"I know that," Bloodrayne responded, still scribbling something down on his piece of parchment.
Groves blinked at him. "D-did you hear me, sir? I said that I'm—"
"I 'eard ye, I 'eard ye. 'Ow old do ye think I is?" Groves didn't respond. He simply gaped. "I said I already knew that."
Bloodrayne finally stopped in his work to look at Groves through his sharp blue eyes. The light danced against his wrinkled cheeks, making them orange.
"I used to have that dumb expression on me face too, years ago. That dumb expression somebody wears when they're in love."
Groves put a hand to his face. He wore a dumb expression around Gwen?
"Now, is that it?" Bloodrayne had already started to get back to work. "Ye just came to tell me that yer in love with me Gwennie?"
"So why do ye tell me before ye even tell 'er?"
"I…I wanted to have your approval, sir."
He looked up from his parchment again. "Me approval?"
"Yes…to see if you were okay with it."
"Okay with what? Ye two 'aven't done nothin' yet."
This wasn't exactly the way Groves had intended the conversation to go. Then again, he'd originally imagined that Bloodrayne would brandish his sword at him and force him to walk the plank. This was much better than the way he'd thought it would go, he supposed.
"No, but...if something were to happen in the near future. I'd like your approval first."
"Near future?" Bloodrayne leaned forward in his chair, resting his chin against his hand. "Ain't nothin' gonna 'appen in the near future if yer 'ere askin' me fer permission."
Groves was starting to get annoyed. "No, it won't, unless I earn your approval."
"Ye don't need me approval, boy. If ye love Gwen, then ye love 'er; ain't nobody stoppin' ye."
He wanted to sigh but held it in, not wishing to be rude (or get yelled at). "How about I put it this way, then, sir: would you allow—I mean mind," he corrected at the look he received, "if I courted or married your daughter?"
"Is ye courtin' or marryin' 'er? Choose one."
Groves knew that he was getting teased at by this point. "I see that I'm only wasting your time." He made a move to stand up.
"Ah, sit down, boy, sit down. Can't ye 'ave some fun fer once?"
"Ain't Gwennie always teasin' ye? Surely ye should be able to handle me humor too."
He sat back down grudgingly. "If you're just not gonna answer my question then I might as well—"
"'Old yer horses," Bloodrayne interrupted. "Don't like a li'l child now, or else I sure as hell won't let ye even look at me daughter."
Groves was silent.
"Now." Bloodrayne leaned back in his chair. He took off his hat and combed through his messy hair. "Ye wanna be a part o' me daughter's life, eh?"
"Love 'er and be forever faithful to 'er?"
"Of course," he said softly.
Bloodrayne looked amused. Groves fiddled with his fingers on his lap. "Ye nervous, boy? Scared o' me?"
"Yes," he answered honestly. Bloodrayne laughed.
"Honest man, eh? That's a good thing. Nice trait. Ain't many truthful people left in this world." He was silent for a moment. "Ye know, if I ever thought Gwennie were to marry somebody, it'd be Jackie. Ye know Jack Sparrow, right?" Groves nodded. "Well, 'e and Gwennie used to know one another. Childhood friends. Always sorta hoped that she and Jackie would make it together. Apparently they didn't, though, started hatin' each other when they started to grow up."
Groves chuckled at this. Bloodrayne looked at him curiously.
"Somethin' funny, boy?"
"Well, it's just that I've seen the hatred Gwen has toward Jack. It's hard to believe that they used to be friends."
Bloodrayne chuckled. "Aye, but they was friends at one point. Damn teenagers and their attitudes. Ed and I still thought they'd outgrow it. Never did. And it only got worse as soon as Jackie became Pirate Lord."
Groves tilted his head curiously. "Why's that?"
"Gwennie hasn't told ye?"
"She doesn't really talk about Captain Sparrow."
"Ask 'er 'bout it sometime. I don't need to spend any more time talkin' 'bout Jackie; we're 'ere to talk 'bout ye."
