Moon Madness 3
Author's Note: I have decided to write more to this story. And I have been working on a new POTC story as well – so far its 43 pages (18,000 words) - when its finished I'll post it.
Will worked in the forge; his arm swinging methodically at the red hot metal but his mind was elsewhere. How had Elizabeth known it was a werewolf? And more worrisome, what could he do about it? He just couldn't tell her, could he? He could just imagine the scene in his head. He could practically see the two figures in the burning fire, he and Elizabeth.
"Elizabeth, I love you, but there's something I have to tell you." Will said as he nervously fidgeted, his stomach a roiling mass of nerves. "I…I don't know how to say it though. I'm afraid if I tell you, I'd loose you forever…"
Elizabeth looked dreamily at him. "You can tell me anything, Will. You know that. I don't care if you're a blacksmith instead of a wealthy lord or from a well-known family. You have a good heart and you saved me from those pirates. It's all I need to know."
"I have to tell you before we're wed. It's only fair." Will reached out and held Elizabeth in his arms, pulling her close against his body. Her perfume was sweet in his nose and her hair soft against his cheek. He was truly happy, but his happiness was bittersweet, as he feared it would soon end. Yet his honor and moral center demanded he inform her of his lycanthrope. It was the proper thing to do even if it was tearing him up inside. Taking a deep breath, he pulled up his courage. "My father has a rare disease and well, I have it as well…"
Her brown eyes widened in surprise and then a worried expression appeared. "Oh, Will! You're not sick, are you? Please tell me you're not! Father could always get a doctor…."
"No, Elizabeth, it's not that kind of illness…" Will quickly added as he hushed her words. "It's … it's nothing doctors can cure or even treat. It's not a normal illness. Most people don't even believe it's real…"
"What do you mean, not a normal illness?" Elizabeth asked, truly puzzled. "What is it then?"
Will allowed his arms to drop from around her and he stepped a few paces away, turning his back. He knew telling her would be difficult, but now that he had brought the subject up, he didn't want to. He feared his words would cause her to run straight to the Commodore's arms. At least he was a normal human with no supernatural curses. "You said earlier that the dog that had chased you…
"The werewolf you mean…" She corrected, still clearly puzzled. Then her brown eyes widened in shock and a hand rose to cover her mouth.
"I have lycanthrope." He finally said as he turned to face her once again. "It was I that chased you…"
"No! It can't be!" She cried as she stumbled backward away from him, her eyes filled with anguish and fear. "You can't be that horrible beast! It just can't be so!"
"I love you, Elizabeth, but I can't stop being a werewolf!"
Elizabeth turned on her heel and fled, her footsteps fading with every step until silence met his ears.
Will awoke from his sad fantasy, shaking his head. Telling her would never work, yet he knew he must. Yet he didn't want to loose her or lie to her.
If only she weren't afraid of the beast!
But she was. Her running and screaming that first night had proven that. What he needed was some advice or at least an idea. But nothing came to mind, nothing at all. There was no way he could change the beast's physical appearance. And she was far too smart. She had already been saying it was a werewolf. What if she figured it out on her own before he could tell her? She may hate him for that, for keeping secrets. Then he would loose her for sure.
At least his deception last night had worked. From the excited whispers floating around town, he knew more than half the townsfolk thought he was Norrington's dog and that the Commodore had thought up a clever scheme to win her back. In other words, they believed Beckett's lies. But did Lord Beckett really believe that or did he just say it in public? Needless to say, he needed to be extra careful when he transformed less he found himself caught in some trap. He had been far too foolish last night and had allowed too many people to see him clearly. Even now the marines were out searching for the dog.
James Norrington stared down at the large, partly roasted pig that sat on his kitchen floor. Large puncture marks from the wild beast's teeth were plainly evident in the thick pork skin and it truly concerned him that something that could do that was running around Port Royal loose. How dare Lord Beckett say it was his dog? His false accusations made James' blood boil. When Elizabeth had declared her love for the blacksmith at the hanging, he had graciously stepped aside. And to now say that he would stoop so low with a wild scheme, why, it was insane! Worst, for unknown reasons, the wild deformed beast had moved to sit at his feet, making Beckett's lies look real. He had already heard the excited gossip that was spreading around town faster than ship's scuttlebutt. And it was spreading there as well. Soon the entire fleet would hear of it. He was forced to catch the thing to save his own reputation if nothing else.
