At the Scimitar's Edge (A Golden Age of Piracy RP)

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Dervish, Dec 15, 2014.

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  1. ((I do like to work humour into my posts from time to time. ;D

    Also, continuing on!))

    MacNichols took a large, calloused hand and squeezed his temples gently between a pair of fingers and his thumb, as if it would alleviate the encroaching headache. A part of him wished for water, but considering the last time he drank a glass of water in port gave him the shits for four days. The Reale pinching tavern keeps seldom boiled their water, much to the chagrin of many a sailor. It became a guessing game of whether or not the water would make a man ill, so it came down to if you trusted the man serving you – and if you’d been generous with coin in the past. It was cheaper and safer to just drink the wine or rum, which was usually imported from some place with a measure of sanitation. Bird shit contaminated rain water wasn’t particularly appetizing after your stomach feels like it was being tied into a slipknot.

    “Well, isn’t that just dandy.” MacNichols replied dryly, glancing back at the amber lanterns of Nassau, as if he could see the danger manifesting itself within the shadows. “Fuck. Those four have been looking like grave, slighted men lately and their harsh countenances haven’t been very settling, and now we know why. It’s good you had the foresight to start making moves of your own; those three have to be winning some of the lads to their cause.” He replied, mentally reminding himself whereas he swayed men with reason, dependability, and a cordial disposition, Jackham and the others were severe, dangerous men who had no problem intimidating people to get what they desired. The Trident would be an altogether different vessel if those three took charge. A storm was brewing, foreshadowed just as surely as the wispy, cool air and higher air pressure foretold the coming of a tropical storm days in advance. “I never would have figured Kitchen Wench to have the balls to join in a mutiny. Man lacks a spine… and probably a set of balls. Probably from a potato peeling incident before he hit puberty.” The Scotsman said, referring to Jafferty’s higher-than-normal voice.

    It was good to be wary, but he couldn’t be afraid- not yet. Still, it sat ill with him that men he served with would even consider him to be a threat, let alone one worth murdering in cold blood. It was far more sobering than a bucket of water splashed across the face; he might actually die from this. He was not a craven man; quite the contrary, he’d faced down death many times and come out on top. But that was a different beast, the threat of blade, cannon, and musket fire. Still, he couldn’t back down. Either it was pride or the booze talking, or a sense of higher duty. He couldn’t relent, not when he made a promise. “What am I going to do? Stay my current heading, and hope it stays true.” He said somberly. “I back off now, they’ll know something’s up, and think I’ve grown soft – and there goes any support or faith in our support of the Captain. If I don’t stand by the man, especially after I said I would, what does that say about me and my gratitude? I don’t aim to die, Mabel, but I hope if a man does come to take my life, I can at least face it down like a man. I quite like the idea of not having to pull a dagger from my back.” He said, a small sad smile crossing his face. “I’m beginning to wish you didn’t waste my rum, Mabel.”
  2. The Scotsman was getting feelings, it seemed. Mabel was accustomed to dissociating herself with anyone who seemed on the verge of sharing, and yet she stayed by the Scotsman's side as he let his understandable reservations about the situation slip from his rum-soaked tongue. Mabel could smell the alcohol on him-- not the most overwhelming potency, but detectable still-- and yet somehow he seemed more sober as he spoke. Well, that was until he started talking implicitly about honor and, explicitly, being a man. She couldn't hold back the huff come out of her nose when MacNichols said that. Mabel loathed that concept, 'being a man.' It was almost always a precursor to some idiotic act meant to rescue one's ego, or justify one's bullheadedness, or an invisible badge earned when one could down a hold's worth of rum.

    She was moving gradually towards the town now. Her boots made rubbery sounds in the dirt. "I knew someone once who was concerned with what kind of man he was," she said, her raspy voice taking on a tinnier lilt as the memory returned to her. "He let that steer him around. Knew another man, too, who didn't care much if he seemed like a man or not." She turned to MacNichols now. A grey spark traced her eyes like the hammer of a gun clicking into place. "Smartest man I ever knew." Then, like a comet vanishing in the sky, her eyes clouded back over and she turned her attention to her front again. She hoped MacNichols wouldn't ask her what happened to either of those men.

    She transitioned with a cough to clear her throat. "It's late, Scotsman. I'm turning in at the Sea Lilac." She wondered how curious he would be that she spent her shore leave boarding at a brothel. "You got a place you know will keep that knife you want so badly outta your back?"
  3. The inebriated man followed suit and moved back towards the ramshackle town. The sight of a Jolly Rodger hanging from someone's porch, catching his eye. As if he really needed another reminder of the nature of the town he called home. At least, until he saw a reason to return to Scotland. He sensed an irritation from the unsociable woman, who had all the social grace of a Havana debt collector. How could anyone remain so miserable and aloof all the time? This evening plotting and slinking around was probably the most sociable MacNichols had ever seen her; not for the first time, he wondered if she took pleasure in anything. He understood that she thought of the Trident as the last bastion for her, a relatively safe place that would accept her as a woman and an equal member of the crew. It wasn't a secret that women generally were treated like shite, wanted mainly for their domestic hands and cunts by the more uncouth men. It was part of the reason he paid any heed to what she said, and agreed to help her with her scheme to win over the crew to save Brailham. She pulled her weight, and more, to prove herself in a place that tended to scorn women who dared be brave enough to challenge social norms. He understood her desire to stay away from a brothel, but did she have to be such a miserable bitch all the time?

