Hey there everyone. I haven't written a new chapter for this fic in like… forever. Trying to do everything with just two days off a week is hard. Suck it up I suppose. I must say that this story is progressing quite nicely and I am just about to introduce Scar's new suitor. I have been playing around with her character a bit but I don't want to give away too much information except that she is the exact opposite to Armeria.
Wanted does not belong to me but to Matsuri Hino.
Southland burned like a raging inferno. Orange and red flames reached high into the night sky, disguising the stars with its mighty glow. Heavy black smoke polluted the air and suffocated everyone caught in its path. Destruction and carnage lay everywhere as stalls and shops burned, one by one like wooden matchsticks. The terrified screams and shouts of frightened townspeople were drowned out by the deafening roar of the many fires. Some were running for cover, others were trying, hopelessly to put out some of the smaller fires with buckets of water, hoping to save some part of their beloved town.
Armeria, Scar and Miles ran down the dock and into the burning town. The crew not far behind them. They dodged burning wood and scorching brick while trying to carve a path through the panicked crowd.
'Out of the way.' Scar screamed he tried to push through.
'Scar,' Armeria coughed. 'We have to help them.'
'At this rate, the whole town will be engulfed.' Miles muffled through his hand.
'Oh my God.' Armeria coughed as she inhaled the smoke in the air. It was thick and pungent. She looked at the destruction around her. Everything was up in flames. The temperature rising by the second. She heard a pained cry just ahead of where she was standing and watched, helplessly as a young man tried desperately to save his shop, well what was left of it anyway. She wanted to cry. But she knew it was useless. 'This is awful.'
'Watch out Armeria.' Scar screamed and she suddenly found herself on her back with Scar above her. The wind knocked out of her.
'Bloody woman. Watch out next time.' Scar growled. Worry and anger crossing his handsome features. He helped her up and she looked past his shoulder. Where she had been previously standing now was a burning pile of roof pillars. If Scar hadn't pushed her out the way, she would have been seriously wounded or worse.
'I'm sorry.' She said and Scar scowled. He turned back to his men.
'There is nothin' we can do. We have to get the townspeople out.' Scar bellowed over the roar of the flames. His face and neck had a light coating of sweat and his white shirt was sticking to his body. He tried to wipe his face but it did no good. His men were scurrying behind him, quickly moving people away from the flames. People were crying everywhere. Losing everything right in front of their eyes.
'Capt'n we should split up. Cover more ground.' First Mate said.
'Right. Armeria and I will go this way.' Miles pointed down the street. 'You and your men go to the main square. The Majority of shops are there. The fire seems to be worst there. We'll meet you back at the ship.'
Scar was about to object to the order but thought now was not the time. For a split second he glanced worryingly at Armeria before he nodded and his blonde hair disappeared into the distressed crowd. Armeria watched him go, anxiety biting at her heels. She had noticed the almost desperate look in Scar's green eyes. She realised with clear clarity that it was Luce looking back at her. Her childhood friend was not lost. She wanted to go after him, felt her legs starting to move but felt a hand around her wrist and was pulling her in the opposite direction.
'Come on.' Miles shouted. He pulled Armeria down a burning street.
'Maybe we should have stayed with…'
Miles cut her off. 'Scar can take care of himself. The townspeople are more important.'
Armeria felt ashamed at her selfishness. Miles was right. They had to help the villages out first. But the thought of Scar injured cut her to the bone. It made her heart seized in her chest. She wanted to turn back and run to him. She shook her head. Scar could take care of himself and he would probably say she was 'in the way' and why would they need 'a skinny lass' to help them anyway.
A screaming crowd was charging in fear towards them and one of them bumped into her shoulder. She winced and grabbed the tender spot. It began to throb violently. Tears threatened her vision but she refused to let them fall.
'Armeria. Are you alright.'
'It's just my shoulder. 'I'm alright though.' She lied. The pain was intense. 'Let's go.'
Miles knew she was lying but remained silent. She followed Miles' blue head down a familiar street and Armeria realised it was the one Herb the apothecary's shop was set up. Deep worry gnawed at her. Not Herb. Not the sweet man who treated her wounds. Armeria spotted the apothecary's shop and Herb running through the shops entrance, desperately trying to get as much of his medicines as he could, coughing violently. For someone his age, he sure could move. Scorch marks were burnt through his clothing and dark smudges ran all over his face, neck and arms. He was sweating too, more likely from the heat of the fire then running back and forth, trying to save his shop. They ran towards him just as he was about to go back in. A burst of flames suddenly erupted from within, blocking the doorway and he was forced to move back. As they approached him, he was just about to attempt a second run when Miles pulled him back.
'No! It's too dangerous. You'll be killed and then were will Southland be.' Miles shouted.
'But my medicine.' Herb cried. He tried to wriggle out of Miles' hold but he stood strong.
'You're just going to have to start again. It's not worth risking your life over.' Miles pulled the struggling Herb back further from the flames.
'My shop.' Herb fell to his knees as they watched it burn. Sorrow and heartache welling up in each of them. Jars of power exploded under the intense heat. Balms and ointments melted. Nothing would be left after this.
'You can rebuild Herb. Not all is lost.' Armeria tried to reassure him. Finding it difficult as her own emotions were in such disarray.
'Wait! My wife's diary I left it inside.' Herb suddenly got up and ran towards his blazing store. Miles caught him around the middle. 'Please I have to get it. It's all I have of her.'
'No. you can't.'
'I'll get it. Where is it?' She was small and quick. She could do it.
'The back bench. Behind the counter.'
'No! Armeria!' Miles called to her but she was already at the entrance as the flames swallowed her up. Deadly smoke choked all air out of her lungs and she coughed continuously. Breathing in hurt. Her lungs collapsing with every breath. She had never felt anything like this. It was like the fire's heat alone was trying to melt her skin straight from her bones. Taking a handkerchief from her pocket she held it to her mouth and proceeded to where Herb had directed her. She ducked under a fallen wooden beam and banged her shoulder, snagging her shirt on the jaggered edge, causing it to tear her shoulder throbbed with agony but she pressed on. The counter's glass casing had smashed; the balms inside had melted to liquid and the dried herbs had turned to dust. She came around the counter, trying to see where she was going but the smoke was thick and black. She would have to rely on touch to find what she was looking for.
Feeling around the wooden surface was like trying to find something with your eyes closed, as the smoke was making it impossible to see anything. After what felt like eternity when it was actually a couple of minutes, she found the leather bound book on the bench and thanked God the fire had not touched it yet. Armeria grabbed it and almost dropped it, it was that hot. She had a spare bandage in her pocket from earlier and wrapped the diary in it and ran back out of the store.
'Armeria, Thank God.' Miles said. She stopped in front of them and but her hands on her knees, coughing her lungs out. 'H…Here.' She held the diary out to Herb with shaky hands.
'Oh thank you sweet child. Thank you so much.' He took it and held it to his chest.
'Are you insane?' Miles spun her around and she had never seen him so angry. If she wasn't so disoriented from inhaling so much smoke, she would have shrunk away.
'W…What, I had to.'
'You could have been killed. You idiot. And you are still injured. Don't ever do that again.' She could tell he was worried for her. She could have killed but she didn't think about that. Didn't even cross her mind. She just wanted to help. Miles sighed and touched her hand before he turned away.
'Come on. We have to help as many people as we can. Hopefully the fire hasn't spread to far inland. We'll meet up with Scar at the ship. Herb, are you coming with us?'
The apothecary looked at his meagre belongings then to his wife's journal. 'My shop is gone. I have nothing left here. Lead the way, young man.'
Scar turned back and watched Armeria and Miles take off in the opposite direction. His heart in his throat. He didn't want Armeria parted from him. Just the thought of her hurt made him want to run after her so he alone could keep her safe. She was so small. So naïve that she wouldn't hesitate to charge right into a burning building just to save someone's belongings. He trusted Miles to keep her safe but it didn't lessen the uneasiness. He wanted her with him. So he could protect her. No one else. Especially when she couldn't even look after herself.
