Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Dantana Skywalker, Jul 29, 2008.
Ooops Well, I speak Spanish
I liked the 200-year-old Italian pirate too, and the fact that Jack can't remember if he has a reindeer needle or a corset stay on his head. The latter would really make more sense.
And poor Will . . . the Black Pearl is not an ideal place to be on Virtue Protection Patrol.
Thanks! More is coming soon. Hopefully tonight.
I don't speak Italian or Spanish, I speak French.
No, it isn't. Heh.
They sailed to Tortuga to pick up word of the Blood Storm. Nicola was fascinated by an island populated entirely by pirates, though she made sure to stick close to Will and Jack, recognising that not all pirates, in fact most, were not as nice as the captain of the Black Pearl or his crew.
The trio and first mate, Gibbs, went to the Faithful Bride tavern. It was apparently a favourite of Jack's.
"How good are you with a sword?" Jack asked Nicola as they found a table.
"Terrible," she admitted. "But Father taught me and all of my siblings to use a pistol and a rifle, though of my sisters, only Catherine is remotely interested in the weapons. Father took me hunting with the boys frequently, so that I know how to use them quite well."
He eyed her, somewhat askance. "Really." Turning to Will, he said, "When we get back to the Pearl, teach her to use a blade, savvy? And for now, keep an eye on the wench, would you?"
Then the captain rounded on Gibbs. "Joshamee, ask around about our quarry."
"Aye aye, Cap'n."
"What are you going to do?" Will asked, as Jack pushed away from the table.
"I'm going to find me a drink."
Will and Nicola sat for a bit at the table, watching the chaos around them. Will was not happy that Nicola looked so enthralled with the proceedings.
"You don't need to protect me from Jack," she said after a minute or two.
"Yes, I do!" her cousin immediately snapped. "He's a scoundrel."
"No worse than the men back in England, just more honest about it," she retorted. "Besides, I'm nineteen and almost firmly a spinster. I have been courted by my share of men. I know how to ward them off if I choose."
He was quiet for a long moment, brown eyes watching her contemplatively. "You didn't ward off Roccelli."
She sighed. "I let him fool me. He said that if I married him, he'd make sure that Eleanor would be able to study painting in Italy as she desperately wants to."
"And do you choose to ward off Jack?"
She shrugged. "He's entertaining. I'm not blind, Will. I am aware that he is a pirate and I am the granddaughter of an earl. He's a diversion, that's all."
Her cousin sat back in his chair, somewhat mollified by her words. He got a far-off exression, and Nicola knew without asking that he was thinking of Elizabeth.
"She's very nice," she offered.
"Who?" Will shook himself from his reverie.
"Elizabeth. She's very nice, and pretty. How did you meet?"
Will's whole face transformed from dour and disapproving to ridiculously happy in the space of an instant. "She saved my life. The ship I was on, travelling from England to find my father, was attacked by pirates. I was the sole survivor. Elizabeth and her father were on a British vessel bound for Jamaica, and she spotted me in the water. We've been . . . friends ever since, though really, I've loved her since that day."
He snorted. "She would likely be married to Norrington now if not for Jack."
"Hmm." Nicola pondered that for a moment. "I think I'll go find a bite to eat. They should have something, since it's a tavern."
She made her way to the bar, where she found that they did, indeed, serve food. It was simple fare, a slab of bread and a bowl of stew, but she didn't mind. She ordered a mug of mead to go with it.
Nicola was just laying down the copper coins to pay for it when an arm snaked around her waist and she found hself yanked against a very portly fellow who reeked of a sty.
"'Ere, luvvie, don't think I've seen ye 'round afore. Give ol' Hugh a kiss, now."
She instantly lamented being petite, and wearing a skirt, because "ol' Hugh" had her pinned quite firmly between himself and the bar, and she couldn't reach her knife. He had a face full of salt-and-pepper whiskers, and very few teeth left in his mouth.
"Let go of me, you pox-ridden goat herder!" she squawked, kicking vigorously at his shins.
Hugh wasn't at all fazed, and he tried to kiss her. Nicola ducked her head, shrieking, "Will!"
There was a click
Awesome chapter!! I like Nicola more and more
Thanks! I got a little worried when no one I PMed for the update responded.
Sorry luv! I've been up in Hollywood all weekend.
The pig-in-men's-clothes stumbled back, and Jack neatly evaded his bulk, without spilling the mug in his other hand.
Nice line! Jack would be the type to not lose a drop.
Hehehe, aww Captain Teague!
No worries, it was just me being paranoid. (And if I could do strike text, that would have had "schizophrenic" at the end . . .)
I just had this image of Jack sidestepping this lumbering hulk of an unwashed miscreant, with a beer in his hand. Heh.
More soon, when I get this next bit to stop fighting me.
Sorry about the late response. I don't have net at home, so I have to kinda cheat and it can take me a couple days to respond. I understand the getting paranoid when you PM and the responses are slow, happens to me as well. But all that is besides the point!
Interesting developments going on here. Nicola seems quite the spitfire, she and Jack make quite the pair. Or would if Will would quit being so overprotective! Like the suspense, can?t wait for more!
It's okay, I just had a brief moment of panic where I wondered if everyone hated the new chapter. Heh.
Nicola was a little more girly before the whole thing with Roccelli. Seeing someone get sacrificed and then being arrested for witchcraft tends to make one reevaluate one's priorities. I don't know if I'd call her a spitfire, though . . .
Next post is on its way. I'd hoped to update before this, but it's being contrary.
Sorry I missed a chapter, I was out of town and without Internet connection.
The story of the Devil's Hand is quite intriguing. 200 year old Italian pirate. I can see problems.
Nicola's certainly a handful. I'm enjoying your characterization of Jack, you're doing an awesome job with a very difficult character. Love the conversation about Jack's father.
I love your Jack to death . . . what with his inability to turn around without almost falling over, coupled with his amazing ability to hold onto every drop of his drink.
I got a kick out of his reaction to Milton ("Fall of what?"), and his substitution of "French" for "whatever the hell it is that girls read--he wouldn't know anyway."
The very distinct reactions of Jack and Will to Nicola being threatened in the tavern were nice too . . . I didn't need dialogue tags to tell who was saying what, and yet the dialogue wasn't carbon-copied from the films, either.
That's my favorite kind of fanfic . . . stuff that seems to fit perfectly, yet isn't what we've seen before.
Sorry for not replying earlier . . . I'd actually hoped to be demoted by now, but with half of TJCC on vacation, I'm trying to play mod and still get ready for the new school year.
Thank goodness half of JCC is on vacation, too.
It's okay, it was just anxiety on my part.
There's more, which comes up in the next chapter. I'm hoping to get that typed and posted tonight, I've been struggling with how to execute something that happens in it. It's an important plot type thing, so I've wanted to get it just right.
I'm glad you like my Jack, he's a wily one.
Hee. I don't know where the Milton thing came from, really. I needed something for them to have a conversation about, and it just sort of . . . happened.
Thank you! I mostly just let Jack say whatever he wants to say; Will's the one I struggle with (kind of like how I struggle with Sam Winchester, but Dean's voice is there in my head 24/7). When I wrote that scene, I was originally going to have Will come to her rescue first, but Jack inserted himself in there, and I could clearly see him with the gun pointed at Hugh's head, a drink in his other hand, with this, "Let her go or you're dead" look on his face. Will, on the other hand, went all "Grr! Argh!" with his reaction.
It's okay, I've just been a bundle of nerves lately. It's nice when your free time is suddenly your own again. I think you'll enjoy it.
Okay, the next chapter is still being a pain in the butt. However, I have a piece of artwork to tide you over (or get you fired up for the next one?) until I finish the next bit.
This is called "Parlay". *snerk* Yes, it's Jack/Nicola.
Sorry it's been so long! I wish this chapter was longer to make up for it, but . . . it's not. The next one will be, though. It's got lots of action in it.
Somehow, Jack got them invited to what he referred to as a soirÃ©e, but turned out to mostly be a gathering of islanders and the less-fortunate colonists, with drums, guitars, and a huge bonfire on the beach. The island, like many others, was under British rule, but not with quite as obvious a presence as on Jamaica. At least, not in this area, where Caribs and colonists cavorted in drunken glee around the fire.
It took a bit of coaxing, but Jack managed to talk Nicola out of her shoes and dragged her over to the fire. Once there, he pressed a tumbler of sangria into her hand and said, "Here, try this."
She took a sip, made a moue of surprise. "Captain Sparrow, are you attempting to get me inebriated?"
"The thought crossed my mind," he said silkily. "But I prefer sloshed."
Nicola laughed. "You're certainly the most . . . interesting man I've ever met."
She took another sip, and another, and before she knew it, she was more than slightly tipsy. Nicola had never been one for imbibing of spirits, beyond social niceties, so it was an understatement to say she didn't handle it well. One cup of sangria and she was spinning around in circles by the fire, while Jack clapped his hands in time to the drums and Will, as usual, glowered.
The young woman found herself dancing in the sand to the music, sangria in one hand, Jack's hand in the other. She didn't know where Will went, and didn't much care at the moment, because she was having fun.
Nicola tripped over someone's discarded shoe and stumbled, giggling when Jack caught her, saving her from toppling into the bonfire. She let out a laugh when they fell to their knees. The pirate captain plucked the drink from her hand and downed the rest of its contents before tossing the wooden cup aside.
"That was mine," she protested, frowning petulantly up at him.
Jack flashed her a grin, then the look sobered and his gaze fell to her lips. Her breath caught in response, and all at once, he was kissing her, his fingers gripping her hair.
She wondered for a moment if she hadn't fallen into the fire after all, the way heat suddenly consumed her. Nicola's hands curled in the front of his shirt and she forgot everything save his mouth on hers. His hands slid from her hair and down her back, pulling her closer.
She'd been kissed before, but never had she felt anything like this. It wasn't prim and proper, it was hungry and possessive and if she'd been a bit more sober, she probably would have felt a little ashamed at her response.
Will's voice called from somewhere nearby, and it was only that which broke them apart. Nicola looked down, hand going to her swollen lips as Jack cleared his throat. He clambered to his feet and offered her a hand up, so that they were both standing when Will found them a minute later.
Fortunately, the night and the flickering, unsteady light from the bonfire masked her rumbled appearance, and Will barely even looked her over before he spoke.
"There's been a sighting of the Blood Storm," he said. "Near Aruba. It attacked a beach settlement there, then headed north."
The chill that ran through them at Will's words effectively cooled heated blood enough to douse any lingering passion Jack or Nicola might have felt at that moment. She looked to Jack as the pirate said, "Well, then. Let's gather the crew and be off."
Back on the Pearl, Nicola restlessly paced the deck as the crew prepared the ship to set sail. She was completely rattled from having kissed Jack, and bewildered by how she flushed every time she thought of him.
At the bow of the ship, she leaned on the railing and let the light spray off the sea cool her cheeks. She tried to tell herself it was the sangria that had been responsible, but if she were honest, it had only given them a nudge.
Turning at the sound of her c/>
Yes, yes, YES!
Fantastic stuff you've got going here, Dana, and I most heartily demand to be put on the PM list, pretty please.
Your characterizations are just spot on, and while a lot of people have commented on how well you write Jack, to me, Will is the one who stands out among all others. While, for some reason, I've always been easily able to hear Jack and Elizabeth's voices in my head, and writing them just came naturally, Will has always been much harder to pin down. So I commend you on that. Great work.
Thank you! I'm really glad to hear that, because I have an atrociously difficult time writing Will. I have a hard time with Elizabeth, too. (This is one of the reasons I usually forget to put R2 and 3PO in my 'fics, I have trouble writing them, so I skip over them.) Hearing someone say I'm getting Will right is gratifying.
I'm pleased to see that mention in your sig about "On Stranger Tides". I'm sooooo excited for that. I mean, I've got two Jack Sparrow posters on my bedroom walls and one standee that friends got me for my birthday when "At World's End" came out. My netbook, that I'm using right now, even has a Jack skin on it. So i'm just a little obsessed.
I used to have trouble with Elizabeth, but I taught myself to think of her as an English Padme, and it helped exponentially. In any case, I don't typically write stories with her in them, because she doesn't fascinate me nearly as much as Jack does (in any way ), and, to me, she's not nearly as fun to write with. Like Johnny's said, you can almost get away with putting any words into Jack's mouth, and he's great in just about any situation, so that makes him inherently extremely fun.
Soooo excited doesn't even cover it for me. I'm incredibly pleased to meet someone around here as obsessed with Pirates as I am. I didn't think it possible.
Johnny would say that, because he's a little crazy himself.
I've never been really good at writing Padme, either, so that wouldn't work for me.
I just realised there's a huge plot point that I dropped earlier and have to work back in. Too bad there isn't a [facepalm] emoticon.
A little crazy? Yeah, well, that's why I love him.
I couldn't write Padme until I started making fun of her on a consistant basis, with her rather weak role in TCW. If you think about it, that's probably the most immature way in the world to explore a character, but, hey, if it works, why not.
YAY! This was perfectly done; you capture Jack so well.
For those who want to reread the previous chapters, or are new to this story, it's hosted without truncation here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6177903/1/The-Devil-s-Hand
The battle didn't last very long. Between them, Jack and Will managed to kill several of Roccelli's men, but within minutes, one of the Black Pearl's masts was down, the ship had a large hole in her side above the water line, and the Blood Storm was off to the horizon.
Jack dropped his arm to his side, the barrel of his pistol smoking, and looked to Gibbs as his first mate found him. "Report, Mr. Gibbs."
"No crew loss on our side," the portly sailor said. "Couple of 'em are out, but no one's dead. Don't think they had it in mind t'kill us, Captain."
"No," Jack agreed, "I don't think they did. They had us outgunned and they didn't sink us. Why?"
Will didn't much care. "I'm going to check on Nicola. That probably frightened her."
He thumped down the stairs, calling, "Nicola!"
She didn't answer, and when he got to her cabin, he found one of Roccelli's men lying dead on the floor, Nicola's dagger buried in his chest. But his cousin wasn't there, just one of her shoes. Stark fear propelled him back down the corridor.
Will nearly tripped coming back up the stairs from belowdeck. "She's gone!" he gasped out. "Jack, they took Nicola."
They had to sail back to Tortuga for repairs. It was slow going due to the damage, and Will spent nearly the entire trip seething and pounding the rails, shouting about how they had to find his cousin.
Jack wasn't much pleased, either, that the beautiful young woman had been taken. He could admit to himself that he found her very attractive, and she was entertaining. She didn't deserve whatever Roccelli was going to do to her.
"We'll find her," he promised Will. "Might take a bit, but we will. Repairs should be done in a day or two."
"A day or two?!" Will exploded. "That's not good enough!"
"Look. Roccelli wants the chit. I don't think he's going to hurt her." Not yet, anyway, he mentally amended. "We'll track him down an' get her back. Maybe she'll have driven him insane by then, too."
Will made a frustrated noise and stomped off. Jack took a sip of rum and muttered, "She certainly drives me crazy."
Nicola woke to near darkness. Her head pounded, and when she raised her hand to the source, she found her hair matted with dried blood. The last thing she remembered was that man running into her cabin, and her stabbing him with her dagger. Then everything had gone black.
Groaning, she sat up and found that she wasn't restrained. She'd been lying on a bed in what appeared to be a ship's cabin, but it certainly wasn't the Pearl. With her skull throbbing as it did, she couldn't make much sense of where she was.
"You're awake at last," a voice said by the door, and instantly, Nicola wished she hadn't regained consciousness.
Giacomo Roccelli leaned in the doorway, his white linen shirt open to his waist and tucked into tight black breeches. He was as devilishly handsome as ever, his olive skin tanned and his body muscled, dark hair pulled back at the nape of his neck. Black leather boots came up over his knees. His blue eyes were startlingly light in that burnished complexion.
He set a candle on his desk, the light not doing a lot to relieve the oppressing shadows. Nicola blinked, though, the flickering flame hurting her eyes.
"What, no thank you for rescuing you from those pirates?" he asked mildly, at her stunned silence. He smiled beatifically, likely convinced he actually had rescued her.
Mutely, Nicola narrowed her eyes and glared at him.
"I've done you a favour, you know. Pirates are notorious for ravishing innocent maidens." He approached and reached out a hand, touching her hair.
She jerked back and spat at him. Still smiling, Roccelli drew back a hand and slapped her. Nicola fell over, stars swimming before her eyes. She gagged from the wave of nausea that accompanied the celestial lightshow.
"Really, cucciola mia, is that any way to treat me, your fiance?" Roccelli tilted his head and adopted a forlorn expression. "Then again, I'm not your only intended, am I? That garrison commander in England is probably still pining for you. And yes, I know about that. I know everything about you, Nicola."
Not everything, she thought.
"I have a gift for you," he said, and dangled a necklace from his well-tended fingers. A golden bird swooped from a delicate chain, the ruby in its eye winking in the low light, seeming to glow by itself.
It was the dark, gleaming pearl in its clutches that drew Nicola's gaze, though, and her throat tightened. She thought of Jack, and how he made her feel so alive and free. There was so much unresolved between them. And what of Will? Would they come for her?
Roccelli leaned in and fastened the bauble around her neck. The cool metal heated on contact with her skin, almost painfully so, and her hand went to lift it away. He caught her, though, fingers vise-like around her wrist.
"I could have given you so much," he murmured. "But you cost me when you fled. Making me search for you forced me to change my plans. And now, I'm afraid that instead of being by my side when I rule, I'm going to have to use you to get there."
He pushed her back down on the bed and left, taking the candle with him. The only light now was from the lantern outside the window. Nicola gazed out at it, hoping that it could be a beacon for her scoundrel.
