Queen of the Sea Ch. 02byLady_Katka©
Everyone looks around at the other men's faces, all eye flash with fear and worry as well as wonderment. Who could the traitor be? It must be one of the new men that joined when we were in port, thought some as nobody who had worked under Kit would dare betray her. They had all seen her in action, and did not want to fall to such a fate. It wasn't that she was cruel, that is unless it was deserved. That was the reason no one dared cross her, they did not want to be deserving of her anger and wrath.
Once on deck, the men form a single line, standing side by side. Carlix noticed that they did not stand at attention as the men would on one of his ships, nor did they stand quite shoulder to shoulder. He tried his best to mimic their stance, shoulders down slightly slouched, eyes glancing from the crew to the captain, then to his feet. Everyone was fidgeting nervously, but Carlix didn't need to fake his nervousness, he was racking his brain trying to figure out when and how he gave himself away. He thought he had been careful. He also said a silent prayer that he die a swift death. He glanced at the captain; she was standing at the railing with her back to them. Her hands were resting on the rail; her dagger was standing up, the point stuck in the wood. Everything turns silent for a moment, so quiet that Carlix can hear the waves lapping against the ship, the flag blowing in the wind and the loud thumping of his own heart.
"One of you has betrayed me." she says still not turning to face the men. Her long strong fingers wrap around the hilt of the dagger pulling it from the railing quickly and effortlessly; turning around to face them, the sharp point of her dagger pressing against her index finger. "You all know what happens to traitors."
The men look straight at her, not meeting her eyes, but looking at her as she walks down the line of men. She doesn't show any emotion but is satisfied when each man holds his breath in turn, only letting it out when she walks past. Carlix watches her come closer and closer to him, he can feel the sweat rolling down his face, and the little hairs on his neck stand up. Even in the heat of the day he gets a chill. This was not how he wanted to die, and even if he fought back he would be killed by the crew, he was too outnumbered. She stops in front of Carlix, he swallows hard, so hard he swears she heard it.
"I shouldn't have allowed you on my ship, but we needed the extra hands to get out of port. Since we are now at sea, you are no longer needed." Her cold tone was enough to give the whole crew chills. Carlix considered begging for his life, but no he was a naval officer and was above such things, no matter how strong the impulse. He must make his majesty proud. He stood a little straighter; his eyes closed tight, waiting for death to come.
A few moments passed and Carlix wondered if he was dead but then he heard a loud thump and moan. He opened his eyes and saw the man to his left was pinned against the mast and Kit had her dagger inside him.
"This is the fate of a traitor, the rest of you get back to work." Every man scrambles back to their posts or to the belly of the ship not wanting to even look at the scene in case they angered the captain. From his post Carlix sees the man who was the traitor being dragged by the quartermaster to the captain's quarters, he wasn't sure if the man was still alive or not. Nor would he dare ask such a question.
That night, the crew seems to have gone on with life as normal, not even talking about what has happened. Then the ship's cook comes to them and says he is delighted to tell them that the feast was ready, and the shark is delicious.
Carlix is the last one to arrive to the feast; the men are already eating their portions hungrily. Some are talking to each other of tall tales and conquests others eat silently concentrating on their food. The sight almost makes him sick, how can these men eat this food knowing exactly how it came to be on their plates. He did not want to stand out from the crowd, especially now, so he walks up to get his meal but is stopped by a hand on his chest. He looks up the arm to see who is stopping him from eating, the hand belongs to Will.
"The captain wants to see you in her quarters" he says, a serious look on his face. "It seems she has plans for you."
Carlix can feel his heart skip a beat, his breath caught in his throat. After a moment he nods then turns back walking to the captain's quarters. He wondered what her plans may involve; all the scenarios he could think of did not bode well for him so he tried to push those thoughts out of his mind. The walk to the captain's door never seemed so long, every step was harder to take than the last. His feet seemed to be becoming heavier each time he picked them up to move them forward. It took what felt like an eternity to reach the door, but he finally did; he knocked not daring to even reach for the handle until he heard her respond.
His sweaty palm gripped the cool brass knob and turned it, pushing the door in. The cabin was lighted by a two large lanterns, and to his surprise was very clean, you would never know she tortured someone to death in here earlier today. There was her bed, attached firmly to the wall, it appeared smaller than the one he had on his ship, but he was not the captain of this vessel. She also had a desk, it had been sanded down smooth, and it seemed it had been crafted with a lot of care. She was standing at the desk; head looking at what he could only assume were maps and charts. She was holding some navigating instruments in her had, Carlix didn't know how to use them very well, and he always had a master navigator on his crew. He was impressed that she was doing it all herself, but then again that would only make sense. If she took on men who could do the same things she could it would be much easier for them to decide they no longer needed her as captain and thus mutiny. She was much smarter than any woman he had ever met, he hated to admit it but she was smarter than many men as well. He couldn't help but wonder where she learned all these skills.
"You wanted to see me Captain" he said, doing his best to keep his voice from shaking.
"Aye, that I did, have a seat"
Once he sits, she turns to face him, her hat shadowing her eyes as she takes a few steps forward.
"Will told you I had plans for you" she says more as a statement than a question, seeming to confirm that Will did his task as commanded. All Carlix could do was nod, still unsure of just what these plans were about, and why she was involving him.
"We will be in the next port soon," she says "within the next day or so."
"Aye, and we will have some shore leave, but what does that have to do with me?" he asks not even thinking before he spoke. Only realizing after the words were out of his mouth that questioning her might make her angry. To his relief she ignores the question.
