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Hector Barbossa

Pirate Legends

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damn it, I couldn't stay away from these. The spark has returned. This idea was itching at me for some time and my conscious was telling me to make it happen, so here you go, my surprise return to spin-offs, mateys! With my 10th SBC anniversary coming this month, this will be a cool way to celebrate my SBC creations. (Note: I'm still 100% done with SBC related literatures however)

Pirate_Legends_Logo.png

(Credit to @Aquatic Konquest for the logo)

Coming soon, ar ar ar!

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Here we go. This works as a nice homage to the POTC film series, but I also threw in my own fresh spins and expansions which you'll see the more we go along. This is a huge growth from my spin-offs over a decade ago. This will be a lot more mature than SR and MG, but still fun enough for everyone. Enjoy.

1. Pirate's Life: Part I

In the past, an ominous, murky fog is shown covering a large sea. A large, bronze navy ship emerges from the fog, named the HMS Dauntless. Aboard it are several Royal Navy soldiers from a far off land. A singing is heard as the ship grows closer.

“Drink up me hearties, yo ho! We pillage and plunder, and loot and thieve! Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me…” a girl, named Juliet, sung.

As she sings, a hand clutches her shoulder, startling her. She turns around to see a man wearing a dark leather jacket.

“Quiet, miss Rose! Cursed pirates sail these treacherous waters. You don’t want to bring ‘em to us.” The man warned her.

“Mr. Higgs, that’ll do.” A navy lieutenant said to the man known as Higgs.

“She was singin’ about pirates. You and I both know it’s bad luck to be singing about pirates, lieutenant, especially in this eerie fog. Mark my words.” Higgs explained, looking out at the foggy ocean worried.

“Consider them marked. On your way now.” The lieutenant replied.

“Aye, sir.” Higgs replied, and gets back to his deck swabbing duties.

He pulls out a flask and superstitiously takes a quick drink from it.

“I think it would be awesome to meet a pirate!” Juliet said eagerly, thinking about them.

“Think again, miss Rose. Vile and disobedient creatures, those scoundrels are. I will personally see to it that anyone sailing under a pirate flag or wearing the pirate brand will get what they deserve: a swift drop and sudden stop.” The lieutenant replied sternly, as this makes Juliet nervous and sad.

Higgs is seen gleefully miming a pirate being hung to Juliet, trying to cheer her up.

“Lieutenant Tyrell, I appreciate your ambition to hunting pirates, but I am a tad concerned about the effects this subject will have on my daughter…” Juliet’s father, Isaac Rose, spoke to the lieutenant known as Tyrell.

“My apologies, Ambassador Rose.” Tyrell replied.

“Actually, I find it all fascinating.” Juliet replied.

“That’s what concerns me…” Isaac replied, sighing.

Suddenly, from out of the fog, a parasol is seen floating in the water. Juliet watches it in curiosity, seeing it bounce off the ship’s hull. She then sees something even more curious: a teenage boy emerges from the fog, who is on his back, unconscious.

“Look, there’s a boy in the water!” The girl shouted, surprising the crew.

Isaac and Tyrell both look out from the ship’s side, spotting him too.

“Man overboard! Grab the ropes, fetch a hook! Haul him on board!” Tyrell ordered to his men.

The sailors scramble to get the boy aboard, as they manage to get him out and lay him on the deck.

“He’s still breathing.” Tyrell checked.

Higgs looks into the fog and spots a truly haunting sight he will never forget.

“Mother of Neptune…” Higgs said, worried.

Higgs’ fear turns everyone on board’s attention from the boy to the sea, which is no longer empty. Debris and wreckage from a ship is scattered all over the water. Whatever remains of the hull burns, and the tattered flag floats in the murky waters.

“…What in blazes happened here?” Isaac asked.

“Most likely the powder magazine. Merchant vessels do tend to run heavily armed.” Tyrell speculated.

“Lot of good it did 'em…look, we’re all thinking it, so I’ll say it! It was pirates who did this!” Higgs said, worrying the crew.

“There is no proof of that. It could have just been an unfortunate accident.” Isaac replied.

“Rouse the captain, immediately!” Tyrell ordered to a sailor, and then ordered to his crew, “Heave to and take in sails! Launch the boats!”

“Juliet, I want you to accompany this boy. He’ll be in your watch, take care of him.” Isaac ordered her.

Juliet nods, as I watches her move away. A small boat with several sailors on it rows its way toward the wreckage ahead. The boy lays motionless on the deck, as Juliet is beside him. Suddenly, he grabs her wist, as he Is now awake. Their eyes lock, as she takes his hand in hers.

“It’s okay. My name’s Juliet Rose.” Juliet introduced.

“…Sawyer Turner.” Sawyer introduced, looking around at his setting.

“I’m watching over you, Sawyer. It’s okay.” Juliet replied.

“I don’t need no watchin’, but thanks for the concern.” Sawyer replied somewhat ungrateful.

He then slips back into unconsciousness, and the movement has opened the clear of his shirt. There is a chain around his neck. Juliet tugs it free, revealing a mysterious gold medallion. She takes the medallion from around his neck. One side of it is an ominous skull glaring at her. To Juliet’s limited view, this can only mean one thing.

“…He’s a pirate?” Juliet wondered.

“Has he said anything?” Tyrell asked, as Juliet whirls to see him behind her.

She craftily hides the medallion behind her back.

“His name is Sawyer Turner, that’s all he would say.” Juliet repelled to him, managing to successfully hide her discovery.

Tyrell nods and then turns to some of his crew.

“Take him below.” Tyrell ordered, as he moves off.

Juliet goes to the stern of the ship and examines her treasure: the mysterious gold medallion. An eerie wisp of wind then blows through the air, making her look up. Moving through the fog, silent as a phantom, appears a large sailing galleon ship, waving its ominous black sails. Juliet stares at it, too scared to move or cry out. A jolly roger flag flies from the top. Juliet looks from the jolly roger to the medallion, noticing the skull on the flag is the same as the one on the medallion. Fog engulf the black ship, except for its flag. As Juliet watches, it appears as if the skull seems to turn and grin at her. She then shuts her eyes tight.

Flash forward to 8 years later, in the present day. The scene opens to a large island archipelago called the Enhalas. Enhalas is seen as a dangerous, largely unexplored “no man’s land” by most of the ocean world, as it’s ruled over by pirates, outlaws, bounty hunters, and supernatural entities. Any “laws” there are nigh impossible to enforce. For centuries, many powerful factions from multiple countries have tried to conquer the area, but failed. It is foretold that whoever rules Enhalas will control the entire ocean. On the ocean horizon, a mast comes into view against the sky. Standing atop the yardarm in swashbuckling splendor is a sharply dressed, lone pirate. He gazes keen-eyed at the HMS Dauntless in the distance, which looms into a port on a large island nearby. His attention is then draw to something below, as he leads from the yardarm to the rigging. He drops below, as his boots splash into the foot of water filling the hull of the small dory, named the Jolly Mon, he is riding, which only has a single sail. There are multiple holes in the bottom of the dory, as it is slowly sinking. The pirate sloshes through the small dory, picks up a bucket, and starts shoveling out what he can. 

The dory keeps sailing, as the pirate takes quick notice of the skeletal remains of three pirates hanging from gallows on a rocky promontory. A fourth, unoccupied noose bears a sign:

“PIRATES NOT WELCOME - YE BE WARNED.”

The pirate is undeterred by this, as the dory slips past the gallows. The pirate jumps to his feet and removes his hat. He gazes at the pirate skeletons and empty noose, paying a moment of respect. The pirate keeps sailing what remains of the dory to the large island port nearby. The port, dominated by the HMS Dauntless, bustles with activity as many people reside on the island. A port worker spots the pirate’s bucket floating in the water, and looks over just in time to see the pirate on top of the sinking crow’s nest. He nonchalantly steps directly onto the dock, as the dory sinks behind. The pirate strolls past the port worker.

“Hey, hold up there! It’s two shillings to tie up your boat at the dock.” The port worker said.

The pirate casts a dubious glance back at the sunken dory’s mast, which is sticking out of the water.

“Also, I will need to know your name.” The port worker added, as he opens a ledger and holds it up.

The pirate then tosses five shillings onto the ledger.

“What do ye say to five shillings and we forget the name, eh?” The pirate bargained, winking to the port worker.

The port worker considers, and then shuts the ledger.

“Welcome to Port Royale, sir, or “Mr. John”.” The port worker said, smiling, as he quickly moves off.

The pirate acknowledges the welcome, moves past the port worker’s desk, and spots a small money bag sitting on top of it. He picks up the bag and shakes it. Pleased to hear the rattle of coins, he pockets it and keeps walking onward. The pirate looks across the bay of Port Royale to a ship known as the Interceptor, belonging to the navy. Holding the thought for later, he heads into the large town on the island, looking for someone.

Meanwhile, Juliet’s eyes open, as a parallel to the flashback. No longer a child, she is now twenty years old, laying in bed. She looks as far out the corner of her eyes as possible. Could there be someone else in the room with her? Juliet sits up, ready for anything. Thankfully, she is alone. She gets up and walks to a dressing table. She pulls a drawer all the way out, reaching into a space beneath and takes out the same gold medallion she obtained as a child. It has not lost its luster or sense of dread. In the same drawer space, there is also a book she kept about pirates and several drawings she made years ago of pirate ships. She stares at the medallion, absently returns the drawer to its place and puts on the medallion. She looks at herself on the mirror, thinking it fits passably. She then hears a knock on the door, and it startles her, causing her to accidentally knock down the chair.

“Juliet? Is everything alright?” Isaac, now the governor of the island, asked from the other side.

“Yes dad, I had a brief slip is all.” Juliet replied, as she quickly puts on a dressing gown, hiding the medallion under it. 

Governor Rose enters, wearing a sharp business suit. A maid also enters, who is carrying a gift box.

“Still asleep at this hour? It’s a wonderful day out!” Governor Rose said, looking out the window to see Port Royale’s large village settlement before him, along with Fort Weatherby, the navy’s main base of operations on the island. “I have a gift for you.”

He opens the maid’s gift box, unveiling a gorgeous, sapphire dress.

“Oh my, it’s beautiful!” Juliet said, impressed.

“Indeed so. Thank the best designers here on Port Royale for the lovely craftsmanship. As the governor of the island, I will always ensure you have access to quality products like so. Try it on.” Governor Rose said.

Juliet then goes behind a screened-off dressing area and puts on the sapphire dress over her gown. She looks into the mirror and is impressed, although it is somewhat tighter than Rose anticipated, which was not his fault. Nonetheless, Juliet assumes it will be fine.

“By the way, you shall be wearing that to the ceremony today.” Governor Rose said, confusing Juliet from behind the screen.

“What ceremony?” Juliet asked.

“Captain Tyrell’s promotion ceremony. I thought I had given sly hints to you this was coming.” Governor Rose revealed.

“Right…I knew it.” Juliet replied.

“Commodore Tyrell, he is about to evolve into. What a great man. He and Admiral Valek have helped save our flourishing island on many occasions. Perhaps when you’re older, he’d make a great partner for you.” Governor Rose said, making Juliet embarrassed.

“Not interested. I do not see him in that way.” Juliet replied, as Rose laughs.

“Of course, of course, I only jest. Just know that he does care about you a lot, after all, you’ve known him since you were a mere child. Besides, he’s almost like family at this point.” Rose replied.

