Disclaimer: For those of you don't know, I do not own anything originally from Fable or Fable 2, or Fable 3 either.
Author's Message: This is my first Fable fanfic, and I know this chapter is kinda short. I promise, things WILL pick up the pace. This is really just a prologue to set up the rest. I absolutely adore Reaver so this is my tribute to him and Sparrow. Please read and review, love it or hate it I value constructive criticism since I am always striving to improve my writing. And enjoy.
Mayor. Captain. Hero.
The coastal township of Bloodstone had always been a place of opportunity. For centuries it had been filled to the brim with wayward souls, each one of them filled with a burning ambition and tagged with a price. As such it was a town easily swayed by anyone with enough money and power. And so, when a young cavalier passed through their streets and murdered the most fierce-some pirate ever to sail the nine seas, in his own private study no less, the town as a whole bowed down before his might. Thus began the reign of a new Pirate King, who was henceforth known only as 'Reaver'.
No one knew if such be his true name; rumor abounded that he had stolen it from the first man he'd murdered. But true name or not, it was a name that soon struck fear into the heart of every mortal with even a lick of sense. All residents of Bloodstone served him as any subject would serve their King; unquestioningly and unthinkingly. Those who did not... well, their story ended in a pool.
This man, this enigma, was a bloodthirsty deviant of the worst kind, and he fit the image of Bloodstone well. He appeared to have limitless wealth. For more than a hundred years he gorged himself on the finest foods, wines, and pleasurable company, and despite the passage of time he never aged or grew ill. It seemed even death itself feared the Pirate King's unmatched Skill. As his legend grew his people revered him as more than a king; he had, in essence, become their god. He granted them the freedoms and liberties the rest of the civilized world forbade them, and in turn they avoid his displeasure at all costs, for he would gun down any man or woman as soon as look at them. The people felt this a fair price to pay, and they all thought this chaotic and pleasurable way of life would continue on indefinitely.
Then, without warning, after more than two centuries of the Pirate King's rule, a great army laid siege to the town of Bloodstone. The people had cried out for their overlord to save them, but their King had fled, leaving his people to their fate and disappearing without a trace. His subjects were left to fight on their own, but the horde they faced was more vicious and blood-thirsty than any of their own. Many died that day, and when the horde receded, only a few dozen remained to dump the innumerable bodies into the harbor.
For the first time in many centuries, the town of Bloodstone was left leadership; the people were lost and wandered adrift. Their King had forsaken his coastal paradise in search of more exotic and uninhibited pastures. The town quicklydegraded into anarchic cesspool. True, it had always been such. But these days it seemed the harbor was never empty of the bloated bodies that bobbed up and down in the water, and more poured in each day. Men and women... the young and the old... wealthy pirates and filthy beggars... No one knew a modicum of safety any longer. Gangs formed, each fighting for the right to rule over the others. The attacks from Wraithmarsh became more and more frequent as the eerie fen continued to expand itself. The carnage besieging the place was unspeakable. Wraiths slipped in through the night and attacked those foolish enough to wander out alone. Gangs fought against each other, and themselves, until even piracy, the trade the town thrived upon, came to a halt. Those who had once been prideful and free-roaming pirates became little more than starving thugs. Without Pirate King to keep a semblance of control and order, the violence in the streets never seemed to cease. The cobbled roads were painted red with the blood of those too weak or too unlucky to survive.
And then, on one fateful and crisp dawn, after three years of relentless brutality and violence, a Hero appeared at the edge of Wraithmarsh. She strode bravely into their town, wearing a long dirtied cloak with a hood that obscured her face. She was fearless and confident as she marched through the winding streets, taking the path leading up toward the manor house on the hill. It was almost as though she did not know of the danger she faced, completely exposed and alone as she was. Perhaps those who saw her were too stunned to respond properly. No one made a move to attack her. Instead, one by one, they began to follow her.
Who was this woman who dared barge into their town as though she owned the place? Who would be so foolish as to brave the dangers of Wraithmarsh, when, at the end of their journey, they would find nothing more than certain death at the hands of Bloodstone thugs?