After Beckett had ordered him to take the ruined roast home for his dog, that's exactly what he had done. It had taken many marines to lift the heavy carcass and place it into a wagon. A thick layer of canvas had been placed on his floor to save it from drippings and grease, but with the tropical heat he feared it would go bad quickly. But hopefully it would serve as bait. The creature had been clearly starving the way it had wolfed down entire roasted chickens, bones and all.
But how had it known what Beckett had said? Was the beast really Lord Beckett's dog? No one had seen it in town until he had arrived.
Unless it really was a werewolf…
James frowned at the thought. He preferred being sensible and rational, but he had seen the undead pirates. They had been real, not imaginary. He had also seen the creature clearly last night, its body too human-like. In many ways it had appeared more human than wolf and he didn't know how in the world Lord Beckett had convinced so many people it had been a dog! They must have been desperate to even believe that, for accepting the alternative – a werewolf – would require much bravery. People were very good at ignoring things they didn't want to face.
He hauled the kitchen window open to allow the pig smell outside. His plan was to wait until nightfall and then try to recapture the beast once it hopefully climbed in to eat the tasty porker. Placing a hand over his nose, James fled to the other room, shutting the kitchen door securely. The meat was already starting to go sour and he wished the sun could move more quickly across the sky. Alas, it would be many hours yet and the hottest part of the day was still to come.
If the creature truly was a werewolf, then who could it be? James prized himself on having a sharp mind and a gift for command. Figuring the werewolf's identity shouldn't be too difficult. Twice it had appeared and had gone after Elizabeth. At the party it had come right up to her, placing its large paws on their combined shoulders. So, who besides him loved Elizabeth?
"Turner…" James said as he stopped dead in his tracks. No, it couldn't be! The werewolf was something new in Port Royal and Turner had lived here since he was a young boy. Yet, Elizabeth had said she had first seen the thing in the blacksmith shop…
James hadn't asked what she had been doing sneaking out to the forge at such an ungodly hour. Truthfully, he didn't want to know.
Then a new worry gripped him and he dashed upstairs to his bedroom. His fingers flew over the buttons of his uniform until he had then all unbuttoned, his bare chest visible. Staring into the mirror, he lifted a finger to gently probe at the tiny red spots on his upper chest. The dog had partly stuck its nails into his skin when it had knocked him down the first night, just breaking the skin. It was a very minor wound, no more serious than a paper cut really, but wound it was.
All werewolf stories stressed how contagious it was…
Fear gripped James and he stood stock still staring at himself in the mirror, his heart pumping wildly in his chest as he breathed through his open mouth. Was some strange disease even now growing within him? His logical mind wanted to dismiss it as childish fears, but he found it incredibly difficult to do. Stepping closer to the mirror, he peered at his eyes carefully. They looked as green as always, the white area normal as can be. True, his face was a tad pale but that could be from fright. Next he opened his mouth and pulled up his upper lip, half expecting to see sharp canines. The thing had possessed truly awful teeth, long and sharp enough to rend flesh easily. But to James' relief, his teeth were ordinary as any other human's. Fearing it was too late for any preventive treatment, James picked up a cake of soap and dipped it into the metal basin of water that was on his dresser. He would carefully clean the wounds even though they looked perfectly fine.
Finished, he re-buttoned his clothing properly and headed downstairs. Unless Elizabeth had a secret admirer, then it was most likely that Mr. Turner was the werewolf. He would go confront him on the subject.
Will was still worried about his problem and hadn't gotten anywhere. At least Mr. Brown wasn't in today to spy on him. The man had taken to not even bothering coming in lately; he wasn't sure why. In fact, he hadn't seen him in a long time and the young apprentice blacksmith suspected he was on a drinking binge. His arm swung at the metal, steadily pounding it into the shape required. He was so busy that he never heard the door creak open as a figure slipped within, but he did feel the cool breeze blowing on his sweaty bare back. It was so hot and stuffy in the forge that Will had removed his shirt and worked bare-chested. Hoping it wasn't Elizabeth coming to visit him, for it would be improper for a woman to see him without a shirt on; he nervously turned to see whom it was. To his surprise, it was Commodore Norrington.
What does he want?
Worry bit at him and Will wiped sweat from his brow to give him a moment to calm himself, his arm momentarily blocking his expression. His face became blank and he looked innocently at the Navy man. "Commodore, what can I do for you?"
Beads of sweat were already appearing on the Commodore's face and he pulled out a white hanky to wipe his forehead. "Mr. Turner, I have a few questions to ask you…"
"Oh?" Will remarked, trying very hard to look his most innocent. "About what? Do you need more parts for your ships perhaps?"