    "I'll take that to mind, lass, but I think my pappy's wisdom has gotten me plenty far enough. A..." he almost said man once more, and caught himself, sensing the venom she had for the word. "Person needs principles, otherwise what do they have? It's precisely those principles that made you feel like you could trust me in this endeavor of yours, and now you want me to change? This grog's gone to my head, Mabel, and it's too late for such moral musings." It was interesting to see her face light up at her recollections, something about the smart man seemed to inspire her. He'd have to prod her about it when they weren't busy trying not to get killed for standing up for a good man.

    "Sea Lilac, eh?" That was a surprise. The woman spent seemingly all of her energy avoiding the piss out of those places. Maybe it was the fact it was owned and staffed by women that made her feel more secure than a shite hole like Bogart's. "And no, I don't typically try to find a place to stay for the night. More often than not, I sleep beneath the stars on some hammock if a storm's not brewing. I suppose I should find somewhere with a lock."
  4. Mabel felt the conversation becoming too foolish and philosophical. Like MacNichols, she was growing tired of it. She decided not to say anything in response to his last bit about principles, but internally, she qualified with the man. Fine to have principles, she thought, if a bit foolish. But men've gotten to thinking it's a man thing to have that type of principles. Indeed, the only womanly 'principles' Mabel had heard anyone espouse in her lifetime existed in the sexual realm, and growing up around a bunch of sex workers did nothing to instill those values in her. She preferred it that way. People were meager things directed by the tumults of power and the chomping fangs of fate; why let useless doctrine steer a person about as well?

    "You just sleep out in the open?" Mabel parroted. It seemed like a ridiculous idea to her at first, but she conceded that she had seen many men nap on the nighttime sands, now that she thought about it. It was a privilege for men with whom nobody wanted anything, but everyone on Nassau was willing to take something from another if they could profit off of it. "Seems like a stupid idea," she remarked. One of the reasons she wasn't the friend type. "Here's the thing, though. You and I've got something to do now, yeah? So don't go getting killed." She stopped walking and crossed her arms, fingers tracing over her own bicep. She turned halfway to the Scotsman and looked at him as she thought, not into his eyes but absentmindedly at his jaw. She could invite him to the Sea Lilac and try to get him a room there for the night. It would be an awkward sentiment; she hadn't seen those ladies in a very long time, and to show up out of nowhere asking for favors seemed inauspicious. Not to mention she'd be bringing vestiges of the Trident's conflict into the establishment as well. It had been too many years since she considered anyone in that village of prostitutes to be a friend, never mind family, but even Mabel could not excuse endangering them. Not easily, anyway. With a cramped countenance, she said, "You can come with me to the Sea Lilac. I can try to get you a room for the night." She left out the part about payment; she'd let him pay out of his own pocket if he was willing, and if he needed a few extra shiny bits she'd throw a couple in. "And by that I really mean a room, and not whores."


    The establishment looked more or less how Mabel always remembered it. That same wood cutout of a flower was hanging over the sign. It was the grayest, most rain-worn lilac you'd ever see. The only difference with the place now was that she no longer felt like she was returning to her old cantankerous sanctuary. She muttered something under her breath bitterly as her boot fell on the threshold of the brothel. And just like that, she caught someone's eye.
    "Well, shit. Look'ou 'tis," came a familiar cranky voice. A red-haired woman was slinking around the counter to get to them. "Waters chewed you up and spit you out here, eh? Sure looks like it." She reached out and swatted the upper part of Mabel's arm a little playfully, then gestured to Douglas with that same hand. "And who's this?"
    "Doesn't matter. He needs a room for the night," Mabel answered without inflection. She was looking up at the tall woman carefully despite pretending not to care about her.
    "The whole night? Some of us gotta sleep, y'know," the redhead laughed sharply. Mabel closed her eyes tightly. "Listen, Marylou--"
    "Y'know, I can't tell'f ya look more like a man or a woman these days," she interrupted, as if she didn't even know Mabel had been speaking. There was a lapse of silence, at least among the three of them; all around the establishment were loud, rowdy, horny sailors and chittering women who couldn't take notice of them if they tried. Mabel growled, "Probably means I look the same then. Would you listen to me now?" Her voice took on a brusque tone, one that seemed both uncalled for and rare. She almost always chilled her voice when she got upset, but now it was rising into a simmer. She shoved her hand in her coat pocket and produced a few coins. "This is for my lodgings tonight. Set him somewhere too, yeah?"
    The one called Marylou suddenly took on a wary expression. Her mouth drooped at the corners while she inspected Mabel and the Scotsman out of the corner of her eye. She was slow to accept the payment and say, "Yeah, awright. Up here." She led them past the throngs of people and up the stairs.
  5. Upon entering the threshold of the Sea Lilac, MacNichols immediately was reminded of why he preferred to sleep outside. The stench of a whorehouse was hardly alluring to anyone who wasn’t in search of its sole purpose, and in his semi-intoxicated state with the knowledge that men he’d served with were considering his death made the unwashed, body odour infused air somewhat repugnant, and no amount of attempts to make the brothel alluring were working on him. He pinched the bridge of his nose, his gaze downward. At least he had a soft bed to look forward to, even if it was likely to be filthy from near constant occupation between patrons and the ladies they came to see. He knew he should be thankful for Mabel’s offer, as far as things went with her; this was uncharacteristically generous and well-intended. MacNichols pondered if perhaps if this was her way of reaching out that went beyond merely keeping an ally protected.

