Thanks for the great review A Sparrow's Soul. That's got to be one of the longest I've ever gotten! As requested Roy-Fan-33 I'm continuing this as one long story. It's easier for me too. Thanks for the review goodnightmysweetprince. I'll try watch for emotions being off. (I have trouble with emotions in real life and sometimes that shows up in stuff I write.)
This chapter is finally a bit nicer to Jack and one of the other characters comes into the story here.
There was a chill on the night air and the darkened streets were empty but for one man, a pirate.
Slowly he stumbled down the road, splashing through puddles without even noticing them. He was limping, swaying alarmingly so that at any moment it seemed he might fall.
Somewhere not too far away a door slammed, a dog howled and a woman screamed. He heard none of it. His eyes were red, as though from crying, and he stared straight ahead into the blackness of the night. Absentmindedly he was humming a tune. He stopped walking, stood unsteadily before a small house. He hesitated a moment. Then slowly he raised his hands, both as thick rope held them together, and knocked twice on the wooden door. A moment passed.
Suddenly the door was gone and in its place stood a woman. Her complexion was dark, her face pretty but not carefree. She wore a sword on her hip. She opened her mouth, though whether in shock or to speak could not be said for at the same time as she did, the man collapsed where he stood.
Anna-maria swore, barely able to process what she was seeing, as, crouching down, she pulled a knife from her boot and began to cut away the rough noose that encircled her friends neck.
She couldn't believe the state he was in. His face was a mass of cuts and bruises. His clothes were ragged and filthy. And he was so thin! It seemed impossible that he was even alive, never mind that he'd been standing a few moments before.
His blackened eyes fluttered open. "Captain Jack Anna, that's Captain Jack."
She didn't respond to his words. His voice shocked her. It sounded so weak, and hoarse as though damaged. He struggled to get to his feet. Wincing, he succeeded. He cocked his head to one side and grinned lopsidedly. But the smile was gone when a second latter his right leg buckled.
Unable to put out his tied hands to break his fall, he hit the stone floor face first, splitting his lip and re-opening a gash above his left eyebrow. Instantly she was at his side, pulling him up again and helping him over to sit on her bed. "Who did this to you?"
"Your first mate?"
He didn't answer, slumped sideways on the mattress. The movement caused clumps of his blood-matted hair to fall away from his face. Catching sight of one of his ears Anna-maria gasped; it looked like all the rings he wore had been ripped out. Instinctively she reached her hand out towards the injury. Her finger tips made contact with the torn flesh and he flinched sharply away.
Worry lined the woman's face. She'd never seen Jack flinch before, not from anything.
"Jack what happened?"
Alright, she had to be patient. She wouldn't push him.
"You're going to have to strip."
"What, so soon?"
She'd have slapped him for that comment if the look in his eyes hadn't betrayed his jovial tone of voice. He was terrified.
"I need to see how bad your injuries are."
"Love to oblige but..." He held out his hands.
She untied the rope. Still he hesitated.
"Jack, what's wrong?"
"I already've told you, nothing." Wincing he pulled off the top.
Anna-maria swore, looked away and repeated the expletative. "Oh Jack..." She wanted to hug him, to hold him like a child and tell him everything would be ok. Every inch of skin was covered by wounds or bruising, many of the over prominent bones beneath broken.
Pushing away her shock the piratess stood and retrieved a bottle of rum.
"You read my mind."
"Don't drink it all," she cautioned while handing it over. "I'll need some to clean your wounds."
"Waste of good rum that'd be."
She took the bottle off him before he could finish it and poured some onto a cloth.
She cleaned his face first. It only seemed to make the bruises more obvious. The cut on his forehead was still bleeding so she ripped a strip off the bed-sheet and tied it round his head as a bandage.
"You're going to have to get me new sheets."
"Can think of better circumstances ye could be saying that in."
"Shut up Jack," she said, not unkindly as she continued to clean and bandage wounds.
"I'd be calling the doctor right now, if I wasn't sure he'd be too drunk to remember his trade." She received no reply. "Please Jack; tell me what's happened to you."
"I can't Anna..." He wouldn't look at her. Not just now, ok?"