Unexpected Visitors

Will slammed his hammer onto the anvil, beating the life out of the glowing sword as orange sparks flew around him. He was taking his frustration out on the piece of metal. After having returned to Port Royal on the HMS Dauntless, there had been talk of throwing him into the fort prison along with Jack and the remainder of Barbossa's crew. Thankfully, Elizabeth had managed to convince her father and the commodore to place him under house arrest instead, saving him from being outrightly labeled among the colonists of Port Royal as a pirate. Within a few days he had been acquitted and freed to go about his normal life.

So now he was back at Brown's smithy, as though nothing had changed. He was refining a weapon he had started a few days ago. His master was once again lying drunk in his chair. But something had changed. For one thing, he had discovered himself – the hilt of the hammer, that had once felt so natural and right in his hand, was now heavy and awkward, and Will longed to exchange it for a sword.

"What have I become?" he thought glumly to himself, looking with disgust at the hand gripping the blacksmith's tool. "I'm no longer a blacksmith, but I'm not a pirate. What am I?"

Here he was, standing here, allowing himself to be cowed by British Royal Navy officials while Jack Sparrow's life hung in the balance. The man hadn't been what Will would call a best friend, or even a friend at all. But he had helped him rescue Elizabeth.

"And here I am, willing to stand by and watch him hang."

In a fit of frustration, Will threw the hammer to the ground, where it thudded unsatisfactorily quietly on the bed of sawdust. Picking at the bandage that bound his left hand, he remembered the battle in the cave. There, again, Jack had done Will a service by shooting Barbossa before he could murder Elizabeth. God, it was too much. There had to be something he could do.

But one man? Attempting to set a convicted man free in broad daylight, in the middle of a crowd, with the governor and the commodore and a whole regiment watching? It was insane.

A sharp staccato rapping came from the rickety back door, interrupting his thoughts. Will hesitated answering, knowing that a furtive knock from around back rarely boded well. But then the door began to jostle on its hinges, and Will decided he had better have a look before the unknown visitor had the door down.

He was shocked to find himself face to face with

"Mr. Gibbs!" Will exclaimed in a low voice. He gripped the doorframe. "Anamaria! What are you doing here?"

"I could be explaining that to you better if we were inside, Master Turner," Mr. Gibbs growled, keeping his head low under the cowl that shielded his face from passersby. "It's mighty dangerous out here for the likes of us, so if you don't mind . . ."

Will glanced back at the front door. If anyone decided to drop in now, he'd be off to the gaol as fast as a sword plunged in water lost its color. "Um . . ." He turned around again, pinning them with a glare he hoped was half as intimidating as the commodore's. "Why are you here? How did you approach Port Royal without being spotted?"

"Dead men tell no tales, Will Turner," Anamaria snapped. She was wearing the same huge hat that had covered her face during the recruitment process at Tortuga. She reached into her trousers and pulled the hilt of a knife threateningly. "We could just force our way in."

"Come in," Will opened the door wider and Gibbs and Anamaria slid inside. "But be quiet, will you?" He motioned to Mr. Brown. "He drinks heavily and sleeps heavier, but you can never tell what will wake him up."

Gibbs threw back the cowl, revealing his badger-like face. It was creased with worry. "We heaved anchor in a hidden cove not far around the coastline, then Anamaria and me rowed out. Had to pay the blasted geezer on the dock ten shillings to keep our names out of his ruddy book."

"Then you've heard about Jack?" Will demanded, relieved.

"We figured," Gibbs looked shamefaced. "It didn't sit right, us just leaving him all but marooned like we did. So we took in canvas once we were well out of sight of the Dauntless, and watched 'em ruddy soldiers take you three aboard. Plain as colors what they were planning for Jack."

"Some of the crew didn't want to follow them," Anamaria piped up, clenching her narrow, brown hands into bony fists. "It cost us a whole day making them see reason and a little blood besides."

Will winced. Sometimes he felt he could learn to accept pirates, and other times . . .

"We want to get him back," Gibbs said quickly, glancing around the smithy as though to make sure there was no one else listening. "But we need your help."

"Me."

"You, Master Turner. You're the only halfway-decent friend Jack's got, and the only one who will be able to get within a mile of that prison without being manacled."

"Thanks, I think," Will gave Gibbs a dubious look. "Still, what is it you want me to do?"

"Jack related to me your little trick with the cell hinges."

Will felt an inexplicable sense of pride. Jack Sparrow, master thief and liar, bothered recounting Will's escapist strategy in any detail to Mr. Gibbs? So there had been something besides cynical boredom on the pirate's face during the execution of that little trick. But . . .

"I can't do that again," Will objected. "There was no one in the prison except us at the time. It would be too conspicuous. And I'm in enough trouble as it is . . ."

Gibbs grabbed his arm. "No, hear me out. What I was meaning to infer to you is this: you say you built them cells?"

"I helped," Will corrected, growing suspicious. What were the pirates planning?

"Well, we're here, the Pearl is here. Ready for duty. But we've racked our brains for some kind of rescue idea and have come up cleaner than a hull two days in the water. Not a one. We're not Jack Sparrow, not all of us combined. If you could go down there and do what you might call a routine checkup on them cells and while you're at it just . . . slip in a few words to old Jack there, he might be able to come up with something . . ." Gibbs trailed off and licked his lips.

Will could feel their gazes on him. It wasn't exactly life-threatening, was it? However, now that he was faced with the proposition of actually helping these people, Will realized just how much was to be lost if he botched up an attempt to assist them – which he was most likely to do. He would go to the gaol and he would relay Gibbs' information to Jack, but that was as far as it would go.

"Very well," he said stiffly. "I'll do it. But that is as far as it goes. My participation ends when I walk out of that prison. Do you understand me?"

Gibbs' round face split into a weathered grin, and Anamaria's hand left the hilt of her knife.