"The ships are fine, Mr. Turner." James replied smoothly as more sweat ran down his face and down his back. He would have preferred to go outside, but people might overhear there, so he was forced to suffer through the incredibly high heat. Most people avoided the forge for that very reason when Will was busy working. "I do require some information about that dog that's been constantly chasing Miss Swann for the last two nights. She remarked the first time she saw it, it had been in here…"
"I suppose Mr. Brown left the door open…" Will replied smoothly. "He's been having some … problems these last few years. I'm sure you know that. You can look around if you'd like, of course."
James stared at the young blacksmith, noticing his firm muscles and pondered if he would be capable of carrying an entire pig. It had seemed very reasonable when he had been alone but now that he was confronting the young man, he feared appearing crazy. What if Will wasn't a werewolf at all? Was he just blaming him because he had stolen Elizabeth away from him, embarrassed him in public? It had been utterly shameful to have Elizabeth loudly declare she'd rather marry a blacksmith than him. "Thank you, Mr. Turner. I will do just that."
The Commodore turned and started poking about the blacksmith shop, doing his best to stay away from the heat of the working forge. The donkey was in one piece and seemed uninjured. If the young man truly were a werewolf, wouldn't he have attacked the donkey? He didn't bite Elizabeth or me though…so perhaps the donkey meant nothing. "You haven't seen it yet, have you?"
"No, I haven't." Will replied as he idly watched the older man look around. The Commodore was wasting his time, of course. He wasn't stupid enough to leave any clues behind and he always ate all the bones. The fur went back into his body so there wasn't any of that lying about, either. He relaxed slightly, his muscles becoming looser.
"Would you tell me if you did?"
"Of course I would!" Will exclaimed loudly. "Unlike you, Commodore, I have to stay in here most of the day doing my work. I have orders to fulfill and Mr. Brown doesn't help any at all."
James stepped into the far corner that was filled with hay, most likely the donkey's feed. There was a faint rank smell, one he couldn't quite place but it was difficult to smell it over the stink of red hot metal. One minute it was in his nose quite plain and then it was gone. He stared at the hay trying to see any shape to it, if an animal had made a lair in that location but it was useless. Sighing, the Commodore turned around and returned to where the blacksmith waited. He studied Will's face for a moment and saw only innocence. He took a deep breath, the scorching air painfully hot in his lungs and wondered if he was crazy. "Mr. Turner, there is a rumor about werewolves going around town. Miss Swann, for one, is convinced the beast is a werewolf. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"
"What? Do you think I change into the beast at night and chase Elizabeth?" Will laughed, tickled at the chance to tell the truth but in a joking manner.
"Do you?" James countered, his mind still worrying about the little scratches on his chest. He was sure he could feel them tingling oddly beneath his layers of clothing or was that his imagination?
Will snickered. "If I did, would you expect me to tell the truth?"
"I've never known you to lie, Mr. Turner." James countered, sighing. It was clear Will was avoiding answering the question, which didn't bode well for him. "Then let me rephrase the question. Did you attend Lord Beckett's party last night?"
"No, of course not. I wasn't invited." Will answered quickly as he walked the few steps to work the bellows. While they had been talking the fire had been burning low and he needed it red hot to do his work properly. Truthfully, he didn't like Commodore Norrington's questions as it suggested the man knew too much. "You didn't see me there, did you?"
"No, but I saw the beast that is following Miss Swann. Besides myself, you're the only other person in this town that loves her." James admitted as he felt the heat start to increase again just as the room had cooled a few degrees. "Mr. Turner, must you do that? It's hotter than the native spicy food in here."
"Well, I have my work to do…." Will shrugged apologetically as the bellows whooshed and the fire shot upward once again. "Elizabeth never understands that I have orders to get out on time as her days are her own, but I expect you to, Commodore. And yes, I love her. And I'd gladly risk my life for her again or even one hundred times if that's what is required."
"I understand you have orders to fulfill, but I have a dangerous beast on the loose and it's my job to solve that mystery." James pulled out his hanky again and wiped at his brow, drops of sweat painfully stinging his eyes. His entire body felt wet and his layers of clothing were far too stifling, his white shirt glued to his back under his various jackets. Although he could see sunlight shining in through cracks in the walls, it did little to let in a refreshing breeze. His wig would stink from sweat and he frowned. Navy officers were expected to be clean and proper all the time and that went double for Commodores. Tucking the hanky into a pocket, he unbuttoned his frock coat in an attempt to relieve the intense heat. At times like this, he envied Will's ability to walk around half undressed. "The beast is dangerous, is it not?"
