Two years ago, when I attempted May’s writing challenge, one of my posts included a pair of characters belonging to the world created in my fantasy novel (and subsequent books planned in the series). I decided to do another one with these two characters, plus one or two others. Where my first novel currently sits, the minority of pirates left have turned into (mostly) legitimate businessmen, but, of course, that was not always the case. If anyone feels like searching back through posts, I think it was May 2 or 3, 2013 that first featured Margaret and William. Luckily, I fell off the face of the blogging world, so there’s not a hundred posts to wade through. Enjoy!
May 7, 2015
Word prompts: bounty, tooth, remonstrance
Edward Dupree squirmed in the chair. He banged the palm of his hand on the seat and let out a shout.
“Hold still, you moron,” Margaret growled.
He shoved away her arm when she let go of his jaw. “If you’d pull the damn thing instead of inflicting more pain.”
“I like inflicting pain.” She half-turned and grabbed a bottle of wine. As she brought the bottle to her lips, she said, “On you especially.”
“Give me that.”
Margaret walked a few steps away while Edward sucked at the bottle. She pushed open the door of the hut, staring at the darkening sky. While she couldn’t see the ocean, she could hear it; the comforting sound of the place she called home. Normally so vigilant and alert, she let her mind be lulled by the sound of waves and birds. William startled her when he appeared in front of the door, and she gasped.
“What are you doing in here? I could hear him down the beach.” Her brother pushed past. She noticed the folded paper he carried.
“How much this time?”
“For all of us, or just you?”
“I told you it was a bad idea coming here,” said Margaret. She pulled the door shut and returned to the middle of the tiny structure. Picking up the forceps, she jabbed them at her brother. “We should have gone to La Suo. We should have gone there a bloody month ago, but no, you said we would be protected here. That woman is not going to help us. Kera was Dresden’s mistress. Was, William. He left her a year ago, sitting in jail in Fandor, and she owes him nothing. Why would she want to help us?”
“Kera. What a woman,” said Edward.
“Oh, shut your mouth,” Margaret snapped. She grabbed his jaw with her left hand. “Not literally.”
“Fok you,” he managed while she tightened her fingers.
She could hear the squeamish sound William made while she forced Edward’s head back and gripped the broken tooth with the iron forceps. “One … two … three.” She pulled back in a straight line, and the molar finally came free. Blood flowed from the empty socket. Margaret picked up the bowl from Edward’s lap, shoving it at his chest. “Spit in here.” For added effect, she dropped the chunk of tooth into the wood bowl.
William stood near the cutout section of bamboo which served as a window, arms crossed over his chest. Margaret joined him, wiping her face with a rag.
“You still think Eamon Ward is coming?”
He gave her the look of surety that only an older brother could. “You worry too damn much, Mags. He said he’d meet us here.”
“And half of Sertha’s navy is tracking us and him. That correspondence is months old. Probably he’s been killed or arrested, or he ran.”
“Not everyone runs.”
“Yes, they do,” she said, laying a hand on his arm. “Eventually.”
“Is that what we’re doing? Running?”
“You’re Gods’ damn right that’s what we’re doing,” said Edward. He spit out another mouthful of blood. “Have a little faith in your friends, Maggie. If Eamon said he’d come, then he’ll come. So what if it is later than expected?”
“It matters if Kera turns us in,” she said.
“She won’t for another week.”
Edward and Margaret stared at William. He dropped his arms to his sides. “That’s where I went earlier.”
“By the Creators, William!” said Margaret.
“I need to know to what degree of safe we are. Kera might hate Dresden, and while she’s not a fan of Ward, she agreed not to turn us in for a full week. The navy keeps coming here and searching her home and tavern, threatening her with imprisonment. They’re searching the whole town every few days. She’s got children to think about.” Her brother pulled one of the rickety chairs over to the window and sat. “Lucky for us, Kera has no grudge with you. Or Edward.”
She shook her head, but said nothing further, turning away from her brother. A bottle of whiskey, a pair of scissors, a large roll of gauze, and a small bowl sat upon the table on a metal tray. She reached into the bowl to retrieve a thin, short strip of whiskey-soaked gauze that she rolled. She gave it the barest of squeezes and took it to Edward.
“I fucking hate you,” he said.
“I know. Head back.”
The younger man did as she said. She noticed his knuckles whitening as he gripped the edges of the seat. She caught the look in his brown eyes. Sometimes she forgot that he was only twenty. Practically a child. When she was his age, she’d already lived through three years of horror.
“Take a deep breath, Edward.”
When he sucked in a long breath, she packed the wet gauze into the tooth socket. His shouts were muffled when she pressed a hand against his lips. “For the love of all things, Edward!”
Tears brightened his eyes. “Please, stop,” he whimpered.
“The last thing I need is to cut out an infected, pus-filled piece of your gum,” she said. “Keep that stuffed in your mouth, and when it dries, I’ll replace it.”
William still sat by the window. Head propped against the wall, eyes closed. The man could sleep anywhere. She felt hot and closed in, so she left the hut, walking a through the trees and brush until she emerged at the edge of the beach.
The wind cooled her body and her temperature. She wanted to be on her ship. She wanted to be a thousand miles away, free and unworried. They were both right—she was running. She felt old, tired, and worn of running. Building an empire of piracy had its price, and maybe this was the beginning of the payment.
Margaret stepped out of the dark shelter of the woods. She bent down to scoop up a handful of sand, closing her fist tight against the flowing grains. Staring up the sky, she whispered, “Please, Creators. Let me get out of this one. Let this be the last one. I’ll quit. I’ve got a spot in mind already. And a garden plot. The sea was your home first, Goddess, and one you used to seem content to share. Not anymore. I can feel it. I swear I will leave it forever if you help me.”
A crack of a tree branch had her whirling around, sword drawn before she fully turned.
“Your remonstrance has not gone unanswered.” The man smiled, showing an impossible set of straight, white teeth. She noticed he’d shaved his head, but kept the beard. “Ward sent me.”
Margaret narrowed her eyes at her husband-to-be.