10:16am, June 7th, 1692
Standing atop the main deck of the Black Pearl, Will only then realized how loudly the sea had been calling for him. Pirate blood ran in his veins, and he could only ignore it for so long. While Will still hadn't gotten the hang -nor would he ever- of the ritualistic plundering and pillaging, the longer he spent at sea, the longer he could imagine living his life aimlessly sailing from port to port. But certainly this was no life for a woman. As fiery and adventurous as Elizabeth was, Will had a hard time picturing a Governor's daughter leading the high life of piracy.
Rather than lose himself in his thoughts as he had been so apt to do during his trip, Will turned on his heal to face the helm. Jack, looking rather refreshed but no doubt suffering from a substantial hangover, squinted in the morning sun as he stood face to face with Mister Cotton and his faithful parrot companion.
Will strained to hear the Captain over the crash of the waves. "Cotton! Man, what say you?" Jack gave the old sailor a brisk manly pat on the back.
The parrot perched on Mister Cotton's shoulder let out a squawk. "Je suis dans la merde!"
"Oh, bloody..." Jack rolled his eyes skyward. "Who's been teachin' the bird French again?"
The deck fell silent.
"I'm looking at you, Mister Larieux!" Jack barked up to the forecastle deck.
Larieux, The Black Pearl's resident Frenchman and respective scapegoat let out an unintelligible mumble -no doubt a curse- as he continued his laborious mopping.
Turning back to the task at hand with a grunt, Jack gave Cotton a terse nod. "Any ships on the horizon, man?"
The mute sailor merely shrugged his shoulders in a gesture of resignation.
"Carry on, then." Jack let out a sigh as he turned back to the helm.
Peering over the pirate's shoulder, Will stood dumbfounded. "Why do you keep him up in the crow's nest when he can't talk?"
With a quick pivot, Jack's brow furrowed momentarily at the boy as he leaned in, as if to whisper a secret. "To be honestly frank with you, son, tha' bird gives me a case of the jibblies."
"Right." Will mumbled incredulously as he took a step back.
"Buck up, boy!" Jack jabbed his elbow in the boy's side, a mischievous grin on his face. "We oughta round the bend and dock up in Port Royale by half past noon. You'll have more than enough time to give your lass a good snogging before supper time."
"Jack!" Will gasped.
"Oh, come now. You can't tell me ya don't miss the ol' girl?" Jack let out a chuckle. "Every moment yer not piss drunk with me an' the crew, yer sulkin' around the decks like a lovesick puppy."
He could only shrug in reply. Jack was right. Though these past two weeks had been a spectacular blur of rum-filled decadence, Will often spent his sober moments lamenting the Elizabeth's absence.
"Why don't ya go below deck and try to get yer mind off things?" Jack suggested, waving his hand nonchalantly toward the hatch.
With a nod of hesitant approval, Will slipped below deck.
The heat of the afternoon had just begun to set in, and only proved to be a further annoyance to the citizens of Port Royale. Nearly eight thousand people dwelled within the heavily fortified city, certainly rivaling if not surpassing Boston's population. Merchants, beggars, pirates and aristocrats flocked in great numbers over the years to the 'richest and wickedest city in the world' as it had been so benevolently named long ago. The citizens were not just Jamaicans; they were Port Royalists.
The King's Arm Tavern had just served it's first round of ale of the morning. The smithery's forge was fired up and ready to start yet another profitable day. Even the dark corner of Port Royale reserved for the most dissolute of activities had begun to show signs of life at this hour.
As the harbor bustled with early afternoon trade, a low ominous thunder cracked through the narrow streets in the center of Port Royale, echoing off the buildings as it grew to a deafening boom. Many a sailor cast their gazes skyward, only to find it was the ground beneath them that had begun to shake.
With a resounding crack, it began at the wharfs and quickly rolled inward towards the center of town. The shockwave first claimed the docks, forcing them to break and splinter, as the harbor was quick to devour them. The British naval post of Fort James collapsed upon itself and nearly two hundred of its finest officers who had only moments ago been celebrating a comrade's promotion, before sliding into the ocean. Men, women and children stood aghast as the very ground they stood on began to ripple like the waves of the ocean.
Startled gasps and screams of confusion spread through the town like wild fire. Some fled inland while other remained mortified at the sight of such destruction, only to be consumed by it themselves. The Palisadoes spit liquefied beneath the feet of commoners and aristocrats alike. No amount of money or reputation could spare them from such an unnatural fate. The swallowing sands, burying many up to their necks or better, claimed gross amounts of people and livestock.
The resulting rush of water that crashed against the shoreline smothered those not fortunate enough to have been killed instantly by the sinking sands. Many a fire broke out along the edges of the destruction, only to be pounded into submission by the colossal waves that engulfed the shoreline.
Ships anchored in the bay were ripped from their chains and hurtled against the spit, splintering upon impact. Sailors were pitched into the churning seas, floundering as they tried to stay afloat in the violently rising water. Many of those who remained on land looked up to the sky, expecting any moment for the Lord to strike them down with a rain of fire and brimstone.
Six fathoms under, the hands of several waterlogged clocks froze in morbid commemoration. For nearly half the population of Port Royale, time stood still in reverence of death.
Author's Note: This is what the French would call 'le petit chapitre bâtard',
though rest assured, there's still much chaos and destruction to be had for
future chapters! For anyone unfamiliar with the history of Port Royale, Jamaica:
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