"What do you intend to do with it if you catch it?" Will asked, a little worried.
"That depends what sort of beast it is. Or who it is."
Will stared at James as he finished unbuttoning his frock coat and casually leaned against the nearby wall. The way he was standing there, it gave him the impression that he was planning on staying put. "What are you doing?"
"Waiting." James replied. "I'm waiting for the sun to go down and the moon to rise."
Then James removed his fancy Commodore's jacket and neatly laid it across a nearby sword rack. Although his face was expressionless, he secretly gloated at the blacksmith's shocked expression. He was still sure Mr. Turner was the logical suspect for the beast, especially since Will hadn't answered some of the questions.
"So you're going to stay here…" Will asked, panic starting to grow within his chest. If James stayed, he'd discover the truth and then what would he do? His eyes darted about the older man's uniform and he noticed the sword and pistol. Not that a bullet from a pistol would injure him very much. His wounds healed very quickly and he could recover from most anything. Would the Commodore hang him for being a lycanthrope? Was hanging a lycanthrope even possible? Truthfully, he didn't know and he didn't want to find out! And he most certainly didn't want the entire town to find out his furry secret.
"Of course. It seems the only prudent path to clearing you as you refuse to answer my questions…" James unbuttoned his frock coat and removed it, then did the same for his neck scarf. "However do you stand this heat, Mr. Turner? It's enough to die from heat stroke…"
"I'm used to it I'm afraid." Will admitted as he nervously bit his bottom lip. He had been looking forward to another romp, as it would relieve some of his stress from his problem with Elizabeth. He still had no clue how to tell her his secret. No matter how he twisted it around, he knew that she would be frightened…
An idea sparked to life just as the bellows made his forge fire grow. But it was insane, totally crazy. As he saw the problem, its main obstacle was Elizabeth's fear of the beast. While he was a werewolf he couldn't speak English and she didn't understand his howling. She apparently took one look at his big mouth of sharp teeth and immediately thought he wanted to eat her and that was untrue. He loved her and would never harm her. But James could help him with that…
Of course, that meant telling him the truth…
Will sighed and wiped his sweating brow again. "Commodore, would you help me with a problem if I help you with your problem?"
James raised his green eyes from where he had been staring down at the floor, his fingers unconsciously scratching at the now itchy wounds on his chest. He realized what he was doing, scratching himself in public, and quickly yanked his hand away. "So you do know something about the beast…?"
"You'll not arrest me if I tell you?" Will asked cautiously, knowing full well he had already said too much to stop now. "And you promise to help me with a problem?"
"What sort of problem?" James asked, sure now the problem had to do with the beast. "And I'll not arrest you if you've not done anything that deserves arresting. You haven't, have you?"
"No." Will replied honestly. He hadn't exactly stolen those cooked chickens at Beckett's party; they had been there for people to eat and so he had ate them. He certainly didn't feel guilty for that. "It's Elizabeth. I have a secret and I don't know how to tell her…."
James narrowed his green eyes and stared at Turner. He remembered the first time he had seen the so-called dog, how it had leaped on him and had knocked him to the floor and then bounded into his house. "You didn't run through my house the other night, did you? And through the Fort?"
"Maybe." Will admitted sheepishly, his facing turning slightly pinkish. "But only part of your house."
"And that thing last night? What was that supposed to be?" James demanded, pleased that finally Will was confessing he was indeed a werewolf, even if he hadn't actually used those words. "You had scared me to death, putting those paws on Elizabeth and I."
"Oh! I was trying to dance with Elizabeth…."
James started laughing, his whole body shaking. The very idea of a werewolf trying to dance at Lord Beckett's party…!
"I had promised Elizabeth if I attended I would!" Will cried, his face red from shame. "And well, I don't know how to dance. That and I was a tad tipsy from lapping up Governor Swann's drink, whatever it was!"
Will made a sour expression as he remembered the awful taste of the amber liquid and James laughed even harder. He had never heard of anyone getting drunk from a single small glass of brandy.
"Now that I have solved your mystery, do you plan on keeping your word and helping me? I don't want Elizabeth to be scared of me when I'm a werewolf…." Will's heart thudded crazily as he had no idea what the other man intended to do. He wet his lips nervously and started to speak again. "I thought since Lord Beckett told everyone I was your dog, that well, maybe…"
As Will had said the word werewolf, James laughter died. Suddenly it wasn't very funny anymore, especially not since he received those little wounds on his chest. And then another realization clicked in and his emotions tumbled about wildly. "Mr. Turner, are you telling me Miss Swann turned down my marriage proposal to marry a dog?"