“Governor, you have a visitor.” A butler said, approaching him.

At the Rose mansion foyer, the visitor is seen. He is dressed in rough clothing, clearly out of place, and he knows it. He is biting on a tooth stick. He is holding a special presentation case and looks impatient. He inspects a sconce on a nearby wall. Suddenly, a section of it breaks off into his hand.

“Dammit…” the visitor whispered.

At a loss as to what to do, the visitor hides a section in an umbrella stand just before a servant walks by. 

“Hopefully the governor won’t notice that lil’ mistake…” the visitor said.

He hears footsteps, as Rose, Juliet and the butler approach.

“Ah, Mr. Turner! It’s good to see you again!” Rose said, revealing the visitor is Sawyer.

“Good day to you, chief. I got your order.” Sawyer replied.

Sawyer puts the presentation case on the table and opens it. Inside of it is a beautiful dress sword and scabbard. Sawyer takes it out reverently and hands it to Rose. Rose removes the sword from the scabbard and inspects it.

“That blade right there is folded steel, best around. The handle’s got some of that gold filigree laid into it. If I can see it, I’d like to display a little magic trick.” Sawyer said, as he takes the sword from Rose.

Sawyer then balances it on one finger at the point where the blade meets the guard.

“Looky here, chief, perfectly balanced. The tang here is nearly the full width of the blade.” Sawyer explained.

With practiced ease, Sawyer flips the sword, catches it by the hilt, and offers the sword back to Rose, bowing slightly.

“Impressive…very impressive. Commodore Tyrell will be most pleased with this.” Rose replied, impressed with Sawyer’s demonstration. 

Rose returns the sword to its scabbard and hands it to Sawyer. As he puts it back into the case…

“Do pass my complements to your mentor.” Rose said.

This strikes a nerve with Sawyer, as the work is clearly his, and he’s proud of it.

“Oh, I will. A craftsman is always happy to hear when his work is appreciated and acknowledged…” Sawyer was saying sarcastically, when he trails off upon seeing Juliet walk down the steps and wearing her dress.

“Juliet, you look wonderful.” Rose said.

“Well howdy, someone sure got fancy for today.” Sawyer said, trying to casually hide his flirting.

“Sawyer, so good to see you! Funny, I had a dream about you last night.” Juliet said.

“About me, huh? Well gee, I’m honored.” Sawyer replied.

“Erm, Juliet, is that entirely proper-“ Rose was asking.

“A dream about the day we met. You remember, of course?” Juliet asked him, ignoring her father.

“Of course, how could I forget, miss Rose?” Sawyer replied.

“How many times must I ask you to call me “Juliet”?” Juliet replied.

“At least once more, miss Rose.” Sawyer replied smugly, annoying her.

“See, Mr. Turner here at least has a sense of respect. Now, we must be going.” Rose said.

Rose takes the sword case from the table and hands it to a servant. He leads the servants out the door.

“Good day, Mr. Turner.” Juliet said in passing to Sawyer, as she heads out.

Rose follows Juliet out the door, toward their escort, a luxurious carriage.

“Good day, Juliet.” Sawyer said to himself smugly, staying behind.

In the carriage, Juliet looks over her shoulder at Sawyer as they ride off.

Elsewhere out at sea, a naval battle is occurring between a large, red navy ship and a lone pirate ship. The navy ship is called the HMS Crimson Devil. It’s controlled by an admiral wearing an all red outfit, who looks at the pirate ship menacingly. The pirate ship is trying to sail away from the Crimson Devil, but it’s gaining on the ship.

“Admiral Valek, it’s in range.” One of the soldiers reported to the man in red, known as Valek.

“Obliterate that filth. Take any remaining survivors into custody.” Valek replied.

The Crimson Devil opens fire at once onto the pirate ship using a mix of gun turrets and cannonballs, quickly destroying it piece by piece. All of the crew abandons ship and jumps into the waters, as debris flies everywhere. The crew desperately tries to swim away, but are cornered by two smaller boats from the Crimson Devil. The soldiers point their guns at the pirate crew.

“…Parlay?” one of the pirates tried to beg, but is taken into custody along with the others.

They are brought on board the Crimson Devil, handcuffed. 

“Which one of you is the ship’s captain?” A soldier asked.

“I am.” The pirate in the middle spoke up, as he is forcefully escorted into the ship’s cabin. 

Valek is inside, standing in front of his desk which has many intriguing maps and notes laid about. A picture of the gold medallion Juliet found years ago is seen amongst his papers.

“Haha, wow matey, your suit is so…red!” The pirate said in fascination, giving a nervous laugh and twitching.

“Greetings. I’ll get right to the point. Tell me where the highly sought “treasure” is at and perhaps I’ll spare your comrades.” Valek demanded.

“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about, man!” The pirate replied in fear, trying to hide something.

“Yes you do. Pirate scum like yourself and bounty hunters all over have been quite fascinated in this mysterious “treasure” as of late, whatever it may be. It has quite the high price reward which would draw any scoundrel out of hiding. Your ship was clearly not prepared for combat, so you were looking for something, and not to mention, all of your friends looking for this treasure have been coming through this exact area.” Valek explained, showing an impressive knowledge of the ongoings on pirate life and area around.

“Okay, f-fine, I shall squeal: We were headin’ to that remote island close to Port Royale…uh, Nevarro, that’s it, yes, yes! We heard on the sea chatter that the treasure might be located there, but we don’t know for sure! That’s all I know, I swear!” The pirate confessed, terrified.

“Thank you for your cooperation. This only confirms my theories.” Valek replied, seeming content.

“I told you the info, can you at least show a captain some honorable lenience and cast me into the brig?” The pirate bargained.

Valek then walks closer to him, worrying the pirate.

“Please…don’t…KILL!” The pirate yelled in fear.

Valek stands still for a moment, easing the pirate’s fears. Suddenly, Valek then pulls out his maroon rifle and shoots the pirate right through the chest. His body collapses to the ground, dead.

“Heh…wouldn’t think of it.” Valek replied coldly, as he blows the smoke off of his gun.

“Sir, what should we do with the rest of his crew?” A soldier asked.

“Execute them all.” Valek ordered.

“Yes sir.” The soldier replied, as he leaves the cabin.

“Get this off my ship.” Valek ordered to another soldier, pointing to the pirate’s body.

The soldier nods, as he picks up the pirate’s corpse. He tosses it overboard, as it flails into the waters. His companions are seen being lowered on their knees, as the soldiers ready their guns from behind. Gunshots go off, as Valek walks out of the cabin, and smirks at the sight.

“Dispatch a small squadron to the island of Nevarro for scouting at once. I’ll be attending Tyrell’s promotion ceremony.” Valek ordered to an officer.

“Right away, sir.” The officer replied.

The pirate from earlier is seen wandering through the walkways of Port Royale, seeing multiple buildings along his way. He makes his way to a tavern, with a sign hanging above the entrance titling the establishment “The Sailor’s Tavern”. The pirate pulls out a poster from his pocket, checking to see if he’s at the right place. He is correct, as he puts away his pirate hat and casually opens the door, walking into the tavern. Inside, there is a rough crowd of sailors, normal island residents, scoundrels, pirates, and other suspicious figures. The bartender looks at the pirate, and gives him a smile.

“Drink up me heartie.” The bartender winked at him, implying he knows the man is a pirate, and is a sympathizer.

The pirate heads to the back of the tavern, seeing a lone, familiar person sitting by themselves at a table, having a drink of rum. The person is revealed to be Higgs, who is surprised to see the pirate. He is wearing a gold badge belonging to the Bounty and Treasure Hunters Guild.

“…It really is you. Nice to see ye again after so long, Mack!” Higgs said to the pirate, getting up, as they give each other a brotherly hug.

“Could’ve found a better residence, Vince. I haven’t set foot on Port Royale in years!” Mack replied.

They sit down at the table, as Higgs gets him a drink. The two catch up.

“How did you get here without a ship or crew?” Higgs asked.

“I found a way, as always. I thought you would’ve learned by now to never underestimate me.” Mack replied, taking a sip of his drink.

“What I mean is, the navy has been crackin’ down on pirates coming through this area as of late. It’s a fool’s errand to even set foot on Port Royale anymore.” Higgs explained, taking another sip.

“Like I said, I found a way. I kept a low profile and may or may not have used my charm to con my way in. Captain’s secret.” Mack replied, winking.

Higgs lets out a light laugh.

“You know Mack, I never stopped believing. I’m still loyal to you ’til the bitter end.” Higgs said.

“I know, mate. Even though my previous attempts at making a new crew ended in unfortunate blunders, you were always there. It’s been a rough many years, but it’s always a joy to see a familiar face again, and one I trust. Now I feel a tad less…alone. They say to trust no one in Enhalas, but you’ve proven to subvert that expectation.” Mack replied.

“I’m still deeply sorry ya lost everything. Wish I was there for ya sooner, but after the your attempted new crews didn’t work out, I needed a break from the pirate life. Have you had any runs in with him as of late?” Higgs asked cautiously.

“No. Not since the night I was mutinied and stranded. Every night I think about him.” Mack said.

Mack has a brief flashback, showing himself and an unknown pirate, his former First Mate, at the forefront, along with several other pirates on the same ship Juliet saw as a child. Mack then holds out a pistol, looking at it, which has a single bullet in it.

“Still saving the bullet for him, huh.” Higgs replied.

“One day.” Mack replied.

“I’ve heard the stories. He’s made his way up as one of the most ferocious pirate crews in Enhalas. All this makes me glad I left that pirate and navy lives behind, now I’ve been relaxing a calm life here.” Higgs said.

“You’re a representative for the guild now, eh? Quite a transition from the pirate life, if I do say so myself. Never imagined you had in it you.” Mack said curiously, looking at Higgs’ badge.

“Wasn’t in the cards at first. I settled down here the past year, and then the business opportunity called. Not one for action anymore myself, but I make quite the riches from representing the guild. They need all the help they can get out here.” Higgs said, holding out several bags of money and kicking a steel box on the floor, which contains all of his requests.

“Dare I ask mate, do you give out bounties for pirates? Would be rather unfortunate if my face was on one of your assignments one day…” Mack said curiously.

“I sure don’t, since most of my clients be pirates, and I ain’t scaring ‘em off. There’s a few in hiding here right now.” Higgs said, waving toward a few sitting at the bar. “I guess the pirate life never truly left me. Unfortunately, business is rather slow for me lately due to few pirates making it here anymore, and the bounty hunters flock to other reps.”

“Which brings me to the next reason I’m here.” Mack said, placing the poster on the desk.

Higgs looks at it, with a grim look.

“I see. You want in on that forsaken treasure too.” Higgs said.

“Tell me what you know about it. I hope it’s worth all the trouble it’s giving the pirate crews. Word spreads fast, even to a now “nobody” like me.” Mack asked.

“All I know is, the request is from an anonymous client, and the reward price varies depending on negotiations. Whatever it is, it’s located on the island of Nevarro.” Higgs explained.

“Great, thanks for the help, and so off I am to my next destination!” Mack said, finishing his drink.

“Wait, how will ye get there without a ship?” Higgs asked, befuddled.

“Not to worry mate, I have that covered.” Mack replied, winking.

“Just try to maintain that low profile of yours. If you get into any trouble, I want no part of it, since I myself have been keeping a low profile here and would prefer to not become a fugitive.” Higgs cautioned to Mack.

