” You too woman. Drink to your man’s pact.” Douglas commanded me.
I stared hard at him, and I knew that he could hear my thoughts as if I were in his face and screaming my defiance. How could he ask me to drink to a pact that neither of us believed in? If the men aboard the Reaper were to hear of it there would be rage amongst the crew at Douglas, and with good reason! ‘Where is the man that I know and love, I asked myself, ‘could he not see what was at stake here?’
Douglas answered my stare from the corner of his eye, as if warning me not to speak again or defy him in front of Mengs. I rose from my seat and took my time putting way the Medicci before sitting down again beside him and taking my tankard back within my hands. I glanced once more at Douglas, letting him read the rage that burned behind my eyes. I then turned my gaze at Christopher Mengs. Within a flash of an instant there was a look in the eye of the wretched Captain, that was one of sheer delight. I reached back in my thoughts and saw a vision of a man that was once so far removed than the one that sat in front of me. His eyes were green with flecks of brown, I noted. How incredibly strange that I would notice or even care. Indeed the shift in that instant caused me to blink and again I saw the fearsome Mengs in front of me again. I raised my tankard and narrowed my eyes before taking a drink. One swallow, two, three…it felt like an endless well of rum that burned my throat, leaving my eyes to tear and my body shaking.
Mengs’ lips curled into a smile and his eyes flashed a promise of his intentions. With a triumphant grunt he slammed his tankard down on the table.. He then let out a laugh as if he was proud of me in some way and that my compliance was something to be admired.
” Have supper with me, Dawg. You and your loverly Fanny Fae…” his eyes never left me even as he was addressing Douglas, ” We’ll celebrate.”
What sort of celebration could the man be thinking? That he had triumphed over Douglas and the Reaper and that we had agreed to be a part of his nefarious league? My stomach was turning with the weight of it all. By the Goddess I did not understand the things that men did.
” I’ve plans to sail on the tide. ” Douglas said shaking his head, ” New treaties have been signed here in the Caribe. Those who were once enemies are now allies, joining forces to thwart the efforts of men like ourselves. They’ve combined their fleets to protect their shipments. I’ll have to range farther north to find the kind of prize I need. I’ll be leaving shortly. So I must respectfully decline. ”
“You disappoint my hospitality, Brown. ” for the moment Mengs’ gaze still did not leave me, but his irritation and disappointment was clearly evident in his voice, he turned his gaze on Douglas and added, ” but never dare to disappoint my purse. I’ll have what’s due me from you. ” Mengs again shifted his gaze back to me, looking me up and down. T’was clear why he wanted us to stay and he meant to have me one way or the other.
” That you will, Christopher, ” Douglas said quietly, noting Mengs’ meaningful glances at me, ” You have my vow on it. ”
Within moments the men of each crew separated and moved toward their mates. Douglas urged me with a firm hand and steered us toward the exit, making for the ship as if we were trying to beat the tides. Douglas’ long strides left me panting as I struggled to keep up next to him. With each step my anger got more and more pronounced. Ne’er had I been treated in such a fashion by any man, let alone the man that I loved! When the ship was in sight I threw his hand off of me and kept my pace myself. I felt my cheeks go hot and the back of my neck burning.
As soon as we were aboard, Douglas began shouting orders to the crew .
“Mr Sharky!” Douglas bellowed.
“Go be a shark.”
“Gibbons, Fredrich, take a few men, see to the stores, take what coin is necessary and finish out from the closest vendors.” Douglas sent men scurrying in all directions, “Mister Bishop!”
“Take the gunners below and break out the powder. Stand by, we may need everything we have.”
With each order given he gave another his anger rising and mine rising along side of it, he looked through me, around me and treated me as if I were a child or a puppy underfoot. Unable to stand it a moment longer, I stood in front of him, “I canna believe you are actually going to do what that poxxed whoreson demanded of you, Douglas!”
He did not respond and it made the back of my neck prickle even more to be ignored,” You’re actually going to lift anchor and sail off?”“ I accused, “You are actually going to do Mengs’ bidding? Ye are a fool to pay his blackmail!”
” Not now Fanny…” Douglas took me by the shoulders and set me aside. The one action alone was enough to cause me to shake with such a fury I nearly felt like screaming at him!
“Yes, by the Goddess….Now!” I fumed, my voice reaching increasing volume, “”You actually intend to throw in with that madman! How could you? Ye gave him your word and your hand on it!” I knew that the eyes of ev’ry man jack was on Douglas and I now. The soft murmurs among the men gave clear indication of their own disbelief and fear that I actually could be speaking the truth. “Does the wytch woman speak the truth? ” one of them murmured to another. I glanced at Bishop who shook his head.
” I said…not here! ” Douglas grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me roughly, his face as tight as it was red.
” You agreed to give him half of everything, Douglas! You agreed to give Christopher Mengs half of every prize we take!! To do his dirty work…the men of this crew will ne’er – .”
“I LIED!!!” he roared at me, shaking, ” I lied to buy us time enough to make open sea! ” Douglas drew away from me, trying to roughly push me aside, but I would have none of it. His body shook with his barely subdued rage, and he snapped back at me harshly, ” And Mengs knows it! ” Douglas let go of my shoulders and strode off, calling for the Quartermaster and master gunner to come to his cabin, leaving me to stand looking after him. When I looked around me there were still men looking after the captain and some to stare at me or to murmur and conspire amongst themselves.
In the wake of our heated exchange I was left feeling stunned and threadbare. If he lied then why did he not tell me? Did he want me to be taken in by the man Mengs? I glanced out over the rail and looked at the men that were scurrying in order to get us under way. T’was the hand of one of the crew on my arm that brought me to awareness. I look’t up into the face of Crispin Rogue the ships Bosun. Gently he steered me toward the quarterdeck out of the way of the crew that was hurriedly working around us.
“Miz Fanny,” the jaw of his grizzled face shifted, “I know ye donna understand the why of it, but Capt’n Dawg be doin’ what’s best fer us all.”
“Douglas should know better than to bargain with such men!” I spat.
“T’were lip service he give, Miss Fanny, or bloodshed on the spot woulda come. Capt’n Dawg bought us time.”
“Time for what?” I asked, “Time to get Mengs his blood money?”
“Captain Mengs’ is gonna let us sail outta port, ” Rogue said, “then he’s gonna come after us – hard, Miss. Real hard. An’ I seen what he does to a crew he takes. A bloke’d be better off cuttin’ out his own liver.”
I did not respond this time but fixed him with a stare. Surely it could not be so bad as to stand up to the infamous Christopher Mengs. I sighed and shook my head.
“An’ it’s clear that he wants you, Miz Fanny, in case ye hadn’t guessed. Now he has all the more reason to come after us.”
He watched me as I absorbed all that I was being told. ” Dawg needs ye Miz Fanny, ” he said softly, “and whate’er powers that ye possess! Now is the time ta be usin’ them.”
Crispin Rogue left me there and set about going to get us under way, barking out orders left and right. Noting the pandemonium on deck, I thought it better to get to the galley. I could at least throw my anger into my own duties. Douglas Francis O’Rielley, the man to whom I had been constant companion and mistress, was not the man I knew. That was true on more than one count.
Muse: Fanny Fae
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology