A/N: Hello everyone~! Sorry, obligatory start-of-new-story author's note here: This story begins shortly before the Jack Sparrow series written by Robb Kidd and will continue on through to the movies. There will be plenty of moments that aren't in the books, as...I don't actually own the books and e-books I found are nigh unreadable. As such, I have to use the PotC wiki to give me the plot outlines. This will also feature moments of violence, drunkenness, mentions of and encounters with prostitutes, as well as some crude humor among other things.
But what do you expect? This is a story about pirates told from the perspective of a pirate. And I hope you enjoy it~! I'll be updating it every other week on Saturdays or Sundays.
It had been almost two minutes since the group of us five strangers had submerged ourselves beneath the waters of Shipwreck Cove. Glancing over at the others, I found myself still rather surprised that four people had been interested enough to have taken the wager. It was quite a ludicrous one, after all: I bet everyone I could hold my breath longer than them—longer even than five minutes. The only caveat? We had to be underwater.
But what was even more surprising to me was how varied in age my competitors all were. Two of our number were over the age of forty at least, a third was somewhere in her twenties, and the third was a lad around the same age as me.
Before three minutes had passed, the eldest and the twenty-something-year-old hoisted themselves to the surface, gasping for breath. I looked to my left and right to see that the remaining two were both struggling. Their cheeks were puffed out and they had their eyes clenched shut in concentration. A bubble would occasionally manage to escape their mouth or nose, further depleting their air supply. What didn't help was how the sea, which was beginning to grow rough, kept threatening to pull them away from the dock.
'The other two will be rushing for the surface before thirty more seconds pass,' I told myself.
It was the eldest who gave up first; his gasps for air were loud enough that I could hear them underwater. The lad held on a bit longer and even brought a hand down to pinch his nose shut. Try as he might, though, he couldn't help but follow the old man soon after.
But I remained in place, my hands pressed against the bottom of the dock, keeping me submerged. I smirked at the thought of being declared the winner and the money that would come with it; it was an easy win for me, yes, but still a win. My coin purse had been empty for the last four days and I was itching to get myself some proper food—stolen bits of fruit could only get you so far, after all.
Only when another two minutes had passed did I finally come up out of the water. Sucking in a breath of fresh air, I heaved my shoulders as if I were actually out of breath. Someone grabbed my wrist and helped pull me onto the dock; I 'breathlessly' thanked them and leaned back against a piling. After taking some minutes to 'regain' my breath, a handsome grin came to my lips and I looked up at the small crowd.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe that was over five minutes," I said to them, "and, therefore, I win our little wager."
"You cheated!" I looked over as the lad came forward. His cheeks were still quite red from having held his breath as long as he did, and his breathing wasn't quite back to normal. "You 'ad t' 'ave! Ain't no one alive who can 'old their breath that long!" It took a good deal of willpower for me not to burst out laughing; with his wet hair all askew and his clothes clinging to his body, he looked more like a drowned rat than anything.
"Well, I can ensure you that I am a member of the living," I replied, "and that, on my word, I did not cheat."
"How could he possibly cheat, anyway?" the twenty-something-year-old questioned, holding onto her waist as she stood upright. Her breath had mostly been regained, but her cheeks were still a bit pink. "We were all underwater with him—as per the rules, none o' us poked our heads above the surface."
The oldest of our group, who had donned a faded black coat, shook her head. "Just give the lad 'is winnings an' stop complainin'," she scolded as I stood up. "It doesn't help ye t' be a sore loser." She fished around in her pocket before producing a couple of coins, which she then handed off to me.
"Thank you very much, my lady," I told her, happily taking the coins—doubloons, as a matter of fact. Of the group, she had been the one who disbelieved my claim the most and, as such, confidently placed quite the price on me losing. But her loss was my win; I might be able to afford a room at an inn for a few nights now.
The others also handed me a few coins each (begrudgingly, in the case of the sour young man) and I thanked them, too. It was just as bad to be a rude winner as a sore loser, after all. The winnings from them didn't even come close to the doubloons, but they would still help me buy food at the very least.
With my winnings now in hand, I went over to the small pile of cloth and leather I had tucked against a piling. From inside a hidden pocket of my vest, I pulled out my coin purse; the fabric was well worn and light as a feather. I frowned. I'd need to get a new one in the near future if I didn't want to risk losing my precious money. Sliding the coins into the small bag, I cinched it shut and tucked it back into its pocket.
Turning around, I could see the retreating backs of my opponents; they each headed down a different dock or up one of the crooked stairways into Shipwreck City. With no one within earshot of me anymore, I allowed myself a quiet, victorious laugh and shook my head.
Despite still being soaking wet, I pulled my vest on, as well as my boots and baldric. Last of all, I put my belt on, fastening it around the top of my hips rather than the center of my waist. I also arranged my vest a bit so that there was some extra fabric gathered above the belt.