Groves couldn't help but feel happy from that comment. He felt...important.
"Anyways, we thought they'd grow outta it, fall in love and sail the seas together, but that obviously ne'er happened. Teague and I was always hopin' we'd get to be brothers-in-law…guess that day would ne'er come. Ah well. I just want me daughter to be happy, after all."
"And I is hopin' that ye might be that one thing that'll make ye happy. Strange thought, too, 'cause the Navy were somethin' that always made 'er unhappy. Ye will make 'er happy, won't ye, boy?"
"Ye'll take good care o' 'er, no matter what she says or does? No matter what 'appens?"
"I'd do anything for her," Groves said solemnly. "I will take care of her with my life."
Bloodrayne smiled. His eyes crinkled, making them warmer. "That's what I wanted to 'ear, boy." He grabbed a rum bottle off his table. Pausing, he scrimmaged through his drawers, pulling another rum bottle out. He handed it to Groves. "To a new start," he said and raised his bottle.
Groves smiled and lifted his bottle as well. "To a new beginning."
Bloodrayne downed his drink, and Groves, not wanting to be rude, took a sip of the vile drink. Suddenly he was reminded of the other night, when he'd drunk too much. What had exactly happened, anyway? He couldn't remember.
Bloodrayne tossed his bottle aside, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "I ne'er thought I'd be so happy 'bout me daughter marryin' a Navy boy," he chuckled.
Groves smiled. "And I never thought I'd marry a pirate."
The two men laughed.
"Ye 'ave me approval, lad," Bloodrayne said. "Go ahead and marry me daughter. But, first, ye might wanna tell 'er 'ow ye feel."
Groves played with his fingers. "I just…I just don't know how," he mumbled.
"The same way ye told me, o' course," Bloodrayne snorted. "Ye just go up to 'er and tell 'er. 'Tis as simple as that."
"But…but what if she doesn't feel the same way?"
"I guess ye'll ne'er know, then." He shrugged.
Groves was quiet. "You have a good point," he murmured. He finally realized something: What in the hell was he doing right now? He jumped out of his seat. "Thank you for your time, sir, but I have something to do."
Bloodrayne let out a roar of laughter. "That's 'ow ye do it! That's right! Yer turnin' into a pirate, mate!"
Groves paused, hand on the doorknob. "I've already become a pirate, sir," he grinned back at Bloodrayne. "And it's all thanks to your daughter."
And then, right when he was going to march outside, march outside and find Gwen, find her and tell her how he felt, the door slammed open. Right on his face. He groaned as he smashed back into the wall. He swore he felt something stick to the back of his head.
"We is 'ere, Cap'n!" the crew member shouted.
Bloodrayne got up from his chair, throwing his hat on. "All right. Ye comin', lover boy?" he added to Groves as he exited his room. He roared with laughter before departing.
Bloodrayne walked up to the front of ship, looking out at the island in front of him. A lighthouse was the only man-made device as far as the eye could see. Everything else was forest.
"'Ow does we getta mermaid tear?"
He turned to see his daughter. She was looking out at the island thoughtfully.
"Ye don't need to."
She looked at him. "Why not?"
"'Cause Blackbeard already got it. There ain't no need to get a tear when he's already got it."
"Always thinkin' ahead, ain't ye?" Barbossa chuckled.
"'Course," grinned Bloodrayne. "What kinda man would I be if I didn't?"
"Ye really want me to answer that?"
Barbossa laughed and Gwen smiled.
"Didn't think so," he said. "Now, where is 'em chalices?"
"Patience, dear Hector, patience," Bloodrayne joked. "And where's yer old hat?" he added as he took a few steps toward the trap door that lead to the lower levels of the ship. "I miss that feather quiverin' in the wind."
Barbossa smiled dryly. "Can't wear that until I get the King's mission complete, now, do I?"
Bloodrayne didn't respond. Instead, he put his fingers to his lips and whistled.
