“Alright lads, listen up!” Screamed the man as he looked out over the ship’s deck. “The captain wants us to take the ship towards New Providence, but we’ll be stopping a few miles offshore as the captain wants to row herself in.”
A loud groan rippled across the deck as the sailors all shook their heads and continued to work. “But we were promised time onshore!” shouted one of the sailors, only for the others to quickly move away from him.
Suddenly, the door to the captain’s cabin swung open as the captain marched out, the sound of her heels echoing against the deck.
“What was that boy?” shouted the captain as her red hair danced in the wind.
“I,” coughed the sailor as his eyes darted around in a vain attempt at avoiding eye contact.
“What did you say?” growled the captain.
“We were promised shore leave. Mad,” started the sailor, only to quickly stop himself. “We were promised shore leave, Sir.”
“Aye, you were,” chuckled the captain as she pressed her nose against the sailors’. “And you are more welcome to have it because if we dock in New Providence, you’ll be hanging from a gibbet arm by nightfall.”
The sailor visibly shook as the captain continued to stare a hole into him. The other sailors silently looked at the scene, none of them wanting to interrupt the captain.
“So lads,” laughed the woman as she drew her sword and turned to face the rest of the crew. “If anyone else wants to die by the hand of the navy then you’re more than welcome to swim into New Providence! But if you want to live and stay on my ship, then you’ll wait while I and Vail have our meeting with the Guvnor’s son.”
The sailors nodded and quickly got back to work, dashing around the ship in an attempt to look busy. Even the doubting sailor dashed away from the captain and started to fiddle with some rope, the terror on his face not fading even when he was out of the captain’s line of sight.
“Very nice,” chuckled Vail as he watched Eliza take the wheel.
“Got to keep them in line,” replied Eliza firmly. “I don’t want to have to hire a new crew because the old lot got slaughtered like lambs either.”
“True,” nodded Vail as he leaned against the wooden railing. “Do you think this is safe? I wouldn’t trust a son who wants to overthrow his own father.”
“I don’t trust him,” chuckled Eliza as she turned the wheel. “But we’ve dealt with worse. And the money is worth it.”
“The money is always worth it,” acknowledged Vail as he looked out over the crew, keen to make sure no one was slacking off.
Once the ship was a few miles from the coast, Eliza gave up the wheel and went back into her cabin only to emerge a few minutes later with a cape wrapped around her.
“Prepare the rowboat!” She shouted as several crewmembers scurried out of her way.
“Ready?” Asked Vail as he inspected his sword.
“Aye,” nodded Eliza before turning to one of the crew. “Give us two days. If we don’t return, leave without us. Double the tot while you wait.”
The crewmember nodded and watched as Eliza and Vail clambered into the small rowboat and started to row towards the shore.
The trip was long and quiet. Both pirates kept focused on the horizon, keen to make sure they were not followed or spotted climbing onto land.
After several hours they reached the shore and pulled the boat onto the beach. The city of New Providence was large and bustling despite the late hour, and many large ships were docked in its port.
As Eliza lifted a wooden crate out of the boat she nodded to Vail. “We’ll take the shortest route to the Guvnor’s house.”
The house was a large, sprawling affair that took up a large portion of the city. As Eliza and Vail walked around the walls, they spotted an open door at the back of the house.
“Seems we’re expected,” grinned Vail as he started to scale the wall. Once over, they both quickly headed inside only to find the Governor’s son sat behind a table that was laden with food and drink.
“Wonderful!” Smirked the governor’s son. “You have it?”
“We do,” nodded Eliza as she threw the box onto the table, crushing several plates as she did.
“Perfect.” Replied the son. He pulled the box towards his body before clapping his hands. Instantly guards poured into the room, their muskets drawn and pointed right at Eliza and Vail.
“Traitor,” growled Eliza.
“What, you thought my family would deal with pirates? Really?” Cackled the son. “Being the one who brings Eliza Bennet, the mermaid, to justice will be a wonderful accolade that will make my family famous!”
Eliza just glared at the man, rage burning her eyes. “You don’t think someone has tried this in the past?”
“Arrest her,” laughed the man as he waved his hand dismissively. As the men advanced, Eliza dived forward and grabbed a glass from the table before throwing its contents into the eyes of the advancing guards.
The governor’s son tried to jump up from his chair, however, before he could even move an inch Eliza grabbed his shirt and smashed the glass over his head, causing him to crumple to the ground.
Vail quickly grabbed a bowl off the table and threw it at the guards. The bowl bounced off a man’s skull with a soft clang as Vail tipped the table over and hid behind it.
Eliza instantly realized what Vail was doing. She lunged over the table and grabbed hold of one of the legs, making sure to kick the fallen son as she did.
The pair lifted the table and ran forward, knocking the stunned guards to the floor as they crashed through a door and into the garden. Before they could think of anything, a voice shouted from a rooftop.
“They’ve escaped! Sound the alarm! Pirates! Close the port!” shouted the guard, aiming his musket towards the pair.
“Split up,” shouted Eliza as she started to sprint towards the wall. A musket ball sent a lump of grass flying into the air as a shot missed her by mere millimeters.
She clambered over the wall as musket balls continued to throw up dust and smoke. All the while, more and more voices were joining in the shouting. It sounded like every guard in the city was attempting to hunt them down.
Eliza quickly started to run towards the busiest parts of the city, keen to lose as many of the guards as possible. However, no matter how many turns she took, the voices seemed to always be just behind her.
As she came to the market place, Eliza spotted a second group of guards in front of her. “There she is!” screamed one of them as he motioned to his friends.
Eliza dashed into another side street and continued to try and look for a way out. She couldn’t go get the boat with a horde of guards following her, she would be a sitting duck and they would sink her within moments.
As another horde of guards came out of an alley, Eliza started to lose her cool. It felt as if the Governor had doubled the number of guards since the last time she was here.
She ran into the only empty street she could find and quickly tried to find a hiding place. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a small yellow and blue tent and immediately dived into it.
Inside the tent was a woman sat in front of a silk-covered table with a crystal ball sitting on top. The woman started to gasp, however, Eliza covered her mouth and pulled out her pistol. “You shout or say a word and I’ll shoot you,” she growled. “Don’t tell them I’m in here,” she added as she quickly ducked under the table and pulled the silks over herself.
Eliza bit her lip and tried to quiet her breathing. She heard the guards fling open the door to the tent.
“Where is she?” shouted one of the guards. Eliza gripped her sword firmly and aimed her gun towards the voice, hoping she could get a shot off before the guards could react.
“I am but a poor woman,” moaned the woman. “A coin for your future! A coin to tell the story of your fate!”
“Did someone come in here?” shouted the voice.
“The spirits are loud and wish to talk through me! A coin! A single coin!”
“She is obviously mad, let’s go,” said another voice as the door closed.
After a few minutes, Eliza poked her head out from under the table, trying to confirm if the guards had actually left. Once she was sure of her safety she rose from the floor and brushed herself off before turning to the woman.
“Thank you,” she nodded.
“You must have annoyed someone.” chuckled the woman. “The whole city seems to be after you.”
“You could say that,” sighed Eliza as she reached into her purse and pulled out a few coins. “The least I can do,” she said as she placed the coins on the table.
“I’m not superstitious,” replied Eliza. “I just like to repay people who save my skin.”
“Please, I must.“Said the woman as she gestured towards the crystal ball. “The coin is on the table, the spirits must speak or they shall be angered.”