Like tiny streams joining into a larger river, men and women trickled from their run down homes. Prostitutes left their brothels, and burly thugs armed with swords and pistols emerged from their dens. In collective silence they followed the newcomer, who neither glanced back at them or gave any indication that she knew they were there.
Then, at the top of the hill, standing the foot of the steps of the large manor, she finally turned around and threw back her hood. Her face was young, surprisingly so, but held an edge of competency that only the wisdom of age could bring.
"Well, well," she said. Her voice was not loud nor rough, but soft and feminine while carrying the unmistakable hint of authority. "I wasn't expecting a welcoming committee."
"And who are you?" barked a tall, brutish looking man who stood at the forefront of their gathering. He cracking his scabbed and bloody knuckles in a threatening manner.
The woman did not appear the least bit intimidated. Indeed, her cupid's-bow lips curved into a beguiling smile as her aquamarine eyes sparkled in the sunlight. "I see you do not remember me. I'm hurt," she replied with an edge of sarcasm.
"And who the bleedin' hell are you?" asked another.
Her smile grew wider. "My Sparrow, though some of you might remember me as the Hero of Bowerstone. I was here some three years ago, the same time your Pirate King disappeared. And seeing as you've asked, I should also inform you that I am now the bleedin' mayor of this-" she looked around mockingly "-fine little town."
A stunned silence met, her pronouncement, at least until the man could find his voice again.
"Mayor, huh?" he growled. "We don't need no stinking mayor. I'm the leader 'round here, so why don't yeh just mosey on back where yeh came from, 'for I ugly up that pretty face of yers."
A round of jeering and laughter followed this proclamation, but the woman barely acknowledged the threat. "I must say, I had a good look around on my way up to my new manor, and if any town needs a mayor... I mean," she said with a hard smile, "just look at this place."
"What's that s'possed to mean?"
"It means this town has become little more than a gutter where degenerates such as yourself can squander away what life and talent you possess," she said. "Rest assured, I take no pleasure in being here. But I was asked personally by the Mayor of Westcliff to rebuild this town, and that is exactly what I plan to do."
The thug sneered viciously. "I don't give a rat's steaming shit if Reaver 'imself sent yeh. I'll tear yer pretty little head off yer shoulders before I go takin' orders from some posh little wench who's probably never even killed a man." Another burst of rowdy cheers followed this, but the woman did not seem the least bit bothered.
Sparrow waited patiently for the cheers to quiet down, then asked, "Is that how it's going to be?"
Sparrow sighed in response, then removed the heavy traveling cloak from her shoulders and let it drop to the ground. Beneath it she wore a ragged linen shirt stained in several places with what looked like dried blood and a pair of skin-tight leather breeches. On one hip rested a thin sword, and on the other was a sleek pistol. Resting her thumb lightly on the hammer, she looked the man dead in the eye with an expression so fierce that a shudder went through the crowd.
"We can start whenever you wish," was her simple challenge, "but before we do, I ask you, aren't you tired of all... this?" The crowd fell silent, including the thug who proclaimed himself their leader. "How many years have the people of this town been fighting over the remnants of the Pirate King's rule? Bloodstone was once a town of wealth and freedom, run by proud and merciless pirates that were feared from Westcliff to Oakfield. Now look around you. It's little more than rat-infested hole dedicated to squalor and misery. Is this really how the lot of you want to live your lives? Squandering your life away until someone kills you and adds your corpse to the lot floating in the harbor?"
More silence followed her words, and Sparrow looked meaningfully from face to face, seeing the sudden drop in morale as her words sank in.
"I've come here to take on the mantle of leadership," she went on. "I've come to pick up the jagged pieces of Bloodstone that the Pirate King so callously left behind. Don't you want more than this? I can rebuild this place. It is a monumental task, I won't lie, but it is one I cannot take on alone. I need you, Bloodstone," she said, addressing the crowd at large. "And you need me. I can lead you, but I am not this town. You are. Only you can rebuild what has been lost. The gangs will not save you, the Pirate King will not return for you. I alone care about your future. I alone believe Bloodstone can still be saved. But you need to believe it too. If any of you, like this thug you see before me, believe violence and death is the only way to move forward, then please, I welcome you to challenge me. Prove yourself worthy to lead this town in my stead."