Once again fully dressed, I began to make my way along the dock and towards one of the staircases that would take me into Shipwreck City. As I walked, salt water dripped down from my shirt and trousers as if I had just pulled myself out of the ocean only a few seconds ago, but by the time I had stepped through one of the gates, I was completely dry.
It was only my fourth day in the city and I was still finding it to be quite the awe-inspiring place. The city was split into two 'stacks' that, as the city's name implied, were built out of wrecked ships—a thousand of years' worth of them—that had been piled atop a small island in the crater of a dead volcano.
Being made of stacked-up ships and ship sections meant the city was interesting to navigate. Streets nearer to the outside of the stacks were more often location on the top deck whereas streets towards the centers were covered, as they were below deck. Completely even walkways were hard to find—most of those were at the very top of the two stacks, where the more important pirates resided and higher-class establishments were located. As I was neither important nor high-class (well, here I wasn't), I decided to make for the middle section of the northern stack.
I had been recommended a tavern in that section of the city by a handful of people. It was called the Saucy Siren; apparently it served some fairly decent food, both in price and taste. However, as its name implied, the tavern's main claim to fame was its barmaids—or, as they were unpredictably called by the patrons, sirens. Not only were they gorgeous, I had been told, but they could sing like angels. Whether the men who had told me this meant actual singing or not was up for debate, however. I had no intention of seeking pleasurable company that night, but it would be nice to have an aesthetically pleasing view while I ate.
'I don't think they would appreciate my lack of equipment, either,' I thought, slipping my way around a group of men carrying what looked like a solid gold statuette of a satyr. Tempted as I was to turn around and get a better look at it, I decided against it—I needed to stay focused. It was all too easy for me to get sidetracked in this new city and that was exactly what I didn't want to do.
While I continued to steadily make my way upwards, I was certain to keep a weather eye out for any children as they were notorious for being able to pickpocket someone dry within minutes of their arrival. Since it was a pirate haven, Shipwreck City was home to dozens and dozens of families with children of all ages. An odd thing to think about, yes, but contrary to puritanically popular belief, pirates could be just as good—if not better—parents than non-pirates.
We aren't entirely lawless vagabonds, after all. We have a code we live our lives by—a code written down by the pirates, Morgan and Bartholomew. At this point in time, though, I was still quite new to piracy; I had been one for less than a month, in fact.
Originally, I had been a topman (one of the riggers who tended to the sails) aboard the merchant ship, Wanderlust, but after getting attacked off the coast of la Florida, I found myself faced with the option of either joining the pirate crew or being sent adrift in a long boat.
Not wanting to risk the chance of having a long, slow, and painful death, I picked the former.
And now, here I was, in this piratical safe haven. I was still quite clueless as to how to go about things, given that the captain who had taken me and four others onto his crew had—quite unceremoniously—kicked us off his ship the moment we docked, as he didn't want to pay us. In his words, sparing our lives and bringing us here should have been payment enough. We just wished that he would have let us grab our sea chests or our sea bags before banishing us.
I felt the slightest of tugs on my vest and reached down in time to grab the wrist of a small urchin—she couldn't have been more than ten years old. With her big, brown eyes and golden curls, she reminded me a great deal of my youngest sister, Cornelia. And the little thing would have managed to talk her way out of getting in trouble due to her cuteness if it hadn't been for the fact that I was used to such acts thanks to the aforementioned sister.
"Stealing from empty pockets won't get you any tasty sweets," I told her, my brow raised. "Now run along and look for pockets that actually have things in them." Letting go of her wrist, I watched as she darted off into the crowd, giggling like the mischief maker she was.
'Glad I keep my coins in a hidden pocket,' I thought, looking back at the path ahead.
Since it was almost suppertime, the streets were a bit busy as the city's residents hurried to buy last minute meal ingredients or made their way to one of the many, many taverns. It was also the perfect time for little pickpockets to be making their way around the place, slipping their small hands into pockets or deftly untying coin purses from belts.
I quickened my pace; I wanted to reach the Saucy Siren before it became too full and I wanted to avoid more attempted pickpocketing attempts made on me. The only problem was…I didn't exactly know where the Saucy Siren was. Just that it was in the middle portion of the northern stack.
Knowing I had to ask for directions, I started glancing around for someone who looked like they wouldn't try to get me to pay for the bit of information. After a few moments, I spotted a lad around my age—maybe slightly older—buying a loaf of bread from a vendor. Like me, he had a green bandana wrapped around his head, though his held back dark hair that had dozens of small braids and beads scattered throughout it.
Once he was done handing over his coin, I approached him. "Excuse me, mate, but do you happen to know where I could find the Saucy Siren?" I asked. As I spoke, I had done my best to not sound too high-class. I had quickly come to learn that speaking clearly and enunciating every word was actually a bit frowned upon in this place.