    When the fetching redhead approached, the unspoken history between the two women was almost oppressive. The Scotsman felt like an intruder in a very private moment, and he sheepishly massaged the back of his scalp, not trusting what to do with himself in such a moment. He’d seldom ever felt so alien stepping into someone else’s world, their past. And this was clearly Mabel’s history laid bare. He suspected he might have been one of the few souls to ever be privy to this part of herself and the people in it. He followed Marylou and Mabel upstairs silently, trying not to listen to the sound of passionless sex behind closed doors as they walked down the hallway, floorboards creaking under the feet. This certainly was not an establishment of digression. MacNichols was thankful to have been shown to an unoccupied room, and the scent of its previous occupants was thankful minor. He took the opportunity to remove his bandoleer and coat, setting them on a nightstand and tenderly leaning his axe against the wall next to the bed. Surveying the pillow, the Scotsman chose to replace it with his coat as the place to rest his head for the night.

    He found his coin purse and stared at it for a few longing moments. How much was his life worth, he wondered, feeling the weight of the coins as if they took on a new weight. Tonight, at least, it was the price of a room. He grabbed one of his pistols, stuffing it into the waistband of his trousers and stepped down the hall to knock on Mabel’s door. It was about time to retire, but he at least had to get this bit out of the way.
  6. Marylou and Mabel left the Scotsman at his room, then walked just a few feet down the hall to what would be Mabel's lodgings for the night. Marylou turned the knob and eased the door open cautiously, as if she half expected the room to be occupied. "Alright, then," she said once they saw the room was empty of other people, "here's you." Mabel put one foot through the doorway and stopped. She didn't have to turn around to catch Marylou because the redhead already knew this was coming, and Mabel could feel the stiff discomfort between them. The pirate's eyes were cast toward the interior of her temporary room, but she wouldn't have been able to describe the lodgings; she may as well have been blind in that moment.

    She didn't know how to ask it proper, so she said, "You're doing the books now." Her voice had the vulnerability of tempered steel; she tried to sound strong and unaffected, but her voice wavered nakedly under the burden of words parched with emotion. Marylou didn't answer, and a quiet Marylou was all the confirmation Mabel needed to know her mother really was dead.

    "Sorry, Mabel. She was kind of a mum to us all, y'know?"

    She wanted to lie down now or maybe kick something breakable. She forced herself to ask one more question. "When did you take over?"

    Marylou paused. "Last December." Mabel was doing the math in her head when she turned halfway around to dismiss the other woman with a nod, then closed the door. She could have been on shore leave, then. She walked to the foot of the bed. Where was she last December? Could it have been Nassau? She sat herself down on the mattress, which gave a bit and made her bounce some. That's right; she was here at the end of the last year. It was when she committed herself to forever avoiding any vestiges of her old life, and that included the people from before.

    She felt it in her veins first. When the news first started to sink in, she felt incredibly heavy and intangible all at once. Now, every pulse had a fire to it. Her fingers dug into the sides of her skull as she shrank inwards, knees rising up for her forehead to lean against. Her arms thrashed a moment, and then she was on her feet, and then her arm was reeling towards the wall before it stopped suddenly, fist inches away from a crack someone had already put there.

    There was a knock at the door. It cleaved through her private clamor but did not banish the mob expanding inside of her. Mabel scraped her knuckles against her eyes and strode to the door, yanking it open before she could settle her breathing. It was the Scotsman. She said nothing, just stared at him dully.

    (( Sorry that this was a lot about Mabel and not much expansion on the plot/duo, but I am fascinated to see what MacNichols is up to!
    Edit: the paragraph indents weren't working so I spaced things out D:))
    #6 Compass, Dec 31, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2015
  7. The rickety door opened and was greeted by the familiar stern, perpetually disgruntled visage of Mabel, but nearly invisible tremors and eyes not unlike that of a wounded animal stared back, making MacNichols feel both at once an intruder and like he was walking in the presence of a volcano. At that point he would have given everything he owned to reverse time ten seconds so he could decide against knocking on Mabel's door in the sordid brothel, but much like boarding a ship, there was no going back when the lines were tossed. He swallowed, barely trusting himself to talk, but turning back wordlessly would be worse, he was sure.

    "Look, Mabel, I..." The Scotsman started, grunting at himself for being so indecisive under The Vulture's withering gaze; he really did feel like carrion at that precise moment. "Sod it. Here."

    He offered the woman his coin purse. "I came by to pay you for the room for the night, and to say my gratitude for keeping an eye on my well being. I don't like being in people's debt, but the fact you're so distrusting of people makes me feel like you're one of the few people I don't have to watch my back around. Just... take your due and I'll be on my way. I can tell I'm invading something personal here, and that wasn't my intent. Ah, shit... look, I'm sorry. I'll bugger off and leave you to your peace." he said, looking for an opportunity to escape Mabel's scrutiny.
  8. Mabel silently chastised herself for opening the door without taking a moment to gather herself. She felt scrambled but she had gotten so much practice at wrangling herself together in tumultuous situations that she figured she had a chance at hiding her turmoil-- at least until MacNichols had the audacity to comment on it.

    "Nothin' personal's going on here, Scotsman," she snipped, thinning out her lips stubbornly. Her mind stuck on the runny feeling in her nose, and it took every bit of her willpower to resist sniffling. She regarded the coin purse in his blocky hands. She knew the thing to do was to take it; just let him pay her what was due and shut the door on him, and then she could forget her moment of infirmity. Something about it felt wrong, though. It occurred to her in a feeling that they were in a partnership now, her and MacNichols.

    She turned her nose away from the coin purse like it stunk. "Pay me back with fixin' this shit," she dealt, referring to the mutiny that brought the two crewmates together. Realizing she still sounded like she was offering the man a generosity, she tacked on, "Like the coin for this place is worth a piss anyway." She had her talons on the door and was swinging it shut when she stopped suddenly. "And stop apologizing, goddammit."
  9. “Nothing personal, clearly.” MacNichols scoffed back, closing his fist around his coin and shoving the purse in his trouser pocket. “I’m not going to press what’s got your knickers twisted, but I can tell the difference between your resting bitchiness and whatever the fuck this is.” He said, crossing his arms defensively and resting against the door frame. “And I intend to ‘fix this shit’, as you so eloquently put it. Doesn’t mean gratitude isn’t appropriate. For somebody who’s so full of hate and distrust, you definitely go out of your way to fawn over the captain’s well-being, even more so than someone who’s just interested in keeping her position and dignity intact. “And I apologized because I felt I was intruding. It’s what you do in polite company. You may wish to try it sometime.”

    The Scotsman didn’t care if he offended Mabel; she seemed immune to niceties and seemed to yearn for the same scorn that she dished out like spoilt grub. He promised he’d help her, and his word was gold, but he was beginning to regret throwing his lot in with such a sour bitch. For a woman with no friends, she sure was in no hurry to accept any who offered such basic society to her.

    He almost left just then, but something stayed his feet. “You know, you want me to trust you, but you make that damn hard. We’re both looking at the death, the both of us, and that’s largely because you asked me to. Right now, I’m not even sure it’s my fight or one worth having. Under the current captain or otherwise, I would have been fine, but I am risking that because I believed you had the right cause. Don’t make me regret that, because nobody lasts long standing alone.”
  10. Shame. That was the name of the fiend that had just come to Mabel. She had been avoiding him for a long time, but now he was confronting her face-to-face, and she had nowhere to go. The feeling was potent the way a bad stink is. She grimaced and fought the urge to retreat back into her room wordlessly.

    She let the Scotsman finish his tirade, keeping her eyes zoned in on him. As a child, her mother taught her not to look adults in the eye, especially not men. Mabel was a curious young girl, though, and she was fascinated by whatever forbidden thing existed in an adult's eyes-- that is, until she learned, until that fascination became grim awareness. But she kept eyes with MacNichols now because she knew to look away would be to return to her childhood subservience. Keeping eye contact was hard, though, especially when she could feel a colorful retort building up on her tongue like prisoners beating on bars. She swallowed them down to her stomach where they continued their muffled stamping.

    There was a part of the Scotsman's speech that sent Mabel aback. "For somebody who’s so full of hate and distrust, you definitely go out of your way to fawn over the captain’s well-being, even more so than someone who’s just interested in keeping her position and dignity intact," he had said somewhere between "ungrateful" and "untrustworthy"-- at least, that's what Mabel was getting out of the exchange. She didn't know how to parry his comment about her and the Captain without drawing suspicion to herself, so she managed, once again, to bite her tongue. She couldn't stop her eyes going wide and crosshair-like, though.

    "Look here, Scotsman," she said after a pause wherein she scrambled herself together. "You ought to know I'm good for this... partnership, alright? I think that's crystal clear to you. And the way I see it, that's all you need to worry about. So why don't you leave what's 'personal' out of it, yeah?" With that, she threw the door shut. She crashed down on top of the bed, back stretched out across the foot of it. She yanked her black hat off her head and kicked her boots away to the far wall.

    She wanted to move, to run the agitation out of her body. She needed to feel that struggle in her muscles, that fire that burnt in her veins when she fought or when she pulled her body up the rigging against the force of a windstorm. But there was nobody to fight here, no crow's nest to reach, no one to shoot; slumber would have to suffice.

    One might figure a bed would bring Mabel better rest than the hammock strung up in the crew's quarters aboard the ship, but that logic didn't apply to her. The feeling of a mattress beneath her back was unusual. It was a constant reminder that she was in an unfamiliar setting with different dangers, layout, and circumstances than she was used to. At least when she was in the hammock, she knew exactly where she was and who'd be around her. For instance, she knew that Gregory usually slept in the hammock at her feet, and that if she heard the door open while it was dark out that meant it was someone just relieved of watch coming to bed. These rules did not apply in the Sea Lilac, though she supposed this was her normal place at one point in her life.

    She eased herself out of bed, combed her fingers through her hair and restrained it again, and searched around the room for her boots and hat. Once she was all dressed, she went to the water basin in the corner, checked that it was clean, and dashed some on her face. She was reaching for her sword and gun-- stashed beneath her bed and pillow respectively-- when there was a loud crack! coming from somewhere-- downstairs, outside, she wasn't sure. But it didn't feel right at all.​
  11. Sleep came easier for Douglas than he had suspected when he laid down on the crusty mattress that had seen more illicit use than he was strictly comfortable with, and as such he elected to sleep on top of the sheets, although the heat alone was incentive enough not to crawl beneath the well-used blankets that may or may not have been a wash basin in some time. With the thoughts of countless instances of sexual congress taking place in the spot he laid back on, and the fact that somebody could burst through the door at any minute to run him through with a dull blade, sleep finally took him, aided in no small part by the rum that was still surging through his system.