A shaggy dog emerged from the stairs, wagging his furry tail. Pintel and Ragetti, standing by the railing, looked at each other and gaped.
"That's the dog from…"
"Aye, what the bloody hell is 'e doin' 'ere?"
"Seems to be quite popular among these parts, don't 'e?"
They watched the dog trot up to Bloodrayne, a box in his mouth. Gwen bent down to pet the dog lovingly, and Bloodrayne handed Barbossa the box. It had the chalices inside.
"Barbossa," a man with grey hair pulled in a ponytail said. "Be this White Cap Bay?"
"Aye, it is."
"Who is ye?" Gwen questioned, glancing up at the man with side burns curiously. "I didn't know ye were still recruitin'," she said to her dad.
He chuckled. "No, 'e's Barbossa's friend."
"I ain't 'is friend," the man grumbled. "And I is Joshamee Gibbs," he added to Gwen. "Nice to meet ye, lass." He stuck out his hand. She shook it.
"What use are ye to Captain Barbossa?" she questioned bluntly.
"Gwen!" Bloodrayne reprimanded. "Ye don't go 'round askin' people that!"
She shrugged. "If 'e's 'ere, 'e must be of some sort o' use to our beloved Captain, eh?"
Barbossa chuckled. "Yer girl's real smart, Rob, ye know that?"
"Too much attitude, though."
"Reminds me o' somebody."
Gibbs chuckled and shook his head as the two legendary Captains argued. "Barbossa wanted me to navigate through the jungle," he told Gwen. "I only agreed 'cause I knew I'd be seein' Captain Jack."
Gwen raised an eyebrow. "Ye know the bastard?"
Gibbs frowned at her word choice. "Aye…'e be my Captain."
"'E ain't yer Captain 'cause 'e don't got no ship. Not one that's actual size, at least," she added. Gibbs looked confused.
"What do ye mean?"
The dog nudged her knee. She laughed and started to pet him, apologizing for the neglect.
"Gwen!" Groves's shout stopped Gibbs from questioning Gwen any further. She looked up at him and raised an eyebrow.
"Where've ye been?"
"Around," he answered vaguely, and Gwen's eyebrow rose further. "It doesn't really matter. I just really have to talk to you right now. It's important."
"All right," Gwen said. "Talk away."
He paused, glancing around himself. "Somewhere private."
She sighed and rolled her eyes. "We don't got no time fer that."
The dog had made its way to Groves, sad that he'd, once again, lost attention from Gwen. So, to earn back the attention, he lifted his leg.
Gibbs held in a laugh, Gwen burst out laughing, and Groves shrieked.
"We best get goin'," Bloodrayne said, walking up to Gwen. He stared at Groves's now wet pant leg. "As soon as we get ye a new pair o' pants."
And everybody laughed.
Even the dog seemed to smile.
"Where the bloody hell is we?" Blackbeard said to nobody in particular as he stopped. They were at some sort of graveyard, a random spot surrounded by trees. It was foggy and dark. The strange thing about it was that it had only gotten suddenly foggy as soon as they stepped foot in the supposed graveyard. Until then, everything had been bright and sunny.
"Maybe we should head back…" Jack made a move to walk off, but Blackbeard took a hold of his collar.
"'Ow 'bout ye venture in first, Sparrow?"
"O' course not!" Jack's face brightened. "That is, unless ye wanna be murdered. 'Tis yer choice."
Jack frowned. "Fine, then. I suppose I'll go in first."
Cautiously, Jack took a few steps into the misty cemetery. He whipped his head back and forth, dreadlocks and trinkets flying. It was eerily silent.
"I think it's safe," he murmured over his back. The zombie quartermaster came out first, swiveling its bald head about.
"You can come on in, Captain," he said in his rumbling voice. His words seemed to bounce back and forth in the thick air.
Blackbeard, followed by his crew, all stepped into the graveyard. Blackbeard glanced around, thoughtfully grazing his beard.
