By Anna Summers
Hello again! Wow, I can't believe we've made it to Chapter 21! What an accomplishment!
Thank yous for Chapters 19 and 20 will be posted at the bottom of this chapter. Really, I can't tell you how much reviews mean to me! They motivate and drive me and I just love you all!
There was nothing left for Elizabeth to do but surrender the ring to Captain Marona. What else could she do? She didn't want to be held responsible for killing Jack's niece; after all, they had bonded on their adventure together, and Elizabeth couldn't bear to see her new friend die in front of her eyes at her own expense. She glanced at Will, who looked just as desperate as she did.
"So, what's is goin' te be, Miss?" Marona's pistol held strong, aiming straight at Kate's chest. Kate pleaded Elizabeth with her eyes. She didn't want to die today. Marona couldn't be held responsible for killing her father and her. He didn't deserve the glory.
Kate glimpsed at Jack, who, surprisingly, did not look half as scared as she felt. She often wondered about him: Did he have another miraculous happening up his sleeve?
Just as Elizabeth was preparing to give up the ring to Marona and take the great weight from her shoulders and save Kate's life, she noticed a sudden jerky movement out of the corner of her eye.
It was Jack. Kate's assumptions had been right on target.
He had waited until Marona was temporarily distracted, which occurred when he glanced at Kate. Swiftly, he swung his arms from side to side once and skillfully knocked the breath out of his two captors with two blows from behind, seeing as though his hands were latched together behind him. The two pirates fell to the floor, gasping at their surprise attacker as they watched him with large gaping eyes run to Will. After kicking the first man in a particular place that sent him sprawling across the cave floor clutching his privates painfully, Jack kneed the second man in the face, narrowly dodging a sword that the man had whipped out. Will and Jack were free from captors.
But not from ropes, however, because the twosome's hands were still tightly bound behind their back. At this point, Marona's distracted state had completely faded away, and the look was replaced with anger and pure evil hatred. One glance at Marona's beet-red face and the winded guards that were starting to get fired up again told Jack that they'd have to hurry.
In the blink of an eye, Jack picked up the sword that lay beside the unconscious guard with his feet. He kicked it up and tossed it behind him so that he caught the blade in his hands behind his back. Thrusting the sword upwards and cutting the ropes set him free immediately. Jack shook his hands free and drew his sword. After freeing Will, he turned his intentions on Captain Marona.
It had all happened so fast, Marona could hardly comprehend what was occurring. Before he could even turn his head or regain his senses, he looked frontward to see Jack scuttling at full speed towards him. Without delay, Jack knocked Marona's pistol from his hand with a blow from his left hand, and nodded at Kate. She looked at him awkwardly, unsure of what to do. But, before she had a chance to ask, Kate saw Elizabeth toss a sword to Jack.
Jack kicked Marona's chest, while Marona stood trying to understand the situation, and sent him tumbling backwards and onto the gold-full ground. Jack freed Kate's tied hands with his sword and then pressed the handle of it firmly into her hand.
"Now's the time to be showin' off those skills that I saw ye perform in the Courtyard."
Kate smiled deviously. Somewhere, her father was watching down on her, and she wasn't going to let him down.
"Can't see a damn thing in this ghastly fog." Anamaria said as she held the dim candle lantern out in front of her. She was standing at the front end of the little rowboat. Behind her, Jonathan paddled relentlessly, huffing and puffing, as the strokes grew great in number. The Black Pearl was behind them a good ways now, and Jonathan wouldn't turn back. Not without Kate.
"How much – further?" Jonathan grunted as he heavily stroked the water with the two paddles. He was not facing the Isla de Meurta, therefore could not see the distance between their boat and the island.
"I said I can't see nothin'," Anamaria spat back. "But guessin', I'd say a third of a mile." She squinted into the fog, hoping it would clear soon so they didn't collide with any debris. They were growing dangerously close to the shipwrecks and such that cluttered the entrance waters of the island, and this worried Anamaria.
"S'too risky, boy. Turn back." It wasn't like Anamaria to give up, but she seemed to be looking for an excuse of some sort.
"What do you mean, 'too risky'?" Jonathan stopped paddling and turned to face Anamaria.
"Ye wanna risk getting' me and yerself killed? The number of men who died here is so large, no one's even tried to count!" She lowered her lantern so that it was near her chest as she looked at Jonathan out of the corner of her eye. "If we go on, we'll get killed."
"Only maybe." Jonathan interjected, "But what about Kate? What about Jack?"
Of course, the mention of Jack's name made Anamaria shift awkwardly, and it became painfully obviously how hard she was attempting to hide her discomfort.
"What about Jack?" She whipped her head forward as she spoke roughly to Jonathan.
"You can't deny it." Jonathan practically sang with a smile, "You admitted that you loved him."
"I said nothin' of the sort!" Anamaria whirled around defensively and shot a cold, fleeting look at Jonathan, who smiled teasingly.
"I didn't!" denied Anamaria.
For a moment, the two stared at each other; Anamaria angry, and Jonathan quite amused. Giving up, Anamaria faced forward again and held her lantern up.
"Well? Start paddlin', then! We haven't got all blasted night!"