“Count on me, Captain’s honor.” Mack replied, as he is about to leave, but Higgs has one more thing to say.

“Just so you know Mack, if you’re looking for a new crew, I want no part of that either. I’m not coming back to that life.” Higgs said sternly.

“No feelings hurt from me. When I fetch that treasure, it’ll give me the reputation to assemble together a new crew from scratch. Then I’ll find him.” Mack said determined.

“Good luck, lad. I’m rooting for ya, I know if anyone can get that treasure, it’s you.” Higgs said, as he sits back down, and Mack leaves the tavern. 

Outside Fort Weatherby, soldiers march into the courtyard, taking their places for the ceremony. Admiral Valek arrives slightly late.

“Apologies for being late governor, I had important business to deal with.” Valek said to Rose.

“Not a problem, admiral.” Rose replied, as the ceremony begins and several residents of the island are attending.

“Two paces, march!” A soldier yelled.

The soldiers, now divided into two columns, obey the order.

“About face!” The soldier yelled.

The soldiers obey and turn, now facing each other.

“Present arms!” The soldier yelled, as they obey.

Tyrell then walks between the two columns of soldiers and moves toward the presentation area where Rose and Admiral Valek wait for him. With precision, Rose removes the sword and scabbard from its case and presents it to Tyrell, in full dress. Tyrell accepts the sword, executes a flourishing salute, first to Rose, then to the officers, and then to the audience, assembled beneath the glaring sun. Among the audience is Juliet, who is sweating. She winces, discreetly adjusts the corset through the material of the dress, trying to hide her discomfort.

“Congratulations, James Tyrell. You have been promoted to Commodore. I’ll be looking forward to working with you a lot more closely from now on.” Valek said, congratulating the now Commodore Tyrell and shaking his hand.

“It is an honor, sir. I will not disappoint.” Tyrell replied.

Mack makes his way down to the dock, passing two marines on sentry duty, taking advantage of what little shade there is on the dock. But when Mack saunters up, the two are immediately on alert.

“This dock is off-limit to civilians, sir.” One of them, named Toby, said.

“I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t know. If I see one, I will inform you immediately.” Mack replied.

Mack tries to move around the two, but they block his path.

“Apparently there’s some sort of high-toned and fancy to do up at the fort, eh? How could it be that two upstanding gentlemen such as yourselves did not merit an invitation?” Mack asked, trying to mess with them.

“Someone has to make sure this dock stays off limits to civilians.” Toby replied.

“It’s a fine goal, to be sure…but it seems to me that a ship like, makes this one here a bit superfluous, really.” Mack said, looking at the Dauntless and then at the Interceptor.

“Oh, the Dauntless is quite a power in these seas, very true, but there’s no ship that can rival the Interceptor for speed.” Toby replied.

“I’ve heard of one, supposed to be very fast, nigh uncatchable…The Eclipse Pearl.” Mack said.

The other soldier, named Murray, scoffs at the name.

“Well…there’s no real ship that can match the Interceptor.” Murray replied.

“The Eclipse Pearl is a real ship, though.” Toby replied.

“No it ain’t!” Murray replied.

“Yes it is. I’ve seen it.” Toby replied.

“You’ve seen it, huh?” Murray replied.

“Yes.” Toby replied.

“You haven’t seen it.” Murray replied.

“Yes, I have!” Toby replied.

“You’ve seen a ship with black sails, that’s crewed by the damned and captivated by a man so evil that the abyss itself spat him back out?” Murray asked.

“…No.” Toby replied.

“No, indeed.” Murray replied smugly.

“But I’ve seen a ship with black sails.” Toby replied.

“Oh, and yet no ship that’s not crewed by the damned and captained by a man so evil that the abyss itself spat him back out could possibly have black sails, therefore couldn’t possibly be any other ship than the Eclipse Pearl. Is that what you’re saying?” Murray replied.

“…No.” Toby sighed.

“It’s like I said, there’s no real ship that can match the Interceptor-HEY!” Murray replied, looking for Mack, but he’s not there.

The two soldiers look around, and spot Mack standing at the wheel of the Interceptor, casually examining the mechanism and whistling.

“You!” Murray yelled.

Mack looks over in exaggeratedly innocent surprise. The sailors hurry toward the gangplank and board the ship. They raise their guns and approach Mack.

“Get away from there! You have no permission to be aboard, mate!” Murray ordered.

“I’m sorry sirs, it’s…such a beautiful ship.” Mack replied.

“What’s your name?” Toby asked.

“John, or Johnny, if you prefer.” Mack lied.

“Where’s your business in Port Royale, “Mr. John”?” Murray asked.

“And no lies!” Toby added.

“I must confess, then. It is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, sail my way to a nearby isle, collect my treasure, use that reputation to build myself a new crew in Swashbuckler Outpost, raid, pillage, plunder, and otherwise pilfer my black guts out!” Mack revealed.

“I said no lies!” Toby said annoyed.

“…I think he’s telling the truth.” Murray replied, holding his gun.

“If he were telling the truth, he wouldn’t have told us that, duh genius.” Toby replied.

“Unless, of course, he knew you wouldn’t believe the truth even if he told it to you.” Mack replied, making Murray and Toby both ponder.

Back at the ceremony, Juliet, who is pale and sweating due to her extra clothing, fans herself weakly, oblivious to the celebration and chatter around. However, that is not the only problem, as the medallion she has is beginning to act unnaturally, little to her knowledge. Tyrell then approaches her.

“You don’t look so well. How about getting some fresh air?” Tyrell offered her, extending his hand.

“That would be nice.” Juliet replied, taking it, as he escorts her to a parapet.

“Quite the dress your father got for you. It’s splendid.” Tyrell noted.

“Yes, but I’m feeling…ill.” Juliet said, as the golden medallion begins to have a strange effect on her

“Don't worry, just take in the fresh sea wind and it’ll help.” Tyrell replied.

Juliet loses her balance and stumbles away, as the medallion glows. She reaches a hand out to the parapet to steady herself, but it slides off and she vanishes over the wall, gone. Juliet plummets from the top of the cliff, down toward the sea. Tyrell turns, to find Juliet gone.

“Juliet?” Tyrell asked, as he looks down. “JULIET!”

He leaps to the top of the parapet, prepared to dive, but a lieutenant, Pearson, catches his arm.

“Sir, the rocks! It’s a miracle she missed them!” Pearson said, pointing below.

Tyrell shakes off his arm and then looks down, realizing Pearson is right. He jumps down and runs underwater. An unconscious Juliet continues to sink deeper into the water.

Mack, Murray and Toby are still in shock from the sight.

“Shall you gents be saving her, then?” Mack asked to the two.

“…I can’t swim.” Murray revealed, as Toby shakes his head, indicating neither can he.

“Pride of the navy, you two surely are.” Mack replied, not surprised.

He takes off his hat, coat, and then hands his pistol and sword to Toby.

“Don’t lose these.” Mack said, as he dives underwater.

Juliet keep drifting down unconscious. The medallion slips loose from her bodice, and it turns slowly, until the skull side is fully visible. A shaft of filtered sunlight hits it, and it glints, and a signal reverberates out across the sea.

“What was that?” Toby asked to Murray, who shakes his head, shrugging. 

A gust of wind comes up. The two grab their hats and look up at the flag, which has begun to blow in the opposite direction. The wind pits up, blowing in from the sea. The skeletons of the three pirates hanging from the gallows on the rocky promontory spin from the rabid wind. Juliet’s unmoving form hits the bottom, and then, Mack is there. He wraps an arm around her and makes his way to the surface. Mack swims toward the docks. Tyrell rushes down, followed by his men. Beyond him, past the rocky point, far out to sea, an ominous fog gathers. Toby and Murray help Mack haul Juliet out of the water. Mack climbs up, exhausted. Juliet is on her back, as Murray examines her.

“Not good, she ain’t breathing.” Murray said, as Mack slips Toby’s knife from its sheath.

“Move!” Mack demanded, as he pushes past Murray and Toby is shocked. 

Mack slits Juliet’s dress down the middle and yanks it away, as Toby holds it. Juliet remains still and then she coughs up water, as removing the dress has allowed her some breathing room once more.

“I never would have thought of that.” Murray said curiously.

“Clearly, you’ve never been to Thalassia.” Mack replied.

Mack then spots Juliet’s medallion on her neck. Make catches it up in his hand, and is surprised.

“…Where did you get this?” Mack asked, intrigued and knowing what it exactly is.

Before Juliet can answer, the blade of a sword is at Mack’s throat. Tyrell’s new ceremonial sword, as a matter of fact.

“On your feet.” Tyrell ordered to him. 

The rest of Tyrell’s men reach the scene, including Rose.

“Juliet! Are you all right?” Rose asked, putting a jacket over her.

“Yes…yes, I’m fine.” Juliet replied.

Rose notices the dress Toby is holding. 

“Shoot him!” Rose ordered at once, angry.

“Wait, father! Commodore, do you truly intend to kill my rescuer?”  Juliet protested.

Tyrell looks at Juliet, and then nods to his men. Mack nods a thanks to Juliet. Tyrell sheathes his sword, and then extends his hand to Mack.

“I believe thanks are in order.” Tyrell said.

Mack takes Tyrell’s hand. They shake, and Tyrell tightens his grip, yanks Mack’s arm toward him, the tears back the sleeve of Mack’s shirt. It exposes a brand on Mack’s wrist: a large “P”, revealing Mack was marked as a pirate long ago.

“Had a run in with the Eastern Trading Company, did we…pirate?” Tyrell said, revealing his identity.

Shocked reactions occur, but the soldiers are well-trained. In the blink of an eye, half a dozen guns are aimed at Mack. He winces.

“Kill him.” Rose demanded.

___________________

2.  Pirate’s Life: Part II

Mack is surrounded and his situation is not looking good.

“Keep your guns on him, men. Pearson, fetch the irons.” Tyrell ordered at once.

Tyrell then notices something else: above the “P” brand is a tattoo of a star and sword struck into it.

“Well, well… Mack Stark, isn’t it?” Tyrell realized.

“Captain Mack Stark, if you please, sir.” Mack said, revealing his last name.

“Well, I don’t see your ship, captain.” Tyrell said, glancing out at the bay.

“I’m in the market, as they say.” Mack replied charmingly.

“He said he was gonna commandeer one.” Toby reported.

“I told you he was telling the truth,” Murray said to him, and then hands Tyrell Mack’s piston and belt, “These are his, sir.”

Tyrell examines the pistol.

“No additional shot nor powder.” Tyrell noted, as Mack shrugs.

Tyrell then examines his compass and tests it.

“A compass that doesn’t point north.” Tyrell noted, as Mack looks away, slightly embarrassed.

Tyrell then half-draws the sword from the scabbard.

“Wow, and I somewhat expected it to be made of wood. You are, without a doubt, one of the worst pirates I’ve ever heard of.” Tyrell said, as he re-sheates the sword.

“But you have heard of me.” Mack corrected.

Pearson returns with shackles. Tyrell grabs Mack by the arm and drags him over to Pearson.

“Commodore, I truly must protest!” Juliet said, feeling this is unfair.

“Carefully, lieutenant.” Tyrell ordered.

Juliet steps forward. Rose’s jacket slips off her. She is unconcerned, but he is intent on putting it back on.

“Even if he’s a pirate, this man saved my life.” Juliet said.