"Yes, but she doesn't know…"
James groaned. It had been bad enough to be beaten by a blacksmith, but a dog? That was truly degrading and he wanted to sink through the floor and disappear.
"She doesn't know I eat rats out in the fields, either…" Will admitted.
The Commodore turned pale, his mouth gaping open in shock. "You eat rats?"
"They're tasty enough I suppose, although dry and stringy. Now that chicken yesterday was truly mouth-watering!" Will licked his lips as he remembered the plump roasted birds. They had been everything he had dreamed chicken to be and more.
"And so now you want to pretend you're my dog? Does that require us to be near each other when you a … werewolf?" James asked nervously, sure that the answer would be yes. Truthfully, he wasn't crazy about being around a werewolf at all. It was insane to say the least. Werewolves were dangerous everyone knew that. And there was the little matter of the rumor Beckett had started. He didn't want people to think the creature was his dog. Yet he couldn't allow it to roam the streets freely, either.
"Yes, of course!" Will rolled his eyes. "I want you to show Elizabeth that I'm not dangerous."
James eyed the younger man uncertainly. He was no coward but he didn't want to risk his neck foolishly, either. And did he really want to help Will smooth over his problem with Miss Swann? If he didn't, it was possible he'd win her back and he desired that very much. "You'll not bite me? Can you control yourself when you're a werewolf?"
"Yes, I've been roaming around Port Royal as a werewolf for a long time now, much longer than you think. I've never bitten or attacked anyone. I've only chased Elizabeth because I love her. I smell her scent and I go a little crazy, but I wouldn't bite her. Of course, not all werewolves are that way. Many are very vicious."
Sighing, James knew he had little choice. As Commodore it was his duty to make certain Port Royal was free of danger and that apparently included roaming werewolves. "Very well, Mr. Turner. Come to my home tonight and there's something for you in the kitchen."
"Really?" Will gawked at him in surprise.
James picked up his two jackets. "Yes, and the kitchen window's open. As you can jump over walls I'm sure you can leap through a window…"
James fled from the intense heat of the blacksmith shop, the cooler air outside hitting him with a false artic chill. It felt incredibly refreshing but the coolness fled quickly for it wasn't really cool outside at all. Frowning, he pulled on his fancy Commodore jacket again, looking up and down the street to see if any noisy eyes were watching him. It wouldn't really do to be seen socializing with Turner and there were enough rumors floating about the way it was. Moving onto the shady side of the street, he headed back towards Fort Charles.
Had he just agreed to keep a werewolf as a type of pet? How in the world had Turner convinced him of that? It was insane! Nor could he rightfully allow Elizabeth to marry a werewolf! That … that was outrageous! His frown deepened as he could imagine her giving birth to puppies! It would be the scandal to end all scandals! Governor Swann would be furious if he ever found out! James knew that Weatherby really didn't care for the blacksmith all that much anyway. All it would take was one word to the man and Turner would be no longer engaged…
To think Elizabeth would rather marry a werewolf than me…
Then a new thought surfaced in his mind, something a tad more disturbing.
Is that why Elizabeth loves Turner so much, because he is a werewolf? Did he give off some scent or something while in human form that she found attractive?
James arrived at the Fort and did some of the paperwork waiting on his desk, slowly waiting for the hours to tick by. He knew exactly when the sun would set and when the moon would rise. As the time grew closer, he grew more nervous. Doubt bit at him and the plan looked more foolhardy every minute. How could he have actually invited a werewolf into his home? He should have taken Turner and locked him up in a cell, that's what he should have done. And surely it was his duty to tell Governor Swann of the young man's illness…
If Elizabeth married Turner, surely she'd catch the lycanthrope as well…
It would be horrible, a true tragedy.
With a final glance at the clock, James rose to his feet and headed home. He had bought the home in preparation for getting married, but now he lived in it alone with no waiting bride. The more he thought about being turned down in favor of a dog, the more depressing it became. Well, perhaps Turner would put him out of his misery tonight. Reaching his house, James unlocked the front door and entered. It was like stepping into Turner's shop, the air hot and stifling. He quickly opened the windows and hoped the cool evening air would blow through to cool the rooms. There was still a bit of light left in the sky but it would fade soon as night fell. Lighting a lantern, James gathered a few tools. Will has said he had never harmed anyone, but he didn't know if he should believe that. All the stories he had ever heard said that werewolves were bloodthirsty beasts that delighted in killing.