    He awoke sometime in the morning, the shuttered window providing no clue of the sun's location. Wasting no time in sponging off the invisible filth and praying that bed bugs hadn't infested the brothel, he began to get dressed with the thought of breakfast, and an apprehension of the day's events ahead, on his mind when what sounded almost unmistakably for the retort of a flintlock filled the air, uncomfortably close. The Scotman hurried and slipped on his boots, threw on his bandoleer and belt, and had his pistol and axe at the ready when he headed out into the hallway. Not waiting for Mabel, he began his descent carefully down the worn wooden steps, cringing with each creaky protest of salted air warped wood.
  12. She felt the gunshot echo through her rib cage, rattling her heart and spurring her into motion. She wrapped herself in her weapons and burst through the door. Her footsteps were loud and urgent on her way to the stairs, where she stopped just long enough to pull her sword out and hold it across her front. She was afraid th-- she thought that there might be someone causing trouble in the brothel, for the shot sounded so loud and near. But the only people who saw Mabel and her drawn weapon were already-skittish women and a few early bird clients. Silent, blank faces blinked at Mabel. She grunted and pounded down the steps, across the floor, and through the doorway.

    There was a crowd gathering in the middle of the street like a clotting wound. Mabel stood on the tips of her feet to see over the round mass of people. There was a dying man in the middle of the street, red blood burbling out of a wound in his stomach. He had red, glossy eyes and a drunken slack-jawed expression on his face. As more blood soaked the sand, his grip on his misfired gun weakened. "Yeah, fuck you an' yer whore mother," a man nearby spat. He lowered his flintlock with a smug look on his face. The duel winner threw up his arms to a silent crowd of onlookers. He didn't much seem to mind the lack of applause. He turned around, stumbling a little, and went on his way.

    "Fuckin' Nassau," Mabel grumbled. Solid land didn't feel good anymore. She was glad The Trident would be setting sail again in a few hours.

    Should get some things before heading out, she told herself. She turned and looked at the Sea Lilac. Should she go back inside? Say something before she left again? Marylou was on the porch, arms crossed like she was leaning on a desk, surveying the early morning carnage with a bent brow. No, Mabel decided, I should just... leave. Her boots hit the dirt, and she wondered if Marylou-- or anyone-- was watching her go.

    Mabel knew MacNichols could take care of himself for a few hours. Assuming the mutineers wanted to go ahead with their plan to depose the captain at sea, they would never try anything that would postpone setting sail. That included attacking a fellow crew member. At least, that's the decision that would make sense; with the morning's display in mind, she reminded herself that her kind wasn't always so reasonable.

    ((Shall we skip time ahead to a few moments before setting sail?))
  13. The crew of The Trident had almost entirely begun to board the ship, and MacNichols felt a sinking feeling in his guts; this could very well be the last voyage he would ever see. He had taken extra time to prep his weapons and gear, and he had even made a point to purchase a bolas to bring down someone from a distance without killing him; he still wasn’t quite easy about the prospect of murdering his mates, but he fancied dying even less.
    Boarding the ship, MacNichols went below deck and found his cot and chest that had been his bed for the past several years and secured his belongings, safe for his weapons, which in itself wasn’t that uncommon for the crew to remain armed at all times. After all, privateers or the navy could appear at any time on open waters, and no one wanted be the useless mule who wasn’t prepared for battle. He headed topside shortly after to go inspect the rigging, as he had always done each and every day of the voyage. Just because there was a conspiracy to commit mutiny or murder was no reason to act suspicious or shirk one’s duties.

    As he secured the lengths of rope, inspecting them for signs of fraying or entanglement, he looked around for Mabel and wondered where the buzzard was. He caught sight of Jackham boarding, the potential ringleader of the mutiny, and he offered the man a nod, which was returned as if nothing were amiss. Maybe Mabel had been putting thoughts in his head, the Scotsman mused, before recalling that she had overhead them talking at Bogart’s. He himself had not heard anything, but his gut feeling was telling him the woman was being frank and honest; she hadn’t even lead him astray before, had she? Still, a part of him wished this whole thing was a hilarious misunderstanding that would be resolved around a pint.

    However, he knew better. This would only get worse before it got better.
  14. ((Had to Google what a bolas is. Nice setup, MacNichols! Also, sorry for the late reply. Iwaku didn't email me about a new update to the thread this time D:))

    Once the ship slid out of port, Mabel felt the heaviness that had settled in her blood evaporate. She was on the prowl now. The Trident and her crew were predators on the sea. They were the ones who commanded fear and decided the fate of other people. She never forgot that piracy was a dangerous and violent way, but it promised so much more than danger. She yearned for the wind on her neck, soft but briny, as she climbed the rigging. There was constant motion on the sea, of the wind, of the ship and the waters, of her own body struggling against forces of nature and opposition from their scores. Nassau was just a festering wound in comparison. There was nowhere to go, really, just the bar and the brothel or a hammock on the beach. There were screams and belches and groans up in the air every minute. Everything and everyone smelled stale and unwashed. The sea didn't afford too many luxuries, but it was purer than anything else.

    Of course, all musings about purity vanished the moment she regained awareness of her situation. There was a mutiny brewing aboard, and there was nothing pure about a crew pointing blades inward. Mabel knew she had to relay the information to Brailham somehow, but there was no inconspicuous way to do it. She was always wary of appearing like the captain was giving her special treatment. He sure as hell would never; she had only gotten on his ship in the first place because she was useful to him and proved to be lethal. Still, if the crew saw her going into his quarters at any time of day, they would grow suspicions faster than the fungus between their toes. How could she get Brailham the information, then? He had to be warned about Jackham, and she had to know that he had an ally in MacNichols now.