Alone in his cabin, with repairs halted for the day and the men all bedded down save for the watch, Jack Sparrow reclined on his bed, a small lantern suspended from a hook on the bedpost illuminating the dagger in his hands. When they'd disposed of the man Nicola had killed, Jack had cleaned the blade and now studied it, recalling its owner with a strange, tight feeling in his gut.
He'd gotten used to her presence on his ship, her quick intelligence and her ready laughter. She was a tiny thing, true, but she had the steady grace of a natural-born sailor. Jack cringed at the thought of what Roccelli or his men might do to her. He'd told Will not to worry, but he himself was consumed with it.
"You're a bloody fool, Jackie," he murmured to himself. "She's not for you, aye?"
But the memory of her mouth under his haunted him, and he angrily slammed the dagger's point into the wood of the wall above his head, throwing himself to his feet with confused frustration.
The pistol he'd given her lay on his desk. She hadn't had time to use it, likely because her dagger had been closer at hand when she'd been attacked in the middle of preparing for bed. How could any of them have known that they'd be attacked so suddenly and swiftly?
He dropped into his chair and swung his feet up, propping them on the edge of the desk. Cradling the pistol in his hands, he absent-mindedly went through the motions of cleaning and priming it as he considered their predicament. Not getting her back. That he was dead set on. It was that kiss they'd shared on the beach that had him in a quandry.
"So you like the girl," he muttered. "Will's made it clear she's off-limits. Rightly so, too. She's not the type to trifle with."
Calypso help him, though, he wanted to trifle with her.
"Where are we going?"
Daylight had brought some magnanimous behaviour from her captor. While she still only had her nightrail, Roccelli had had a man bring Nicola some hot water with which to bathe, and she'd done what she could to clean her hair free of blood.
Now, she was on deck, pointedly ignoring the looks of the crew staring lustfully at her. Nicola scanned the horizon, hoping to see some glimpse of black sails. There was nothing.
"An island," the captain said unhelpfully. "I don't see what it matters to you, since you won't be leaving it."
"I wish I'd never met you," she hissed. "You're a monster."
He shrugged. "You cannot change the past. And I've seen enough of it to know."
"Is this how you've lived so long?" she inquired, curious in spite of herself. "Sacrificing young virgins?"
"One of the ways."
"How do you know I'm still-" She paused, flushing. "-a virgin?"
Roccelli's blue eyes cut to her. "If you aren't, I'd have no use for you and I'd kill you and throw you overboard."
She gulped. "It was hypothetical," she quickly assured him. "Not that, I'm sure, you don't intend to kill me anyway."
He smiled brilliantly. "You're right about that, but at least this way, you get a little more time in this world."
Nicola stalked over to the rail, then turned back and glowered at him. "Captain Sparrow will save me. He'll stop you."
"We shall see. But I wouldn't count on it. He doesn't know where we're going, does he?"
Gibbs stepped into Jack's cabin and informed the captain, "Repairs are finished, Cap'n."
Jack tapped the compass that sat before him. It spun somewhat uselessly, in time to his whirling thoughts.
He looked up, focusing on his first mate. "Aye?"
"Repairs are finished. What's our heading?"
Jack consulted the compass. What was it he wanted? To stop Roccelli to save his pride, yes, but also, he wanted to save Nicola. And he wanted to run from his feelings for the young woman.
What, though, did he want more?
He sighed. In truth, he wanted Nicola.
The compass spun and stopped pointing south-east. He sat up.
"We have a heading?" Gibbs asked.
Jack hesitated all of five seconds, then jumped to his feet and slapped his hat on his head. "Ready the men to make sail, Mr. Gibbs! We have a damsel in distress to rescue and a dragon to slay."
"A dragon? We're pirates, Jack."
That didn't slow the captain. "They have water dragons in China, Mr. Gibbs."
It was only as they were leaving Tortuga in the distance that they realised that they'd left Will in port.
"I'm not going back for the boy," Jack said. "It could be the difference between life and death for Miss Holyfield."
"He'll kill you when we do retrieve him," Gibbs pointed out.
"He can try. He'll have to get in line."
Jack didn't care about Will right then. And, truthfully, young Mr. Turner's absence gave him more space to think, without constant whinging about how they weren't getting Nicky fast enough.
All he wanted was to find Nicola before Roccelli did something to her. Part of him was a bit alarmed at how completely that desire had superseded everything else. But that was the bare-bones truth of it. He wanted her almost above anything else, even if he couldn't have her.
He missed her. He missed her sharp intelligence and her quick wit, her fire and courage. It took a lot to face one's fears, as she had done. Hunting for Roccelli when she was terrified of him was, to Jack, incredibly brave.