Smiling cruelly, the thug went for his own pistol. Before he could so much as remove it from its holster, a gunshot sounded through the entire town, followed immediately by a hair-raising shriek. The thug found himself on his knees, clutching his right hand, which was bloodied. On closer inspection, one could see it now had a small, round hole sliced cleanly through the center.
"Y-yeh bitch!" he growled in agony, and he grappled for his weapon with his other hand, but again the Sparrow fired her pistol. This time a small appendage flew from the man's other hand and skittered across the cobblestones. The crowd drew back as a whole when they saw it was one of the man's fingers.
"Ghaaaaah!" the man roared loudly, jumping to his feet and charging straight for the woman. Sparrow did not move, did not flinch away, and when the man was only a few feet from her, she drew back her amr and thrust it forward again. A sickening crack could be heard as the butt of the pistol collided with the man's nose. He went down quickly, landing hard on his knees and howling in pain as he grasped at his bleeding face. Before he could even form a reaction, he felt the cold metal of the barrel against his forehead, and he looked up into Sparrow's eyes as she stood over him.
"I could kill you now," she said, and remained quiet for a moment as the reality of those words sank in.
"Then do it," he growled.
"Is that what you really want?" she asked archly. "Because it's not what I want. And it's not what Bloodstone needs." With a fierce glare, she holstered her pistol. "Bloodstone doesn't need any more death. And you don't have to die today."
For several minutes, they looked into each other's eyes. The townspeople around them were deathly silent. No one seemed to move, or even breathe as they waited to see what would happen. Then, to everyone's surprise, the most brutal gang leader among them got to his feet and offered one bloody hand to the Hero of Bowerstone. All those in attendance stared in utter shock as the two came to terms, shaking hands. An alliance had been made.
Then Sparrow turned again to face the crowd at large, her stature so great, her expression so fierce, and her eyes burning into each of them. For a brief moment, it was as though they were looking into the face of the Pirate King once more.
"Would anyone else like to issue their challenge?" Sparrow said at last.
Satisfied, Sparrow retrieved her cloak from the ground. "Return to your homes, your brothels, your dens, and inform everyone you pass that law has come to Bloodstone. At dawn tomorrow, I will call a meeting in the town square. I invite all residents to attend, and together, we will see what can be done about returning Bloodstone to her glory."
Wordlessly, the crowd dispersed, still in shock over the sudden and brutal shift in power. Sparrow turned from them without further thought, and addressed her newest ally.
"Come inside and we'll see about taking care of those wounds," she offered. Grunting, the thug followed her.
Taking a key from around her neck, Sparrow unlocked the door that led her into Reaver's Manor.
Or rather, my manor now, she thought.
The heavy door flew open, revealing a dank, dark, musty sitting room. Sparrow stepped inside, igniting a handful of flames in her palm and looking around. She heard the thug make a strangled noise of surprise, but ignored him.
The manor house had the distinct air of neglect. She doubted anyone had even set foot inside it since Reaver had abandoned it.
Swallowing hard, Sparrow approached the heavy oaken door across the entrance, almost as though compelled to do so. With one steady hand, forced the door open and entered the study where she had first encountered the Pirate King. The room was dark as a crypt. Sparrow cautiously made her way around the room, lighting whatever candle-lamps she could find, then offered her guest a chair as she searched through her rucksack for a healing potion.
"What is your name?" she asked as she rummaged through her belongings.
"Jack," he said gruffly.
"Jack," she said to herself. "I knew a Jack once."
The man merely grunted.
"Well, Jack, I have to say I think it in everyone's best interests if we work together. If I'm going to rebuild Bloodstone, I'm going to need your help."
"What do yeh need me for?" he asked in a surly tone.
"Because you're not only feared but respected by these people," she said, finally extracting a bottle from her bag. "They might be subdued for the moment, but the truth is they don't trust me. I'm not one of them. You are."
Taking the bottle from her, he swallowed it's contents in one gulp, then wiped his mouth with the back of his cuff. "So what exactly do yeh want from me?"
"I want you to be a part of the effort to rebuild Bloodstone. And I don't just mean the labor involved. I want the people to know we're working together. That my decisions aren't arbitrary and one of their own has a hand in remaking this town."