    She needed time to think. And watch. She turned her eyes upwards, squinting against the white sun. No one appeared to be in the crow's nest. Mabel put a boot up on the edge of the ship, grabbed the netting, and swung herself around to the other side. She clambered her way up and jumped into the lookout's spot. She removed the lookout's spyglass from the box and did a cursory scan of the horizon. They weren't far from port yet, so there wasn't much need to have eyes out that far. Still, being up there afforded Mabel the luxury of some solitude and the vantage point she needed to watch and listen to the behavior of the crew. She eyed Jackham, a small but recognizable blur below. He was talking rather closely to another mate. She couldn't hear, but the meaningful pat on his shoulder before departing told Mabel that there was nothing nondescript about what was going on.

    Perhaps Jackham was canvassing the crew. Perhaps she should get MacNichols to do the same. She wanted to push off violence as much as she could, but at the same time, part of her just wanted to wind a rope around Jackham's throat and squeeze the rebellion out of his lungs. Mabel mused over how good it might feel to do that as she sat up in the nest, dividing her attention between the seas ahead and the goings-on of the men below her.
  15. Captain Brailham stood at the wheel, staring pensively at the horizon ahead of The Trident’s bow, either diligently looking for landmarks or threats along the course, or maintaining ignorance of the brewing storm aboard the ship. There was no way the man was entirely oblivious to the dagger-like stares from some of the crew. MacNichols shook his head and took a moment away from the rigging to sit with one of the cannon gunners, Durst. The man wiped his brow, looking entirely hung over.

    “Rough night?” MacNichols asked, leaning against the railing. The younger man groaned in response. When he spoke, his accent strongly suggested his origin from one of the Carolina colonies. “In a manner of speaking, yes. I might need the whole voyage to get a clear head.” He replied.
    “Just to do it all over again?” The Scotsman grinned. Both man shared a laugh.

    “A pirate’s life for me, sir.” Durst said, his smile fading. “Although, I am beginning to reckon that this might be the last of our voyages. I’d never seen the crew this…”

    “Dark-hearted?” MacNichols offered.
    “Yes, that.”

    The Scotsman slapped his friend on the shoulder. “Whatever happens, keep your wits about you and I hope all our drinks between us amounted to something.”

    “Shit, Scotsman, you almost sound like you’re suggesting we’re friends.”

    “Something like that.” He smiled, stepping back to his duties. He noticed the appropriately named Gallows, one of the instigators who was seen chumming around with Jackham, aggressively postured by the Captain. He wasn’t thinking of starting something now, was he? They were barely an hour out of port. “So, Captain, what’s the plan today? Sail around aimlessly until the rations run out and we return to port empty handed like the last time, and the time before that?”

    You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. Surprisingly, Brailham didn’t so much as physically react, although his voice was as sharp as his saber. “Mind your tongue, Gallows, or you’ll be swimming home.” He warned. “If you are all so eager to chomp at my heels for what you signed on for this time, then I suppose there’s no sense in waiting until we drop anchor after confirming. There’s a Spanish treasure fleet, and we’re to meet with Leviathan with Captain Ichabod’s crew. These ships, if the rumours are true, came from Mexico before stopping by Havana on the way back to Spain. Now, if you’ll kindly shut your gob and get the fuck back to your duties, we might actually get there in time to meet with Leviathan and get you ingrates some plunder. You are dismissed.” Brailham said, staring daggers back at the man. His first mate stepped closer to make the point clear. Gallows threw up his hands in mock surrender. “Oh, at once, oh Captain! You’ve never led us astray before, it was wrong of me to voice my concerns.” He announced, voice dripping with mockery.

    The crew began to murmour amongst itself, and MacNichols looked up at the crow’s nest at Mabel. They’d definitely need to share a few words when supper came around.
  16. The first few hours of sailing out of port had a habit of going by quickly. She always readjusted quite easily to the undulations of sea beneath her boots and the way the cordage would grunt small talk at her. The crew and horizon provided a half-decent distraction to keep Mabel's mind from wandering. She saw the exchange between MacNichols and Durst, much a different flavor than the sedition Gallows had for the captain. Every pirate knew the captain was no king. Buccaneers were born because they were sick of toiling to fatten the crown while they lived a life of scraps, scrappy clothes, scraps of someone else's meal, scraps of dignity tearing off like the skin over their knees. But Brailham was still their captain and his word law. Mabel's lips pruned at the sight. Lawless bastards were lawless bastards, she supposed, and the best a captain could do was hold onto illusion as long as possible.

    Cerulean skies ripened into the nighttime. There was a whistle down below that heralded the next crow. Mabel set the spyglass in the box and hooked herself over the side of the nest. She climbed down the net and dropped the last few feet onto the deck. She adored the comforting solidity of the deck that you couldn't quite get up in the bucket.

    The cook was calling through the grate of the hatchway. Another hungry sailor flung open the hatch and led the line of ravenous pirates to the mess. Mabel was just as hungry as the next person, but she knew better than to try to insert herself into the steady stream of pirates making their way towards food. She made the mistake once, and it led to screaming and shoving and her needing to assert herself with a dagger. Brailham nearly threw her off the ship, but then again, Orange Beard never bothered her again.