He was sure, that when he saved her from the falling pillars, he hit her injured shoulder as well. She must be in a considerable amount of pain. But she didn't even complain, as if it was nothing. He should have told her to stay on the ship so he wouldn't have to keep worrying over her.
'Wake up. Ya dam fool.' He chided himself and ran in the direction of his crew. The port side town was unrecognizable. Once the fire was put out, there would be nothing left except ashes. Its townspeople left homeless and penniless. He passed men, women and children, desperately throwing pales of water over fires, knowing it was futile but trying anyway. Many where running through the flames trying to get as many of their belongings out as they can. Scar stopped and helped a young man and woman and their young son gather their meagre possessions and get them to safety. He was just about to turn and run away when he heard a high pitched scream from above him. He looked up and clutching to a high pillar was a young lass. She was beautiful and dainty. Her once lovely curly blonde hair was now soot covered and stuck to her face. Her perfect makeup was not so perfect anymore. She was wearing a revealing red and white low cut corset with a matching skirt and white stockings.
Obviously a prostitute. She screamed again.
'Help me! Someone. I'm stuck up here. Help!' Flames licked at her heels and she screamed again. The ledge that supported her creaked under her weight and a few wooden boards broke away, causing one of her legs to fall through. She screamed in terror but managed to pull herself up. Scar ran underneath the balcony she was on and whistled to get her attention.
'Hey. Jump into my arms. I've got you.' Scar shouted. She looked down at him, unsure if he would catch her. A sudden burst of flames erupted behind her. She cried out and moved to the end of the ledge. She had nowhere left to run. He shouted again. 'Trust me.'
She nodded and reached down to rip the bottom of her skirts. She grabbed onto the beam above her for support and hoisted herself up onto the railing and looked down at Scar, who had his arms raised, ready to catch her. She hesitated.
'Come on. We don't have all day.' Scar screamed.
'How rude.' She yelled back and suddenly leaped off the railing. Scar caught her and they both toppled to the floor. Scar was underneath while the young woman sat atop. Red and white tattered shirts flew everywhere. His face squished in the valley of her generous bosom. He pulled away abruptly. She looked down at him and blinked before she threw her arms around him.
'Oh thank ya kind Sir. Thank ya.' She cried out in thanks, her accent thick and Irish, as if the shock of near death hadn't fazed her. 'Ya have no idea who terrified I was up there. I thought I was gonna die. And then ya came along and saved me. Thank ya.' She sat up and smiled down at him. She purred. 'And what is my hero's name so I may thank him properly.'
'Get off me, you're heavy.' Scar wheezed and pushed the lass of him with a huff. She squealed as she landed on her behind. He stood up and she looked up at him with anger from her spot on the ground with eyes the colour of sparkling amethyst.
'Well I never. I show ya my gratitude and ya talk to me like some common urchin.' She leaped up outrage. 'At least tell me ya name.'
'Scar, like the famous pirate lord.' She said in sudden awe.
'You're safe now. Goodbye.' He turned from her and was about to run away when she pulled on his arm, stopping him.
'Make your way down to the harbour. The fire has not reached there. You'll be safe' I have to see if Armeria is alright. He pulled his arm free and hightailed it out of there before the lass could follow him. He helped a few more of the townspeople get out before he made it to the main square. Most of his men were there. They looked worse for wear but still in one piece. He ran into First Mate. 'Capt'n.' He looked more smoke logged then Scar. Heavy layers of sweat and grimed covered his body and his once white pants weren't so white anymore. He had a slight burn on his left arm, but on the whole he was okay.
'There is nothing else we can do. Gather the men and head back to the ship. Let's hope the fire doesn't spread inland.' Scar said. Trying to keep the hopelessness from his face.
'What of you, capt'n.'
'I am going to look for Armeria.'
'She is with Sutherland. The fire is too intense to go any further. They might be already at the ship, waiting for us.'
Scar didn't care. He had to go to her. 'I have to find her. Head back to the ship.'
First Mate seemed to understand. 'Aye. Capt'n. Fall back and head to the ship.' He bellowed to the crew.