Eliza stood and contemplated for a few seconds. She really didn’t have time for this, but at the same time, if she didn’t go along with this silly charade then the woman may scream for the guards.
“If you insist,” nodded Eliza as she sat down opposite the woman.
“Wonderful, the spirits have much to say!” Grinned the woman as she started to wave her hands around the ball.
Almost instantly the crystal started to grow dim like it was full of storm clouds. Eliza had to admit, it was a pretty impressive trick and she wasn’t exactly sure how the woman was doing it. Usually, she would have presumed there was a snuffed candle beneath the table, but she hadn’t seen one when she was hiding.
“Yes, come to us and speak, tell us the future and the strings that bind,” shouted the woman as the fog in the ball twisted and turned like a whirlpool. “Look, look, receive your message!”
Eliza focused her eyes on the swirling pattern in the ball. She tried to guess what trick the woman was going to pull to make some something appear inside the sphere.
As the pattern continued to swirl it seemed to take on various colors, almost like the ball was filling with colored smoke that twirled and twisted around the edges of the whirlpool before being dragged towards its center.
“Yes, the message is coming. Look, child, look!” exclaimed the woman as the colors grew brighter and more vivid.
Eliza’s eyes opened wider, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The show inside the ball was so impressive. The more she looked, the more interesting it became. The smoke seemed to have a life of its own, it was unlike any candle she had seen.
She started to feel strange, almost like she was floating. Her eyes couldn’t help but follow the colors around and around. Something about them was so strange and yet utterly mesmerizing.
Suddenly, the colors burst from the ball, spiraling around Eliza’s head. She tried to shout, but her voice was too quiet and too weak. She could feel the smoke pushing into her ears and wrapping around her brain.
Eliza felt strange and hazy like she was stuck in a fog bank. She wanted to do something, but she just couldn’t. She felt oddly dizzy and dazed, it was like the fog was draining her energy.
“Yes child, you thought you could merely use me at the point of a gun? Well, now you shall suffer and be cursed,” cackled the woman.
Eliza knew something was wrong with this. She wanted to raise her gun or sword, but her limbs were so heavy, it was like they had anchors tied to them.
“You shall find love in every port! Now go, and live your curse!” Laughed the woman as she threw her arms into the air. As she did, the fog cleared from Eliza’s brain and she felt herself sit bolt upright.
As her thoughts returned, Eliza sighed. “Of course,” she said with a smirk. “I’m sure I’ll suffer under a curse of love,” she said as she stood up and marched out of the tent.
Eliza quickly started to snake through the city’s alleyways. It seemed that the guards had mostly dispersed or returned to their normal posts. This either meant that they were all waiting for her on the coast, or they thought that she had run into the countryside.
She silently prayed that the latter was true as she did her best to make her way towards the beach where the boat was hidden. As she moved, she thought back to what the fortune teller had told her.
A curse of love was likely the stupidest curse she had ever heard. She had been cursed with death many times and she was still standing, so what did she have to fear from a curse of love? Was the fortune teller hoping she would die from joy?
After a while, Eliza reached the coast. The port seemed to be teeming with guards, obviously in an attempt to stop her and Vail from leaving via ship. To her dismay, she quickly realized that her rowboat was gone.
She walked out onto the beach and hoped that the lack of a boat meant that Vail had escaped. While she knew that she would be caught one day, she couldn’t deal with the idea of one of her crew being in charge of her ship. At least Vail would keep it safe and not immediately crash it into an archipelago.
“Captain!” whispered a voice. Eliza spun on her heel and saw Vail emerging from behind some rocks.
“Hell has rejected you again I see,” smirked Eliza as Vail walked towards her, dragging the boat behind him.
“There are people I am willing to die at the hands of, but half-starved city guards are not among them.” chuckled Vail as he moved the boat into the water.
“Aye, be quite the man who kills you,” nodded Eliza as she helped get the boat on the water. She decided to not tell Vail about the strange fortune teller. He wasn’t the superstitious type and it wasn’t the first time a strange person had yelled at her.
In fact, as they rowed back to the boat, Eliza mostly forgot about the strange woman and her silly curse. As the crew cheered her return, Eliza climbed onto the quarter deck and smiled.
“Lads, let it be known. The Guvnor of New Providence decided to try and cross me. Let it be known that his son is currently laying on the floor of his office in a pool of his own blood with the remains of his glass lodged in his head!”
The crew cheered uproariously, obviously excited to have their captain back, despite the fact that their shore leave had obviously been cut short.
“But! We don’t let anyone cross us, lads. Do we?” grinned Eliza as the crew yelled. “So, we’re going to show the Guvnor just what we’re capable of. We’re going to sink his trade fleet!”
The crew cheered again as Eliza smirked and grabbed the wheel. Vail instantly got to work, shouting for the crew to get the sails unfurled and the boat moving.
While progress was slow, Eliza and her crew gradually made their way towards another city, hoping to intercept the Governor’s fleet. However, the fleet seemed to be nowhere to be found.
After circling the island for two weeks, Eliza made the decision to dock in Tamwell. She hoped that she could find someone who could be convinced to give up the location of the fleet.
As she watched her crew head off into the city, Eliza turned to Vail. “I need to find someone in power.”
“Port Master?” replied Vail.
“Risky, I would prefer to leave that until just before we leave. An angry Port Master could trap us here or ruin our ship.”
“Fair,” nodded Vail. “I shall see if I can find a shop that might sell to sailors.”
“Good plan,” replied Eliza. “I’ll see if I can find someone who has taken the Guvnor’s dirty money.”
“Whistle if you need me,” Vail nodded as he strode confidently into the port.
Eliza quickly wrapped a cape around herself and started to march through the streets. She wasn’t sure exactly what she was looking for, but she knew she would know when she saw it. If there was one thing bureaucrats had in common, it was a desire to be seen.
Eventually, Eliza spotted a house with several people dashing in and out. She decided this was as good a lead as any and quickly headed inside.
It didn’t take her long to realize that this was some form of goods trader. The walls were covered in maps and scraps of paper and there were several men inspecting various crates and bags.
Eliza walked up to the desk and smiled at the man behind it. “What do you buy?” she asked.
“Goods mostly. But we don’t deal with pirates.” said the man, causing Eliza to instinctively reach for her sword. “So don’t be expecting us to not check your goods,” continued the man as Eliza relaxed a little.
“My ship found some flotsam on our route,” explained Eliza calmly. “We don’t have room in the hold for both it and the cargo we’re meant to collect so the Captain sent me here to off-load it.”
“I see, I see,” nodded the man. “Got caught in the storm I bet. Been very rough waters apparently.”
“Aye, we lost a man the other week,” nodded Eliza.
“But still, we’ll need to inspect the cargo before buying it off you,” replied the man.
Eliza went to speak, however, before she could get a word out a woman ran into the building.
“Sir? Sir?” She enquired in an overly upper-class accent.
“Anna, please,” said the man as he turned to face the girl. Eliza looked at the woman out of the corner of her eye. Her long blonde hair and perfect skin suggested she had a very sheltered life, she certainly wasn’t someone you would normally find at a trading post.
“But father wants his sugar. He wants it right now! He has a very important party!” interrupted the woman.
“Anna, I am trying to deal with this person, I will get someone to bring the sugar after. Your father can wait a few moments.”
“But he demanded it! He told me to run here right now!” complained the girl as the trader rolled his eyes.