Marona was still on the ground a short ways behind Kate from where Jack had pushed him. He was scowling up at Kate from his place amongst the treasure-filled ground. She eyed the Treasure of Cortez, still unsure on how she was supposed to inflame it.
Glancing back at Marona, she felt another brave surge, and she walked straight up to Marona and held her sword to his neck.
She stepped back a few steps and waited for Marona to get up and draw his own sword. She stared into his dark eyes, feeling emotions she'd never felt before. The emotions included anger, greed, hatred mixed with thoughtful and pensive thoughts running through her mind.
Marona made the first move; an angry lunge straight for Kate. She skillfully blocked his blow with her sword and sprung at him. Soon, the two were moving rhythmically, steel swords clashing together; Kate never taking her eyes from her opponent's for even the slightest moment. If she looked elsewhere, she might appear insecure.
Jack watched with a great sense of pride as his niece took on Marona in the battle. She was a full head, maybe two, shorter than Marona, and truthfully, it was quite impressive to see her doing so well in the combat. He couldn't wonder at her for too long, however, because the once-winded guard had recently sprung to his feet and was now running at him with a sword. Jack welcomed his attacker, clanging his sword against his opponent's.
Marona sidestepped, and Kate circled him reflexively. In the back of her mind, she had noticed that there were now sounds of another fight going on quite near them, and she knew it was her uncle defeating some poor unsuspecting pirate that would almost definitely not match up to Jack's skills.
Kate and Marona circled around the great cave, dodging, lunging, and driving metal aimlessly in an attempt to slay each other. The attempt usually ended, however, not in flesh, but against metal yet again.
It was an endless battle, or so it seemed. Kate was surprisingly just as experienced as Marona was...or perhaps he was holding back? Kate didn't know, but she didn't want to take her chances. She'd never been in a full-blown fight like this. Usually, it was just playful parrying in the Courtyard with Jonathan.
Even through her severe concentration, Kate found Jonathan passing through her mind. He had wanted to come so desperately, not for glory, for her.
Kate couldn't think long. She jumped up high to avoid Marona's dive for her feet. Gold shuffled under her as she landed on the ground again. She made an attempt to drive her sword into Marona's shoulder, but Marona easily blocked her sword with his.
Back and forth they went, across the golden ground of the cave. Kate was working up a sweat; it had been a time since she'd parried with anybody, and she was a bit out of shape. But, this couldn't stop her, she knew. Her fate would be worse than fatigue if she gave up now.
Of course, Kate knew the rules of engagement of swordplay, but she was having a hard time figuring out if the rules applied to menacing pirates. She supposed they made their own rules and did not abide by others. Then again, there was the code to consider. Jack had always kept to it, as had his crew, but Marona was a different man entirely. Pirates were a confusing crowd.
Kate felt her stomach lurch sickeningly when, as she was skidding backwards, her heel hit a rock. This move sent her tumbling down to the ground in a helpless sense. She tilted her head towards Marona; he had power now. Kate's long light brown hair hid her face and before she could brush it away to view her current situation, she felt the cold metal of Marona's sword on her neck.
"So, it's come to this, has it?" Marona chuckled slightly.
With one hand, Kate daringly reached up and brushed the hair out of her eyes. She wasn't quite sure what to do. Where was Jack? That question was hopelessly answered when she recognized that the two men, being her uncle and Marona's pirate, were still going at it on the other side of the cave. Kate was powerless. Marona chortled darkly.
"Never thought I'd be responsible for killin' off an entire family."
Kate couldn't tell if his tone was pride at accomplishment, or slight guilt that he was preparing to kill the child he had essentially helped raise until the tender age of eight. Whatever the reason, it didn't matter; she'd die one way or the other.
"Any last requests?" Marona's eyes twinkled with excitement. She could feel his grip on the handle tighten as he prepared to slaughter her.
Kate swallowed and closed her eyes, straining her neck against the discomfort of the sharp blade. She thought of her father, thought of Jack.
Then came a voice, perhaps the voice of an angel, Kate thought. But, alas, it was better than an angel...was better than any voice at that moment. Behind Marona, the voice spoke out that nearly made Kate faint with appreciation.
"Here's a last request for you!"
It was Jonathan.
Yes, that was short, I know. But, I'm taking an awful long time to write this (if you haven't noticed), and I thought I might cut this chapter short and continue the next one, savvy? By the way, last week I didn't write due to the fact that I was on Spring Vacation. So now I'm back, tanner, fatter, and happier, to sat the least. The end is in sight, as I've said before. Happy readings!
Inu_luver – Glad you loved it, and sorry it took a million years to update.
Hollaiuar – Love reading your reviews they are so interesting and energetic! And lay off the soda! : )Thank ya!
Aurelie Belle – I read your story, Baby Grace, and I am falling absolutely in love with it. You better continue! Haha – Cotton doesn't exist in the story, don't ask why. I never found an opportunity to write him in, so he's just not there, savvy? Thanks for reviewing!
Nicholle – I've got ye hooked! That's great...thanks for reading!
Gal Hart - Blushes Oh, come on. You're favorite author? You're making me blush! What a compliment! Mental note to check out your stories :)