Chapter 10

Ruth skirted through the flow of revelers and the occasional crowd surrounding a fight, keeping her head low as to not attract attention to the fact that she looked so weak with her tear-stained face. She also couldn't bear glancing at the chaos around her. Whoops, cheers, screams, and shriek stung the air with a force that it seemed to pollute it. She couldn't hear Jack's voice behind her, but nevertheless, when she reached the opening of an alleyway, she flew into it's entrance, and peered behind it, only allowing as minimal as a part of her to be exposed to the crowds.

Jack had probably reached the main street, but in the dense, rapid hurry of everyone, the mixture of faces and figures seemed to blend together in one huge mass, making it almost impossible to distinguish one pirate from another. The fact that the majority of the heads wore tri-cornered hats and sported the traditional attire of a pirate certainly didn't help either.

Ruth tried to control her heavy breaths, and with a sigh of relief, retreated back into the alley, placed a hand over her heaving chest, and slowly sank to the floor of the alley, enjoying the cool face of the wall behind her.

Though she had escaped Jack, there was, of course, a great deal of regret involved, and as she thought of the worry not only washing over her, but over Jack, and of the pain she had inflicted, and not just from elbowing him, her face suddenly contorted as she began to sob. Bringing her knees up to her chin, she slowly raised her hands to her face and formed into a little ball, much like the one she had taken to when an enemy had attacked the Black Pearl. As she fully realized the intensity of her mistake, she shook her head, as if trying to deny her presence here, like a sojourn into a nightmare.

The screams and shouts from Tortuga's main street compelled her to move further into the darkness of the alley, and a new fear of this place without the aid of Jack only worsened her crying. A gunshot pierced the air, causing her to scream and flinch, her hands flying from her face.

She stood, carefully approached the entrance of the alleyway, and with trembling hands touched the place where the wall's corners incepted, tentatively leaning around the corner to check the area.

Then, she turned her head, and found, with a slight gasp, as it looked like a figure from the corner of one's eyes, a rickety wooden sign. Cautiously looking out into the swarm of prostitutes and pirates, she squinted and found that its arms pointed toward several other backstreets. Withdrawing herself back into the dank alleyway, she leaned against the walls behind her and pressed her palms against its gritty surface. Gazing into the wall directly in front of her, she took a deep, steady breath, and closed her eyes as she meditated upon her decision.

Lifting herself from the support of the wall, she approached the entrance of the alley, and darted from its shielding, though terrifying darkness and into the streets of Tortuga.

…………………

The Hazy District contrasted in a sheer manner to that of Tortuga's main street, and with its somewhat sluggish, gloomy nature, whether it be its decrease in population, or its isolation from the heart of the town, one would have thought they had left Tortuga entirely. The night didn't help to release this district from its bleakness, and the only light here came spilling from several run-down taverns. The only tavern that appeared somewhat decently kept was the Laughing Lounge, an establishment located to Ruth's far right. Rubbing her arms gently from the crisply cold air that had fallen, she threw her alert gaze about the area, surveying the area for any suspicious figures before fully entering this sleepy place.

The mountains in the distance were now fully visible, as Ruth had probably reached a far corner of Tortuga, and the tangle of vegetation blanketing the hills was partly illuminated from the moonlight. Mainly women walked through this area, clutching baskets protectively to their stomachs or fetching water from a well situated in the middle of the street. The men who resided her sat lazily upon rocking chairs near the entrance of these taverns, the creak of the chair from under their weight breaking the strange silence in the Hazy District, or their voices became clear as the faint, softened laughs or exclamations of their merriment drifted from the doors of the taverns.

When Ruth neared The Laughing Lounge, she mounted the stairs and ventured into the tavern.

………………..

Adrien peered from the hood of his navy cloak into the Hazy District, and a faint grin alighted his full lips. With the shade of his hood concealing his bright eyes as it casted a ragged shadow onto his face, his mysterious air made his look even more sinister.

Bringing the cloak more tightly about his shoulders, he made his way toward The Laughing Lounge, his cloak rippling behind him the waves before a storm.

………………..

