They sailed on through the night as the weather became worse. The rain poured from the skies onto the decks of the Interceptor as the crew managed the sails and the riggings while Jack Sparrow continued to shout orders to keep the sails open. They were making headway and if they continued on their path, it was likely that they would catch up to the Black Pearl soon enough. It was dawn when the storm finally let up and James sensed they were getting close to their destination. He moved along the deck, looking out along the horizon, searching for a glimpse of the island. He barely noticed as Mister Gibbs approached the rail beside him.
"There it is, there in the distance. Aye, to be sure we are almost there," Gibbs commented as he pointed towards a small speck of land a good distance away. James resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "You know, I'm surprised an upstanding man like yourself be associated with the likes of Capt'n Jack Sparrow."
"So I've heard. Mister Gibbs, is there a particular reason why you are not tending to the riggings?" James asked, still finding it hard to slip out of the 'Captain' mindset when he was aboard a ship with a crew.
"Aye. I think it be best t' warn ya 'bout the way pirates work. Seems to me someone like you wouldn't know much 'bout it. You see, pirates have a code that they stick to; some more stricter than others. Figured you could use some knowledge on the finer points," Gibbs explained. "There are two rules that'll come in handy fer ya. First is 'any man that falls behind is left behind.' That one speaks fer itself. Figured I'd warn ya, just t' be on the safe side. The second is Parlay. Now, under the right of parley, the captive cannot be harmed and must be taken to the captain. Generally speaking, these only apply to pirates, but seeing as yer already half way there..."
James sighed, slightly irritated and mildly bored with the subject, though he did admit to himself that the information may end up proving useful later on. Dealing with pirates was tricky business and Mister Gibbs did have more experience in the area. He also did have a point. He was well on his way to becoming a pirate, if he wasn't already branded as one by the Royal Navy.
"Thank you, Mister Gibbs. I'll be sure to keep that under advisement," James responded as he watched the Isla de Muerta come closer as the ship sailed towards it. He knew in his heart that this is where he would find Elizabeth and soon she would be back safely at his side. When James looked back, he noticed that William Turner had joined him and Mister Gibbs and was now asking about Jack Sparrow and his compass. James listened quietly, but his mind continued to wander. The same thoughts seemed to float through his head constantly, all of them concerning Elizabeth and her safety.
Elizabeth stumbled along the rocks as the Bo' sun pushed her down the length of a path leading into a large cave, urging her to move faster than she could. They were in a hurry to get somewhere and she was about to find out just where they were headed. As they moved further into the cave, glimmers of gold and silver started to appear along the floor and under the water of the stream running into the cave. The Bo' sun gave her a hard shove into the cave, nearly causing her to topple over. She caught herself and took a look around the naturally formed room. Gold, silver and gems sparkled throughout the room in various forms. There were chalices, necklaces, bracelets, crowns, coins, cutlery and various other pieces scattered about the room with fine linens, swords and chests of varying sizes. It looked as though the treasures had been stored and gathered in the secret location for quite some time. Elizabeth watched as many of the crew piled up more glittering items they had stolen from other ships. It seemed as though they were collecting for one future event. She had never seen so many fine things in one room before. It wasn't as though she wasn't used to fine things, but there seemed to be at least 10 households worth gathered in the pirates' cave.
She felt the Bo'sun give her another hard shove towards Captain Barbossa. She stumbled slightly over a candelabra and Barbossa took her hand to help steady her with a sinister grin on his lips. He led her towards a large chest in the middle of the room made of finely crafted stone. An ominous feeling crept over her as she looked at the pirates gathered in the cave, standing and waiting for their leader to begin. Elizabeth could feel a shiver run down the length of her spine as she tried to remain brave in the face of the large group of men. Her eyes darted around in hopes of searching for an escape as Barbossa started speaking to his men. She listened carefully while forming an escape plan, though she was fairly certain it wouldn't work. Her attention was called back to Barbossa when he kicked the lid of the chest off, sending it crashing to the ground. Elizabeth stared down at the golden coins in the chest and swallowed hard when she heard the phrase 'blood to be paid'.
James Norrington paced the deck of the Interceptor as he awaited any sign of Jack Sparrow, William Turner or Elizabeth coming from the entrance to the cave. He'd somehow allowed Sparrow to convince him to stay aboard the Interceptor and wait for him and Turner to return with Elizabeth. Now, he was regretting it. He didn't like not knowing how the rescue efforts were going nor being part of them. Since Elizabeth's apparent kidnapping, he hadn't been thinking straight at all and seemed to become easily manipulated by the clever pirate. He would give him that at the very least; the man knew how to take advantage of situations.
