As I stand back to the mainmast, hands tied behind me, clothing purposely ripped in obscene places, I get the suspicion that this will not go well. I am presented as a whore -- an offering to this king of the sea that beckons whilst shiphands and one hidden lover surround me hanging on a final vestige of hope.
You see, we are on a voyage for the most blessed treasure of all, but halfway to the destination, we ran into a turbulent storm only for the ship to become worthless and adrift at sea. Sails ripped to shreds. The foremast, cracked. The rudder, a useless appendage flapping in the wind. The men have not eaten -- well except the captain. Now, over the horizon comes our last hope. It is Black as night and Red as the blood of it’s many victims. The flare is unmistakable. It is the ship of Captain Heathcliff Covington.
It floats toward us like a ghost so that I wonder if it is real. Having been lost at sea for so long I wonder if I am seeing visions? As it moves closer, the peace in its approach is intoxicating -- even sensual, I would venture. Soon it is a large ship filling the entire sky like a thing of legend. My crimson lips stretch wide with awe. My eyes open up like heaven to behold the sight.
I wish for a moment I could release my hands to grasp the cross around my neck. The one my father gave me. I close my eyes, "This won't work," I tell myself. An apparition of my mind grasps the gold against my chest and for a moment I believe it will.
A swarm or filthy scoundrels clatter off the big black ship like vermin. A coterie of dull blue and dirty orange made dire by the sparkle of drawn daggers. They catch a glimpse of our condition and their strong postures diminish a bit -- as if expecting more from the crew of the Golden Rose. As if expecting a fight. but finding disappointment. "is this the vessel of the mighty Captain Thorneword?" their looks say.
Certainly, it is working. My confidence stands firm until the final pair of boots board our fallen ship. They plop so loudly as to leave no doubt. First my ears and then my eyes are drawn to the lofty human. And then my eyes again. He is a towering beast with long black curls. This is Captain Covington.
Despite his powerful stature, he moves about the ship gracefully, surveying it as if it is his own. Several moments pass before his eyes graze my presence. Or maybe it seems like several. His eyebrows raise and he walks to me with full authority.
“What is this?” he says. “Are you meant to be a gift?”
It sends chills through my body. As he comes near, I am swallowed up in his massive frame. I try to wriggle free, and unlike other men, he seems jarred by the response. And then I recite the words that me and my loved one practiced in those captain's quarters. "I am not a gift, my lord, but a messenger."
Convington tilts his head, sending his luscious curls to one side of his face and it's just what I want. This captain was known for his curiosity. Still his posture does not change.
He paces around me incredulous that I could be anything more than a piece of meat. "And what type of messenger arrives tied to a mainmast?"
As I catch the scent of his manliness mixed with the sea, the answer comes to easy, "An unwilling one."
That produces a smile on his grizzled face.
"Very well, tell me this message."
I am sure I look nervous as I recite, "Well you are aware of the reputation of Captain Thornewood. The dead bodies he leaves in his wake?"
"Oh I am aware. Those tales have made their way to the farthest corners of the world. They keep young men up at night."
"Well then you are also aware of his mercy."
For the first time I see failure as he tilts his head a touch, "Well, I am not aware of that."
"Well consider it an honor that you have now been made aware."
"So this is the message you deliver? Stories I already know. A pirate's honor I have not heard?"
"No, those are mere preamble to the real message."
"And what is the real message, my dear?"
I try my best to avoid eye contact as I say, "Surrender your ship and be on your way and Thorewoode will not kill you in your sleep."
And you can see the realization ripple through the entire crew. The beheaded men found floating in the ocean. I look at all the terror and worry in their eyes. Them replaying the stories of gruesome deaths that befell those who dare besmirch Captain Thornewoode. And they are mine and then I look at him and then he laughs.
To my disappointment, his strength travels to his men the way it does from any good captain. It was one of our last hopes -- to bluff based on past exploits, but he can see the state of our ship -- destroyed through twisted fate and there is nothing of ours to be scared of.
He walks toward me, "You are a pretty woman. Too pretty to be the wench of some shiphand. Certainly you belong to the captain."
He pulls out a knife and puts it to my neck. "Show me who the captain is or she dies," he says to the men and none of them speak for the twisted truth that the captain has already forbade it. Then a chill enters my spine as a resolute look enters his eyes.
He turns his attention away from me and toward the crew. When I realize what he is doing, I try to hold still. not respond. He walks to one man and kicks him in the stomach. He looks to me -- no reaction.
He walks the deck some more and is getting closer to my love. He stabs the another nameless someone in the side, but his body being closer to my lover makes me grit my teeth.
He walks a bit further and now is right next to my love.
He turns to me. Can he see me holding my breath? Gritting my teeth? Can he see the sweat forming on my brow?
He smiles and jams the knife right toward his neck "No!" the word comes out before I even know it's there. And now the game is afoot.
He holds my love right before me and issues the challenge, "Now tell me where the map is."
I think back to the wonderful nights where he held me in his arms and cant help but weep, but what must be done must be done, knowing his fate, I reveal the hidden map and so he can say he killed the infamous Thornewood, he stabs my lover right through the temple. I watch him collapse before me.
But I am no ones whore. I beg to be with Lord Covington. I cannot deny the attraction despite the odd circumstances. I want to be with him so it is no charade as he releases me from the mast and I curtsey before him. He ushers me to the ship and to his quarters. and I promise you this love is genuine. That makes it all the better. for when our eyes genuinely meet, it washes out the memories of my love. the senses become dull as do his for as he takes me to his cabin, he is not as privy as he might otherwise be and he does not notice the knife I've been holding beneath my garter.
So it is with great shock that when he wakes up after lovemaking I have the blade to his neck and say, "I heard you were looking for me."
"Whatever do you mean," he asks, shivering out his last breaths.
"My name is Captain Primrose Thornewood."