Jack seemed to think this over, and Sparrow saw an intelligence in his eyes that she hadn't noticed before. "Fine, yeh'll 'ave me support and me help."
"Thank you," Sparrow said. "We'll me at first light at the town square and begin from there."
Jack nodded and stood from his chair, seeing himself out.
Sparrow slumped exhausted into the chair behind the desk and closed her eyes, overwhelmed by the rigors of her journey. She knew the task before her was monumental, but she was ready for it. She leaned forward onto the desk, wanting a rest, but then jumped back. The desk was coated with a clear inch of dust, but through that, Sparrow could just make out a faded yellowed envelope. Lifting it, she blew off the filth and inspected it closely.
It was addressed to no one. Knowing Reaver, it could be something really nasty, but unable to quell her curiosity, she slit the red-wax seal and flipped it open. A yellowed piece of parchment was inside, folded neatly in half and written upon with an elegant script. Holding it to the light, she read the words the Pirate King had left behind years ago.
If you are reading this, you have usurped my home. Well done. May suppurating pustules plague every delicate part of your anatomy. Be you stranger or acquaintance, friend or foe, you can enjoy the anecdotal tales I have recorded upon magical paper and left scattered in objects around the house. Until I return to kill you and take back what is rightfully mine.
Grinning inspite of herself, Sparrow folded the letter and tucked it back in its envelope. Typical Reaver. Well, if he ever did return, he would be in for the shock of a lifetime. Instead of finding his town in the hands of some mortal whom he could easily do away with, he would find her, and she wasn't going anywhere.
But for now... well, for now, there was much to be done. Bloodstone was hers, and by Avo and the Light, she would see it prosper.
Finally, after seven long years, the unkempt air of the town was little more than a distant memory, and Bloodstone bragged of a wealth that surpassed even Bowerstone's. Citizens faithfully paid their rent and taxes to the Mayor, and she in turn protected them from the horrors of Wraithmarsh and the pirates from the sea. It was a rare day a Banshee or a brigand trespassed on her territory.
After centuries of lawlessness and filth, Bloodstone had redeemed itself. Each day merchants, artisans, and craftsmen plied their trade, and each night they would gather at the taverns to relax and enjoy a good time. The children received a good education at the school house, were properly clothed and cared for, and went to bed with full stomachs every night. Then, for a few hours before each new dawn, Bloodstone would lull into a peaceful slumber only to stretch its legs and begin the day again.
One sunny morning, Sparrow stood at her elegant stone balcony, her hair tossed around on the clean sea breeze as she looked on with pride. The sun reflected off the russet-tiled roofs of her town. Bloodstone had become a place she could call home. It was far away from all the memories and ghosts of her past. There was nothing here to haunt her. For the first time, she felt as though she had truly accomplished something beyond her own selfish need for revenge. Smiling to herself in satisfaction, she returned to her manor, which she had remodeled in her efforts to remove all traces of Reaver's influence, and she entered her elegant bathroom to prepare for a new day.
Thirty minutes later she walked down the stairs to her parlor, opening the front door where her naval Commander stood in full uniform, saluting smartly with just a hint of a smile about his weathered lips.
"On time as always, Mister Daniels," she greeted pleasantly. "Come inside and have yourself some coffee."
"Thank yeh, Capt'n," he said in his heavily accented brogue as he removed his hat; his long chocolate-brown locks were tied back and styled immaculately. He stepped inside and shut the door behind himself, then followed her to her study. His smile warmed as he took in his superior. Professional as always, she was dressed in her uniform, a fitted silk white shirt with a high frill around the neckline, a pale blue reefer jacket with shiny brass buttons, white form-fitting trousers, and shinny black boots that came up over her knees and lifted her by several inches with high, pointed heels that clicked as she walked. Her fire-red curls were pulled up into an impeccable knot atop the crown of her head, and held in place only by a pale blue ribbon.
As they entered her study, they were greeted by an elderly but spry woman he recognized as Mrs. Kumar. Her skin was a deep, dusky brown and her white-streaked black hair was pulled back into tight braid that reached her knees. She wore strange but colorful robes, today's being a mix of flaming-orange and red, but she had a no-nonsense air about her. She was setting a silver coffee tray on the large mahogany desk dominating the center of the room.
