AN: Yes yes, I am back from a quite extended hiatus with a sudden urge to write and finish up this story. And don't worry, I really do have plans for a sequel-ish thing. Back in the Carribean where they belong, mind you. But as my life has taken on extreme busyness, I deplore the readers to be patient. Merci.
Chapter 10: Of Ropes and Storms and Screams
When Anamaria returned to camp she was a different woman, Will Turner observed carefully. He had quietly stood in the darkness, watching as she pushed Captain Jack Sparrow away once more and seeing even more clearly that Jack had reached a certain level, in most people known as defeat. In Jack Sparrow, however, it was more clearly seem as indifference. Will, however, could see that it was not indifference in all, it was caring, as Jack might see it, too much for a pirate's good.
Will had watched as Anamaria stumbled from camp, barely stopping himself from going after her, telling her that he understood how she was feeling, how the responsibility of having so many lives in her hands must be smothering her, how she shouldn't worry about Jack Sparrow because he would come around. Eventually. But Anamaria had returned looking composed. And calm. Far too calm.
Will hung back in the shadows, watching as she ordered a group of several scouts to accompany her. He then watched as she permitted herself one final glance around the campsite as if to search for the now-invisible captain or simply perhaps a friendly face. Anamaria straightened her shoulders and set off.
And with that, she was gone.
Will Turner shivered slightly in the air that had taken on a distinct chill and realized abruptly that the odds were far from Anamaria's side. A strange land, soldiers she would not trust, clumsy weapons, distress from Captain Jack Sparrow, and an elderly woman as a bargaining chip. This may be the last time that Will Turner saw Anamaria Santiago, fierce pirate and African Princess, alive.
The heavy fragrance of tobacco smoke suddenly filled his nostrils. Will turned to see a figure swaying in the dark behind him, only the glow of the cigar alighting the pirate captain's face.
"Jack," Will acknowledged solemnly. If could assume correctly, Jack had just observed the same scene as he and was experiencing similar thoughts.
"We be leavin'." The captain announced suddenly.
Will choked on the smoke and was thrown into a coughing fit. When he finally found his voice, Will raised his eyes to the pirates'. "Now?"
"An ideal a time as any, I would say," Jack nodded, looking unperturbed. "We seem to have overstayed our welcome, mate."
"We can't just leave her here!"
Jack's gaze was uncharacteristically cold as he regarded his friend. "I know of no one here who would deserve to be a'going with us, mate."
Will's eyes widened.
Hurrying to keep up, Elizabeth and Will followed their captain through the dark brush as he muttered incessantly. Elizabeth would not allow herself begin to decipher their meanings.
Not only had Jack Sparrow made them take off in the middle of the night with no idea where on God's green earth they were going, but he was leaving behind the one woman he loved and had traveled across the bloody ocean for! Elizabeth Swann had had enough.
"Jack!" Elizabeth snapped, stopping in her tracks. She put her hands on her hips and glared at the back of the pirates head.
Jack froze with an abrupt jingling of tokens.
Will attempted to himself into a nearby tree.
"Jack Sparrow!" Elizabeth snapped again, stalking up behind the pirate and shoving her index finger accusingly into his back. "What in bloody hell do you think you are doing!"
Jack squeezed his eyes closed and spun around, slow and deliberate. No emotion flicked over his face except annoyance. "We be going…to my ship," he told her impatiently, as if she was a silly child.
"What bloody for, Jack?" Elizabeth demanded, "We came here for Anamaria. Now I don't see why we're leaving without Anamaria."
Jack's gaze darkened. "Because she don't want me around, love."
Elizabeth Swann nearly cried. Men were the most obtuse creatures on God's earth. Why, the tree that Will was trying so hard to blend into had more sense than all the men in the world put together!
So she did all that she could do.
Elizabeth slapped Jack Sparrow. Hard.
Jack's face was unreadable. "Love, how many times must I explain it to ye? I came. She don't want me. An' I don't bloody want 'er!"
With that, the pirate captain whirled around and began to stalk off into the woods…and suddenly felt an enormous jerk on his leg and was catapulted five feet into the air.
He was looking at the ground. And when he looked up he saw the stars. And his…leg?
What had bleedin' happened?
"Jack!" Will's voice carried to him from several feet away. "Jack, are you alright?"
"Well I don't care if he's alright or not," Elizabeth fumed, her bright skirts flouncing to Jack's side. She craned her neck to look up at him.