“Excuse me, please,” sighed the trader as he walked into another room. Eliza continued to look around, doing her best to ignore the woman. While she was annoying, she would likely be educated and may have seen something listing wanted pirates.
After a few minutes, the man dragged a crate towards the woman. “Here’s the sugar he wanted,” grunted the man. The woman looked down at the crate with confusion and then back towards the man.
“It needs to be back at our house,” she said firmly.
“I can’t leave the store unattended,” sighed the man, growing obviously annoyed. “With all the piracy recently, I could be robbed blind at any moment. Your father knows that.”
The woman huffed for a few moments before grabbing Eliza’s shoulder. “You! Would you like,” started the woman as Eliza spun around and slapped the hand away.
However, the second Eliza and the woman made eye contact, the girl went silent. Smoke appeared out of thin air and looped around the girl’s head before flowing into her ears. The girl’s mouth instantly dropped open as her body stiffened.
Eliza could only watch as an unnaturally large smile formed on the woman’s face. Her eyes slowly changed, the whites becoming a soft pink as her pupils morphed into small red hearts for a few seconds.
Eliza was unsure of exactly what was happening. This was unlike anything she had seen, even years at sea hadn’t prepared her for this. Suddenly, the woman gasped and started to talk again.
“Would you like to come to dinner? And to meet my father and to get married?” Squealed the woman as she grabbed Eliza by the arm. “I’ll call the priest! He can marry us on Sunday!” continued Anna, her voice growing faster and faster.
“I don’t care about your father,” growled Eliza, pulling her arm away from the madwoman.
“Anna, I’m trying to do business,” coughed the man as Anna continued to bounce on the spot.
“You won’t be! When we’re married, I’m going to have my father give her your job! She is better at it! And, I can come and watch the ships come in with her! It will be wonderful!” Giggled Anna as she continued to ramble without taking a breath.
“I don’t want to get married. I don’t know you,” grumbled Eliza, debating how forceful she could be with this girl without getting into trouble.
“Then I shall make you!” shouted Anna as she stamped her foot on the wooden floor.
“I’m going to leave,” sighed Eliza as she turned to the man. “You really need to keep your store under control,” she snipped, hoping that she could come back and deal with him later.
As she walked out into the street, Eliza could hear the man talking behind her. “Anna, look what you did, what has gotten into you?”
Suddenly, Eliza heard someone run before slamming a door. She didn’t turn around, not wanting to risk the girl trying to follow her. However, before she could find a side-street to turn into, she heard Anna shout from behind her.
“Guards! Seize that woman! She has broken the law!”
Eliza gasped and started to move quicker. She couldn’t risk a fight here, not with her crew scattered around the city. She needed to lose the guards as quickly as possible.
As she leaped over a wall and into a small garden, Eliza heard Anna shout once more.
“A hundred gold and my pearls to anyone who can bring me that woman! Alive! Don’t hurt her! Bring my love to me!” She screamed as a crowd of people started to shout uproariously.
“What did I do to deserve this?” Eliza muttered to herself as she started to sprint away from the crowd, jumping over walls and ducking into alleyways as she did. Instantly, the words of the fortune-teller echoed in her mind. Was this the love she had been warned of?
She pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind. This wasn’t the time to be debating the words of a charlatan and trickster, the angry mob was a much more pressing issue.
As she ran, Eliza spotted a shawl resting on a wall. It was damp and had obviously been left there to dry, but Eliza wasn’t fussy. She grabbed it and started to wrap it around herself as she continued to move, hoping that it would make it harder for the mob to spot her.
Even as the sounds of the mob faded away, Eliza continued to run. She wanted to put as much distance between herself and that strange girl as possible.
She leaned up against a wall and took a deep breath, trying to get some air back into her lungs. She wondered if this was the fortune teller’s doing, but she couldn’t believe it. There is no way that such a strange woman could control someone days away.
After a few moments, Eliza shook her head. It wasn’t worth debating. She had to find her crew and get off this island before Anna raised an army to hunt her down.
It didn’t take long to track Vail down. While the city was big, he was a very predictable man with a method he liked to follow. He had managed to make his way around the market, bribing and bartering his way into the traders’ hearts.
Eliza grabbed him by the sleeve and dragged him into an alleyway. “Vail, we have a problem,” whispered Eliza.
“Captain, done some shopping?” Asked Vail as he looked at the shawl.
“I met the Guvnor’s daughter and she, well...” sighed Eliza, trying to work out how to explain the day’s events. “She thinks she is in love with me and decided to call the town guard to try and force me to marry her.”
“Strange girl,” mumbled Vail.
“Very,” nodded Eliza. “But we need to gather the crew. I doubt we have long before she declares all-out war to get ahold of me.”
“Aye Captain!” Replied Vail.
“I’ll go hide in the ship. If you need me, you’ll find me in a rum barrel.”
Vail quickly got to work, marching back out into the marketplace as Eliza prepared herself to dash across the city. She pulled the shawl tight and tried to avoid making eye contact with anyone.
As she reached the port Eliza spotted Anna shouting at the Port Master. “I want to know about my wife’s ship!” She screamed at the very confused man.
“I can’t,” he stuttered. “It is against the rules.”
“I will get my father to exile you!” Screamed Anna. “She is my wife! I demand you let me see her boat!”
Eliza quickly scanned the port, trying to find a way to sneak around the commotion. She quickly realized that could duck down behind some boxes, jump off the pier, and then swim to her ship.
She quickly ran across to the random crates, Anna’s yelling drowning out her steps. “How dare you! How dare you not let me see my wife! Are you a heathen?”
“No, but I can’t let you. It will cause chaos,” mumbled the man, obviously confused and exhausted. The water was warm and quiet, allowing Eliza to quietly swim to the side of her ship and climb up onto the deck.
Once she was on board, Eliza crept to the front of the deck and looked out at the port, watching as Anna continued to berate the Port Master for refusing to let her raid the ship.
Eliza had to admit, the guy seemed strong. Most guards would have crumbled by now. She considered trying to hire the man; he obviously had useful skills.
However, before she could get too far into the thought, Anna turned to one of the city guards and grabbed the pistol from his hip. She pointed it towards the man and pulled the trigger.
The shot echoed through the port, making everyone stop in their tracks. The shot missed the man by a mile and the force of the gun knocked Anna to the floor.
The man glared at the guards that had followed Anna, all of whom seemed shocked at the turn of events. As Anna started to stand up, one of the men grabbed her by the arm.
“Come on now Miss Anna,” he said firmly. “I don’t think this man knows where your friend is.”
“My friend?!” Screamed Anna as she pointlessly thrashed in the man’s hands. “She is my future wife!”
“Of course,” mumbled the man, slowly leading Anna back towards the city as she continued to struggle.
Eliza took a deep breath and wiped the sweat from her brow. Anna seemed to be utterly obsessed with her, to the point she had thrown all logic out of the window.
As Eliza started to head toward her office, she looked across at the other ships in the harbor. Most of the sailors were all slowly going back to work now that the commotion had died down.
Next to Eliza’s ship was a large trade ship. Eliza couldn’t help but admire it; it was in impeccable condition. As her eyes slowly moved up the mast, she made eye contact with a woman who was working in the rigging.
Instantly the woman stopped what she was doing. The wisps of smoke started to swirl around her head before dashing into her ears as she stiffened.
“Oh no,” mumbled Eliza.
“My darling! My darling, wait for me!” Screamed the woman as she started to climb down from the mast. Eliza quickly ran into her office and locked the door behind her before ducking under the table.