“One small good deed is not enough to redeem someone of a lifetime of wickedness.” Tyrell said.

Pearson snaps the manacles closed on Mack’s wrists.

“Though it seems to condemn him.” Mack noted.

“Indeed.” Tyrell replied, smiling.

Now that Mack is safely chained, Tyrell nods to his men. They stow their weapons.

“Finally, my moment!” Mack said.

Acting upon lighting fast instinct, Mack wraps the manacle chain around Juliet’s throat, using her as ransom. Guns are drawn again, but now Juliet serves as a shield.

“No! No! Don’t shoot!” Rose ordered.

“I knew you’d warm up to me. Commodore Tyrell, my merchandise, please. And the hat, don’t skimp.” Mack bargained.

Tyrell hesitates and balls his fists in frustration.

“Commodore!” Mack taunted.

Tyrell takes them from Murray and holds them out to Mack.

“Juliet, is it?” Mack said to her.

Juliet is now more angry than frightened.

“It’s miss Rose.” Juliet corrected.

“Miss Rose, if you’d be so kind? Come, come, dear, we don’t have all day!” Mack said.

Juliet takes the belt and pistol from Tyrell. Mack is quicker and takes the pistol from her. He then motions for her to do something. She figures out what he wants: put the hat and belt on him, since he cannot. She does so at once.

“Easy there, dear.” Mack said.

“You’re despicable.” Juliet said annoyed.

“Sticks and stones, dear. I saved your life, you save mine, and we’re even. Pirate’s Code.” Mack said, as Juliet finishes, and the mention of the “code” interests her.

He turns her again and then backs up until he bumps against the cargo gantry.

“Gentlemen…m’lady…you will always remember this as the day you almost captured Captain Mack Stark.” Mack boldly decreed.

He shoves Juliet away, grabs a rope and kicks free a belaying pin - a counterweight drops and Mack is lifted up to the middle of the gantry, where he grabs a second rope. Mack swings out and away from the gantry.

“Would you shoot him already!?” Rose demanded angrily.

“Open fire!” Tyrell ordered.

The soldiers shoot, but all miss.

“On his heels!” Tyrell ordered, as the soldiers race after him.

Make swings out onto a yardarm, spots a rope leadings down and snaps the manacle’s chain over the rope. He slides down to a further dock and drops down. Mack makes his way across a bridge, dodging bullets. Tyrell watches as Mack disappears into the streets.

“Pearson, Mr. Stark has a dawn appointment with the gallows. It would be a shame if he missed it.” Tyrell ordered.

Pearson understands and heads off to gather a search party to patrol the whole island. Tyrel also orders more guards at the Dauntless and Interceptor in case of another theft.

“Admiral Valek will not be particularly happy to hear about this incident on my first day as Commodore…” Tyrell sighed, prepared to report the incident to Valek.

“I never thought you’d have an encounter with a real pirate, how unfortunate it happened today. I will take extra precautions to make sure you and every resident of Port Royale is safe.” Rose said to Juliet, escorting her.

“Thank you father, but I will be fine. He spared my life, he has no reason to harm me.” Juliet said.

“That’s what he wants you to think…” Rose sighed, but Juliet shrugs it off, as they head back to the mansion.

After getting her safely inside, Rose and Tyrell head back to Fort Weatherby together to report what happened to Valek, as they approach him in the courtyard.

“Sir, I regret to inform you a wretched pirate somehow made their way onto this island. He escaped custody and is still out here somewhere. I take full responsibility for the failure.” Tyrell reported.

This news intrigues Valek instead of bringing on any anger or disappointment from him.

“No apologies needed, Commodore. By any chance, did you get their name?” Valek asked curiously.

“Yes. It’s Captain Mack Stark. Is his name familiar to you?” Tyrell asked.

“Why yes, of course it is. He was once quite a famous pirate, captaining The Eclipse Pearl, and then fell from grace after a mutiny from his First Mate. He will not be a concern, he is nothing now. He came here to seek an opportunity…perhaps a certain treasure…” Valek said.

“Admiral Valek, with all due respect, I fear your obsession with “The Treasure” will hinder our progress on catching this dangerous pirate on our very island. It does not feel important to the current issues at hand.” Rose said.

“I beg to differ, it is very important. After all…both of our concerns may line up together in the end. What I find even more concerning however, is that my team has still not reported back from the Nevarro patrol hours later.” Valek replied.

“Shall I send a few of my men to investigate the island?” Tyrell asked.

“You may, James.” Valek approved.

“This seems like a waste, your men are probably fine. We need to keep as many soldiers as possible here to hunt down the pirate.” Rose said.

“That will not matter now that he knows you’re hunting him. These pirates know how to hide well. But a bait will always draw them out of hiding. You should get some rest, governor. I can tell you’ve had an exhausting day.” Valek said.

“Very well, admiral. Thank you.” Rose said, as he heads off back to the mansion.

Mack carefully approaches The Sailor’s Tavern and sneaks his way inside. He goes over to Higgs, who is still sitting at the table.

“I take it someone didn’t keep a low profile.” Higgs said, sipping another drink and seeing Mack in cuffs.

“Not to worry, I have the situation under control. But uh…I may have to hide here for a bit, more of those nasty soldiers will be coming.” Mack said.

“Wise choice, you’d be best waiting til’ nightfall. They’ll be on high alert for the rest of the day.” Higgs said, knowing how they operate by now.

“Indeed, I shall let the lot think I have cleverly hidden myself or fled the area for now.” Mack said.

“If you ask me, and you’re free to disagree, but they’ll likely be waiting for ye now at those fancy ships. Remember, making stupid decisions out here will get you killed.” Higgs warned.

“I knew you’d say that, Vince. Fortunately for them, I have alternatives to use. I know there must be several smaller vessels these soldiers use, correct?” Mack said.

“You’d be correct. There’s a few spare ones at a dock near the blacksmith shop. Nevarro isn’t far at all, so you’d be best taking one of those for a quick back and forth. Also, you’d be extra wise to get yourself out of them restraints first. ‘Fraid I have nothing to get you out of those.” Higgs suggested to him. ”

“The blacksmith would do, I presume.” Mack replied.

“It would. The mechanisms in there would break any iron. Life has a strange way of aligning things together for ye, let me tell you. I still don’t know if it’s dumb luck or your hidden genius.” Higgs replied, curious.

“My plan all along, mate. I like to test your knowledge to see if you still know me.” Mack winked.

“One thing’s for sure, you sure haven’t changed much in the the year we’ve been apart.” Higgs said, laughing, and taking another sip.

Mack waits until night begins to shine down on the island. He leaves the tavern and stealthily makes his way through the streets. Several soldiers come patrolling down his path, shining flashlights around, as Mack quickly hides behind several crates. They go onward, as Mack casually walks off, heading around a corner. He quickly passes by several civilians who pay him no mind, not knowing yet from their authority that he is a pirate is on the loose and that very pirate is walking right past them.

“Lovely night, ain’t it?” Mack said to the civilians, trying to hide his manacles from them.

“Good night to you, sir.” A woman said, passing by, and not noticing his pirate get-up.

Mack then sees the blacksmith shop nearby, as an anvil sign is over it. Right next to it is a small dock, containing the wooden boats needed. Mack then hears noises coming from inside the blacksmith shop, and this confirms to him he can use the equipment there to free himself from the manacles. Plus, perhaps he could seize the opportunity to gain new weapons. After all, who truly knows what awaits him on Nevarro? And with his recent encounter, more weapons may not hurt. Mack sneakily makes his way to it, and hides behind a statue outside the entrance, making sure no soldiers are nearby. He then slips through the pass-thru doors leading inside the building. The forge is dark, lit by lanterns. Every tool is in its place, the workbench tidy and neat. Mack removes his hat and reaches for a short-handled sledge. A bottle hits the ground, making Mack jump.

Mr. Brown, in a blacksmith’s apron, sleeps in the corner. Mack checks to make sure Mr. Brown is indeed passed out by giving him a hard poke. Brown snorts and turns away. Mack turns to go then turns back and shouts. Another snort is Brown’s only response. Mack quickly moves to an anvil, brings the sledged down on the manacle links. It’s not working. Mack reacts in frustration. He looks around and spots the gears of a mill. Below it stands a small seahorse, with a harness attached to the animal. Mack pulls a tool from the blacksmith’s fire, and the end is red hot. He looks over at the unsuspecting steed. The seahorse jumps and starts to move, tugging on the harness. It moves the gears of the mill. Mack puts the links of the manacle between two of the gears.  As they come together, the link snaps, freeing Mack’s wrists. He gleefully moves his hands again.

Suddenly, he hears the sound of the latch on the door. Mack dives for cover. Sawyer enters, and notices the mill moving. He stops the seahorse and looks around the place. He spots the drunken Mr. Brown in the corner.

“Right where I left ya.” Sawyer checked.

Sawyer takes off his coat, then notices: the sledge resting on top of the anvil.

“…Not where I left ya.” Sawyer said curious.

He moves casually toward the sledge and then spots something nearby: Mack’s hat. Sawyer reaches for it, but the flat of a sword blade slaps his hand. Sawyer steps back. Mack stands there, sword leveled at Sawyer. He backs Sawyer up, toward the door, as Sawyer glares at him.

“I don’t fancy intruders…wait, you’re the pirate those soldiers are huntin’!” Sawyer realized.

Mack acknowledges this with a tip of his head and then frowns.

“Say, you seem somewhat familiar…have I threatened you before?” Mack asked, strangely finding something recognizable about Sawyer but can’t figure it out.

“I’m flattered, but sorry to disappoint ya pal, I’ve made it quite a point to avoid familiarizing myself with pirates.” Sawyer replied.

“Ah, well then, it would be a shame to put a black mark on your record. If you’ll excuse me…” Mack said.

Beside the door is a grindstone and a sword resting in the honing guide. Before Mack can react, Sawyer has it in his hand.

“Do you think this is smart, friend? Crossing blades with a pirate? Remember, making stupid decisions in Enhalas-“ Mack was reminding.

“…can get ya killed, I know very well by now, thanks for the lecture, professor pirate. You threatened miss Rose.” Sawyer said annoyed, as he assumes an en grade position.

Mack runs his sword blade along Sawyer’s.

“Only a little. Also, my, word sure travels fast around this island.” Mack corrected.

“I know a thing or two by now about eavesdropping on them soldiers when I shouldn’t be, one of my many talents.” Sawyer bragged, as Mack attacks.

The two men trading feints, thrusts and parry with lightning speed, almost impossible to follow. Sawyer has no trouble matching Mack, as he lashes out in anger and frustration.

“Despite the attitude, you know what you’re doing, I must concede that…excellent form! But how’s your footwork? If I step here…” Mack was saying, testing Sawyer.

He takes a step around an imaginary circle, as Sawyer steps the other way, maintaining his relationship to Mack.

“Very good! Now I step once more.” Mack said, continuing.

“If your lil’ dance routine is supposed to piss me off, it’s working, partner.” Sawyer said getting frustrated, as Mack doesn’t care.

They are now exactly opposite their initial positions.

“Ta!” Mack said, applauding.

Mack turns and heads for the door, now directly behind him. Sawyer registers an angry surprise, and then with a vicious overhand motion, throws his sword. It buries itself into the door, just above the latch, barely missing Mack. Mack tugs on the sword a few times, and it is really stuck in there. He rattles the latch, but the sword blocks it. Mack mouths a curse, but when he turns back to Sawyer, he’s smiling.

