smile and gentle voice, ” Donna worry, lass, “he said, ” No harm will come to ye here. Ye have me bond on that, you do.” he turned to a member of his crew, ” Mr. Snelgrave, ” he said while unfastening me from the bosun’s chair,. ” I’ll be down in me cabin. Have cook send down some food and drink.”
I found the strength to stand at last, and placing a warm hand in the small of my back, my foot in pain as he led me down the ladder to what must’ve been his cabin and sat me ‘pon a chair within that room. He rummaged around the shelves, collecting this and that, linen bandages and salves. I prayed that he had one of comfrey or plantain to help with the burn. He knelt down on the floor before me cleaning the wound with gentle hands and loving touch. He was silent as he worked. Unable to stand the silence ‘betwixt us any longer, I finally found my voice.
” Who are you? ” I asked, my heart near to bursting with long-held curiosity, “Why did you help me, s—-..”
“…Dawg,” he said, simply, as if he had heard my thoughts,. ” Captain Dawg Brown. And this is me ship, The Reaper. ”
I reached down to his face, my fingertips caressing his jaw and lifted his chin so that I could see his eyes. And Goddess, what eyes he had!
” No…. not Dawg” I said shaking my head, ”Douglas…… your name is Douglas… ”
His hands froze as he was tying off the bandage on my foot, ” Who are you? ” he whispered, his eyes widening.
“They call me Fanny Fae, and you still did’na tell me ‘why’“.
“How…..how do ye know my name?” he asked.
“I just knew. Why did you save me?”
“No woman, Wytch or no, deserves to die by fire at the stake,” he rose from his kneeling, and straightened himself to stand over me, “And ye resembled someone that I knew, ” he continued, ” I now see that ye are not the same person. Ye can rest here, Miss Fanny Fae.” his voice was colder now, as if he had in a single moment been betrayed; as if he had expected me to say the name of another.
The truth of the matter was, looking back over the years, perhaps he did expect me to be another. Not many know, as I am most often loath to reveal, that I had a twin sister, Marguerite, whom I was separated from at birth. Later I was to find out that Marguerite had been living in France, and she was to have been Douglas’ wife. It was Douglas’ own family who killed her for his having the temerity to want to give up the Sweet Trade for her. In the years that he and I were together, I ne’er knew whether or not he was with me for myself, or if he was with me because of the lost dream of my sister. Now, after he is long gone, I may ne’er know.
Muse: Fanny Fae
Fandom: Original Fiction / Folklore / Mythology
Word Count: 1430