Eliza couldn’t believe what was going on. Once was a strange coincidence, but twice was too much to ignore. Could that woman have really cursed her?
Suddenly, someone started to furiously bang on the door. “Let me in, my love! Let me in!” Screamed the woman as she started to ram her shoulder into the door.
Eliza quickly tried to consider her options. Eventually, this girl was going to break through the door, and then she would be cornered. A plan slowly formed in Eliza’s head.
Whenever one of her crew was too drunk to work, she would tie a rope to them and throw them into the sea. It was the quickest way to sober them up. And love drunk was very similar to normal drunkenness, so maybe a dip in the drink would shake this woman from her crazed state?
Eliza pulled her sword from its sheath and grabbed the door. She took a deep breath before opening the door with as much force as she could. As she charged out onto the deck, Eliza saw the girl hit the floor with a thud.
“Darling!” Gurgled the girl as Eliza grabbed her by her hair and started to drag her towards the water. Just as she got the girl to the edge, Eliza heard another voice shout from the other ship.
“How dare you! You’re trying to poach my crew!” Screamed a man. Before Eliza could work out what was going on, she saw a figure on a rope swinging towards her.
“She crashed my boat!” Shouted Eliza as the man landed on her deck.
“Very likely! She has always been a traitor!” Growled the man as he drew his sword and charged towards Eliza.
Eliza’s body acted on reflex and raised her blade to parry the strike. “I don’t want her! You can have her!” Yelled Eliza as she deflected the man’s blows. She tried to fight cautiously, realizing that stabbing the man would only make the situation worse.
“Aye? So you can poach some more of my men? How many have you corrupted? What do you want?” Screamed the man as his swings become wider and wilder.
“Nothing! I want my ship to myself!” Replied Eliza as she was forced back towards her cabin. The man continued to swing at her, forcing her to move quickly to block the blows.
“No one steals my crew!” Screamed the man again as Eliza felt the wall against her back.
“I’m not!” She replied as she blocked another blow. “I don’t want your crew, I’ve got a perfectly fine one here!”
The man raised his sword to try and slash Eliza. However, before the blade could make contact the man let out a groan and crumpled to the ground, revealing Vail stood behind him.
“Don’t you antagonize the Captain!” he shouted as he grabbed the man by the collar and threw him across the deck. “Lay the boot in, lads!” shouted Vail as a load of sailors poured onto the deck and started to kick the downed man.
“Never have I been gladder to see you,” sighed Eliza.
“What did he want?”
“You’re not going to believe me.”
“I have no reason to doubt you, Captain, I wouldn’t have done half the things I’ve done if I didn’t trust your judgment.”
Eliza sighed. Vail always knew the things to say to calm her down. She looked at the crowd of sailors before looking back to Vail. “We need to get out of port and get those two overboard, then I’ll explain.”
“Aye,” nodded Vail as he turned on his heel and started to shout. “Alright, lads! We’re heading out! Get the boat ready to go! Get those sails open!”
The crew started to work. As they did, Eliza motioned to Vail. “Help me get these two off the boat,” she said as she grabbed the man by the shoulders and started to drag him towards the dock.
“Aye,” replied Vail as he grabbed the girl by the hair and dragged her along the wooden deck. After a few minutes, both invaders were laid on the dock.
“Good,” sighed Eliza as she turned to the crew. “Now lads, let’s get moving! We have places to be!”
As the ship pulled away from the port, Eliza took a moment to get her breath back. Thankfully, this spell only seemed to affect women and she was the only one on her ship.
Once the land had faded into the distance, Eliza headed into her cabin and waved for Vail to follow her. She quickly grabbed a bottle of booze and swigged from it before sitting down at the desk.
“So, Vail.” sighed Eliza. “I’m cursed.”
“Cursed? What do you mean, Captain?”
“While running from the New Providence guards, I hid in a fortune teller’s tent and, well, I think we had a slight disagreement.”
“And she cursed you?” asked Vail. The doubt was obvious in his voice, however much he tried to hide it.
“To find love in every port. Or at least, that is what she said.”
“I,” started Vail, only for Eliza to interrupt him.
“You don’t need to be polite. I understand it makes no sense, but now two girls have gone crazy over me.”
“And a man.”
“The man thought I was trying to steal his crew,” explained Eliza as she took another swig of rum. “It seems to only affect women.”
“I see. What a strange curse” mumbled Vail. “How do you know it only works on women?”
“You seem to have kept your sanity,” smirked Eliza. “And so far, none of the crew have lost their minds.”
“Aye, that is true,” nodded Vail. “Well, I say we head back to New Providence and show that fortune teller the magic of the blade.”
“Every guard in New Providence wants us dead,” sighed Eliza as she rubbed her head. “But, you’re right. We don’t have much of a choice.”
“Well, we need to stock up,” said Vail as he ran his finger across the map on the table. “Several islands where we can do that, the best option is Claw Bay. Unaligned, sells to anyone, and neither Guvnor holds power there.”
“Right,” nodded Eliza. “Not a long trip either, can likely afford to give the crew proper shore leave.”
“But what about your curse, Captain?”
“I’ll stay on the ship. I can trust you to handle all of our supply needs,” explained Eliza. “We can’t keep cutting the crew’s shore leave short, they’ll start to get rebellious if we do.”
“True,” nodded Vail as he took a swing from the bottle. “If that is your will, Captain.”
“It is. We’ll need the crew motivated as we’re likely going to have to go through hell in New Providence. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to raze the entire town.”
Suddenly, a voice shouted from outside the cabin. “Captain! We’re being hailed!”
“Hailed?” Blinked Eliza as she jumped up and ran out of the cabin. As she ran up to the stairs, one of the crew handed her a telescope and gestured to a ship that sat close to the horizon.
Eliza peered through the telescope and looked at the ship. It was a large trading ship that seemed to be lacking half of its crew. In fact, one of the few crew members was stood at the front of the ship, waving a red flag towards Eliza’s ship.
“Slow us,” shouted Eliza. She wasn’t sure what this ship wanted and why it didn’t just head into port, but she wasn’t one to let ships struggle.
The crew quickly pulled the sails in and let the ship slow down. Eliza kept her gaze fixed forward, trying to work out just what was wrong with this strange ship.
Suddenly, Eliza spotted the other ship’s cabin door swing open. Anna burst out of the room, anger painted on her face as she yelled at a random sailor.
“Get the sails up! We’re moving! It’s an ambush!” Shouted Eliza as she put the scope down. Eliza’s crew looked at her in confusion, obviously unsure why Eliza thought this was an ambush.
“You heard her!” Screamed Vail as he marched into the center of the deck. “Anyone who doesn’t get their job done at double speed will be getting the cat o’ nine tonight!”
Motivated by the threat of violence the crew quickly started to run around the ship, pulling the sails back up so they could catch the wind. As Vail continued to shout, Eliza looked at the other ship.
Thankfully, the second ship seemed to be in disarray. Eliza could only presume that Anna had forced some city guards to commandeer a boat for her, despite none of them being trained sailors.
Eliza’s ship slowly started to pull away. However, Anna’s ship was in hot pursuit.
“Captain,” said Vail. “Do you think we should open fire?”
“No,” sighed Eliza. “She is a mad girl, but she doesn’t deserve that. Anyway, it’s a waste of good powder.”
“Aye,” nodded Vail as he looked out across the deck. “I just wonder what we’re going to do if they catch up.”