James spent another nervous hour pacing, every so often listening near the kitchen door. Then he heard a loud thump and he cautiously opened the door a crack, his eye to the narrow opening. The same ugly beast from the last two nights was in his kitchen sniffing at the pig carcass. The room stank something awful and he feared that the werewolf would prefer something fresher, meaning himself, but it bent its head and started to eat. Once it was fully occupied with its meal, James opened the door wider and crept in. Glowing golden eyes watched him as it continued tearing hunks of pork off the dead partially roasted carcass.
"Lord, how am I supposed to convince Elizabeth you're not dangerous?" James had his back pressed to the wall, his heart thudding in his chest. A small leather belt dangled from one hand. His idea had been to slip the belt around the creature's neck so he could walk it like a dog, but seeing it again, well, it seemed ridiculous. With growing dismay he watched the pig disappear until nothing was left but some bits of congealed grease on the canvas and then that was licked up as well.
The werewolf stood, stretching. Then it slowly padded on two feet towards him, its sharp claws clicking against his waxed floor. It was obvious it had no trouble keeping its balance and it was growing closer with each step. James wanted to flee, but he feared if he did it would just chase him. And catch him.
Was the thing really Turner?
Then it took the belt from his limp hand and secured it around its own neck.
"Elizabeth is never going to believe you're a dog…" James finally said as he found his voice. "Even if you are wearing a collar…"
He certainly didn't believe it.
A few tense minutes ticked by and James slowly relaxed somewhat as the werewolf made no move to kill him. He slipped out of the kitchen and the werewolf followed him. James found the lead where he had left it on a side table and snapped it onto the collar. The entire event was so bizarre that he couldn't actually believe it was happening. Yet he couldn't let him run loose, either. Finding his voice once more, he stared at the werewolf. "Are you going to behave, Mr. Turner? I don't appreciate being dragged through the grass."
Will replied by pulling him towards the front door and James noted he had no problem gripping the knob with his human-like hands. The door swung open and James was soon pulled outside onto his porch. It was dark outside, something he was thankful for. He had purchased a house in a nice, respectable neighborhood and the last thing he wanted was to be seen with such an ugly dog, especially since it looked more human than canine. Most of the nearby homes were dark, no candles glowing in their windows. The moon glowed above, the shining bright orb full and round. The werewolf soon pulled him off the porch and down onto the dirt road. They walked a bit and he was relieved that Turner was obviously behaving himself, walking in an odd four-legged gait.
Then the werewolf stopped, his nose held up in the air as his nostrils moved.
James yelled as the werewolf darted forward without warning, charging down the dirt road at full speed.
"Heel! Heel!" James cried as he was pulled along behind the galloping werewolf, dry dirt flying into his face as he was dragged along behind Turner. The loop of the lead was caught around James' wrist and he clung to the strong strip of leather with both hands. "Stop! That's an order!"
Instead Will loped off the road into someone's yard, pulling James through some bushes. Leaves slapped him in his face and he closed his eyes less he loose one. Then they were past the shrubs and he opened his green eyes again to see the stone blocks of a house passing in a wild blur. "Heel!"
And to his shock Turner stopped. He sat on his haunches and gazed upward, his long snout pointing towards the night sky.
James lay perfectly still for a few seconds, his arms aching and his knuckles white from clinging to the lead so tightly. Slowly he pushed himself up to his hands and knees, the lead still tight in one hand. No matter what Turner did, he was determined to hang onto the lead so the werewolf wouldn't be running around Port Royal on his own. James slowly climbed to his feet, testing that his limbs were intact and nothing broken. Pressing a hand against the still-warm side of the nearby house, he took a moment to study where they were. He could see the sea from here and the familiar large rocks thrusting up into the air. Then he glanced down at himself and frowned. His fine clothing was a mess. Dirt and tiny holes marred his fine outfit and he doubted if it could be salvaged at all. Turner was turning out to be a very expensive pet to say the least. "You are the most ill-behaved dog I have ever seen…"
The werewolf didn't spare even a glance in his direction. Instead it was gazing upward at an open window on the second floor. It was a double window that swung outward on hinges, a white curtain flapping slowly in a gentle breeze. A trellis led from the window down to the brick path they stood on. And then it dawned on the Commodore exactly where they were and his green eyes widened in panic. "No, you are not climbing up there…!"
James tightened his grip on the lead and leaned backward, pulling with all his strength. His black buckle shoes slid on the smooth bricks and couldn't gain much of a purchase; still he tried valiantly to pull the werewolf away. "Come!"