Scar left it up to First Mate and turned and ran back the way he came. Armeria was out there. She would have to be in so much pain. Her shoulder would not have healed yet and who knows what she has gotten into without him watching out for her. He knew that Miles wouldn't let anything happen to her, but still. She was supposed to be with him. He shook his head and kept running.
Not realizing the dark stranger ginning at him from the shadows. Watching him as he ran. Golden eyes full of madness. He laughed. 'Soon. Very Soon.'
'Scar!' Scar skidded to a halt when he heard his name over the roar of the fire and turned to his left to find Armeria, Miles and a strange man running towards him. When they stopped in front of him, his eyes widened when he finally looked over America. She was covered with soot and ash, more than Miles, more than the strange man with a huge satchel strapped to his back, and her shirt was ripped at the shoulder. He could see her angry, purple bruise peeking through. But her bright chocolate eyes were vexed and wary. She looked so tired. He clenched his fists.
'Why aren't you back at the ship already?' Scar was angry, but didn't know why? Was it because Armeria was hurt.
'I'm sorry, we had to help Herb. His shop was on fire and he left something precious to him inside. I ran back in to save it.'
'Ya ran back in a burning building. Blood hell woman.' Scar knew it. The blasted woman couldn't help herself. 'Ya idiot, don't ya every think. Ya could have been killed.'
Armeria flinched. 'I'm sorry.'
'Please don't chide the young lass, lad. I was all my doing.' The older man said.
Scar was about to say something when Miles stepped in front of Armeria. 'We can yell at each other later. We must head back to the ship.'
Scar scowled but nodded and turned to run towards the direction of the harbour. He felt Armeria running behind him when he suddenly felt the light brush of her small fingers on his hand and without thinking, grabbed her hand and kept running, Squeezing her hand gently in comfort. When they arrived at the docks, bedlam had erupted. Cries and screams filled the air. He had been right. The docks and most of the buildings along the outskirts of the port had been spared. Many of the townspeople had gathered there for safety. They watched with gut-wenching sadness as their homes burnt to the ground. Nothing would be left after this.
'This way.' Scar directed them. He spotted his ship through the smoke.
'There is so many wounded. How terrible.' Armeria said sadly.
'We have to help them.'
Scar nodded and maneuvered them through the distraught crowd, towards his ship. Unconsciously unaware that he still hadn't released Armeria's hand from his own. A young woman carrying a baby and holding the hand of her small child pumped into him. She apologised and kept walking, as if in a daze. The boy by her side stopped and glanced back at him. A sad, haunted look leaked from his tearful eyes that spoke of lost hope. Scar stared back. He knew that he couldn't afford to let his emotions get the better of him, but it was damn hard not to. It wouldn't restore Southland to what it once was. I wouldn't bring hope to the now homeless. It wasn't something he wanted to contend with, but it was there all the same.
The boy scurried away after his mother into the moaning crowd. He shook his head and led his little group forward. His crew were already on board as they climbed on. Scar immediately started bellowing orders.
'Get as many sheets and rags ya can find. Strip all the bunks. Cupboards. Use the sails if ya have to. Use them as bandages. Help the wounded. Nobody sleeps until it is done.'
'Aye, capt'n.' His men responded. They scurried about, grabbing anything that can be used as a bandage.
The old man, Herb spoke behind him. 'I will help as well, young lad. I am the apothecary of this town. They trust me. I have many healing balms and herbs.' He took of his satchel and opened it. Inside he indeed had many small bottles, gauze, dried herbs.
'Right. Armeria, you and Miles go with him.'
Armeria hesitated, causing Scar to turn. She squirmed. Scar's green eyes narrowed. 'What is it?'
She blushed 'Um…You can let go of my hand now.'
Scar stood frozen for a moment before he looked down and indeed his traitorous appendages were still wrapped around Armeria's slim fingers. He broke his hold her retreated as if the plague was upon him and Armeria was the carrier. He turned away so she couldn't see his face.
'Ah, stupid woman we don't have time for this. Go.'
Armeria hesitate once more before she nodded. 'Alright.'
He listened to them leave and for a moment, wanted to turn around and tell her to be careful but restrained himself. So instead he focused to the task before him. 'Where are those bandages? What's taking so long?'