“I don’t know,” mumbled Eliza in response. However, an idea suddenly came to her. “Let’s lead them into rough water, I doubt her ragtag crew will be able to deal with it.”
“Aye Captain!” shouted Vail before leaning on the railing. “Alright lads, we’re going to brace some rough water, so keep your wits about you!”
The crew cheered as Eliza ran into the cabin and plotted out a course. She didn’t want to risk her own ship, so she needed to find a route where the water would be just rough enough to deter an amateur crew.
Every so often, Eliza would relay orders to Vail who would shout them to the crew. Gradually, the ship moved away from calm waters and into the rougher parts of the open ocean.
For Eliza’s crew, it wasn’t hard. They had dealt with worse, and the threat of Vail’s wrath was a great motivator. Eventually, after several days of difficult sailing, the second ship dropped off the horizon and Eliza could breathe calmly.
“Okay lads,” shouted Eliza as she looked over the crew. “Now we’ve escaped that ambush, we’re going to be making a stop in Claw Bay where you lads can get your fill of booze and food!”
The crew cheered uproariously as they all started to talk amongst themselves about what they were going to do when they had time onshore.
“But first,” shouted Vail, “We need to get this boat to Claw Bay, so before you all start dreaming of your day off, you better get to work!”
The crew let out another shout as they started to work once more. There was an air of confidence across the whole ship. While the crew didn’t understand the ambush, they knew they had escaped it and that was all that mattered.
Eliza spent as much time as she could on the deck. She wasn’t a fan of being cooped up, so she wanted to get as much air as she could before starting her self-imposed imprisonment.
As Claw Bay appeared on the horizon, Eliza let out a sigh. She wanted to ignore the curse, but she had caused enough chaos at the last port and the last thing she needed was another woman chasing her.
Several ships were floating just outside of the port. “Busy,” said Vail as he looked over the ships.
“Decent trade point,” replied Eliza as she sighed. “I should get down below to minimize risk.”
“Don’t worry Captain, I’ll,” started Vail, only for one of the crew members to shout.
“Get down!” echoed the voice as the crew dropped to the deck. Eliza instantly realized what the crew member had seen. One of the ships had opened its gun ports and was seemingly trying to aim them right at Eliza’s ship.
“Move us!” shouted Eliza as she ran and grabbed the wheel. “Prepare to fight, men!”
The air was full of shouting and commotion as Eliza tried to move her ship into position. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see activity on the other ships that had been floating by the island.
Eliza continued to focus on moving her ship, hoping to get into a position where her men could heavily damage the other ship. As the ship slowly turned, Eliza could make out more of what was going on.
It seemed that the other ships around the island had moved towards the ship that was trying to shoot at her, and several sailors had boarded the aggressive ship.
“Hold your fire!” shouted Eliza. “Wait for my order!” she added, keen to not anger another ship by firing upon its crew.
“They’re raising a flag!” shouted one of Eliza’s crew as Eliza grabbed her telescope and looked across to the other ship, keen to get the best view she could.
A group of sailors had surrendered and were on their knees as other pirates waved swords in their direction. At the top of the ship’s mast sat a new white flag.
“They’ve surrendered!” shouted Eliza. “Pull in the cannons, stand down!”
Vail quickly climbed up onto the deck and ran towards Eliza. “Surrender?”
“Seems to be,” nodded Eliza as she continued to peer through her telescope. “They got boarded by other ships.”
“What did they expect? No one wants to be caught in the crossfire when they are trying to dock.”
“I have no idea,” sighed Eliza. “You should go talk with one of the other ships.”
“You don’t want to come with me, Captain?” asked Vail.
“No, I don’t want to risk the curse. A crowded port like this is a powder keg.”
“Understood,” nodded Vail as he turned towards a sailor. “Get me a rowboat!”
As the sailor prepared a rowboat, Eliza quickly headed down into her cabin and locked the door behind her. She walked to the desk and dropped limply down into her chair and let out a long sigh.
The last few weeks had been chaotic. While Eliza was no stranger to conflicts, she had never been chased by a crazed lover before. She wasn’t exactly sure how to deal with such a situation.
After a while, someone knocked on Eliza’s door. “Captain?” Shouted Vail, his voice muffled by the wood. “I’ve figured out what happened with the other ship.”
“Apparently your wife is on board.”
“Anna? But we left her in the rough water, she couldn’t have caught up with us!”
“Not Anna,” replied Vail. “Esmerelda, apparently. We threw her off the boat and onto a dock.”
“Oh, her,” sighed Eliza. “Did her Captain order the ship to try and fire on us?”
“She is the Captain.”
“No, the Captain is the guy you knocked out and then threw onto the dock.”
“Apparently Esmerelda drummed up support for a mutiny and they installed her as Captain,” Vail explained as Eliza rested her head on the desk.
“So, she was going to sink us?”
“Yes, because we’re apparently holding you hostage.”
“We need to cancel shore leave immediately. If we don’t, she may try and sink us again.”
“No need, Captain,” chuckled Vail. “You see, we went through the rough water and Davey Jones called to you. Even the mermaid can’t avoid the waves forever.”
“What a shame,” laughed Eliza. “I hope you treat your new position of authority with respect.”
“I’m sure I will, Captain,” replied Vail. “Want anything from the shore? I’m going to dock us.”
“Mutton, if you can get any.”
“Aye Captain,” replied Vail.
Eliza started to swig from a bottle as she looked over the maps, doing her best to make use of her captivity. She wasn’t a fan of being locked in a ship, but she didn’t want to risk having every woman in the city chasing after her.
The days seemed to drag in the cabin. Vail’s visits were the only thing that kept Eliza sane. That, and the copious amounts of alcohol she was drinking to stave off the boredom.
One evening, just as the sun was going down, Eliza heard movement outside her door. At first, she thought nothing of it, presuming it to be Vail or another crew member.
After a few minutes, the sound of weeping trickled under the door. “You were the most beautiful, and wonderful,” sobbed a familiar voice.
“Oh no,” muttered Eliza as she quickly ducked under the table and held her breath. Esmerelda had obviously snuck aboard and was now mourning Eliza mere feet from where she was hiding.
Eliza tried to stay as silent as possible, keen to hear what the girl was doing. However, she suddenly stopped speaking mid-way through a half-remembered prayer.
“What do you want?” asked Esmerelda.
“I’m here to take my ship,” replied Anna’s voice firmly.
“As her wife, I’m entitled to her estate. This ship is mine!”
“You are not her wife! You never knew her!”
“I knew her more than you!” shouted Anna. “I chased her through the rough waters that killed her while you did nothing but sit at port!”
“I didn’t know!” screamed the other woman.
“Because you are not her wife!” replied Anna. Eliza heard the sound of a sword being removed from a sheath. She felt her stomach drop, she couldn’t let these two girls murder each other due to the curse.
She ran out from under the table and swung the cabin door open. The door knocked Esmerelda to the floor as Anna’s eyes went wide with confusion.
“My love?” she mumbled as her sword clattered to the floor.
“Not your love!” Eliza shouted as she dived off the edge of the boat and onto the dock.
“Come back! Come back!” called Anna as she started to give chase. Lucikly for Eliza, she was able to remember enough of Claw Bay to be able to find an alleyway that would let her put distance between herself and Anna.
After a few minutes of running, Eliza clambered up onto a balcony and ducked down, hoping to buy herself some time to get her breath back. If she knew she was going to be involved in a foot chase, she wouldn’t have drunk so much.