And as superstitious as the men were about having a woman aboard ship, Jack could see that the men missed her, as well. She brightened everything around her.
He hated the idea of that light being put out.
Jack knew that he couldn't keep her, once he got her back. Will would strangle him with his bare hands. Saving her, getting her back to Port Royal in one piece, would be enough.
It had to be. He couldn't give her more.
She wasn't entirely certain what Giacomo was planning for her, but she figured it was going to be painful and drawn out. He'd abandoned all pretense of a devoted suitor, and let her stay holed up in the small cabin she'd been stowed in.
Nicola sat in her bunk, legs drawn up under the skirt of her nightrail. It didn't seem fair that she'd fled him in fear of being complicit in his dark schemes, and it had only made him decide to do worse to her. Perhaps, if she'd married him, he would have let her be.
But after the things she'd seen him do, she knew that would never have lasted.
And she would never have met Jack.
If she were really, truly honest with herself, she had to admit that sometime in the past few weeks, she had become more emotionally attached to Jack Sparrow than any other man she'd been courted by in her young life. They'd shared just one kiss, but it had moved her more than any other. He made her laugh. He didn't see her as a useless female only good for embroidery and birthing babies. Or for whatever Roccelli was planning to do with her.
Nicola leaned her forehead on her knees, her hand still clutching the necklace. It was a bad, bad idea to fall in love with a pirate. After all, he'd have no use for her beyond, well, what men such as he generally wanted from a woman.
Still, she ached in her heart, knowing that she'd never felt for anyone what she felt for Jack. And wasn't that a cruel twist? She could have had any of the rich, handsome suitors that had courted her. And here she'd gone and fallen head over heels for a pirate.
Her father would have an absolute fit if he knew.
The motion of the ship stopped and the wall behind her vibrated as they dropped the anchor. Nicola caught her breath. Had they reached their destination?
The door to her cabin opened. Roccelli stood there, with that ugly, beatific smile on his face.
"Come, cucciola mia, we go to our glory."
"I'm not your pet!" she snapped.
He ignored her and simply strode forward, grabbed her arm, and yanked her off the bed. She stumbled, but he didn't pause; he merely hauled her out of the cabin and down the corridor to the stairs.
One of his men was waiting on deck with iron shackles, which he fastened around her slender wrists.
"I would have given you gold and silver," Giacomo said sadly. "Diamonds, rubies, emeralds. But now all I give you is what you deserve. Death comes for traitors, after all."
Since she couldn't climb down with her shackles, one of the larger men slung her over his shoulder and descended to the runner. He dropped her on the floor of the boat and she bit her tongue with the impact. Blood filled her mouth, and Nicola took the opportunity to spit it at Roccelli. Crimson droplets splattered on his crisp, white shirt, but he only laughed.
Please, Jack, she thought desperately. Find me.
The Blood Storm might have been a larger, more powerful ship, but it wasn't the Black Pearl and couldn't match her for speed. While they had lost two days in sailing from Aruba to Tortuga, and another two in repairs, the Pearl was the fastest ship on the sea by means of enchantment. With the masts and other repairs finished, they were back near Aruba in a day, and turning east.
"Where d'you think he's headed?" Gibbs asked.
Jack shrugged. "Either the continent, or Trinidad. If they've made port along the coast and headed inland, it will be difficult to catch up. If it's Trinidad, or Tobago, we might have an easier time."
"There's other places on this heading," Gibbs pointed out.
"I am sincerely hoping, Mr. Gibbs, we needn't follow them all the way to Africa. I didn't enjoy my last visit there."
Nicola found it rather ironic that "for her safety", Roccelli ordered his largest thug to carry her from the boat when they reached shore. As she bounced against his back, fighting nausea, she reflected that she had nowhere to run to and no shoes, besides. And the bit about her safety was an outright lie. He was going to kill her, after all.
Should've stayed at the mansion with Elizabeth, she thought.
Since her view was entirely of the ground and the back of the man who carried her, she had no idea where they were headed. She felt sick and her head hurt. Still, at least she was alive . . . for the moment.
The men all spoke in low voices, in Italian, which Nicola didn't know. Idly, she wondered how long they'd been in Roccelli's service and if they were as immortal as he.
Abruptly, the man carrying her over his shoulder stopped and dumped her on the ground. The rush of blood away from her head made the world spin, and she caught a glimpse of her former fiance's face as he grinned down at her, before everything went dark and she passed out.