"Hm?" He turned around and I saw that, like most sailors here, his lower eyelids were heavily lined with kohl. "The Saucy Siren? Oh, aye, she's just up three floors," he told me, gesturing at a spot above us. "That one there, actually. I suggest avoiding the wine and ale—they water those down. But the rum and beer are good."
As I looked up, I could just barely see a sign sticking out over one of the higher up and uncovered streets. It had a mermaid carved into it, along with the words 'Saucy Siren' painted in bright yellow letters. "Thanks, mate," I said, looking back down only to frown.
In the few seconds I had turned my attention away from him, the lad had disappeared.
"Huh…" was all I could manage to say. Impressed by the lad's speed, I lightly shook my head and continued on my way towards the tavern.
The Saucy Siren, as it turned out, lived up quite well to the things I had heard about it. The food was good (downright delicious if you hadn't eaten anything but a banana and two oranges for three days), the drink was good (I avoided the wine and ale as recommended), and the barmaids were gorgeous with the voices to match. But they weren't just gorgeous: They were all quite nice and pleasant to chat with, too.
There had been one in particular named Mary who had been very sweet and who sat down to chat with me about the city, the best spots to look for work, and the best places to avoid. She even told me that she knew of three different ships currently looking to hire on new crew members: the Misty Lady, the Raven's Wing, and the Singin' Squid. Of the latter ships, I didn't get to learn much, but Mary told me that the Misty Lady was captained by a man named Edward Teague. He was held in high respect among pirates due to his position as both a pirate lord and the Keeper of the Code. At the time, I didn't even know there were pirate lords, though the position of Keeper of the Code made sense to me, since even pirates needed some form of judge.
After I had my meal, I had to force myself to leave the tavern, lest I ended up drinking too much and spending all my coin. But this left me with a new problem: Finding a place to sleep. The first night I was here, I was able to barter a room in exchange for manual labor in the form of hauling crates of fruits and vegetables. The second night, I had managed to find a relatively secluded spot in an alleyway where I was able to get a few hours of fitful sleep.
But the last two nights had been spent on the beaches. One of them had some lovely little tide pools, but I knew better than to stray near those once night fell. Other than the tide pools, however, there wasn't much in the way of protection from the elements. Being that I could feel a storm coming—it would be here by midnight—I wanted to find some sort of proper shelter.
As much as I loved water and the ocean, rain was something I did not love unless I was inside. It meant I would get stuck being soaking wet, uncomfortable, and cold for quite some time—not an enjoyable experience. Knowing I would probably have to break down and stay the night at an inn, I ducked into an alley, made sure I was completely alone, and pulled out my coin purse to do a quick count of what I had left.
'Seven shillings and two doubloons. If I wanted a first-rate room, there go the doubloons. But I'd settle for a hammock in some hostel just as well and that'd be less than four shillings.' Sliding the coins back into the purse and tucking it away, I scrunched my nose up slightly. 'Not that there are hostels around here. Just inns, brothels, and homes. Maybe I should have taken up the offer one of those sirens…'
Stepping out of the alley, I started to aimlessly walk down the street; now that suppertime had come and gone, the city felt quite a bit emptier. No more children ran about and the shops and vendors had closed up. Those who were left ambling about were either on their way to an establishment, making their way back down to the docks, or looking for trouble.
"And I doubt any of them can tell that a storm's blowing in," I mumbled to myself. The wind had yet to pick up, but I had been feeling the ocean's temperament changing since that morning. I looked up at the sky through a hole in a hull; the sun was beginning to set and the western horizon was partly obscured by clouds. "Ah, so it's blowing in from the west…Hopefully it won't be too bad." I knew the volcanic shell of the cove would protect the city from the worst of the winds, but some blustery gusts would still sneak their way in.
I most definitely did not want to be at the top of the stacks during one of those gusts. Despite knowing the city was put together well (at least, I hoped it was, considering how long it had been around), I couldn't help but picture the topmost ships swaying back and forth before breaking apart.
"'Im right there! That's the one!" I frowned as I heard the voice. "That's the cheater!"
Turning around, I could see the sour lad from earlier pointing at me. On his left was a larger and older man who bore a great resemblance to him; either his brother or a cousin. My eyes widened as they started to rush towards me.
"Shit," I muttered before turning and starting to run away.
…At least, I wish that's how my plan had went.
What actually happened was, after cursing, I turned around in time to see a large fist coming towards me. With absolutely no time to react, the fist slammed into the side of my face with such force that I was thrown to the ground, where I hit my head hard enough (or, perhaps, it was a combination of getting sucker-punched and hitting my head) that I blacked out.
I really should have spent the night at the Siren.