Dawn came over the smoke hazed port of southland. Most of the fires had died out on their own. Only a few small fires here and there remained but the aftershock was more chocking then the smoke over their heads. So many tear stroked, ash covered faces, they went on forever. Despair and desperation choked the life of everyone it touched and there was no hope of ridding oneself of it. But hope did exist if only in its tinniest form. For what was destroyed can be rebuilt.
Armeria wiped her sweaty brow as she finished applying a bandage to a man's blistering arm. Herb work beside her, administrating his soothing balms and salves while she wrapped. Miles was just a couple of meters away tending to a small boy, wrapping a bandage around his leg. The poor thing was crying while he held the hand of his attentive father. She watched as Miles cooed soothing words to the boy, his cerulean eyes full of trust, and whatever he said must have work because the boy stopped crying and tried to smile, despite the pain. Armeria had to smile at that, but it quickly faded. There was still so much to do, she had no time or energy to smile.
'How's it going over here, Armeria?' Miles touched her good shoulder.
She looked up at him. 'Fine.'
'Your shoulder is probably hurting. You should go back to the ship and rest. I can take it from here.'
'I can't do that. There are still so many people wounded.'
'Nobody would notice if you took a break.' Miles pushed.
'Still, I would rather be here. Helping.'
'Armeria, lass can you help me over here.' Herb called out.
'I'll be right there. I'm fine Miles, really.' She turned around and was about to walk away when Miles grabbed her wrist, intertwining his fingers around hers, just like Scar had done.
'Promise me that if you feel faint, you will rest.' Deep blue eyes bore into hers with such intensity Armeria feared she would burst into flames.
Miles seemed to find that acceptable and with a slight brush of his fingers, he let go her wrist. She stared back at him for a moment before turning away. Her hand still tingled from where Miles had touched her. She quickly made it over to herb, who she assisted with applying a bandage around a man's chest and stomach. She worked with him, learning things as she went but her mind kept drifting off into matters that made her heart flutter.
She was still thinking about Scar and the way he tenderly held her hand. Through the chaos, she had no idea want went through her mind and before she could understand what was going through her mind, her hand had moved forward and brushed Scar's. She was about to pull away when Scar gently grabbed her hand and held it. He squeezed her hand, as if in reassurance and kept running, not letting her go until she pointed out that he still held her hand. She could have sworn he blushed but her eyes were so tired she couldn't be sure.
'Armeria, lass can I have another bandage, please.' Herb's voice cut through her dark thoughts.
'Sure. Sorry.' She handed him the folded cloth and he began to wrap it around the leg he was holding. She noticed a sprinkling of dried herbs over the wound.
'What's that?' She asked curiously. She always had a thing about medicine.
'That is a special mix of aloe and chamomile. It helps to sooth the wound and speeds up the healing.' Herb went on to explain. 'The bandages have been soaked in water with this plant so that the material soaks up all the plant's natural healing properties.'
'You're very wise, Herb.'
'I just try to do the best I can for the people who depend on me.' They worked in silence for a moment before Herb spoke up. 'How is your shoulder?'
A painful throb was his answer. 'Fine. It doesn't hurt.'
Herb chuckled humourlessly. 'Young lady, I might be getting old but I still have some senses about me. You are favouring your right side more than your left.'
'I'm sorry. I just didn't want to worry anyone with my small problems when there are so many more people suffering then me.' Armeria said honestly. 'So much tragedy in such a short time.'
'Yes, but when you look tragedy in the eye, you find a way to overcome it. That's the thing that pulls us all together. No matter how big or small. Everyone is important.'
'I suppose so.' Armeria sighed in defeat.
Herb changed the subject. 'That young lad, he seems quite the strong character, doesn't he.'
Oh.' Armeria blushed. 'I suppose. He is the captain after all.'
'Yes. And he seems quite smitten with you.'
'Smitten? I don't think so. I thinks of me more of a hindrance and a burden.'
'That's just what he shows you on the surface. But inside, it is something different entirely.'
