Disclaimer: I love Pirates of the Caribbean but I don't own it therefore no money is being made with this story :P
A/N: The lines of zeros represent breaks in the story.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Cursed Souls
The soft breeze shifted in the fading light of dusk as Brianna swung back and forth slowly on the old wooden swing tied to an elm in the middle of a garden. She absentmindedly twirled one golden lock around her finger as her eyes absorbed the words in the book held by her other hand. The cover was worn and faded with age and the tale itself having been read a million times over by Brianna that she knew almost every verse and every line by memory.
Her father had given the precious book to her for her tenth birthday right before he had died. They had read the story together each night before bedtime, one of the fondest memories Brianna could remember before that awful night when her papa had been returning home from the counting house when suddenly he had been struck by a wayward coach and killed instantly. Brianna's life had changed that night, as if having been sucked up into a whirlwind. Her mother had wasted no time in remarrying Brianna's stepfather and moving them all away from her old home to reside on the island of Mai' Mai'.
With the money obtained from her old husband's will and the enormous amounts held by Count Vandoon, her stepfather, her mother had bought them the most exorbitant home they could find in the town of Port Charles; a royal military establishment of some of the Crown's most trusted soldiers and governors. Brianna had faded into the background as her parent was caught up in balls and parties, outings with rich friends and long evenings with the Count. It wouldn't be long before her mother and stepfather would be getting rid of her, since she was approaching her thirteenth birthday and would be the right age to be married off to some lord.
Brianna sighed and flicked the piece of hair over her shoulder and smoothed the cream ruffles of her gown. She didn't want to be married or tied down to some stuffy, over plump, boring, old geezer. Instead she wanted to be like the woman in her book, a mysterious and captivating beauty who had been taken by pirates to only fall in love with the Captain of the vessel and to have his love in return. Her papa had been right on the money when he had bought her this tale of romance and dashing men and adventure. She had always been a romantic at heart, with a mind full of fantasy to boot.
"Mistress Brianna!" called a voice from the garden archway. She turned to see one of the older maids waiting for her with a worried look on her face. Brianna quickly shut her book, making sure to mark her place with a slip of paper before jumping off the swing and following the maid into the manor house. It wasn't wise to keep her mother or the Count waiting, which she had quickly learned on the end of a willow switch.
The maid told her to wait outside of her stepfather's study and her curiosity was perked. She was silently hoping that what was about to happen was a good thing, but the strain on the maid's face and the way she kept wringing her hands only brought dread to Brianna's stomach. She slipped the book carefully into the concealing folds of her dress and clasped her hands at the small of her back, chin up and shoulders squared like a proper young lady awaiting an order.
She didn't have to wait long.
The study door opened and Brianna was ushered into the green velvet room that her stepfather spent most of his time in; besides the bedroom of course with her mother…
Count Vandoon smiled as he saw her enter and motioned for the maid to leave them. On one side of the room Brianna saw an older gentleman, with a round belly of a pig on him, sitting on one of the sofas sipping hot tea. His face was red and sweaty in the heat of the summer and what little hair he had on his head was covered by the stark whiteness of his wig. Loose bits of white powder had once been applied to his face, as was the custom with all gentlemen, but now had been wiped off by the handkerchief hanging out of his jacket pocket and Brianna could tell that he used rouge on his lips…unless of course he had just been sucking on a few cherries…
"Ah Brianna, right on time," her stepfather said with an odd cheer to his voice. He was never happy with her unless she was out of his sight. The small hairs on the back of her neck prickled with wariness however she managed a smile and appeared to be all bright and happy, putting on a good impression for the visitor and to escape any wrath from the Count.
"Brianna, I have some wonderful news to tell you. It seems that Mr. Farthworth here has asked for your hand in marriage," Vandoon said, straight and to the point.
The smile must have died on her face upon hearing those words for suddenly there was a certain darkness passing over her stepfather's eyes. Brianna coughed and quickly composed herself, turning to the gentleman with an even bigger and faker smile plastered to her small face.
"Marriage?..." she squeaked. "How wonderful."
Mr. Farthworth stood up, his knees creaking under the weight of his bulging middle. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Brianna," he muttered through puffy lips. "You look like you will provide me with good strong sons," he added.
Brianna bit back vile at the thought of conceiving anything from the man before her.
"Yes milord," she lied before turning back to her stepfather. "When is the date for the marriage?"
"Two fortnights from now."
Brianna blanched. That left little or no time to wiggle her way out of this engagement, and hell be damned if she was going to marry this slob! She had to do something and soon…
"The arrangements are being prepared as we speak. All you have to do is show up on that day," Vandoon said, shuffling some papers around on his desk.
"What does mother think about this marriage?" she asked cautiously, wondering if her mama was for or against the idea.
"She is quite thrilled I assure you."
"Oh. Well then I best be off, I need to um…powder my nose a bit before dinner," she lied and quickly curtsied. Her stepfather nodded, already having forgotten all about her. She scurried over to the doorway and slipped through but not before she saw the hungry look on Mr. Farthworth's face as his gaze traveled down her slender and still undeveloped young frame. Her stomach flipped inside her again and she bolted up to her bedroom where she promptly threw up into a basin.