“Wonderful trick there, except, you are between me and my way out once again. And now you have no weapon.” Mack said, taking the sword.

Eyes on Mack, Sawyer lunges for a new sword from the furnace. This one has a glowing, red-hot tip. The steed, startled, starts moving. Mack looks over at the moving machinery and then leaps forward. Sawyer and Mack duel, as their blades flash and ring. Then Mack’s chain smashes across Sayer’s sword, disarming him. Sawyer grabs another, as Mack distressingly becomes aware that the entire room is filled with bladed weapons.

“Who made all these?” Mack inquired.

“I did, and I practice with ‘em four hours a day!” Sawyer bragged.

Mack throws a tool at Sawyer’s head, and throws whatever other tools he can, as he continues to aggravate Sawyer.

“You need to find yourself a partner, mate!” Mack suggested.

Sawyer sets his jaw, as he reaches down and picks up a second sword.

“Or, perhaps the reason you practice four hours a day is that you already found one, and are otherwise incapable of wooing said bride.” Mack taunted.

He gets a direct hit, as Sawyer coils even more tightly with anger.

“Funny you point that out, because I practice four hours a day so that when I meet a pirate…I can kill it.” Sawyer revealed.

Fearless, Sawyer drives Mack backwards, and up, onto a movable ramp, wheels in the center. When Mack passes the mid-point, the ramp balances, and rolls wildly as the two men fight. Sawyer gets Mack’s chain wrapped around his sword, as Sawyer twists the handle of his guard through a link, and stabs the sword up. Mack’s manacled left arm is now suspended from the ceiling. Not good. He parries using one hand, twisting and dodging. Sawyer is proud of himself until Mack slams down on one of the boards. It flies up, hitting Sawyer in the chin and sending him flying off the cart. Mack tries to pull the sword out of the beam. He jumps up, wrapping his legs around the beam, using fall his weight to free the sword. Sawyer grabs another sword and jumps back onto the cart just as Mack is able to free the sword. It causes Mack to crash back onto the cart, sending Sawyer flying upward where he lands on top of one of the beams. Mack rolls off, hitting his head. Dazed, he gets to his feet, but can’t find Sawyer until he looks up…just in time to see Sawyer cutting the rope that holds a bunch of casks.

“Fun, now I get to see a pirate fly and die.” Sawyer taunted, as the casks fall onto the cart, sending Mack flying up to the beam.

Mack hangs onto the beam, gets to his feet and the fight continues as they both straddle the beams. Sawyer is finally able to kick the sword from Mack’s hand. Make jumps off the beam, as Sawyer follows and points his sword at the unarmed Mack. Mack compresses the bellows, blowing a shower of sparks into Sawyer’s face.

“Dammit!” Sawyer yelled, unable to see, as he is knocked back and Mack kicks Sawyer’s sword out of his hand.

Sawyer grabs a piece of iron, looks up and Mack’s pistol is aimed between Sawyer’s eyes.

“You cheated!” Sawyer said.

“Pirate.” Mack reminded, as he steps forward.

Sawyer steps back, fully blocking the back door. From outside arrive the sounds of pursuit.

“Move away, lad.” Mack demanded.

“No.” Sawyer replied.

“Please?” Mack asked.

“No! I ain’t stepping aside and letting an outlaw like you escape! Turning you in would make me a fortune, boy.” Sawyer said.

Mack readies his pistol, as Sawyer stares back. There is a long moment of silence.

“This shot is not meant for you.” Mack said, still knowing what he’s fighting for.

Mr. Brown sneaks up from behind, ready to hit Mack with his bottle. Mack then quickly turns around, knocking the bottle out of Mr. Brown’s hand, as it smashes onto the ground. He then trips him, as he slices open a bag of powder, masking his escape.

“NO!” Sawyer yelled angrily, making his way through the powder to find Mack.

“I almost had ‘em, still counts for a civic duty…” Mr. Brown said drunkenly, trying to get up.

Tyrell and his men arrive, as Sawyer runs outside looking for Mack.

“Come back here and finish this, you coward!” Sawyer yelled into the night.

“Where did he go?” Tyrell asked.

“Don’t know, but when I find him, he’s gonna be a dead man.” Sawyer said, fuming.

“Sweep the perimeter, and make sure he’s not heading for our ships.” Tyrell ordered to his men.

Mack is seen hiding behind the shop. He waits for the soldiers to pass by, and sneaks along the back. He sees the boats still in tact at the dock. He pushes one of them into the water and begins rowing.

“Now without further stalling, here I go, at last!” Mack said, setting sail to Nevarro to claim his treasure.

He keep sailing his way and sees several lights shining at Port Royale, indicating the search for him has gotten tighter.

“Unfortunately for them, I will be taking my business elsewhere. It was a nice treat knowing you while you lasted, Port Royale.” Mack said, waving farewell to it from the distance and ready to get his pirate reputation back.

Nevarro approaches on the horizon. It is a small, quiet, tropical island. He makes port on an old shore, where he sees both the navy boats that were sent to investigate are also docked. This somewhat worries Mack, as he investigates both boats.

“Not touched in hours…” Mack said, feeling both boats, and getting an uneasy feeling. “Eh, perhaps they simply lost their bearings.”

He carefully walks into a forest, and holds out his compass. It doesn’t point him in any direction, so he decides to go with his gut. He slashes his way through vines and bushes. At a clearing, he stumbles upon several dropped weapons and loot belonging to pirates. He picks up the bags of money and one of the swords for safe keeping. Mack keeps traveling onward, and then stops dead in his tracks when he comes across a morbid sight: Multiple dead bodies of navy soldiers from Tyrell’s men, revealing they perished by an unknown entity.

“…Oh.” Mack said, examining the morbid sight before him.

“They were attacked. Dead, like the others who have passed through here.” A voice said, startling Mack.

An enigmatic old man reveals himself, wearing a helmet and jacket. He is riding atop a tan jellyfish, surprising Mack.

“Quite a sight. Didn’t think anyone would still be alive here given the trail ’til now.” Mack said.

“I am Echo, a resident of this isle. Known as Mr. Echo by many now, if you prefer. Been here a long time, I have. Let me guess, here for the treasure too?” Mr. Echo asked to him, almost comically by this point.

“I could be, but if you have to ask that, then you already know the answer.” Mack said cryptically.

“So it would seem. Many souls have tried to claim the relic on this isle. None of them ever came back. But you…you are different. I will help guide you to it.” Mr. Echo said curiously.

“You’re helping me? Not that I’m not thankful, but usually a lone native on a mostly obscure isle leads to trouble.” Mack noted curiously.

“I am not alone. These pirates, hunters and soldiers have brought nothing but chaos to this peaceful domain. If removing this treasure restores peace to the island, then it shall be done. I have spoken.” Mr. Echo replied with wisdom.

“Fancy ride you have.” Mack said, impressed with the jellyfish.

“I’m a jellyfish farmer here. They are representative of the beautiful life and nature this isle exhibits, and why that order should not be disrupted. Come.” Mr. Echo said, telling Mack to follow.

The jellyfish rides off, carrying Echo, as Mack follows. They go to a remote part of the island, where Echo’s jelly farm is, and multiple jellyfish are flocking around. A shack is set up, where Echo resides. From the entrance, several packages of food and curious artifacts can be seen inside the residence. Echo gets off of his jellyfish and gives it a snack.

“Returning the favor, as should be the natural order.” Echo spoke.

“I know what you mean very well, shame many don’t appreciate returned favors today.” Mack said.

“I will have one of my jellyfish guide you to the location. But you must tame it to gain its trust, or it will not let you go.” Echo said.

“Seems a little much, you could just give me a tour on the way, yeah? I’m sure you aren’t that old to be unable to walk.” Mack said.

“There is a strange group on the island protecting your treasure, and they are merciless. I am too old to take them on. They will attack you if you approach their fortress from the ground, grave mistake many before you have made. Flying in from a jellyfish will catch them off guard. I have spoken.” Mr. Echo said.

“Whatever you say, mate. Anything to get this over with.” Mack said.

Echo shows him to a hand made pen of wood, where inside of it, a lone green jellyfish awaits.

“Tame the creature best you can, but bring no harm to it, or that will ruin the bond.” Mr. Echo said.

“You sure are a spiritual one, bucko. Alright friend, give me your delicious offerings so we may bond for our brief journey!” Mack spoke, walking forward toward the jellyfish.

The jellyfish does not respond, as it floats there, looking at Mack. Mack then does a pirate jig in hopes it will get a response, but still nothing.

“Tough crowd, this one is.” Mack said.

“Those fancy tricks may help a pirate, but they will not soothe a jellyfish. You must show your dominance.” Mr. Echo told him.

“Right!” Mack said, drawing his sword.

He steps closer toward the creature, and swings his sword around, then points it at the jellyfish, trying to assert dominance. This angers the jellyfish however, as it lets out a zap from its tentacle, disarming Mack’s sword, as it falls across the dirt. 

“Easy there-“ Mack was saying, as the jellyfish then whacks him with two tentacles and sends him falling to the ground.

The jellyfish then floats back to its original spot, as Mack is annoyed. Mr. Echo continues to watch in curiosity.

“Of all my years as a pirate, taming a beast of the wild is not exactly what I was trained for, not that we pirates really do “training”.” Mack rambled, looking frustrated at this task.

“Do not attack, it will only anger the creature.” Mr. Echo said.

“I wasn’t trying to, actually, that was just me trying to make a stunt.” Mack replied.

“The creature has a different interpretation of attacks than us. Gain control using another way and communicate you are not its enemy. You appear sly enough to do so.” Mr. Echo told him, as he observes.

Mack ponders, and gets an idea. He picks his sword back up and tips it on his finger, in a similar way Sawyer did earlier. The jellyfish watches, as Mack flings the sword into the air. Mack then takes a leap of faith and jumps on top of the jellyfish. It tries to grab him with its tentacles again, but Mack grabs both tentacles, as he uses it to steer the creature and gain control. The sword then lands, as Mack grabs it with his right hand. Mack pets the jellyfish, trying to calm it.

“Easy there, jelly.” Mack said.

The jellyfish stops moving and is much calmer. Mack has tamed the jellyfish, and has had his strength recognized by it. Mr. Echo is impressed and looks in wonder.

“The jellyfish is now yours. Command it and it will know where to go. I wish you best of luck on your journey to the fortress, pirate.” Mr. Echo said.

“I must inquire good gentleman, but while I am happy I shall be the one to remove the treasure from your island’s dilemma, why help a low life, foul pirate such as I?” Mack asked, still wondering if there’s more to this.

“Around your age I once was, and I too, had a past shrouded by darkness. Come to this island to cleanse myself, I did. I hope that your current path brings you better fortune than it brought me. I have spoken.” Mr. Echo said cryptically, hinting to a deeper past for him, as he heads back to his shack.

“What an odd fellow. I like him.” Mack said, as he motions the jellyfish to move.

The jellyfish then flies upward, as Mack hangs on, and looks at the island of Nevarro from below, fascinated. While flying, he spots another shore, where two destroyed pirate ships are, belonging to several crews that attempted to take the treasure. However, also on the shore is a small, rusty boat, confusing Mack. Enhalas rarely sees any advanced machinery and technology such as that, especially on obscure islands like Nevarro. Powerful countries have attempted to use technology such as this against the pirates, but the pirates are quicker to adapting than they think, or perhaps, the supernatural oddities that surround the area also played a factor in keeping them away. Whatever it means, Mack knows this will only complicate his hunt further.