"Good morning Miss Sparrow, Mistair Daniels," she greeted with her peculiar accent. From what Daniels knew of her, she had come with her husband from Samarkand. At the time, he and Sparrow had been working day and night to restore law and order to Bloodstone, and Sparrow had nearly fallen ill from exhaustion. She had hired Mr. and Mrs. Kumar to take care of her and her home, and they had remained with her these past six years.
"Mrs. Kumar, good morning," Sparrow said with reserved warmth. "Is your husband well?"
"He is, Miss, though the foolish man rose with the dawn tu start on the vines on the east wall. He says thair getting undair the roof tiles again."
Sparrow shook her head. "I thought I told him to stay off the roof? He's too old to be climbing, and the fall could kill him."
Manya Kumar rolled her dark eyes. "Try telling that fool he's tu old, see whair that gets yu."
Sparrow smiled. "I'll talk with him again."
Mrs. Kumar bowed and made to leave the study. "I wish yu luck, Ma'am."
Alone with his Captain again, Daniels poured a cup of coffee for the both of them, adding her usual extra milk and sugar. He joined her, holding an ivory, porcelain cup that felt fragile in his large, weathered hands.
"So, how was the journey, Mister Daniels? Anything to report?" She was, of course, asking after her merchant ship, The Rose.
"Nothin' out of the ordinary, Capt'n," he replied, and then smiled, "and why must we continue on with this 'Mister Daniels' charade. I've always been happy just being Jack."
She gave him a small smile. "We've talked about this. Being professional with each other sends the right message to the people."
He shook his head, but offered her his full report. She listened attentively, even as she stood staring out the window over her gardens, appearing lost in thought. But in reality, she was watching her Commander from the corner of her eye. It was almost impossible to believe that this man was the one who had so boldly threatened her on their first meeting. And after all these years, she couldn't help but feel a twinge of guilt every time she saw the empty space on his left hand where his middle finger had once been. At the time she'd need to establish her dominance in this town, and taking down their self-appointed leader had been the most expedient way to do it. But still...
At the end of his report, Sparrow nodded and took her seat, then refilled her coffee. "Thank you, Mister Daniels. It is a relief to know I can rely on your to take care of The Rose when my duties here keep me landlocked."
He grinned. "Yeh can always rely on me, Capt'n. If yeh'll pardon me sayin' so, maybe yeh should get back out on the open sea. Yeh look like yeh could use it."
She lifted her gaze slowly to his, the full impact of her deep-blue eyes hitting him like a kick to the chest. She looked tired, weary even. But also determined. "In time. I still have business to settle here. It's always busy this time of year. Harvests and merchant ships all coming in at the same time. A monsoon hit last week and the dock needed repairing. A group of pirates got cocky. I personally took care of them."
Daniel's scowled. "Yeh wouldn't be worn down so if yeh didn't insist on takin' care of everything yerself."
Sparrow gave him a rare smile, a real one that seemed to light up her whole face. "If only I had a few more of you, then I wouldn't have to."
He scowled viciously at her. "Yeh work yerself to the bone fer this town. Yeh put so much in it yeh ain't got nothin' left for yerself."
Her expression suddenly grew serious. "I commit myself only as much as any resident of this town has themselves," she said quietly. "I could never face them if I did anything less. You should know that."
He sighed. "Me apologies, Capt'n, I know its not me place. I am concerned for yeh. Me words come from honest intentions."
"Bloodstone is my home. Its people are my family. What manner of leader would I be if I didn't put everything I have into taking care of them." He could say nothing more and he knew it. "Thank you for your report, Mister Daniels."
Understanding himself to be dismissed, he stood and saluted, exiting the study with a stiff back.
Sparrow watched him go and then immediately put him from her mind. She had promoted Jack as her Commander when she had acquired The Rose five years ago, putting him in charge of Bloodstone's sea trade while she saw to the town. Sometimes her work became so demanding she could not get out to sea for months, even a year or more. But this was her life now, one she had chosen and one she lived well. She was at peace in her work. Bloodstone had placed itself with full trust into her hands; she would put everything she had into making it prosper and destroy anything that dared threaten it.