    She capped off the line and was patient getting her share of the slob the cook had for them. She sat down at one of the benches-- blast it, she got the one with the broken middle again-- and scanned the dimly lit belly of the ship for her Scotsman. Now was as good a time as any to catch up.
  17. MacNichols didn't care much for under deck on The Trident, since it did an admirable job of containing the heat, stench, and sound of dozens of men that pretty much made it only a suitable refuge for sleep and escaping the worst of the weather, assuming of course one was not on duty. The Scotsman tried to focus on the boiled potatoes and mutton instead of the rank body odour that he was doubtless contributing to as he stood in line to be scooped out his serving of grub. His size and strength all but assured that nobody was going to try to jostle him for his position early in the line, and he more or less was one of the first people to be served. He found himself a bench where he could keep an eye on the line and made a move when he saw Mabel finally escape the threshold. He moved towards her when she found a seat of her own.

    He sat down without looking, much to his regret, and discovered the bench had a split that dug into his ass. He adjusted himself to make the situation more tolerable without looking. "Exciting voyage so far, eh Mabel?" He said, cutting into the potato with the edge of his fork. He wasn't very hungry at the moment, so what he did eat was just going through the motions. "Anything interesting from your lofty perch?" he asked.
  18. Mabel didn't change her movements when MacNichols sat down. So as to avoid suspicion, she waited a few seconds, jutting her spoon into the slop of overcooked potatoes. Then, she twisted her head just a little to the right and let her eyes move the rest of the way. Looked clear enough. She pretended to have an important itch to scratch on her neck, giving her a wide view of her left side and whatever was behind her. It appeared that everyone was too involved in their dining to be taking any note of her and the Scotsman at all, but Mabel knew better than to believe that. Someone was always watching, always archiving the little things they saw for later.

    She cleared her throat in preparation for the bite of food approaching her mouth. "Saw you and Durst. Also saw Gallows and the captain." Her mouth enveloped the spoon. As unappetizing as the food might look, she had had much worse, and she didn't realize how hungry she was until her body got a taste of the reminder. She was piling the food in between quiet comments. As always when she tried to keep her voice down, she came out sounding huskier and much like she had a bad cough that had been wrecking her chest for days. "And what's this about meeting up with Ichabod's crew? We haven't partnered up with anybody in the past." Her slop gone, she moved her hands over to the tankard next to her. She tried to ignore the disappointment when she remembered that it was just water. "Don't know'f this's a good sign or bad."

    She took a sip, pushing the bit of food lodged in her throat the rest of the way down. Her eyes trimmed over the brim of the cup to survey the men around her again. She saw Durst at the table next to them, deeply engrossed in some hearty debate with another man. Pegleg and Gallows were sitting together at the bench in the far corner, and for the first time in the last day or two, she saw the grim scowl on peggy's lumpy face lift for a moment. He was cackling like a madman, and she could tell the kind of humor just from his countenance. Delight from something twisted or evil had its own look. It made the merriment in one's eyes dark and sour. It curled laughing toothy mouths in an aggressive sort of way, like you could expect fangs there just as much as a guffaw. Mabel grimaced, then averted her eyes.

    She reached under the table and into her coat pockets. She felt for the familiar solid block of playing cards. She had picked them up a couple of months ago during a score. She didn't play with them because she didn't have anyone to play with. And she'd rather spare herself the company. But she liked to look at the pictures sometimes. Her favorite one was the joker. It was a cat with a piebald hat tipped with bells.

    She tapped the Scotsman's knee with the cards, handing them off to him. "You keep being friendly," she said. The last word had a bitter twinge to it. "Game's a good way as any to get people saying things they wouldn't when they're serious. I suppose." She stood up, swinging her legs one at a time out of the bench. "And I'll keep my ears open." She moved off with careful steps, discarding her empty dinnerware in the cook's bin and making her way towards her quarters.
  19. The Scotsman picked at his mutton a bit more, willing his appetite to manifest. He was beginning to properly fear that the anxiety surrounding the mutineers was going to murder his appetite until it found a conclusion. He didn't look up while Mabel was talking. "Aye, hard to miss Gallows running his gob. Durst's a good man, he's as uneasy about this shite as we are." Both ate in silence, or tried to anyways, before Mabel changed tack. Douglas looked up at her. "I haven't the foggiest idea why we're working with Ichabod, but if I were to guess, it's in case shite goes sour. The crew's less likely to try anything while there's a whole other crew there, because nothing says opportunity like exploiting a ruckus. Nothing says Ichabod wouldn't decide to clean up the scraps of a mutiny and add another ship to his collection. With that possibility, and if this raid pays off handsomely, Brailham's putting down a pretty convincing hand, assuming the mutineers don't start anything before we meet." He sighed, shaking his head and watching a bead of sweat drop from his brow. "And who knows? Maybe Brailham's spent some time getting cozy with Ichabod and they have an arrangement. That's the most unsettling thing of all."

    MacNichols blinked when he felt a tap on his leg and he looked down to see a deck of cards being offered. He took them in hands that dwarfed Mabel's and smiled before slipping them in a pocket. The last words Mabel said rung in his ears. The cards were a weapon, of sorts. While he enjoyed cards with a small bit of gambling, a bit too much was at stake for his likings. After all, it was the words that were being gambled here more than what was in a man's coffers. He said staring at his plate for a few moments longer before muttering to himself, "Sod it." The Scotsman rose from the shitty bench and scraped off his scraps onto Cockney Pete's plate, a lithe fellow who seemed to have an insatiable appetite with no means of gaining weight. He escaped to the deck of the ship shortly after, relishing the fresh air and breeze over the repugnant and oppressive hold below deck.