Mack keeps flying, and sees a large, run down steel bunker ahead, which is the “fortress” Echo described. Mack tells the jellyfish to go lower, as he tries to make out what he can. From a stealthy view, he sees several mysterious, cloaked, rugged tattooed people holding weapons. They are carefully guarding the “fortress”.

“Motley lot.” Mack noted.

Mack has no idea what to make of this group. Were they secret island natives? Cannibals? Another group of pirates or hunters? Whoever they were, one thing is clear: They are in the way of his treasure. Below him, he spots the bodies of Valek’s initial group of men that were sent to investigate. They too perished by whoever the strange group guarding the fortress is. Mack makes the jellyfish go down lower into the trees, and hides behind one. The jellyfish then makes a noise and carefully flies away from the area.

“One way trip, eh? Thanks for your service, jell acquaintance.” Mack said to the jellyfish, as he sees it flying off back to Echo’s farm.

Mack walks carefully through the trees, trying to get closer to the bunker up ahead. He then improvises a plan, as he casually strolls out in the wide open. All of the people aim their guns and broken weapons right at Mack.

“Don’t take one more step, pirate!” A woman yelled, ready to fire her gun.

“Oh, but I shall. You stand between my prize that I plan to commandeer and use said riches to rise up back to the top of the totem pole. Unlike the other saps before, I am much different, for I be Captain Mack Stark. Surely you’ve heard of me, yeah?” Mack bragged, trying to distract them.

“Never heard.” A sniper from up top replied, as he opens fire, and Mack runs around, avoiding shots.

Mack then swings his sword, clashing with several of the bullets. He then goes into hiding behind another tree, as another blast hits one of the branches.

“Oh dear.” Mack said, as he looks through the items he salvaged from the pirate loot.

He shoots one of the looted pistols at a guard, hitting them in the arm, and disarming their rusted blade. He sends several more shots to scare them off, but the gun runs out of ammo. He is annoyed and tosses the pistol right at a guard’s head, angering them. 

“Lootin’ really is a game of roulette, you never know if you’ll get the bad end of the draw.” Mack said to himself.

The guard approaches closer, as Mack runs around the trees, hiding from the angry guard. Mack approaches behind the guard, and taps his shoulder. The guard turns around, seeing Mack is gone, as they swing their sword at a tree. Mack then jumps them from behind and knocks them in the back of their head with his sword’s hilt, making the guard fall unconscious to the ground. The other guards come to this sight, and Mack is gone.

“Who else wants a piece of me?” Mack bragged, as his voice echoes through the forest, and the guards angrily fire their guns around.

Mack then swings down from a tree and knocks down two of the guards. He then slashes his sword at another guard, stabbing them in the leg. He keeps playing around with the others, swinging his sword around. One guard stabs their sword forward, but Mack avoids it and then trips them to the ground and knocks them out. Another guard tries to punch Mack, but he grabs their arm and throws them forward. Mack then jumps up, grabbing a large branch above, and spins off of it. He lands deeper into the forest, right into a group of more guards.

“…Oh.” Mack realized.

“End of the line, pirate scum.” One of them said, about to fire.

Suddenly, multiple gun blasts go off, taking out the group one by one. Mack slashes at the two remaining guards, knocking them down. Mack is curious where these blasts came from, as he cautiously waves his arms in the air.

“…Parlay?” Mack bargained to the shooter, whoever it may be.

The shooter approaches from the shade, revealing a rusty, black assassin robot holding guns in both hands. The robot is made of junk and scrap, not looking very advanced. Mack is fascinated by this odd sight for a pirate setting, and realizes it must have taken the rusty boat he saw earlier. The robot approaches the two remaining guards, and kills both with two shots.

“Uh…thanks, mechanical terror from beyond my wildest dreams.” Mack said curiously, as the robot begins to analyze Mack to determine if he is a threat.

“Are you with the guild, pirate?” The robot asked.

“I suppose you could say I’m a friend of someone associated with the guild, if that counts on your computer’s programming.” Mack said.

Mack then pokes the robot’s steel core with his sword.

“Do not do that.” The robot said sternly.

“My apologies. You got a name?” Mack asked.

“IR-44. I am an assassin for the guild, and have been sent for the asset identified as the “treasure”.” IR-44 said.

“Great, so am I. I am Captain Mack Stark, surely you have heard of me!” Mack bragged.

“No.” IR-44 replied.

“Disappointing. But perhaps we can ally together for this task, you have quite the gunslinging methods.” Mack said, impressed.

IR-44 processes this.

“We may, but only one of us walks away with the treasure.” IR-44 replied.

“How about we split it 60-40?” Mack offered.

“That is an uneven deal.” IR-44 replied.

“Blasted machine…help me get in and we’ll figure that out, savvy?” Mack replied to the machine.

“Yes. There are still several guards waiting at the entrance. I must warn you that if I am captured, I must initiate a self-destruct protocol.” IR-44 said.

“Let’s not do that, yeah? Follow my lead.” Mack replied, as the two head back to the bunker.

They hide behind trees, as they see several snipers up top, and a three more guards stationed outside, waiting for the rest to come back. 

“On my signal-“ Mack was saying.

IR-44 then walks forward.

“What is that thing?!” One of the guards yelled, shooting at it.

IR-44 then begins to spin its body around, and opens fire at the snipers on top, taking them out.

“You sure have initiative.” Mack said impressed, walking forward, and clashes his sword with one of the remaining guards. Mack slides his sword along the guard’s blade like he did to Sawyer, and grabs him. He tosses him against the metal wall. IR-44 then shoots him, and takes out the lone remaining guard.

“Show-off.” Mack said, as the two head for the bunker.

The two enter the bunker cautiously, waiting to see if anyone else is waiting inside for them. There is no movement. There is much junk scattered across the floor. At the end of the room, thrown against papers, is an emerald studded metal treasure chest with a mysterious lock.

“Well that is a conundrum, Higgs never mentioned it’d be locked up…” Mack said, pondering a new improvisation.

IR-44 then opens fire at the lock, breaking it off.

“Just as planned!” Mack said.

He slowly opens the treasure chest. Mack expects a lot of untold riches. But what he gets is something else entirely. Instead the chest is…an unidentifiable, mysterious green slug like creature with two, small black eyes. Mack is paralyzed by this, as this is not what he expected was worth all the trouble over. Yet, Mack feels something majestic, fascinating and unnatural about this creature. It is no ordinary “treasure”, he knew that much, at least not ones he’s familiar with. The “Treasure” stares at Mack in fascination, and smiles. IR-44 then points its gun at The Treasure and is about to fire.

“Whoa, whoa…hold up mate, this treasure looks to be very valuable, and a living being.” Mack said, trying to make IR-44 lower its gun.

“My command was specific: I have orders to terminate.” IR-44 said, pointing its rusty gun to the creature, as it gives off sad eyes.

A gun blast goes off. 

Suddenly, IR-44’s body collapses to the ground, fried due to a shot into the back of its metal head from Mack. He stole IR-44’s other gun when it wasn’t looking, and tosses it aside.

“Treasures aren’t for “termination", especially…this.” Mack said.

Mack stares at the strange slug creature in curiosity, wondering what he has gotten himself into.

Meanwhile, The Eclipse Pearl is sailing through the murky seas of Enhalas, surrounded by the ominous fog again. The light from Juliet’s medallion reaches the ship, as the light shines onto a mechanism which records where it’s traveling from on a paper, and makes a compass point in the direction of Port Royale. The pirate crew gasps upon seeing this, and realizes it only means one thing. A pirate goes into the captain’s cabin to report this. A lone figure is sitting at the desk, mostly obscured by the shadows.

“Captain Bedossa…the last piece of the gold has finally been found. It’s coming from Port Royale, according to the directions.” The pirate reported to the one known as Bedossa, who stands up.

“Aye, it truly has been a long time. To Port Royale we be headin’, boys!” Bedossa decreed sinisterly, letting out a smile.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Mack Stark, Juliet Rose, Sawyer Turner, Hector Bedossa, Admiral Valek, Commodore James Tyrell, Mr. Echo, Governor Isaac Rose, Vince Higgs, Mr. Brown, Pearson, Toby, Murray, IR-44 and

 

”The Treasure”

-Area Debuts: Enhalas, Port Royale, Nevarro

-Ship Debuts: The Eclipse Pearl, Dauntless, Crimson Devil, Interceptor, and Jolly Mon (sunk)

-Enhalas is based on the Bahamas and in turn, Caribbean sea. Like Posidonia in Mystic Guardians, it is also named after a sea plant, in this case, Enhalus.

I feel so content after writing this. The spark really is back.

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3. Not Alone

Mack keeps looking at “The Treasure” in curiosity, as the inactive robot body of IR-44 rests on the floor.

“A good ton of pirate lives tossed aside…all for this creature, the elusive treasure?” Mack pondered to himself.

Mack examined the creature more carefully, and still had no idea what to conclude from its presence. The creature stares at him with its innocent, cute black eyes. It wags its slug-like tail to Mack, who touches it with his finger.

“Have a name, I suppose?” Mack inquired to the creature.

The creature keeps staring at him, and smiles.

“Take it no capability of speech either. Now why would the guild of bounty put a hit out on an adorable scrump like this?” Mack pondered to himself.

Something about this was not adding up in his head. He’s seen many strange deals, hunts and quests in his time in Enhalas, but this scenario in particular to him felt…different than usual. This, to him, felt more like a bounty than a treasure, which he was not comfortable with. Mack’s heart has only been it for the normal pirate life of treasure hunting and freedom, not bounties, which to him, is too much dirty work. He wondered if Higgs perhaps knew more about this then he let on, which worries Mack for a few seconds, but it’s a passing thought. Mack knows very well this creature is in danger, and he will not let it fall into anyone else’s hands.

“Well little one, I shan’t know why there has been such a chaos over your obtainment, but I assure you, you shall be safe in my care. Higgs will have some blabbing to do when I return…” Mack said, as he picks up the creature.

He expects it to be slimy or weird, but instead, feels its soft body. It gives him a magical feeling, and deep down, he knows it is something more.

“I could become quite the famous pirate for reclaiming the reward you have on your squishy package, mate, but…” Mack said, as he begins to have an eternal conflict. 

He could not let anyone else know he made it to the “treasure”, or else, other pirates and hunters would likely go after him. Word spreads fast, so he plans to keep a low profile. He also knew he could not let anyone see this, given IR-44 wanted to terminate it. And if he were in the way of other hunters…

“Be a good strange creature and stay in the chest, yeah?” Mack said, as he closes the lid, and then realizes, “…It can breathe in there, right?”

Mack opens the chest lid back up and sees the creature is fine inside, as it looks at him in wonder once more. Mack shrugs and picks up the small chest. He begins to drag the chest across the ground as he walks forward, with the creature inside wiggling around. He stops at the entrance, and looks out both ways to make sure nobody is around. He realizes the coast is clear, and stealthily walks his way out of the bunker, dragging the chest behind him. Mack happily walks forward, ready to get back to Port Royale, when suddenly…

“Hold it right there!” A voice yelled, startling Mack and the creature dead in their tracks.