"Would you sit down or at least make yourself useful? You're starting to make me dizzy with all of your walking around in circles," Anamaria, the only female pirate aboard the ship, piped up.
James looked at her for a moment, regarding her statue and mood before moving away and into the Captain's cabin. He was feeling helpless and it was not sitting well with him. He looked around the cabin, trying to find anything that would pre-occupy his thoughts while they waited. He feared if he continued to dwell on the situation, he would start thinking the worst and that was not what he wanted to think about. He found some charts that Admiral Middleton had left behind and decided that the best use of his time may be to plot where they currently were at sea. There was no record of the island on any of the naval maps and it really was a pointless thing to do but it was a better option to remaining idle.
William Turner ushered Elizabeth into the row boat he and Sparrow had loaded the oars into and pushed off, heading out of the cavern entrance while the pirates inside fought amongst themselves. Their own squabbling proved to be a convenient distraction while the pair of them escaped. Turner had left Sparrow to fend for himself after realising that he was only going to use William as leverage in his own strategy. He was sure that Sparrow cared very little what happened to Elizabeth Swann or him.
The two sat in silence as he rowed towards the ship and dropping the extra oars into the water one by one while Elizabeth clutched her cut hand to her chest, hoping to stem the bleeding. As she moved her hand to tear some fabric from the bottom of her chemise, the medallion fell from her grip and landed with a small thud. William leaned forward and took it before she could pick it up. Forgetting his place for a moment, he looked it over before turning back to the oars and shoving it into a pocket.
"Where did you get that," he asked her, catching her off guard.
"I found it. It was left in my house upon the foyer table. I didn't steal it."
"I didn't mean to say that you did," he trailed off. "It was a gift from my father."
"If I had known, I would have returned it to you." Elizabeth ripped a strip of fabric from the bottom of her chemise and wrapped it tenderly around her hand.
"May I ask you a question?" When Elizabeth nodded her consent, he continued. "Why did you give them my name as your own?"
"It was the only name I thought of that I believed would have very little consequence to them, though I was wrong. My own, Captain Norrington's and Admiral Middleton's, I believed, could have been disastrous given how well they are all known throughout the Caribbean. I thought yours would be safest."
Satisfied with this answer, Turner continued to row towards the Interceptor until they finally reached the ship. He helped Elizabeth up the side of the ship and onto the deck, where she came face to face with the pirate crew. She braced the rail as William pulled himself over the railing and instructed a few members of the crew to assist him with the small boat. She stood frozen in her spot as Turner directed the crew to start away from the island.
"Elizabeth." She heard her name called through the small crowd in a familiar voice. An arm pushed aside one of the pirates and James appeared. Elizabeth felt relief flood and she rushed forward, calling his name quietly to herself before throwing her arms around him. Norrington held her tightly for a moment, longer than strictly appropriate given propriety, just glad to have her near him and alive. It wasn't until one of the members of the crew cleared their throat that the two parted.
"Captain Norrington, we be on our way. Anamaria is at the helm."
"Mister Gibbs?" Elizabeth looked at the man who had spoken to James.
"Thank you Mister Gibbs. That will be all. Keep me informed as to our progress. I am going to see Miss Swann is comfortably situated for the remainder of our journey." He waved Mr. Gibbs off
James led Elizabeth to the Captain's quarters and sat her down in a chair. He took her poorly wrapped hand into his and re-wrapped it with the fabric she had torn from her chemise. Sitting across from her, he tried to be as delicate as possible while still giving it enough pressure to stop the bleeding. She winced slightly in pain causing James to apologize quietly. They were silent, unable to speak a word to each other for the first time since they became acquainted with each other. Elizabeth moved to speak but stopped herself when she noticed James had also moved to speak. They both fell silent, neither one of them speaking their thoughts. It was a few moments before Elizabeth finally spoke up.
"I didn't think you would be here… I mean, not that you wouldn't be but I didn't expect… I mean, Admiral Middleton couldn't possibly have approved… There are pirates…" She trailed off, not able to articulate clearly what she was trying to say.
"No, I suppose he did not approve." A small smile appeared on James's lips as he looked at her. "I felt it was necessary to head out for your rescue immediately and was dissatisfied with his plans."
"You've risked everything…" Elizabeth trailed off again as she realised what it meant. He had given up his position the moment his disobeyed Admiral Middleton. He had done it all to save her. Her emotions conflicted with each other; joy for his implied feelings towards her and sorrow for his loss of station and stature. He had done so much for her and she had nothing to give in return.