Ruth took no time to observe the strangers around her, but quickly retreated to an empty table, where she sat, and allowed her legs to rest from the rather prolonged walk through Tortuga.

Her eyes soon adjusted to the light, and as the warm atmosphere engulfed her, she closed her eyes for a moment and sighed. A waitress approached her, her fists digging into her hips, "Ahem!" she exclaimed. Ruth's eyes shot open.

"Are ye plannin' on orderin' anything missy?" she questioned rather irritably, her sharp arch of an eyebrow raised.

Ruth stuck her hands into her pockets, and found that in her haste, she had left without any money whatsoever. Only the certificate and the letter from her father skimmed her fingers.

She then looked up to the waitress and gulped, "Would there be a problem if I failed to?"

The waitress narrowed her eyes, "I'm not being paid to watch ye just sit around here. If you're not plannin' on getting' anything, then scoot, and find somewhere else te sleep," she finished, throwing her thumb behind her shoulder to emphasize her desire for her to leave.

Without a word, Ruth rose, and exited the tavern, trying to ignore the snickers and chuckles from behind her.

"Hey, girly!" a man shouted from the back, causing Ruth to flinch, "Why don't ye come sleep here…on me lap!" This brought a uproar of laughter from the men, and Ruth, who didn't bother turning around to face this embarrassment, darted out the door, tears of humiliation threatening to fall as she fled from the tavern in order to quicken the death of the sounds of catcalls from inside.

…………………

Adrien had kept a reasonable distance from the young girl, as to not make his presence so clearly known, and when he finally reached the tavern, he mounted the stairs, and when he had reached the top, a figure emerged from the doorway, and to Adrien's surprise, it was Ruth.

The girl had her head bowed, tears glistening upon her eyes, and judging by the sound of calls and whistles from within, Adrien reasoned that the shouts were directed toward her. Adrien stood at the doorway for a moment, watching Ruth's back as she passed, the waves of her hair snaking down her back like seaweed, and when her feet had reached the dirt of the ground, Adrien followed.

Here, it would be harder to catch her, for now his ominous presence would be more than clear to Ruth, but at this point, Adrien was more than eager to capture her, even if he had to resort to desperate measures…

………………..

Ruth, who was now heading back to the Pearl, had decided that even an hour here was more than enough time to spend in a place like Tortuga. She found that the only way back was through a series of darkened streets that turned into numerous alleyways, and though it was incredibly frightening, she continued on like a valiant warrior into battle. She had hoped that others would be taking this street as well, but her luck seemed to have decided to abandon her for the night…as long as there were several other around her, including women, mind you, the experience would not be so intimidating.

Remaining within the confines of a cabin with warm clothes readily available was much more preferable than an evening here, even if it meant facing Jack Sparrow with the new tension between them.

Tears slipped down her cheeks as regret filled her for leaving Jack when she had selfishly wanted her way, and had failed to apologize to him for hurting him, whether it be slightly physically (Ruth now felt absolutely terrible about elbowing him), or more for insulting him. There was probably an explanation for why Jack kept Ben's fate a secret, and although she still bore anger toward him for keeping this from her, she too had her faith in him. Jack wasn't an evil man, though, he certainly wasn't perfect either. Perhaps when she returned, he would tell her, and allow Ruth to comfort Ben…

Suddenly a sound so perfectly terrifying pierced the eerie quiet of the street, and she froze, the beating of her heart now strangely louder than normal, and a sudden coat of sweat moistened her palms. She slowly turned.

There, standing a short distance away from her, was a figure, and to her despair, it wasn't just her imagination. He stood in the shadows cast from a building, his arms to his sides, dressed in a cloak, and if it weren't for his boots protruding from the ends of it, she would of thought of him to be a ghost.

A moment passed.

Ruth felt her hands begin to tremble, "Hello?" she called out rather timidly.

The figure silently stood, without any sort of reply, and for another moment the two stood facing toward one another, the fear within Ruth increasing dramatically, while the excitement within Adrien greatly intensifying.

His treasure stood there...right in front of him.