"Cozy. Now, let's get a move on, and be careful with that mermaid!"
Philip automatically turned at the mention of the mermaid. He looked helplessly at the beautiful creature trapped inside the glass case, which was much like a casket, except it was full of water. And the creature inside of it wasn't dead.
Jack also stared at the men that hauled the mermaid. She looked frightened, as she had during the entire trip. It was a bit of a pain to carry her around all the time. Philip didn't seem to mind, though, Jack noted. He smirked to himself. He had seen this routine before.
"Now let's 'urry up and get outta this damned place and move on to Ponce de Leon's ship."
As soon as the words left Blackbeard's lips, the winds began to stir, the trees started to shake. Blackbeard put a hand to his hat so it wouldn't fly off. Jack shivered and his hands automatically went forth to tug his coat close, but then realized that he still didn't have his coat. Damn Gwennie.
"Ponce de Leon…" It was a whisper in the wind.
"Murderer…" This was a different voice, an angry man's.
"Liar…" It was a sweet, innocent woman's voice.
"Our land… our people…tricked us…"
"What the bloody hell?" Blackbeard shouted, wide eyes darting back and forth. Jack, despite the situation, was pleased to see the fear on the Captain's face.
"You have wronged us, Ponce de Leon. And so we will redeem ourselves."
And then, in a deep, unified voice, "We will take your people."
Loud grinding and cracking noises came from a few feet away. The fog was still thick, and it was impossible to see what was making the noise.
"Men," Blackbeard hissed, a hint of worry in his voice, "get yerr pistols ready."
A figure emerged from the fog. It swayed on its legs as it stared at the group of men in front of it.
"I think I'm going to throw up," said Scram. Philip put his hands together and started to pray to those above.
The poor fellows couldn't be blamed. The thing—was it a human, what was it?—had green-yellow flesh that clung on to the bones that so prominently stuck out. Its face was unbelievable hollow and it had no eyes. There were two round black holes where the eyes ought to have been. It wore a raggedy outfit that seemed to break apart with each step the thing took.
The creature made its way toward them, staggering on one foot. It opened its toothless mouth—
There was a loud 'bam!' of a pistol. The creature toppled face-first into the muddy grass.
"What was that?" Scram whispered, leaning forward cautiously. "Be it dead?"
"'Ow 'bout ye go check?" sneered Blackbeard.
More and more creatures—the undead—made their way toward the crew. Some were (or once were) women, others children. Pistols fired every which way, and the undead (how were they intact after centuries?) continuously plopped down to the ground until there were no more.
"Men, I believe we've showed 'em dead what the livin' be made o'," Blackbeard grinned. He had spoken too soon.
The bodies began to rise again.
The bullets still in their scrawny heads and chests, they made their way toward the crew again. This time, they were walking faster.
"What in Davy Jones' Locker…?" roared Blackbeard, firing another bullet.
"Stop shooting!" Jack shouted. "It's making it worse!"
Almost immediately the crew followed his orders; Blackbeard narrowed his eyes at Jack.
"Then what do you suppose we do, Mr. Sparrow?" he hissed. The bodies would be upon them in moments.
Jack blinked. "Run."
Philip looked at him in disbelief. "Aren't pirates supposed to fight?"
"That one ain't no pirate," Blackbeard growled. Jack frowned.
Philip glanced over at the mermaid in the glass casket. She was looking at him curiously. Then, knowing that she was watching, he unsheathed his sword.
"You will go back to those above you, where you belong!" he shouted and ran up to the closest undead being he saw, and stabbed it in the chest. There was a loud wail, the only noise the creatures had made so far, and the creature began to sizzle. Sparks flew off the edges of Philip's sword as the creature melted away.
And one grabbed him from behind. It was surprisingly strong, wrapping its arms around Philip's neck and actually lifting him in the air. He let out a gurgling sound.
Jack leaped forward, chopping the creature's legs off. Philip fell to the ground, groping at his red neck.