Their pursuit led them to Trinidad, just as Jack had expected, and a little cove on the side of the island facing the larger continent.
"There," Gibbs said excitedly, pointing to the ship anchored before them. "The Blood Storm!"
"I see it, Mr. Gibbs," Jack replied flatly. "When we get in position, I'm going ashore. And if you keep to the Code and leave me and Miss Holyfield here, I will hunt you down and kill you."
Gibbs gulped. He'd never seen his captain in such a mood, and wasn't rightly sure of its cause. "Yes, sir. Would ye like us to do somethin' about the other ship?"
"We're pirates," Jack said. "I'm sure you can think of something."
Once they were closer, he took the Pearl's own runner to shore. He was vaguely familiar with this island, having explored it once with the thought to using it as a hideout, but it was just so far from everything else, he'd decided it wasn't useful.
But he remembered a cave system that some primitive people had used for pagan worship and human sacrifice, not far from here. That was likely Roccelli's goal. Why he'd come all this way, Jack didn't know or particularly care. He just wanted to find Nicky, kill Roccelli, and get back to his livelihood.
He came upon the first set of guards not five minutes later, hidden in the jungle scrub along the path. They tried to ambush him, but were somewhat noisy about it, crashing through the trees to get to him. Jack drew his sword and dispatched both swiftly.
"Fools," he muttered. "Terrible footwork."
Two more sets of lookouts later, Jack reached the cave he'd remembered. He hoped he wasn't too late; the continued presence of the guards gave him some measure of hope that Roccelli hadn't completed whatever ritual he was intending. And given what knowledge Jack had of the occult and the mystical, he was probably waiting for nightfall or midnight or some ridiculous thing. As it wasn't yet dusk, perhaps he had time.
Another one of Roccelli's men tried to stop him inside the cave. Jack tripped him, slamming the man into the ground, and drew his blade across the man's throat. He was not in a mood for long sword battles. And if rumour held true, he had one ahead of him with the Devil's Hand.
Bloodshed was never something Jack looked forward to.
Jack got lost twice before he managed to find his way to the central chamber. His gaze darted through the room, taking in the stone altar, Roccelli beside it. Nicola was chained to the altar, weighed down with shackles to keep her from escaping. It didn't seem she'd be going anywhere, though, since her eyes were closed, her honey-coloured hair spilling in a tangle over the rocky surface she lay on.
"Captain Sparrow, isn't it?"
He gave Roccelli the once-over. A little taller than himself, with annoyingly good looks. Dark hair, eyes like one of those fluffy dogs he'd met once, somewhere bloody cold.
"Aye, that's me," Jack said.
"I'm afraid, Captain, that you're too late to stop me," Roccelli said. He seemed oddly happy, not at all dismayed that Jack had shown up. "The ritual has begun."
Jack hefted his sword. "As long as you don't finish it, I'm not too late. Savvy?"
"Did you come for the girl?" The Italian pirate grinned. "Come to rescue a damsel in distress? You are definitely too late on that count. I've already had her as part of the ritual."
Jack's dark gaze flicked to Nicola. He didn't see any signs of it, but he was still too far away. Fury made his guts clench. If this bastard had laid a finger on her, he would skin him alive!
"She won't waken," Roccelli continued, seemingly oblivious. "I am not a complete monster. She will not feel a thing when I take her life for my continued immortality."
With a shake of his head, Jack stepped further into the room. "No, mate, I'm not here for the girl. See, the Caribbean? It's mine. You're in me territory without so much as a by-your-leave, an' you're making life difficult for me and my fellow pirates."
"Yours?" The other man laughed uproariously.
"Mine," Jack said simply. "You've heard of the Pirate Lords, aye?"
That stopped Roccelli's laugh. "Yes," he said cautiously.
Jack shrugged. "I'm the Pirate Lord of the Caribbean, mate."
Those eerie blue eyes flicked over him. "You? Ridiculous. No matter. You're still no match for me."
Roccelli drew his own sword, a wicked rapier with elaborate scrollwork on the guard, a large red stone in the pommel. He rushed Jack.
The next few moments were a flurry of clanging swords. The Italian was as good as rumour said, but he was also stuck a little in his forms. Roccelli drew first blood, a slash on Jack's upper arm, nearly on the shoulder. Jack wasn't as restricted, and he took advantage of one block to punch Roccelli in the gut.
The Italian was surprised, and angry. "Pirate," he growled.
Jack grinned, showing gold teeth. "Only just catching on, are we?"
With a roar, Roccelli swung at him. Jack ducked, dropping to the ground, and rolled under the other man's leg as he turned. Jack kicked out and hit the back of Roccelli's knee, sending him into a sprawl on the floor.