Armeria thought about that as she worked. Most of the villagers were treated and bandaged by high noon but smoke still rose from the ashes, making it still too dangerous for anyone to attempt to start cleaning up just yet. Armeria was returning with a full bucket of fresh water from the still functioning well when she spotted a beautiful, lone girl sitting away from the crowd. She looked about the same age as Armeria. She had lovely long blonde curly hair. Well it would be once it was washed. She was also wearing a revealing red and white corset and a matching ripped skirt. But somehow she figured it was not supposed to be that way and her once white stockings were now black and had holes in some places. As Armeria approached she noticed the girls love eyes. Like sparkling amethysts. Her makeup was a little smudged but she was still beautiful.
'Um, excuse me but, are you alright?
The young girl looked up in confusion. 'Huh.'
Armeria smiled. 'I asked you if you were alright.' She was about to reach out to help the girl but she shrank back as if Armeria's touch could bring about the black plague.
'Don't touch me. I don't know where you've been.' She said in thick Irish.
'I just want to treat your wounds.'
'With those hands, I think not.'
'But if I don't treat you, your wound could become infected.'
She seemed to think about it for a moment before she complied. 'Well, alright. My leg hurts. I think I may have gotten wounded from the fire.' She lifted up her tattered skirts and as she saw straight away that it wasn't a burn but a deep scratch, probably from a fallen beam.
'It's just a scratch. I have ointment and bandages here to help treat your wound.' Armeria took out her supplies and began cleaning and treating the wound. The girl hissed when Armeria began applying the ointment.
'Ow, that hurts. Be gentler.'
She hissed again as Armeria began rolling the bandage around her leg but remained silent. Armeria cut of the end of the bandage and stuck a pin through the fabric to keep it in place. She smiled at her effort
'There, all done.'
She looked down at her leg. 'Wow, thanks. For a commoner, it's quiet good.'
Commoner. Armeria frowned. The girl stood up on shaky legs ad wiped her hands on her ripped skirts. As if Armeria's touch had dirtied her more. Armeria's frown deepened. The previous thoughts she had on this girl were changing by every moment she spoke to her.
The girl looked at her up and down. 'You're a woman and yet you dress as a man. It must be degrading to have to walk around like that.'
What the? How did she know? Armeria let the comment slide, barely. Instead hid her distain behind a smile. 'Do you need help finding your family? I am sure they are worried about you. I could help you.' She was reluctant to say.
'No I am alone here. But, I am looking for someone. He saved me from the fire. But, I doubt you could help me though. He is handsome with beautiful blonde hair and deep green eyes. A girl could get lost in them.'
Handsome. Blonde hair. Green eyes that sounds a lot like….
'Alto.' Both Armeria and the girl jumped and turned at the same time as Scar came towards them. A scowl deep on his face. He looked pissed. He was defiantly a vision. White shirt open, tattoo gleaming in the sun on his smooth chest. Tight black pants with leather knee high boots. Blonde hair tousled and falling into his green eyes. Armeria had to blink a couple of times to clear the fog from her mind.
'You know him.' The girl said looking at Scar in awe.
'Yes, his…' But she didn't get to finish as the girl moved quickly, despite her injured leg, and launched herself into Scar's arms.
'What the hell!' Scar yelled and looked down. Realization flashed across his face. 'Hey, aren't you the girl I saved earlier?
She nodded and rubbed her cheek on his chest like a cat. 'Oh I am so glad ya remember me. I have been looking everywhere for ya and I almost gave up, but here ya are; ready to sweep me off my feet.'
'Sweep you off your feet, woman, did a plank of wood fall on ya head, or something.'
'Scar, who is this girl?' Armeria asked as she watched the girl practically curl herself around scar's body like a hungry octopus. A small slither of jealousy worming her way into her heart.
'Oh how rude of me.' She looked at Scar and wrapped her arms around his neck. 'My name is Valentina Mayfield and you, Scar are to be my Husband.'
To be continued.
Well there you go. Valentina has been introduced. She's a bit of a 'lady' and a drama queen so she is a little different from Armeria. I apologise for not getting out chapters for this sooner. I have no excuses except work has been piling up but I have made a New Year's resolution of getting more chapters out and damn if I am going to keep it. So please enjoy and remember to review.