"Ponce de Leon…" the murmurs were still in the air. "We will make you pay for our people…"
"We don't know Ponce de Leon," Jack said helplessly. "We're British, not Spanish!"
He ducked a swing of a bony arm.
Blackbeard unsheathed his large sword and pointed it at the creatures. "Prepare to meet yer match, ye filthy demons."
"It's about time," Jack grumbled as Scram stabbed the creature holding Jack captive.
Scram grinned sheepishly. "Can't do nothin' 'till the Captain says so."
Jack raised an eyebrow. "But why couldn't said Captain save me before? He's dealt with the undead aplenty, hasn't he?"
Scram shrugged as Jack ducked another swing of arms, the fingers groping at him. He stabbed the filthy beast right in the face. Scram looked disgusted as the face screamed and oozed around Jack's sword, turning into a puddle of yellow and green.
"There's too many of them!" Philip shouted in dismay as he shrugged a pair of arms off him. "What are we to do?"
"'Ow 'bout ye pray to Him, eh? Surely that ought to help!" Blackbeard laughed scornfully. Philip's eyebrows furrowed. He turned and his eyes widened at the sight of the ever-growing crowd around the glass casket. Nobody was paying attention to the mermaid because they were too busy fighting.
"Get away from her!" Philip shouted as he ran toward the creatures, shoving some aside, piercing others. "Stand back, I say!"
"You kill more of us?" It was that voice in the fog again. "Ponce de Leon…you will pay."
"I'm not Ponce de Leon!" Jack shouted uselessly.
Hands erupted out from the ground. They groped at the air, wanting the feel of flesh, to grab onto something. There were screams and roars as men swatted away at the decaying hands, trying to get away.
"Let's just get out o' 'ere!" Blackbeard shouted wearily. "C'mon, men!"
"Wait!" Philip shouted desperately. "You're forgetting her!"
"Who?" Blackbeard shouted impatiently, walking forth, swishing his sword about.
Blackbeard cursed loudly. "Get the damned thing yourself!"
"Do not call her a 'damned thing'! You are more damned than her!"
Blackbeard twirled around, eyes settling into the vague shape of Philip. "Ye best watch who yer talkin' to, mercenary, or else I'll damn ye meself."
Philip said nothing.
Suddenly, a scream pierced through the fog. "Captain!" the zombie quartermaster roared. The fog was starting to clear. Blackbeard swiveled his head around until his eyes landed on his quartermaster. His eyes widened.
The balding zombie was sinking into the ground, held down by hands, pushed down by the demons they hadn't yet killed.
"You are back, brother…"
The voice in the air sounded happier than before.
"Back to the dead, where you belong…do not mess with life and death, Ponce de Leon…it is against nature…"
Blackbeard's eyes were wide. He did nothing to help the zombie that reached out toward him helplessly. Jack glanced about, and saw none of the other zombies. He shivered at the thought. The fog was clearing at amazing speed now, and everybody could see one another. As the fog cleared, the demons seemed to fade away.
There was a long silence.
"Let's get goin', lads," Blackbeard said. He walked on as if nothing had happened. The men followed hesitantly, and a few went back to Philip to help him with the mermaid.
Jack walked on after Blackbeard. He looked at his sword curiously. There was no blood on it, but it was crusted slightly. Making a face, he sheathed it.
Obstacle one? Complete.
"Guess this is it, then," Barbossa said. His hands were firmly clamped onto Bloodrayne's. "Thanks fer everythin', Rob."
"'Tis me pleasure," smiled Bloodrayne. "Just tryin' to help out an old friend."
"Did ye just call me old?"
Bloodrayne laughed. "Now yer havin' 'earin' problems too?"
"Oh, shut it."
He grinned his golden teeth and patted Barbossa on the shoulder. "See ye sometime, eh? Keep in touch."
"Will do," Barbossa smirked.
"That's what ye said last time."
He chuckled and shook his head. "Ye got me there, mate. I'll try me best, eh? Good enough?"