Elizabeth lounged in bed, one of her favorite pirate books open on her lap. She had hoped reading the familiar tale would relax her but it wasn't working. She kept thinking of the werewolf that had chased her for two nights in a row. How had it known she was at the party? If it weren't midsummer and so incredibly hot, she would keep her window locked. Every few minutes she kept glancing at the wide opening, movement catching her attention – but it was just the curtain flapping in the breeze. Her nerves were strung tight and any little thing would make her jump in fright. Her maid had already come and gone for the night, so she would be alone until morning, an eternity away. She didn't understand why the werewolf kept following her instead of someone else. It made no sense. She just couldn't see who the werewolf could be and why it was so fixated on her. So many people came to Port Royal that it would be impossible to guess the identity of some stranger. Clearly no one she knew could behave like that!
Then a voice caught her attention. Oddly, it seemed to be coming from outside. Elizabeth knew there was nothing out there, just her father's large backyard and further off the cliff near the sea.
Crawling out of bed quickly, her book tumbling to the floor, Elizabeth ran to her open window and stuck her upper body out to see who was down in her yard. The wind blew her loose tresses into her eyes and she shoved it away with a hand to see more clearly. To her shock, she saw Commodore Norrington and that awful beast! He had the thing on a lead like one would a dog and he was clearly shouting at it to listen to him. She remembered Lord Beckett's words from the night before and how the creature had sat dutifully at James' feet. Was Lord Beckett correct after all? Had her former fiancé bought himself a truly ugly werewolf in an effort to win her back? She couldn't believe that such a thing could be true. She trusted James and he had always been one of her dear friends. And she had worried about him after the creature had dragged him off into the darkness of Beckett's yard. Her father had reassured her he was perfectly fine, but then her father didn't believe it was a werewolf!
Couldn't James see it was a werewolf?
Spotting her, the werewolf leaped upward and stuck its sharp claws into the trellis.
Shrieking, Elizabeth stumbled backward away from the window, the curtain somehow clinging to her sweat-damp body. She thrashed wildly at the clinging lacy fabric with her arms until she fell free. She was wearing just a thin summer nightgown, one her father would not approve of, but then he had never seen it. She now regretted her choice, as the thin material wouldn't provide any protection from the werewolf's teeth and claws. She could hear it now, the wood of the trellis creaking, its loud breathing growing nearer and nearer. Taking another step backward, Elizabeth tripped over her pirate book and fell to the floor, her head bumping against the mattress.
The werewolf's ugly snout appeared in her window the, its clawed hands gripping the thick window frame. It lunged into her room then and Elizabeth just managed to roll out of its way. Shrieking, she climbed over her bed to the other side with a speed she didn't know she possessed. Landing with a thump on the other side, she stared at the monster that was now in her bedroom. Its evil golden eyes were locked onto her and she feared any moment it would leap, its teeth surely aiming for her bare throat. The lead trailing from its collar trembled and then James hoisted himself through the open window. He landed on her bedroom floor and securely gripped the lead, clearly trying to hold it away from her.
The werewolf lunged around the bed then, cutting off her exit to the bedroom door. Shrieking, she leaped up onto the bed, ran across it towards James and leaped into his arms. He caught her and she quickly darted behind him. The werewolf, of course, quickly ran towards James as well. Elizabeth saw it running around James' right side to get her, so she ran around to his left side only to have the beast follow. Turner was so eager to catch Elizabeth than he outran her and passed her up, the lead wrapping itself around James and Elizabeth until they were more or less tied together.
Satisfied he had caught her at last, Turner sat down on her bedroom floor and stared at her, wet tongue hanging out of his mouth to drip slobber on her nice clean floor.
"Is that thing yours?" Elizabeth demanded to know in a firm voice, her body pressed against James' chest. Standing sideways to where the thing sat, she could see it all too clearly. It looked monstrous, like a human body covered in animal fur and sporting a wolf's head. The head was far the worst with those sharp long teeth and she couldn't help shivering even though the room was hot and somewhat stuffy.
"No, of course not!" James replied, his heart skipping a beat at the accusing words. This is what he had feared would happen! "I caught it earlier tonight, with the pig that Lord Beckett had donated as bait since it was already ruined. I hadn't counted on it being so strong, though, and dragging me all the way here…"
Elizabeth stared at him, a disbelieving expression on her face. "You just happened to catch a werewolf…"
Heat flushed James' face. "I swear, Elizabeth, it gorged itself on the entire pig. It was easy to capture then…."