However, it was too late for that as she was now tipsy and on the run. She knew she had to find Vail, but she wasn’t sure how she could go to a bar without getting mugged by every woman present.
Suddenly a voice came from just behind Eliza. “But I want to see the world!” came a woman’s voice as she put her head out of a window.
“Well, the world will wait! A woman has responsibilities,” shouted a male voice from inside the house.
“Marriage is more than a responsibility! It is a curse!” sighed the girl. “Have you met him? He is a dullard! An utter dullard. His parents are wealthy, and that is how he fills the hole where a personality should go.”
“But he can afford to keep you.”
“I don’t need keeping! I could jump out of this window right now and I would be,” started the woman as she turned her head and made eye contact with Eliza.
Instantly the smoke started to twist and spiral around her head before diving into her ears. Her pupils morphed into bright red hearts as a deep crimson blush appeared on her cheeks.
“And could be what?” asked the voice from inside the building.
“I’m going to get married!” Shouted the woman.
“I’m glad you could see sense,” replied the other voice. “He is a good man, you’ll learn to love him.”
“Him?” blinked the girl as the hearts faded. “Her, I want to marry her!” she said as she started to crawl out of the window.
Eliza knew she had to move quickly. She dived off the balcony and quickly started to run again.
“Wait! Come back! Come back!” screamed the woman after Eliza as she tried to climb down from the balcony.
Eliza panted as she ran, feet pounding against the cobbles of the street. She realized she didn’t have a choice, she needed to get to Vail and hiding wasn’t going to make her life any easier.
As she ran, Eliza looked around wildly doing her best to find something to cover her face with. This curse seemed to work via eye contact, so a head covering would at least make it easier to avoid people catching her eye by accident.
Eliza spotted a group of sailors drunkenly stumbling into the alleyway. One of the men had a bandanna around their head and Eliza decided it would be the best way to cover up at least part of her face until she could find a hood.
She ran forward and grabbed the sailor by the shoulder before yanking the fabric off their head.
“Hey what are you?” shouted the sailor as blond hair cascaded down their neck. The smoke formed and dived into the sailor’s ears as Eliza realized that she had accosted a woman.
“Oh no!” Shouted Eliza as she quickly wrapped the bandanna around her head, watching as the sailor’s eyes transformed into red hearts.
“Keep it, you can have all my clothes!” shouted the woman as she started to pant and squirm on the spot.
“Don’t want them!” gasped Eliza as she started to run again, the love-stricken woman quickly starting to chase after her. Eliza couldn’t believe this was happening. She had never imagined that she would spend a day being chased through the streets by four crazed women, but here she was.
She dived through alleyways and over walls, doing her best to put as much distance between herself and the mob as possible. The new girl and Esmerelda were here biggest worries, both were sailors and likely very fit. Anna’s pampered background would likely mean she would tire quickly and without an army of guards, she would be on the backfoot.
As she came out onto the main street, Eliza’s heart dropped. People lined the street, going into and stumbling out of the various taverns and gambling dens that filled the city.
Eliza ducked down and started to push through the crowd, keen to try and find a place that would suit Vail. It didn’t take long for her to find a place that seemed to his tastes. An old and dingy wooden tavern that had obviously started life as someone’s house.
She ducked down and ran through the door, hoping that she would be able to quickly spot Vail and drag him outside. However, to her dismay, the place was packed full of people. Every open space had someone drinking or gambling and Vail was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, a man by the bar raised a pistol. “We don’t take trouble makers here,” he said firmly as several people close to the bar turned to face Eliza.
“Oh right, the bandanna,” she mumbled, trying to think of a good excuse. The bartender nodded and lowered the pistol as Eliza adjusted the bandanna so it looked more normal and less like she was about to try and rob the bar.
However, as she did, someone shouted from the far end of the room. “My captain wants a word with you!”
Eliza reflexively looked up and glared at the man, only to accidentally make eye-contact with half of the room. Instantly smoke started to dance around several heads before diving into their ears.
All of the women stiffened as their eyes slowly changed into bright red hearts. Eliza sighed and started to shout. “Vail! Vail! Get out here, now!” she screamed as every girl in the room started to moan.
“I love you,” screamed several voices, only to be echoed by another load of voices requesting sexual favors from Eliza.
It was like a cascade of lust. The shouting caused more people to turn and look at Eliza, only to quickly fall under the curse’s sway. These people only made the chorus of voices louder, attracting even more attention which caused more people to fall to the curse.
A crowd of women rushed towards Eliza, quickly surrounding her. She looked around furiously, trying to work out how to escape. Hands grabbed and pawed at her, rubbing every inch of her body. Every time she was able to push one person away, another two took their place.
“Get off!” Eliza shouted as she continued to wildly swing her arms. However, the hands slowly found their way to her most sensitive areas. Despite her fear and anger, her body reacted with mindless joy. Despite the fact these women were cursed, it felt good to be touched.
“Please,” gasped Eliza as the touches grew more intense. Her knees started to tremble as the fight slowly drained out of her. She couldn’t think of a way out of this.
Suddenly, several of the girls were thrown aside, their nails digging into Eliza’s flesh as they tried and failed to hold on. “Out of the way! Hands off the captain!” Echoed Vail’s strong and comforting voice.
“Vail!” gasped Eliza, doing her best to make her way towards him, pulling herself from the sea of grabbing hands.
“Come on!” shouted Vail as she swatted away several women. He reached out and grabbed Eliza by the wrist and yanked her out of the throng before dragging her out into the street.
Eliza started to run as she saw a horde of women pour out of the bar, all of them screaming their love for her. She was in shock and had no idea what to do or how to react. Everything seemed to be getting worse by the second.
Suddenly, Vail dragged Eliza into an ally. She was almost catatonic with confusion, so it took her several moments to realize that Vail was lifting her and putting her into a barrel.
“Can’t catch what they can’t see Captain,” said Vail as the barrel started to shake and rattle as Vail lifted it. Eliza sat in the darkness, getting bounced around with every step.
She tried to think of solutions to this problem, but none came to her. She had an army on her tail and they would stop at nothing to get their hands on her.
As she bounced around in the barrel, she could hear Vail shouting at various sailors. It was obvious he was trying to gather the crew together. Some of them were annoyed at being recalled so suddenly, but Vail’s imposing nature made them instantly back down.
After several painful hours bouncing against the wood and iron of the barrel, the lid came off and Eliza could see the night sky once more. “Captain,” smiled Vail as he reached into the barrel and helped Eliza out.
She clambered out of the barrel and looked around, quickly realizing she was back aboard her ship. They were pulling out of the dock as the horde of women did their best to keep up the chase. Several of them were in the process of hijacking other ships.
“Move those bones!” screamed Vail. “Unless you want to be the crew that couldn’t outrun a load of drunkards!” The crew ran around the deck at a breakneck pace, everyone doing their work more quickly than ever before.
The looks on their faces made it clear that while they might not fully understand what was going on, they were very aware that something was very, very wrong.
As Eliza’s boat pulled away several other ships gave chase, each one loaded up with squabbling women. Eliza looked on with horror as she tried to work out what she was going to do.
Once they were a few miles from shore, Eliza spotted another ship on the horizon. “Turn, quickly!” she shouted, as she grabbed the wheel and spun it with all her might.
Several sailors tumbled and hit the deck as the ship violently rocked to the side. Vail looked at Eliza with confusion, only to spot the other ship on the horizon.