From the right of the forest, a group of three bounty hunters ambush the two, aiming weapons at them.

“A brief few seconds of rest it appears I will not be obtaining today.” Mack muttered to himself, getting exhausted from the series of unfortunate events befalling him today.

The group takes note of the guard bodies scattered about, along with IR-44’s damaged body from inside the bunker, realizing the pirate right before them took the robot out.

“Worthless pile of junk. I knew we should have just gone in our selves and taken those savages out.” The lead hunter said, revealing the hunters were allied with IR-44.

“Thanks for taking out the guards though, pirate. Now hand over the bounty loot.” one of the hunters said, aiming her steel gun.

“Now now, lower your weapons friends. I am sure we can all come to a satisfying compromise such as all civilized folk should!” Mack said, trying to stall them.

“Got some disappointing news for you pirate, but we ain’t exactly civilized folk. Only compromise we’re accepting is if you go away and hand us the treasure.” The leader spoke, as the group points their weapons closer to Mack.

“That is unfortunate. Say, by any chance, do you civilized folk happen to know who or what said treasure even truly is?” Mack inquired.

“The bounty guild has a lil’ policy called “don’t ask as long as you get paid”, and that’s all we need. Neptune himself could be in that chest and I wouldn’t care one bit.” The leader spoke.

“I regret to inform you that Neptune himself is indeed, not in fact, not in this chest.” Mack taunted.

“He’s really getting on my nerves, how about we bring him too? Two bounties will double our riches.” The third bounty hunter said to his group.

“Agreed,” the other two said, as they are about to attack.

Mack then laughs at this heavily, confusing the bounty hunter team.

“Mind telling us…what’s so funny, guy?” The lead hunter asked angrily, about to shoot Mack.

“If you are going to bring us in, I must inquire: dead or alive? Personally, I would prefer to be brought in alive, I would be much more useful to you in that condition, and I must say, my bounty is not much to scoff at! In fact, you would be better off capturing a more infamous swashbuckler like the fiend Bedossa!” Mack said to them, taunting them further and angering them.

Mack then slides onto the ground, as the three hunters open fire, their bullets bouncing off the metal chest and missing Mack. The creature inside is nervous upon hearing the noises outside of its chest. Mack pushes aside one of the others while on the ground and jumps up, as he begins fighting them at once, swinging his sword at the hunters. The lead hunter quickly pulls out a machete and clashes it against Mack’s sword. One of the hunters has him in sight and tries to shoot him, but he ducks and swings his sword right at the hunter’s hand, disarming their gun. He then jabs his sword right through their waist, injuring them, and sending them to the ground. He then avoids another gunshot from the other hunter and continues dueling the leader.

“Get the cargo, I’ll kill this pest!” The leader ordered to the other hunter, who runs to the chest, and Mack panics, quickly looking the other way while the leader keeps swinging their machete.

The hunter opens the chest and aims their gun at the creature, which looks in fear. The hunter is baffled by this, but still is intent on completing the mission. However, he is quickly stabbed through the shoulder by Mack from behind. The hunter turns to see the leader with a giant wound across their arm and knocked to the ground, revealing Mack defeated him. Mack then grabs the hunter and throws him right inside of the bunker, making them smash against all of the junk inside. However, as the hunter falls to the ground, he activates a pressure plate. It ignites a spark hooked up to a wiring running underneath the floor. It is connected to several crates of dynamite hidden outside of the bunker in the bushes. The guards built it as a failsafe. The hunter gets up and hears the spark going off, wondering what it means. Outside, the leader gets back up and is ready to strike Mack down with the machete, when the hunter limps out of the bunker.

“IT’S GONNA BLOW!” The hunter yelled, confusing the other two.

“What are you talking about?” The leader asked.

“That’s my cue!” Mack said, grabbing the chest, as he makes a run for it.

Before the hunters can give chase, the spark reaches the dynamite crates. The entire bunker area explodes, presumably killing the three hunters in the blast radius. The creature inside the chest hears the explosion and peeps out from the open lid out of curiosity. Mack comes out from behind a tree in the distance, and sees the bunker has turned to mostly ash. Most of the flora around the area has been scorched as well.

“Must have been a “last resort” if anyone got into the bunker, that would have been handier earlier…” Mack realized.

Mack sees the creature’s head popping out.

“Easy there, Treasure. Mind if I call you that now? You do not appear to be wearing a name tag nor can even understand me, so yes, I shall. Do not worry, Captain Mack Stark will finally get you off of Nevarro and to a much more luxurious isle where you can live like a king.” Mack promised to the creature, which he has named the “Treasure”.

Mack makes his way back through the forests, taking Treasure with him. He struggles to find his way at first, but eventually traces it back after finding several of the fallen navy soldiers’ bodies, and several other familiar sights along the way. He makes his way back to the shore, and comes to an unfortunate sight: all of the boats that were there earlier are now gone. Mack is befuddled by this.

“Oh come on! Who else could have possibly robbed my transport?” Mack asked, looking around for anyone.

As he walks on the sandy shore, he hears a laughing nearby. He looks ahead to see several cloaked figures, who are making their way off with Mack’s boat. The thieves are holding pieces of junk salvaged from the bounty hunter’s boat and the other pirate ships from the same shore. 

“Hold it right there, you crooks are trying to steal my stolen boat!” Mack said, pointing his sword at the cloaked group.

The figures freeze, as they all make noises and panic. Some of them try to attack Mack, as the rest keep holding the boat. Mack begins attacking them, throwing some of the figures aside, as the rest keep trying to make their way off while carrying the boat.

“Oooh, he has a sword and treasure box!” One of the figures yelled, intent on taking them from Mack, but he slashes at them with his sword and knocks them down into the sand.

Mack keeps swinging his sword at the other figures, and makes his way closer to the group holding the boat. The group panics, but they collectively concoct an idea together. They let Mack get closer, as he grabs the edge of the boat. 

“You want your boat, pirate? Okay!” One of them said.

The group then altogether rocks it at once, and sends the boat flying right at Mack. He gets knocked across the sandy shore, dazing him, and dropping the chest with Treasure inside, who falls around on the inside. The group then quickly picks the boat back up and runs off into the forests, with the other figures Mack attacked getting back up. They kick sand at him, laughing and make their way off with the rest of the group. Mack gets up and angrily waves his sword at them.

“You vermin think you are so clever and funny, eh? Oh, I will find you, and then it will not be so amusing!” Mack vowed, as he picks up the chest and gives chase through the island’s forests after the group.

Mack slashes his way through vines, angrily hunting for the thieves. He then comes across Mr. Echo, who is riding his brown jellyfish. Mack is surprised to see him again so soon.

“Ahoy, mate.” Mack greeted, as Mr. Echo notices the treasure chest.

“So you obtained it after all. I was worried given the loud explosion a few moments ago, which woke me up from my nap. I came out here to make sure you were alright.” Mr. Echo explained.

“Made it out without a scratch, not to worry! Never underestimate Captain Mack Stark, I took care of those guards, and some troublesome rival hunters. Now then, this is the loot everyone has been bringing chaos to your so-called peaceful isle over…” Mack explained, as he opens the chest to show Treasure to Mr. Echo, who looks at it in curiosity. “Do you know what this thing is, mate, or why there would be such a tizzy over getting it?”

“I have never seen anything like it before, nor do I know why so many sought it. But this creature, wherever it may hail from, must be protected. It is clear whatever it was wanted for, it was for intent not pure of heart.” Mr. Echo said, sensing something powerful and magical lurking from Treasure, but not sure how to put it into words.

“…I will protect it, though petsitting is not exactly a pirate talent of mine, I never was great with crew pets. But still, I shall keep this critter in my watch until Vince and I can figure out what to do with it. Unfortunately, I cannot return to Port Royale right now, because some nasty thieves took my boat. Your island appears to have more residents on it than I expected.” Mack noted.

“Those are the sea scavengers. They are a nomadic group that steals whatever they can find left behind on any isle. They are at worst minor nuisances, they are not hostile.” Mr. Echo explained.

“Well those “minor nuisances” have likely destroyed my boat by now, so if you can help me obtain new ride, that would be much appreciated.” Mack said, frustrated.

“The scavengers only steal. They do not destroy. Follow, help get your boat back, I will. They will listen to me. I have spoken.” Mr. Echo said.

“With your fascinating ways with words, I sure hope so.” Mack said.

Mr. Echo makes his jellyfish fly off, as Mack follows once again, still holding the chest by his side. They go through a clearing and arrive at the sea scavenger camp, near another shore. There is a large, wooden boat idly resting in the water nearby, tied to a tree so it doesn’t sail off. The sea scavengers use this ship to get around the oceans. There is much junk they’ve scavenged from across the seas resting on the shore. Mack sees his boat with the other two navy boats and wrecked parts from pirate ships resting in a pile. The two enter the camp, startling the scavengers.

“The pirate!” The scavengers yelled, panicking upon seeing his presence, as they run around.

“It is okay. He will not harm you. Exchange his boat back, and we will be on our way.” Mr. Echo spoke, getting closer to the scavengers. 

“Will not harm unless this deal becomes complicated, of course.” Mack corrected.

The scavengers then talk amongst themselves, making many whispers. An elder scavenger then walks forward and speaks to Mr. Echo, as Mack tries to listen in from behind. Mr. Echo then turns around to Mack.

“They will trade the boat for your sword.” Mr. Echo offered.

“That is not negotiable, absolutely not! This sword is my life!” Mack protested.

“The pirate will not trade you the sword. Offer something else.” Mr. Echo spoke to the scavengers, as they all whisper together once more.

Mack is looking more annoyed. One of the scavengers sneaks off and sees Treasure sticking its head out from the chest, looking at it curiously. It tries to reach its hand out to Treasure, but Mack puts his sword in the way, stopping him. The scavenger yelps and runs back to the crowd, as Treasure looks at this interested. 

“When you grow up mate, don’t become one of those.” Mack said to Treasure.

Mr. Echo then turns back around to Mack.

“New offer: Trade the boat for your hat.” Mr. Echo said to Mack.

“Do they have sand in their ears? If I would not hand over my sword, what makes them think a hat would have a differing outcome!?” Mack asked, irritated.

Mr. Echo then talks to the scavengers once more.

“The pirate will not trade you any of his weapons or clothing for the boat. Please, is there anything else he can exchange?” Mr. Echo asked politely to the scavengers.

The scavengers talk and whisper amongst themselves once more, as Mack is increasingly annoyed. Suddenly, through the talk, the scavengers begin to simultaneously utter one word.

“Egg!” The scavengers began to chant together.

“…Egg?” Mack asked, confused, as Mr. Echo talks to them further.

After he’s done speaking, Mr. Echo walks up to Mack.

“There is an egg that these scavengers seek on the island. However, it is guarded by the fierce horned eel.” Mr. Echo explained.

“Fine, it is a preferable deal than the other two. I have gotten out of a few sticky situations involving eels so this will not be a problem gents. Show me the way to beastie!” Mack said, as he grabs the chest and is ready to head off.

“Very well. He will obtain the egg for you.” Mr. Echo spoke to the scavengers.

The scavengers all cheer, dancing around at once. Mr. Echo then makes his jellyfish go flying back through the forests, as Mack follows once more. Treasure sticks its head out of the chest, getting fresh air as it sees the beautiful island scenery while the two make their way through the passage. As they keep making their way, the ground gets muddier and muddier.