"Ah, sure, I've lowered me expectations when it comes to ye," Bloodrayne teased. "Now get yer arse of me beautiful ship! Ye need not dirty 'er any more than ye 'ave!"
Barbossa chuckled and turned on his heels, walking off the ship and toward the dock.
Ragetti and Pintel each offered Bloodrayne a small smile as they followed on after their former Captain.
"Oi! Ye ain't goin' with 'im!" Bloodrayne called, halting his dog from following the two. The dog sat on the ground, looked back at its master with sad eyes, and started to whine. "Shush!"
It stopped whining but continued to look out wistfully at Ragetti and Pintel. Cotton and Marty were the next to leave, as well as some of the other members of Gwen's crew.
"Bye, boy," Gwen cooed at the dog, scratching him behind the ears. It thumped its leg and wagged its tail. She made a move to go when her father stopped her with an, "Oi!" She turned to him and raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"Ye forget to say goodbye to somebody."
"Oh, yeah. Tell Dan I miss 'im."
Bloodrayne chuckled and shook his head. He opened his arms. "C'mere."
She sighed but embraced him nonetheless. He kissed her on the top of her head.
"Make good choices, Gwennie."
"Always do, Dad, always do."
He raised an eyebrow as he released her. "Oh, really?" He pulled the sleeve of her coat back to reveal the tattoos embedded in her wrist. She winced. He'd found out. "I don't consider this a good choice."
"I were drunk," she complained. "I didn't know what I were doin'! It were Johnny's fault, he were the one that let me get it!"
She pointed accusingly at her quartermaster. He scowled at her and folded his arms.
"Don't blame other people fer yer own actions," Bloodrayne said in a fatherly manner. Johnny grinned and stuck his tongue out at Gwen as he headed off the ship.
"See ye again, Cap'n Bloodrayne!"
"See ye, Johnny boy!" He returned his attention to Gwen. "'Ow will I know that ye'll make smart choices when ye make stupid ones over such small things?"
She rolled her eyes and snatched her arm away from him. Defiantly, she showed him the rest of her arm. "Ye ain't the boss o' me. I'm a grown woman, ye very well know, and I make me own decisions."
He gave her a skeptical look. "Grown woman, perhaps, but still 'asn't produced me any grandbabies."
She groaned and stomped a foot. "Oh, cut it out!" Grumbling a few words underneath her breath, she stomped off the ship.
"Don't be stupid!" he shouted after her. She waved a hand back at him dismissively. He chuckled and shook his head.
"Captain Bloodrayne?" He turned to the Navy boy. He looked uncomfortable, if not a little nervous. "Thank you for having me aboard this ship."
"Not a problem, boy, not a problem," he laughed, slapping Groves on the back, making him stumble. "Watch after me girl, will ye?"
"Of course, sir."
"And if anythin' happens to 'er on yer account…" He pulled him close, and Groves could only blink uneasily. "I will track ye down and make ye wish ye were never born."
Groves shivered. "That won't be necessary, sir," he murmured and Bloodrayne raised an eyebrow, "because I'd die for her. I'm going to be there, protecting her each step of the way."
Bloodrayne was silent for a moment. Then he released his grip on Groves and nodded. He grinned. "Make me some grandbabies as soon as yer done with the Fountain."
Groves flushed a deep red. He didn't say anything, staggering off the ship to join the rest of the jumbled crew. Bloodrayne's laugh echoed behind him.
"What were that 'bout?" Gwen questioned him. "'E didn't say anythin' nasty to ye, did 'e, or I'll—"
"It's fine," Groves interjected. "We were just having a friendly chat."
She raised an eyebrow at him but said nothing more.
"Alright," Barbossa said, clearing his throat, "let's get goin'."
Did anybody miss Jack? Happy he's back? What happened in the graveyard was basically one of the 'obstacles' they will encounter on their way to the Fountain. Gwen and her father have mentioned these a few times, and Jack very well knows about them too.