"Yes… Well… I did what was necessary in order to protect a subject under the British Crown."
Elizabeth's heart sank as he dismissed his sacrifice as duty. She opened her mouth to speak when one of the crew members burst into the office, quickly apologizing for the interruption.
"The Black Pearl is gaining on us."
James got up quickly from his seat and rushed out of the room with Elizabeth following quickly behind him.
"How is that possible? The Interceptor is the fastest ship in the Caribbean," she shouted.
"You can tell them that when they catch us," Anamaria retorted as she steered the ship towards the shallows in hopes of getting there before the Pearl caught up to them.
"Brace the foreyard!" James shouted as he ran up onto the bridge and took over the wheel from Anamaria.
Mr. Gibbs passed Elizabeth as he shouted at the crew. "Hands aloft to loose t'gallants! With this wind at her stern, she'll carry every sail we've got. Lighten the ship! Stem to stern! Anything we can afford to lose, see that it's lost!"
"That means keep the canons and ammunition and get rid of everything else!" Turner shouted over the noise of the crew. "I have a feeling we may need them." He looked behind the Interceptor, seeing the Pearl closing the gap between the two ships.
Elizabeth followed Will's eye line towards the Black Pearl. She could see the distance between the two ships getting smaller at a very quick pace. It was unnerving to see the black sails taut against the wind and heading straight for them. She turned her eyes to James Norrington, steadfastly steering the ship towards the shallows in hopes of gaining an advantage, but it was clear they weren't going to make it before the Pearl caught up. She ran up the ladder and onto the bridge next to the wheel.
"James, we're not going to make it. The Black Pearl is catching up to us too fast."
"Maybe not, but we have to try." James grabbed the wheel and turned it hard towards the starboard side, trying to reach the shoals as quickly as possible where they Pearl would not be able to follow.
Will looked behind them as the Pearl gained more ground. "Load the guns!" he shouted at the crew before turning to Norrington. "Lower the anchor on the starboard side!"
"What are you thinking?" Norrington asked.
"Surprising them. If we keep on our current course, the Pearl is going to take us on our left side without ever presenting a target. If we club haul, we'll take her by surprise and even the odds."
"You're completely mad, but it just might work. Lower the starboard anchor!" James shouted as he kept the wheel steady.
As the anchor descended to the bottom of the sea, he let go of the wheel causing the ship to swing around and everyone aboard to lose balance. The crew grabbed hold of ropes and rails to keep themselves from falling. Elizabeth reached for the nearest rail but missed and started tumbling towards the port rail. An arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her against a warm body. She looked up and saw James smiling slightly prompting a blush to spread across her cheeks. She reached for the rope he was holding on to, determined to not appear helpless, that she could hold her own aboard the ship. When the ship levelled out, the crew manned their stations and lifted the anchor.
James looked at Elizabeth with apprehension. "Get inside my office and try to remain safe."
"James, I am not going to cower and hide while everyone else is fighting." Elizabeth grabbed one the guns a crew member was carrying past her to emphasise her point. He sighed and relented, knowing that even if he forbade her from helping, she would anyway.
"Alright, but stay out of danger as best you can." James took the rifle being handed to him by Turner. The Black Pearl sailed along their side. "Steady men!"
Once the ships were aligned, William Turner shouted "Fire!"
Cannon shots rang out through the area as both ships fired their cannons. Pistols and rifles fired at random intervals as each person shot and reloaded as quickly and accurately as they could. Elizabeth ducked under the cover of the starboard side as she reloaded her rifle. Norrington was quickly at her side, soon joined by Turner and Gibbs.
"We could use a few more ideas," Gibbs stated to the small group. "We need us a devil's dowry."
"I know what they're after," Turner trailed off and glanced over at the crew of the Black Pearl. None of them were ready to give up and their ammunition seemed to be in an unlimited supply.
"The medallion? Where is it?" Elizabeth asked.
Without giving an answer, Turner left the group in a puzzled state. Norrington encouraged them to continue fighting, not ready to wave the white flag though they had no hope of winning. A loud boom made Elizabeth start before turning her head to see that the mast had been severed, landing on the deck and creating a bridge across to the Pearl. Crew from the Pearl swung over, engaging the Interceptor's crew into sword fights. James unsheathed his small sword as he stood and went about trying to protect his ship and its current crew. People were fighting in every portion of the ship and as hard as they tried, they were not doing well. They were losing this battle; that much was clear.