"Then where are your men, Commodore?" She asked. "Why didn't you have them with you to transfer it into a cage to better control it? Lord knows you have an entire fort full of marines and navy. Or is it one of your men?"
"No, it's not one of my men." James replied honestly, knowing full well the situation was bad in several ways. More significant than Elizabeth's suspicions was the fact that he was in her bedroom. James had no doubts that Governor Swann would appear at any moment to see what the entire ruckus was about. If he were caught in her room at such an ungodly hour, well, he knew it would be very bad for him. He may even be arrested and thrown in jail, loose his commission. How long would it take the older man to grab his night robe, a candle or lantern…? "I do fear that the beast is in love with you, Elizabeth…"
"That is in love with me?" She exclaimed, shocked beyond words. Her eyes widened in fear as she stared at the horrible werewolf that was sitting on her floor still. Her face paled and she leaned heavily against James' strong chest. "No, it cannot be! Why does it just sit there, watching us? Why doesn't it get it over with?"
A chill of dread shot through James as heard fast, heavy footsteps approaching in the hall. If he were caught it may be the end of a career he had worked hard to achieve. "Please, Elizabeth, I beg you. Do not say we are here…"
Realizing her father was coming; Elizabeth struggled to free herself from the leather lead that held her trapped. To her utter astonishment, the werewolf itself unsnapped the lead from the collar and then crawled beneath her bed. Tearing the lead free, Elizabeth shoved at James with her hands, pushing him towards the bed as well. Under it was truly the only place to hide in the entire room as her wardrobe was packed full with the many expensive dresses her father constantly bought her. A clawed hand shot out from under the bed and she yelped in fright as it gripped James by his coat and yanked him under.
Scrambling, she hurried into bed and tried to arrange the covers to hide her somewhat scandalous but cool nightgown. The very next instant her bedroom door flew open and her worried father appeared, a lit lantern in one hand.
"Elizabeth, are you all right? I heard you scream…" Governor Swann said as he held the light high and swung it around the room.
"I had a nightmare, Father." Elizabeth said as she flickered her fan in one hand, the little gusts of wind blowing the fine hairs around her face.
"Oh, Elizabeth! Are you still obsessing about werewolves?" Weatherby sighed as he moved closer to her bed and sat on the edge. "You heard Lord Beckett last night. He declared it was a dog. I admit it looked rather, ummm, peculiar and I can certainly understand why it would give you nightmares, but I assure you dogs can't climb. You are very safe here in your room."
James lay perfectly still under the bed in a layer of dust, frightened to move. The werewolf had its arm around him tightly, holding him against its furry body. It made sense in a way as there was barely enough room under the piece of furniture for both of them. Still, he hated the hot foul breath that was blowing in his face. He was counting the minutes until he could crawl away from it, but Weatherby was making no motions to leave!
Why had he ever agreed to this crazy scheme?
A sharp pain exploded in his cheek and he slapped at his face with a hand he managed to bring forward without the Governor seeing it.
Drat Turner had fleas!
Serving in the Navy for countless years he was used to many adverse conditions, but fleas were not one of them. Even the sloppiest deckhand was free of biting parasites.
The fleas must have been biting Turner as well as he somehow twisted his leg around to start kicking himself in the face, the leg thumping quickly with a rhythmic motion. Fur and fleas flew through the air to land on James' face. The Commodore scrunched his green eyes shut and covered his nose with his hand, hissing in a soft whisper. "Stop that!"
But the werewolf didn't stop. Instead it kicked more vigorously until long strands of saliva flew from the beast's mouth onto his companion under the bed. The vibrations traveled through the floor and up into the bed, causing it to rattle. The few knickknacks Elizabeth had on her desk started moving across the surface, heading towards the edge.
"Earthquake!" Governor Swann shouted in alarm as he felt the bed shaking. Grabbing his daughter, he hauled her out of the bed and shoved her into the bedroom doorway.
Terrified of being caught, James reached out and gripped Will's back foot, holding it still. His face was covered in disgusting wet slobber and he could feel the fleas crawling into his uniform to bite him. The kicking had also raised a cloud of dust and now he was struggling not to sneeze. Will was apparently having the same problem as he snuck his cold, wet nose against James' neck so he wouldn't have to breath the dust.
"Oh, it looks like it's over." Weatherby signed with relief. "No matter how long we've lived here, Elizabeth, I'll never get used to the very ground moving under my feet. It's just not normal…"
Elizabeth was pale and so Weatherby led her back to her bed. "Rest, my dear. And do try to get some sleep."
With that said, Governor Swann left the room and closed the door behind him.
To be continued…