“Is that...?” He muttered only for Eliza to cut him off.
“Anna! She is going to cut us off!”
“Come on, lads!” screamed Vail. “Get her around! Prepare the cannons!” he shouted as he ran below deck. Eliza continued to try and turn the ship, doing her best to avoid Anna’s ship while lining up her cannons for a clean shot.
Despite her best efforts, Eliza wasn’t able to turn the ship fully, meaning that her ship missed Anna’s ship by mere inches.
“My love!” screamed Anna as she let go of the wheel and ran towards the edge of the boat. “I will save you!”
“I don’t need saving!” shouted Eliza.
“But they have you captive!”
“I’m their captain!” replied Eliza, growing increasingly exasperated by her situation.
“I will save you from them!” screamed Anna as she snatched a sword and ran to the mast. She cut through one of the ropes and grabbed onto the end before running towards the edge of her boat and jumping.
However, physics quickly undid her plan. She wasn’t more than half a foot off the edge of her boat before she reached the end of the rope and got pulled back. Anna swung helplessly through the air before she smashed into her own ship’s mast with a loud crash.
Eliza continued to try and turn her ship, doing her best to get around Anna’s. Lucikly for Eliza, it seemed that all of Anna’s crew were too scared to try and rouse her and too dumb to operate the ship without guidance, allowing her to put a good amount of distance between her ship and the ship of her crazed lover.
However, despite this small victory, Eliza could see the mass of ships that were on her tail. If these people were even half as dedicated as Anna then they wouldn’t give up until they had Eliza.
“Alright, lads,” shouted Eliza. “We’re heading to New Providence!”
The sailors cheered as they continued to do their jobs. Thankfully, the other ships were not in the best shape and Eliza was able to keep ahead of them with ease.
As the hours rolled on, Eliza moved into the cabin and waved for Vail to follow her.
“Captain,” acknowledged Vail as he shut the door behind him.
“New Providence,” replied Eliza. “I think I have a plan.”
“A plan captain?” Vail smirked.
“We’re going to sneak into New Providence and accost that woman without anyone noticing,” explained Eliza as she leaned forward. “Listen closely.”
As the ship came close to New Providence, Eliza climbed into a rum barrel and took a deep breath. “You know your orders?” Eliza ensured as she glared at one of the sailors.
“Aye Captain! It will be done!” he shouted, obviously intimidated by Eliza’s glare.
“I expect it,” nodded Eliza as she ducked down into the barrel and pulled the lid into position.
“Alright, lads! Prepare the cannons!” shouted Vail as he lifted the barrel and climbed into the rowboat that hung at the edge of the ship.
Once he was inside, he put the barrel down and drew his sword. “Alright! Fire!” he shouted as she swung his sword and cut through the ropes, sending the boat crashing down into the water.
The ship’s cannons fired towards the city, missing the rowboat by mere inches. Instantly, the air filled with shouts and confused screams from both Eliza’s ship and the ships following them.
Vail quickly started to row, his muscular arms propelling the small boat along at great speed. He watched as Eliza’s ship followed its orders and started to turn parallel to the city.
On the coast, Vail could see people running as city guards quickly dashed to the defense towers that littered the edge of the city. The guards were so concerned with the cannon fire, they didn’t notice Vail’s little rowboat as he rowed onto the beach and quickly dragged the boat behind some rocks.
Once he was safely hidden, Vail wrapped a bandanna around his head and lifted the barrel. He watched the guards for a few minutes and waited for a moment to make his way into the city.
He didn’t need to wait long as a few moments later, Eliza’s ship fired another volley of cannonballs causing all of the guards to dash towards the closest guard towers.
The ring of the cannons was soon echoed by the mob of pursuing ships. In the confusion, they had all started to fire on each other. However, their crews’ inexperience had led to several ships colliding into each other, slowing the whole mob to a crawl.
Vail started to run through the streets, doing his best to push through the mass of screaming, fleeing people. It took him a while, but he eventually found a tent that perfectly fit the description Eliza had given him.
He threw the curtain open, only to spot a woman sitting behind a table, counting her coins. “I want a word with you!” he growled.
“You want to talk to the spirits, only a coin!” smiled the woman. Suddenly, Eliza kicked the lid of the barrel, sending it flying forwards into the woman’s face.
The woman let out a groan as she crumpled to the floor. “I want a word with you!” shouted Eliza as she climbed out of the barrel.
“The cursed pirate,” cackled the woman as she held her face. “I see you understand the torture of your curse.”
“I do! And if you don’t remove it I’m going to raze this whole city!”
“With your crew?” mumbled the woman as she slowly pushed herself up off the floor.
“No! With the small army of women who are currently trying to hunt me down!” shouted Eliza as the sounds of cannon fire echoed through the city streets.
“You will never make me remove the curse,” laughed the woman.
“I have a sword that will make you say otherwise,” growled Vail as he reached for his blade.
“You fools! You don’t know the powers are you are trying to influence!” screamed the woman as she dived forward and grabbed Eliza by the collar. As the woman made eye contact with the pirate, the smoke started to form around her head. “Oh dear,” muttered the woman as the smoke pushed into her ears and her eyes changed into pulsing red hearts.
“Get off!” shouted Eliza as she pushed the woman back into her chair.
“Anything for you my love!” squeaked the woman as she hit the chair. “Anything you command!”
“Undo this curse! Undo it now!” Screamed Eliza.
“Of course! Yes! Anything!” nodded the woman as she grabbed the crystal ball and started to rub it. “Look into the ball, look into it!”
Eliza looked at Vail and then nodded towards the woman before looking into the crystal ball. Smoke started to spiral and fill the ball, creating a wonderful and mesmerizing pattern.
She could feel her body sinking into the floor as her mind grew light and foggy. Having Vail present meant that Eliza didn’t worry about protecting herself, she just let it happen, silently praying that whatever this was would solve her problem.
“Yes, round, let it take you in my love!” Said the woman softly, “Let it flow into you, let it take you over, let it fill you with the warmth and joys of love...”
Eliza started to sway as her eyes filled with the hazy fog. She couldn’t feel her own body, it was like she was floating on air. The woman’s voice sounded oddly musical like it was being played by a magnificent orchestra.
She felt amazing, like every fiber of her being was tingling and exploding with joy. The fog was just too beautiful to pull her gaze away from. “Yes, you are cursed to get whatever you want in every port, everything for you my love, every single thing,” continued the woman as a trickle of drool ran down Eliza’s cheek.
Vail reached down and lifted his pistol as he looked around the tent. They had been here a while now and he was unsure how long he should let this continue before he tried to hurry it along, the guards wouldn’t be distracted by their horde of boats forever.
“Now go! Live your curse!” shouted the woman as the fog dissipated and Eliza shook her head.
“I don’t feel any different,” she mumbled as she stretched and wiped the drool away.
“But my love! I can make you feel wonderful!” Winked the woman as Eliza rolled her eyes.
“Not now, I need to know your magic worked!”
“It worked my love! It worked!” nodded the woman as she grabbed the crystal ball and forced it into Eliza’s arms. “This can magnify your curse, make it more powerful!”
“Right,” sighed Eliza. “Vail, I think I’m about to make a fool of myself.”
“Captain, I remember the game of blackjack in Blood Hollow. It will take effort to be more foolish than that.”
“I misheard eight as eleven!” Chuckled Eliza. “But quickly, let’s get to our ship.”
“I will come as well!” Shouted the fortune teller.