She felt tears begin to form but bit them back willing herself to be strong. She could not, would not, be married! But to tell the count that would only bring his anger down on her. She had once denied him and had spent the rest of the week lying on her stomach while the lashes that crisscrossed her back and buttocks healed. The bruises did not fade for months.
She had to escape and right away before her stepfather got wise to her true feelings and locked her up until the wedding date. Brianna knew that the island would not hide her so the most logical choice was to get off it and begin anew somewhere else. Passage on ships cost money and lone women, much less lone girls, were forbidden. Only ladies accompanied by a man were allowed to sail therefore she had to sneak onboard a ship and remain hidden until it reached a port. The price of getting caught was extremely high. Most stowaways were thrown overboard as soon as someone found them. Girls or boys, it didn't matter in the least.
Her blond hair fell over her fan wan waves as she thought. She looked at her locks for a moment before running over to the mirror to stare at her reflection.
Girls weren't allowed on ships…boys on the other hand…
Brianna wasn't beautiful, at least not in her eyes. Her skin wasn't pale enough, her eyes too big, and her frame too thin and gangly. Overall she looked slightly washed out and besides the long hair, could possibly pass as a boy; a slightly girlish boy, but a boy nonetheless.
She picked up her silver scissors from the beauty table and began hacking away at her long hair. She cut and cut until it stuck up at all angles just off the top of her head. Next she noticed that her eyelashes were too long and cut them shorter just to be sure.
Brianna quickly dropped the scissors and threw open her closet door. She pulled out an oversized sleeping shirt and some trousers that she used when riding horses and tossed her gown aside and dressed in the new clothing. She got a plain pair of shoes from her chest and took off any jewelry before smearing some soot on her cheeks from the fireplace. Brianna took another look in the mirror and gasped. It was if she had transformed right before her eyes to look exactly like a young lad.
Knowing that she wouldn't have much time left before someone came up to get her for dinner, she packed a cloth with another shirt and a coin purse and threw it over her shoulder. Her stomach grumbled but she was too anxious to notice.
It was a stealthy escape from the manor as Brianna slipped down a sheet through the window. She landed quietly in the bushes below and ran as fast as she could down the road to the town, making sure to keep in the shadows. She made it to the docks without anyone taking notice in her and hid below the planks to catch her breath. There weren't many ships at port and her chances of getting aboard one were growing slimmer. No captains could be seen lounging about on the docks, it was dinnertime and most would be in the taverns filling their bellies.
Brianna sat down in a huff and hugged her knees to her chest. There was no turning back now; she would be killed for making herself like this and running away. What was she to do?
An odd sound came to her ears just then. Weird thumps and puffs that she couldn't quite distinguish. Brianna lifted her head to gaze out over the water when suddenly huge explosions rocked the town, crumbling buildings and sending the people into panic. She leapt to her feet as she spotted the attacker.
The ship had slipped into the bay so quietly and quickly that no one had noticed the odd black sails and the skull crossed flag until it was too late. The ground shook under the cannons and she could see that the pirate ship was aiming for the military post and ships, its only threat from this town.
Wait…that could be her way out of here!
The pirate ship was turned away from where she stood and already she could see longboats being lowered for the crew to head into the town to plunder and rape. It was the perfect chance to try and get aboard while everyone was preoccupied.
Brianna judged the distance to the ship to be about thirty yards, very close to the town in fact, and knew she could swim it for she had traveled greater distances in the ocean water when racing her father back when he was alive. She took off her shoes and laced them together and strung them over her neck to dangle at her chest and made sure her pack was tied tightly to her belt before sneaking into the water.
The night water was a bit chilly but after a few minutes of swimming she felt her body grow accustomed to it. She kept her head as low in the water as possible as the distance between her and the ship got smaller and smaller.
Pirates waited onboard for their allies to return but their attention was directed towards the town and not to the tiny girl coming up from behind them. A few ropes swung just above the water and Brianna grasped hold of one and pulled herself out of the ocean. Twenty or so minutes had passed and time was running out. Soon the pirates would return and discover her. She had to hide somewhere.
Brianna rolled onto the first deck and quickly ducked behind a barrel. None of the pirates had spotted her and she slipped down a stairway in what she hoped was a way to a store room making sure to not leave a trail of seawater behind her. Her bare feet made no sound against the wooden planks and she finally found a perfect spot to hide. It was a wedge of space behind some large crates in the back of what appeared to be a room that wasn't used very much and there Brianna sank to the floor. She didn't care about the dangers of being aboard a pirate ship, nor did she care about what would happen if she was found. She was away from her hated stepfather and mother and away from that forsaken marriage arrangement.
At the moment; she was safe.
A/N: So how do you guys like it so far? I know I know, no Jack Sparrow yet but don't worry; the next chapter will have lots of him! Uh oh… will Brianna be caught by the pirates? Will she manage to really get away from that marriage? Keep on reading to find out and as always please review! (It's a writer's caffeine I swear…)