"You will not be going on shore leave with the other men. I have a job for you; you are the only one in the crew who can do it, that is the only reason why you were hired on to this crew. Do not disappoint me." With her last words her eyes met his and flashed with intensity, he knew to fail would mean death.
A few days later, Carlix found himself staying at an inn. Not the one the rest of the crew would be interested in staying at, as they would spend their money on a bed that is rented by the hour. This room was expensive, and furnished even better than he expected. There was a large bed made of solid oak with a feather mattress. There was a lantern on the bedside table, and a large arm chair made to match the bed and table. A privacy screen in one corner, opposite that there was a window that allowed the light from the spectacular sunset come in making the room appear even more lovely. The view didn't disappoint either, it was spectacular, could see the harbour, as well as down the coast. He could stand there and watch the waves break against the shore for hours, but there was no time for that now. He glanced at the privacy curtain; he could hear Kit dressing herself, with the help of a hired handmaiden, behind it. They had to share a room because he was her escort, or at least that was what they were pretending. It all fell into Kit's grand scheme, and he was going along with it.
He was already dressed in his outfit, it was familiar, yet slightly strange and uncomfortable. He had spent so much time wearing simple torn trousers and light white shirt he was no longer used to fancier clothes. He found the collar of his clean white shirt tight around his neck, the lace itched as well. His coat was long and dark blue with gold embroidery around the sleeves and tails. His trousers also fit snugly more so than they really should but they did belong to someone else so they would have to do for tonight. His black shoes gleamed from the polishing he gave them, he smiled with pride as he looked at them.
He glanced back up towards the privacy curtain, which due to the darkening room and the lantern behind it he could see Kit's silhouette. He was taken aback; she had a lovely feminine form. She was slender, the curve of her hips were alluring. Her hair fell down her back, it was the first time he had seen it, even in shadow, and he hadn't known she had long hair. He could not help but watch as the handmaiden helped Kit with her corset, tightening up the laces in the back, accentuating the curves of her upper body. All he could think was; she is beautiful.
When Kit stepped out from behind the curtain Carlix gasped audibly, she had transformed in appearance completely. Her hair was not only long but was golden, and it curled slightly. She had pulled most of it up behind her head but some still hung down her back and a few wisps framed her face. Her eyes were not icy but entrancing, they sparkled emerald green; her dark red lips looked soft he thought as he realized he wished to test their softness with his own lips. Once his gaze travelled further down her body from her face, he saw her long neck and the pale skin just above her chest. The hat and large male clothing she always wore protected her skin, so it was a pale alabaster white like that of a china doll. The dress was an alluring dark blue, like that of the sea; and just like the sea he found himself drawn to her. He was seeing her as a woman, not only a woman but a lady, for the first time. For a moment he forgot she was a pirate and the enemy completely.
"You look... uhhhh..." Carlix coughs and remembers who he is talking to, "different."
"You look just as I hoped you would. Now if you can just stop pulling at your collar, you will fit into the crowd nicely. None of the other men would have been passable as my escort; they all look suspicious, dangerous or rough. I knew once you shaved and put on clean clothes you would look the part, or at least be able to pull it off."
Carlix was a little offended that she thought he could only pass as a gentleman, when he was one of the most respected men in some ports. He would have to show her what he could really do tonight; he knew she would be impressed. Instead of voicing his thoughts he just said "I am honoured to be your escort this evening" he even added "Milady" to it for effect, bowing slightly at the waist. He glanced up and saw what he thought was a hint of a smile.
"That wasn't bad, perhaps with more practise you will get it perfect. It will do." She flicked her lace fan open and fanned herself lightly. "We should be going, I ordered the coach to be here just after sunset."
Carlix nodded and offered his arm to her, feeling more nervous than he ever had with any woman before when she slid her hand through his arm and rested it lightly on him. He did notice that she wore gloves, these were fashionable for ladies but they also served a practical purpose for Kit; they hid her rough seamen's hands. Her hands had naturally become rougher than a true lady would ever allow her hands to become. With all the work at sea, not to mention swordplay she has done in her life, you couldn't expect that she would have soft hands.
"If I may ask, I was wonderin' where you came upon these clothes?"
"I persuaded the owners to give them to me" she said with more of a smile, remembering how the lady trembled with fear when undressing and handing over the lovely gown.
"I am sure you did." He said with a sceptical tone but said nothing more of it.
Upon reaching the coach, a footman opened the door to allow them in. Carlix assisted Kit into the coach then climbed in behind her. It seemed to him that she has spent her whole share of the plunder on this night.
"Tonight I will be called Lady Anne of Durshire, and you are William Dunlop. Do not forget."
Carlix simply nods, as he is being trying not to stare at her, or at least not stare so obviously. Why can't he stop staring, why can't he remember she is the enemy, why can he not get the thought of her figured silhouette out of his mind as well; as what she would look like if he had drawn back that privacy curtain? His brain was buzzing with thoughts, all relating to Kit, and none of the matter at hand. He got so lost in his thoughts he didn't even notice they had arrived until the sound of the coach door opening brought him back to reality. He scrambled out of the coach finding that he was eager to help her out of the coach and have her hand resting on his arm again. Seeing her dressed this way, he felt like he wanted to protect her, keep her safe and even provide for her. Not that she needed him to, but every woman wanted a man to do that for her, even if they pretended like they did not, and Kit was a woman.
She slipped her arm through his, resting her hand upon it lightly as before. He placed his hand over top of hers for a moment, but removed it again when she glanced at him. He escorted her up the stone walkway to the wide solid wood doors. The doormen opened them, and they found themselves standing on top of a marble staircase, looking down on a crowd of faces.
"Welcome to the Governor's Ball" says a man standing at the railing ready to announce them.