Up at him?
Elizabeth was upside down?
"Hold on Jack, I'll cut you down," Will said helpfully.
"No you will not!"
"Uh, maybe later then …"
"Jack Sparrow," Elizabeth seethed, pointing a dangerous finger at his chest. "Anamaria loves you. And if you would step off your high horse instead of barging in and ordering her about like some…some bloody pirate…"
"Ye say it like tis an insult, love."
"If you would stop being such a daft coward for one bloody moment then you'd see that she's dying for you to whisk her away from all of this! But the truth is, she can't just wait around and do nothing. She has to help. She made a promise. Do you know what a promise is, Jack?"
"Then do you understand nothing!"
Elizabeth nearly howled in frustration. Will, seeing this as an opportunity to intervene, seized his fiancé by the forearms and spoke a few quiet words to her. She seemed to calm, thankfully, Jack noted.
"What Elizabeth is trying to say, Jack, is that Ana can't be happy until she battles her demons. But she can't do it alone or there's a good chance she'll be hurt."
"She be battling her demons now?" Jack looked confused.
"I thought it was a sorceress."
"Well…it is…but…" Will was now the one who appeared perplexed.
"Jack, Ana's your wife!" Elizabeth shrieked, unable to stand the male race any longer.
Jack grew silent and suddenly his face unreadable through the darkness. "That's…yet t'be determined, love"
"Do you want her to be?"
Jack fell still.
Abruptly, a scream pierced the night. A woman's scream. A scream that was painfully familiar to Jack. His heart fell like the Pearl's lead anchor.
Jack drew his sword and in one fluid motion cut the rope which was hooked around his leg. He crashed to the soft earth with a yelp.
"Right then," Jack said, looking a little dazed, "Best be off."
"To the ship?"
Jack cursed whelps everywhere and began to run.
Anamaria was terrified. She couldn't let the scouts see it, but she was terrified. She could see through the darkness a hut a little ways across a field, ominous smoke rising from the chimney. It was hard enough to attack a hut with its occupants sitting and waiting, but with the area surrounding it completely barren with no place to hide was near impossible. Anamaria reached into the pouch on her side and fished out the coin Jack had confronted her about in what seemed so long and pressed it to her lips. "Let this be buried and done with," Ana prayed, hoping there was someone to hear her.
The clouds crashed. The leaves began to dance in the wind. Plops of rain fell onto Ana's bare skin. This had best not be her answer.
"Dandy," Ana muttered to herself. It was just like a raid, she tried to convince herself, ye go in, ye take what ye want, and ye leave. Nothin' she hadn't done before. The scouts were looking at her curiously. Ana sighed and fingered her dagger.
"Stay here," she told the scouts in their native tongue. They looked confused and as if they might object, but she also knew they would not go against her word. So unlike pirates, they were.
She got down on her belly, put her dagger in her teeth, and began to crawl as she had when she'd escaped the plantation that first time so many years ago. Anamaria crept up to the window and paused, suddenly feeling terribly alone and vulnerable in the storm.
Pressing herself flat along the outside wall, she peered into the hut. There was a figure sitting with its back to Ana, a bag over its head making the person unrecognizable. Lightning flooded the room and the pirate lady could see no one was present.
Wondering why she was not more reassured by this fact, she carefully climbed into the window, landing with a gentle thud on the ground. Ana crept through the shadows, dagger flicked up to warn against any attack. She paused, gaze flitting around the room one final time.
It was a whisper, barely audible. Anamaria wasn't even sure if anyone beside herself could hear it as the clouds quarreled again.
The reply was nearly as faint, and Ana was sorely tempted to believe she had imagined it, turn on her heel, and stride out of the tent..
Anamaria crept to figure, hoping with all her being that this would be it; the end of the daring escape and bold mission. Hoped to all the powers that may be that this whole thing would be over, the sorceress had called it square and given up and she could return home. Home…
The figure still didn't move. Anamaria slowly lifted her had, which, she noted disdainfully, was trembling, and lifted the hood from the figure's face.
And then, doing the most un-pirate-like thing she possibly could do…Anamaria screamed.
Yes my dears, I am fond of cliffhangers. What is it that has our fair Anamaria in such a tizzy? Should have the next chapter out by Saturday. Perhaps sooner if you review or help ease this ucky ucky block that seems to have taken over my brain…