"How . . . dare you!" Roccelli staggered to his feet. "I will kill you. But first, I will tear her apart before your eyes!"
Jack was still prone on the floor, and as Roccelli brought his blade down, he pulled Nicola's pistol from his belt, sighted, and fired.
The lead ball hit Roccelli dead centre between the eyes. The man stopped, jerked, and his sword fell from his grasp. Slowly, he crumpled to hit the stone floor with a somewhat anti-climactic "thump".
"Not so immortal now, are we?" Jack asked the corpse. "To be honest, that was a little disappointing."
Roccelli's hand twitched.
"Oh, no, you don't!" Jack rolled to his feet, picked up the rapier Roccelli had dropped, and swung it down.
It took two blows, but the Italian's head rolled free, and all movement stopped. He watched warily for several long moments, to see if somehow, Roccelli would recover, but nothing happened. Those pale blue eyes continued to stare sightlessly at the ceiling, even now clouding over.
Panting from exertion, Jack bent and searched Roccelli for the key to Nicola's shackls. He retrieved his sword, and stumbled across the room to where she lay, eyes still closed, breathing shallow. A huge bruise marred her forehead, a narrow gash bisecting it and disappearing into her hair. He fought the urge to stroke her hair, and concentrated on unlocking the iron chains that held her down.
"C'mon, Nicky," he said. "Time to wake up."
Jack shook her, lightly slapped her face. "Wake up, Nicola," he barked.
At last, she stirred, faintly. Deciding that was good enough. Jack swept her up into his arms. Her head lolled against his shoulder.
It would be preferable to have her on her feet, in case he ran into any more of Roccelli's men, but fate seemed to be with them. All the way back to his boat, they didn't run into a single person. Jack carefully deposited Nicky in the boat, and pushed off into the water.
He noted with satisfaction that the Blood Storm listed to its side, rapidly taking in water. And the Black Pearl was just where he'd left it, cannons still smoking from its attack on the other ship.
Gibbs helped Jack get Nicola on board. They carried her straight into Jack's cabin and put her on the bed there. She was a little more alert now, groaning with a hand to her head.
"Report, Mr. Gibbs," Jack ordered.
"As you've seen, the Blood Storm has been sunk." Gibbs looked very pleased with himself. "At first, I didn't think we could do it, since all attacks seemed to be repelled, but then suddenly, all the men on the other ship started acting like they was in pain, like. So we took them out in their confusion. Got some very nice booty, too. Lots of food, should tide us over a long while, and plenty of gold and treasure."
"That should make the men happy," Jack said.
Gibbs nodded, then asked, "How is she?"
"She'll be fine, I think. Roccelli's dead. We need to make for Tortuga to retrieve Will."
Gibbs excused himself, leaving Jack with Nicola. The pirate captain wasn't sure how to revive her faster, so he sat and waited for her to come around.
Her first real, coherent thought was that her head hurt. She cracked bleary eyes and winced at the light in the cabin. A shadow moved between her and the lamp, and Nicola blinked, trying to focus.
"Are you alright?"
She knew that voice, hoped she wasn't imagining it. Was she dead? Being dead most likely didn't hurt, though.
"Where . . .?"
"You're back on the Pearl, love," Jack told her. "He wasn't as big an evil as I was led to believe."
Nicola lifted a hand, rubbed at her eyes. "Is he- Did you kill him?"
He nodded. She sat up, ignoring his attempt to push her back down on the pillows. She didn't know what Roccelli had done to her, but the effects seemed to be wearing off.
"That's quite the lump you've got," Jack said helpfully.
"One of Roccelli's men hit me with his pistol," she said. "May I have some water?"
Wordlessly, Jack fetched a glass from the pitcher that sat on his desk and handed it to her. She gulped it down and sighed.
Then she realised abruptly that she wasn't in her cabin, but his. And in only a nightrail, at that! She flushed, but he didn't seem to notice.
"Where's Will?" she asked.
"Ah." Jack hesitated. "We . . . might have accidentally, not at all intentionally, left him on Tortuga."
Nicola let out a sudden laugh at the thought. "Oh, he's going to be so angry at you."
"I think he'll live, especially since I retrieved you." Jack took the glass from her. "You'll want to change out of that."
"That" was her grubby, blood-stained nightgown. She was grateful that she still wore it, horrible as it was, because it meant no one had touched her.
That she knew of, anyway.
"A bath, too, would be lovely."
"I'll have the tub and water brought to you."