“Will you listen to me if I tell you not to come?”
“I can’t handle being apart from you, my love!” smiled the fortune-teller as Eliza sighed.
“Let’s just go then,” she said as they ran out into the street, the cold glass ball held to her breast.
The street echoed with the sounds of chaos and cannon fire. Every guard in the city was guarding the port or manning a guard tower, firing shots at the massive cluster of ships that followed Eliza’s ship around the island.
The cluster was in total chaos, several of the ships had lodged themselves together, while others were involved in futile attempts at boarding the other boats.
The trio started to run towards the rowboat, doing their best to not be spotted by the guards. However, just as they arrived near the beach, a voice shouted at them.
“It’s them! Seize them!”
Eliza spun on her heel, only to spot the Governor’s son and the Governor stood at the port entrance. Some of the guards started to advance, only for Vail to fire a shot just in front of them.
“Any of you move and I’ll shoot you dead,” growled Vail.
“I said seize them!” shouted the governor. “Try and overthrow me, will you? I’ll make an example of you!”
Eliza tried to work out what to do. However, her thoughts were interrupted by the fortune teller mumbling behind her. Eliza turned around only to spot that the woman was knelt on the floor, chanting something in a strange language Eliza was unfamiliar with.
The guards started to advance once more as Vail lifted his pistol and took aim, keen to show that he wasn’t one to make idle threats. Suddenly, a large explosion rang out from one of the guard towers as one of the cannons tumbled backward and smashed into the floor, embedding itself in the street between the guards and Vail.
“Run!” Screamed, Eliza as she grabbed the fortune teller by the sleeve and started to sprint to the rowboat.
“Fate blesses us this day!” Cheered the fortune teller as the guards continued to cower behind the fallen cannons.
“Grab an oar!” Shouted Eliza as she started to row.
The further from the coast they got, the thicker and more choking the smoke became. It was obvious that many cannons had been fired and misfired while they had been in the tent.
Eliza’s muscles stung as she rowed harder than she ever had before. Thankfully, someone on her ship spotted her coming and quickly lowered a rope for her to clamber up onto.
“What is going on?” Asked Eliza as she panted.
“Captain!” replied the sailor Eliza had left in charge, “They’ve bought it, they think we’re an army! Some of the other ships fired on the town to impress you.”
“Good, good,” nodded Eliza. “I think I can end this!” She said as she raised the ball up into the air. “Stop this! Stop this now!” She bellowed, only for her crew to look at her with confusion.
She kept the ball raised, however, the other ships continued to follow and fire. “Need to be in port,” grinned the fortune teller.
“Why didn’t you?” Started Eliza, only for a bottle to smash next to her. She quickly turned, only to see that one of the other ships had gotten in range, and a woman was stood on the deck, throwing random debris at the fortune teller.
“My love! I’ll save you!” Shouted the woman.
“Port,” nodded Eliza, quickly diving off the edge and into the cold water. She started to swim as fast as she could despite her painful muscles.
The water-muffled noises of chaos twisted and twirled around Eliza as she continued to push through the warm water. As she saw the port’s supports in front of her she rose up, only to find herself looking down the barrel of a gun.
“Now we’ve got you!” Laughed the Governor as more guns pointed at Eliza.
“Father!” shouted Anna. Everyone turned, only to see Anna balanced precariously on top of a mast. “If you hurt my love I’ll jump! I will! I can’t be without her!”
The Governor’s son glared at the Governor. “I have a sister? Why was I not informed of this?”
“You don’t!” shouted the governor, a mixture of shame and confusion painted on his face. “I’ve never met her before!”
“Mother was right! You’re a philanderer!” Shouted the son.
“No! I don’t know this girl at all!” Replied the Governor. “I’ve never had a daughter!”
“But father! I’ve always loved you! You promised me I would be the princess of Tamwell!” Shouted Anna as she wobbled on the edge of the mast.
“Tamwell? Anna?!” Shouted the governor. “The stupid daughter of my underling?”
“This isn’t Tamwell?” Blinked Anna. “Oh, you’re not my father!” she laughed. “So, give up my love or else! This is an invasion!”
“You can’t invade me, girl!” Shouted the Governor, only to turn and realize that Eliza had vanished. “Where is the pirate!” He shouted as the guards started to look around.
“I’m over here!” grinned Eliza as she stood on one of the other docks, the crystal ball raised high into the air. “Now, fix this! Fix all of this!” She shouted as the smoke started to pour out of the ball.
The strands of smoke dashed towards each person present and wrapped around their heads before filling their ears. Every eye in the dock turned into a misty spiral of colored fog as Eliza kept the ball aloft.
After several seconds, the smoke vanished and everyone’s eyes returned to normal. “What was I,” mumbled the governor as Eliza quickly dived back into the water and swam back towards her ship.
As she made her way across, she tried to work out exactly what was going to happen. How was she going to deal with the small horde of boats and the city full of random women that had followed her across the ocean? But, at that moment, she was too focused on swimming to give it much thought.
As she climbed aboard her ship the crew cheered. “Easy lads,” smiled Eliza. “Quick, get the sails up, and let’s go before they change their minds!”
“Get moving boys!” Shouted Vail as the crew started to run around. As the ship started to turn, Anna shouted from atop her mast.
“Mind if I follow?” she smiled. “I think I can do to learn the seas a little bit! This ship-moving lark is pretty fun!”
“Oh?” Blinked Eliza.
“Well, you are fun and ships are fun!” She shouted.
“Fortune Teller,” growled Eliza. “Explain, please.”
“The curse, works on your desire, Captain,” said the fortune-teller as she wrapped her arms around Eliza’s waist. “Maybe the mermaid desires love, after all.”
“Great,” sighed Eliza as she relaxed into the woman’s arms. “Well, if you want to join my crew you’re more than welcome, provided you can work.”
“Whatever you command!” Shouted Anna as she started to climb down. Suddenly, a load of other women started to shout about joining Eliza’s crew.
“Vail, take applications to join the crew. And while you’re at it, scupper any unneeded ships, I’m in need of a lie-down.” Muttered Eliza as she walked towards her office.
“Yes, Captain,” smirked Vail.
Corentin walked across the deck. It seemed like every pair of eyes was staring right through him. “You’re here to negotiate with The Mermaid?” said a man at the far end of the ship.
“Yes, yes I am.” nodded Corentin as he shook with nerves.
“Proceed,” growled the man as Corentin opened the door. The interior of the cabin was dimly illuminated with candles. Corentin also realized he was not alone. There were hundreds of women lay around on the floor, each in different states of undress.
“Hello?” stuttered Corentin. All of the women stared at him and giggled. Suddenly, Eliza rose up from behind a group of naked women, her cheeks flushed a deep crimson.
“You’re late,” she said as she walked up towards a small desk that sat near the wall.
“I’m sorry, the weather,” started Corentin, only for Eliza to cut him off.
“Less discussion, more business,” she said firmly. “You want to get revenge due to unpaid debts?”
“We do, yes,” nodded Corentin, his eyes wandering to look at the naked women who remained sitting. Eliza grabbed Corentin by the chin and turned his gaze to face her.
“Focus. What do you want? Destruction? Misfortune?”
“Misfortune,” mumbled Corentin. “Hurt their pocketbook.”
“Then it will be done,” nodded Eliza as two more girls emerged from the shadows and slowly started to rub her shoulders. Eliza pulled a cloth off of the table to reveal a crystal ball that was already filling with a strange, spiraling smoke.