Ruth gasped as the stranger began moving toward her at a healthy pace, and then when he broke into a run, Ruth took no time to hesitate, for she knew that something like this would be predictable and sprinted from him like fish avoiding the shadow of a shark. She pumped her arms wildly, and flew into the first alley that she saw, for one alley's exit led into other streets. Sweat began to form on her forehead, her palms were now completely slick, and her heart thudded against her chest. It was not long before the stranger caught up to her, and she cried out in fear as the pounding of his boots became louder…

Ruth screamed.

His fingers had brushed hers.

As she rounded the corner, the stranger, came up suddenly beside her, and grabbed her arm, the mere grip upon her arm causing Ruth to shriek. The two stopped, Ruth tried to yank her arm from his, even using her other hand to try prying his fingers from her, and a desperate struggle began.

"Let me go!" she screamed as the stranger managed to utilize his other hand to grab her, "Please!"

Adrien tightened his grip around her arm and forcefully pulled her to him, and he pulled her into the darkness of the alleyway, cursing as she struggled to loosen his grip upon her.

Ruth eventually felt almost drained of her energy, but she did not surrender quickly. She tried to kick him, elbow him, or even yank her arms from his grasp, but failed miserably. As the stranger gained more and more of a control over her, he began to pull her closer to him. Ruth immediately reacted, and with a final, forceful pull, managed to yank her arms from him.

She screamed as she bound for the exit of this intolerable darkness, and in the blinding darkness stumbled. The stranger easily leapt for her and in one sudden moment, her growing hope died as he snatched up the white linen of her blouse and yanked her back to him.

Ruth screamed, and the stranger did not resort to closing her mouth, but instead, as soon as he made sure she faced him, he struck her across the face. She fell to the ground in shock, gasping as a fiery pain sprung to her throbbing cheek. Ruth, sensing evident defeat, felt the sting of tears at the corners of her eyes. She struggled to keep her trembling arms, which were only support from falling onto the ground, as sturdy as she could as she strived to turn herself away from the face of potential death.

Adrien suddenly felt a sharp pang of guilt as the girl gently cried out in pain, but rediscovered his greedy motivations for turning to such brash actions, and hoisted her from the ground.

When Ruth finally came face to face with her attacker, she whimpered as the dark cloak that shielded his face rode up his waves of hair and revealed a pair of fierce, angry eyes, arousing such a fear within Ruth, that she burst into a horse sob. She looked into his eyes pleadingly, as if she could persuade him to free her with her desperate, frightful gaze.

Adrien pulled her so close to him, that in the darkness of alley, she could see his eyebrows pull further together to signal his rising fury.

"Do not provoke me again, girl, because I swear to you," he seethed between clenched teeth, "if you attempt something like that again, I will not hesitate to do what you probably fear most of me. Is this understood?"

He ended this speech in such a terrifying tone, that Ruth nodded in a sort of daze as tears quietly made their way down her face. Adrien retrieved a pistol and proceeded to bring this arm around her waist, jamming the mouth of the weapon into her stomach as if to emphasize his seriousness. He then brought Ruth under a fold of his cloak, and pulled her toward him so that her cheek seemed to rest upon the crook of his arm. Completely spent of energy, Ruth almost willingly allowed her neck to wilt and lay on his chest, very slightly enjoying the time she had to calm herself – to contemplate what had just happened, as if trying to remember the details of a nightmare. She tried to savor the time she had before whatever this man had in store for her would no longer be a wicked plan developing within the endless depth of his mind, but a hellish reality.

Despite the warmth of cloak about her shoulders, and the steady rise and fall of the stranger's chest, there was no consistent lull of a movement or feeling to calm her, not when a mysterious, bleak future lay ahead.

Ruth could not control her sobs.

Adrien said or did nothing in response, knowing too well that it would only worsen things. He only continued walking through the deserted streets of the secluded district, holding her as if his life depended on her presence.

Author's Note: I'm so sorry I haven't updated in quite a while, but it's just that my schoolwork has gotten in the way of my progress! Anyway, please review…reviews are very much appreciated! A big thanks to those who have reviewed!