    True to his unspoken agreement, MacNichols spent much of his downtime on deck playing cards with the various crew members, including some of the suspected mutineers. They had as much to lose if they acted too outwardly suspiciously, and there wasn't a hell of a lot to do otherwise. MacNichols did his best to treat even these men indifferently, despite his suspicions and occasional thought of having to fight them, his boarding axe flashing under scorching Caribbean sunlight. Captain Brailham was largely tolerant of gambling, so long as the stakes were low enough not to cause lingering resentment that could cause problems later on in the voyage. Nobody was going to cry over a small handful of lost Reales, in any case. While pondering his hand, a shrill cry from above echoed across the Trident. "Ship sighted, port side bow!"

    MacNichols glanced up at the Captain, who was glancing at a pocket watch with a terse smile. "Leviathan is quite punctual. Let's say hello, shall we?"
  20. Mabel hadn't considered the idea that their captain and the Leviathan's could have some sort of political arrangement with each other. The thought disturbed Mabel as well as the Scotsman, because if it were true, then the captain was keeping Mabel in the dark about it. They had a partnership of sorts, her and the captain, and the possibility of him deceiving her-- while never far from her mind-- was still quite burdensome on her mind. Ain't got a clue who to trust, Mabel groused internally, but if Captain's gonna leave me to sink on this ship, I'll make sure he drowns with me.

    Though Mabel was far from reassured by her fighting prowess, especially against experienced savages such as those she sailed with, an outbreak of fighting among the crew was not her biggest fear. Brailham's lead was directly tied to Mabel's livelihood-- actually, she was coiled around it like an awash sailor clinging to a waterlogged board. She didn't figure another captain would let her on their crew, and even if they did, she'd have to start all the way at the bottom again. Ingratiating herself with the Trident's crew was arduous and harrowing enough and, if she was still being honest, she still wasn't "one of the crew" despite her copious efforts. Trying to join another crew could very well mean a very painful suicide for her. Returning to Nassau felt just as impossible. After all, what skills did she have beyond killing, sailing, and lurking?

    Mabel was sitting on a tied-down crate on the deck, right behind the man steering the ship, when the lookout's cry crashed into the crew's ears like a breaker on a slick cliff side. The pirate jumped to her feet, taking long severe strides over to the edge of the ship. Holding onto the rigging, she squinted out into the foggy foamy distance, trying to make out the silhouette of another ship in the distance. There was a small gray speck way, way out, and suddenly nausea ambushed the woman. Her fingers went white around the rope. She had no divinity to pray to, no companion to hope with, and so she simply gritted her teeth and told herself that This sodding arrangement better not go sour. It did nothing to settle her nerves. In fact, they buzzed more fervently around her heart chamber and through her gut.

    What felt like an eternity passed before the Leviathan and the Trident were close enough for the captains to communicate. Brailham's naval coat whacked about in the wind as his heavy footsteps carried him down the steps and to the edge of the ship, just a few feet away from Mabel. From beneath the brim of her cap, Mabel's eyes cautiously rose to look at Brailham. He turned his head slightly, almost imperceptibly, and made a quick flash of eye contact with Mabel. He turned away too quickly for her to discern whether or not it meant anything. She wanted to believe that it was an assurance of their working together, a sign that he hadn't forgotten that he ought to be grateful for Mabel being his eyes and ears in this matter and that if he saw the Trident was sinking, he'd save Mabel a space on the jetty. But Mabel could read none of those things from the cursory exchange.

    Ichabod and two sailors were sliding towards the Trident in a rowboat. "Bring them up," Brailham's authoritative voice commanded, and three crewmen immediately did as they were told. One of them was one of the obvious rabble-rousers, too. Perhaps even the mutineers were unwilling to display any hint of weakness in front of another crew. After all, the transition from partner to rival could be swift. And lethal.

    Ichabod and his two men climbed aboard Brailham's vessel. Ichabod, with his wind-tousled hair and leathery skin, shirt tucked-in with no coat about his shoulders, looked like he could be one of the king's slaves-- farmers, they called them-- and he even had the mannerisms of a good English subject. He was the type to shake a man's hand and offer him a drink and handkerchief at the first sight. If not for his obviously unsavory career decisions, one might consider the man a gentleman. Brailham was a gentleman, too, in his own way. It was mostly in appearance and not behavior, as Brailham preferred not to touch other men, so he kept his fists on his hips to deter Ichabod's handshake, and returned the other captain's back-slapping with a grim nod. He had, however, a weather-worn naval coat that framed his body and gave him a look of distinction in the same way his gray-peppered sideburns did.

    "My cabin is this way, Ichabod," Brailham said, taking a slow turn towards his quarters.
    "Excellent. Good," Ichabod commented, holding himself up just a bit too erectly, "let's be quick about finalizing things, shall we?"

    Once the captains were gone, all eyes went to Ichabod's two crewmen. They idled at the edge of the deck, leaning back on their elbows and shamelessly sizing whichever Trident sailors were in sight. One of them gave a derisive little laugh at the sight of skinny Cockney Pete, and Mabel watched him slap his rotund belly boastfully.

    And then, of course, their eyes fell on Mabel. There was a flash of amusement in their eyes, black and yellow grins, and then a predatory readjustment of their posture. Mabel felt herself go rigid. Her mind scrambled: should she show her strength, or remain calm? It was, of course, an idiotic inquiry as Mabel had no more control over her composure than she did the ocean. She slowly rose from the crate she was seated on, right hand wrapping around the handle of her weapon. She craned her neck down and forward but tilted her head up, glaring at the two men under the brim of her tattered cap. She brandished her sharp top teeth behind her curled lips.
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