“Yuck, I prefer to have clean boots.” Mack said, frustrated, as he carefully walks his way along the path.

Mr. Echo keeps floating on his jellyfish, avoiding the mud. The two make it through a clearing, and arrive at a small grassy ledge. They look down below at a rocky, muddy plain before them. At the end of the plain is a large cave, where the horned eel and egg reside.

“This is as far as I go. Good luck, Stark.” Mr. Echo said nobly to him, as he turns around, heading back toward the scavenger camp.

“Hopefully this shall be my last crazy quest for the day and then I can get back to assembling a new crew.” Mack said, as he casually walks down into the muddy plain, still holding Treasure’s chest.

He then places the chest on the ground, as Treasure looks out from the lid.

“Stay here, mate. I…don’t want ya getting harmed from that nasty eel, yeah?” Mack said, in an actually caring manner.

He is slowly realizing to himself he does truly care for this creature’s well being, and sees it than just baggage he initially thought he was stuck with. Mack then walks forward out into the plain, as Treasure waves out its sluggish tail, wanting him to come back. Mack carefully steps forward, trying not to get too deep into the mud. He makes it to the cave entrance, and readies his sword. Mack carefully walks into the cave. It is pitch black and silent. He keeps walking forward, and sees several skeletons scattered along the path. Looks like he was not the only one that attempted to grab this egg. Mack looks at the skeletons morbidly for a few moments, and then shrugs it off.

“The sea gods will hopefully allow me a better fate than those chumps.” Mack said, as he keeps walking, holding his sword tight through the darkness.

He arrives at a dead end, where he sees the horned eel is sleeping. It has its entire grey body wrapped around the egg in the center of it. Mack walks carefully from here, making sure not to awake the eel. He makes precise steps and manages to grab the egg, and quickly replaces it with a nearby rock in its place so the eel doesn’t suspect anything. Mack holds the mud covered egg and makes his way back. One of the eel’s eyes then opens, as it senses Mack’s presence…

Mack makes it out of the cave, joyful to finally have his ticket off the island. As he approaches Treasure, a loud growl then paralyzes both of them, freezing Mack in his tracks.

“…Appears I was not quite careful enough.” Mack realized, knowing what awaits behind him.

He turns, to see the horned eel coming out of the cave, wanting its egg back. Mack places the egg near Treasure and jumps forward. He points his sword at the horned eel, having no fear.

“Be warned, great horned eel of Navarro, I, Captain Mack Stark, have taken down quite a many of your species, and this will be no different!” Mack bragged.

The eel then whacks him with its tail, sending him flying onto the muddy ground.

“Oh dear.” Mack said, as he quickly gets back up.

He jabs his sword multiple times, as the eel stretches its body to avoid it. It points its horn at him, as Mack jumps out of the way, avoiding its dive. It then flings dirt and mud around with its tail, as Mack covers his eyes, trying to avoid it. The eel snaps its jaw at him, as Mack backs away in fear. He then jumps on top of the eel and tries to tame it, but it will not let him. It shakes around, as Mack tries to hold on best he can. The eel shakes him off, sending him smashing against a large rock, dazing him. Mack coughs, as his sword falls to the ground. He struggles to reach for it. Treasure then notices this from the lid and is concerned. The eel angrily charges, pointing its horn to Mack’s body, who is ready to accept his fate. Suddenly…

Treasure, realizing Mack is in danger, then hops out of the chest. It moves its sluggish body along the ground, and then gets closer to the eel. It moves its body, and sends out a magical pulse from its antennae. The eel is stopped, as a force begins to lift it. The eel is levitated into the air, and is unable to move, confused at what is happening. Mack manages to get back up and looks at Treasure doing this. He is surprised beyond belief, realizing he was right that Treasure truly is something special. This allows Mack enough time to stab right at the eel with his sword, which he does. The horned eel collapses to the ground, as Mack still is regaining his composure from the attack. Treasure looks tired, as it falls to the ground. Mack then picks the creature up and puts it back into the chest, where it recovers.

“…Thanks. I saved your life, so you saved mine. You know how to repay the pirate debt, it appears.” Mack said, smiling at the creature.

He then picks up the egg and chest, as he heads back to the scavenger camp. He returns, surprising Echo and the scavengers. Mack hands them the egg, as they al cheer. Seeing the egg, the scavengers decide to hold up their end of the bargain and hand Mack his boat back, carefully lifting it out together from the pile. He inspects it to make sure they did nothing to it.

“It passes the inspection, thank you for your patronage, thieves.” Mack said, still not liking them very much, but glad this is finally over with.

The scavengers break open the egg and eat from the inside of it, as Mack shrugs. Echo approaches him.

“I am impressed, Stark. You have proven to be quite a formidable warrior. I am curious how you managed to take down the eel when so many others could not.” Mr. Echo said, as he sees Treasure sleeping in the chest.

“Thanks. As for how I did it, consider that a pirate’s secret. I always find a way.” Mack said, covering himself cleverly and winking.

Echo helps Mack carry the boat, as they head back to the shore. They reach the shore, placing the boat down. Mack places the chest on the boat, as Treasure looks out of the lid curiosly. Mack washes himself with the nearby ocean water, cleaning off the mud and dirt from his battle. As he does so, Mack thinks about how useful Echo would be to a crew and approaches him.

“You know, mate…I have been looking for a new pirate crew for quite some time. Would you like to join me? You have quite the wisdom and experience that I would most appreciate.” Mack offered.

“I appreciate the offer, but…I cannot. I am needed on Nevarro, where I wish to live out my remaining days in a peaceful life. You have brought that back to me now with that “treasure” being taken. That is the best debt you could have repaid for me. Take good care of the creature, I trust you will.” Mr. Echo said.

“…I will. Someday, perhaps our paths with cross again, yeah?” Mack inquired to Mr. Echo.

“Perhaps they shall. If you ever want my assistance, I will still be here. Brewing, a storm in the distance is. You should head out now before it gets worse. Never forget, that creature was alone just like you…until now. I have spoken.” Mr. Echo said, making Mack come to a realization.

“…That is one way to look at it. Goodbye, mate.” Mack said, feeling even more of an inclination to protect Treasure, as he looks at it.

Mack begins to row his way back to Port Royale, as storm clouds are forming nearby. He then looks at Treasure again, as it smiles at him.

“Because of you…I’m not alone anymore. And you saved my life, that deserves another debt to repay. How about you become my honorary crew pet? Every great pirate does need their own companion pet, after all!” Mack said happily, as he has officially accepted Treasure into his crew.

He keeps rowing his way back to Port Royale, with the storm in tow.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debut: Sea Scavengers

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4. The Triple Dark

Mack keeps rowing the boat, and begins to see Port Royale approaching closer. Mack docks the boat right outside the blacksmith shop. He picks up Treasure’s chest and gets out of the boat. It is late at night, so he hides and carefully looks around to make sure no soldiers are still patrolling. Coast is clear, whew. Before Mack walks forward however, a loud thunder is heard in the distance, and he feels rain drops slowly come down one by one. The storm grows near.

“Made it back just in time, better get to shelter before she really kicks in.” Mack said, as he is about to head for The Sailor’s Tavern.

Suddenly though, approaching right nearby, he hears the unnerving noise of navy soldiers marching toward him. Mack quickly hides in a barrel nearby, and he looks out through the hole with his eye to see Valek leading a group of his soldiers. Valek’s red cape waves through the stormy wind, as Mack is impressed by the cape.

“Wonder who that brightly dressed lad is…” Mack pondered, unfamiliar with Valek’s presence.

“We passed through here multiple times, admiral, but we still have no sign of the pirate anywhere.” One of the soldiers.

Valek then looks at the boats resting beside the blacksmith shop. He takes a peculiar look at the boat Mack left there.

“That boat…it was only just docked.” Valek realized.

Mack feels his heart beat, realizing Valek is onto him.

“Whoever he is, he has a good eye…” Mack said to himself, worried.

“What does it mean? Any resident of the isle could have used it.” A soldier countered to Valek.

“A normal conclusion to infer, but I am afraid it was not. The pirate known as Mack Stark used this to sneak off during the night straight to Nevarro. The island is not far, so he took the risk with these simple row boats. He only just returned, perhaps not even two minutes ago. The only question is if he returned with the elusive treasure or came back empty handed. Take all these boats away so he cannot escape again. In addition, order for the Dauntless and Interceptor to be sailed away from the docks as well, keep them near the Crimson Devil. Don’t want to risk him pulling any antics even with our security. Stark is trapped on the island now, and I am sure he knows that.” Valek ordered, smiling smugly to himself. He has officially cut off all of Mack’s routes to escape the island.

The soldiers begin to take away the boats, carrying them off through the streets. Two others go off to the docks to tell Tyrell’s men to take the Interceptor and Dauntless away from the docks. Mack looks at this, worried by Valek’s admittedly impressive knowledge and planning. He also knows his last tickets of any escape from the island are gone. For the foreseeable future, he has no way off of Port Royale. He is stranded again. Valek looks around, as Mack keeps hiding in the barrel, holding Treasure tight in its chest. 

“Double our efforts with Commodore Tyrell’s men. We will flush the pirate and any of his conspirators out of hiding.” Valek ordered, as the soldiers understand, and finish taking away the row boats.

Valek then walks off with his soldiers, as the rain keeps pouring harder down across the island. The soldiers hear thunder rumbling in the distance once more, as the storm clouds approach Port Royale, darkening the sky more than it already is right now at night. The wind grows stronger, as it heavily blows through the quiet Port Royale streets and grasslands. Seeing the coast is finally clear, Mack gets out of the barrel, still holding Treasure’s chest by his side. He stealthily makes his way through the rain, running back to The Sailor’s Tavern. He quickly barges in through the rain, surprising the patrons inside. Mack looks around, but Higgs is not there, much to his annoyance. The patrons look at his treasure chest in curiosity, wondering what's inside of it.

“Where has Vincent wandered off to?” Mack inquired to the bartender.

“Your friend went upstairs to his room for a bit. He has been staying here for the past year. I will alert him you have returned.” The bartender revealed, as he heads to a hallway.

Mack sits down at the table Higgs has been at, and places the chest on the table. Higgs comes downstairs, seeing Mack with the treasure chest, and is surprised.

“Vince, you never told me this fine establishment had housing.” Mack said.

“Sorry, didn’t find it quite relevant to talk about given everything else. Best I could find here, remember, I want to keep a low profile. So Mack, what was this treasure everyone went rabid over?” Higgs asked curiously.

“It is…this.” Mack said, opening the chest.

Higgs looks inside, surprised. The creature Treasure is looking at him with a blank stare. 

“…What the devil is that?” Higgs asked, looking at Mack.

“I was going to ask you the same, but it appears, that already answered the question I was about to pose. So we are both in the dark on this creature. I had to deal with a lot of savages and bounty hunters on that isle, all for this beast.” Mack replied.

“Bounty hunters? That can’t mean anything good. What I told you earlier was all I knew, I’m afraid. I am a mere representative, I know only so much on a need to know basis. I had no idea this seemed to be more of a bounty than an actual treasure, but I guess they used both areas of huntin’ in hopes anyone would get it, no matter the risks.” Higgs said, having doubts about who he works for.

“You know nothing more of who put in the request, right?” Mack checked.

“Nope, all the guild says is that the client is anonymous, but who knows how truthful they are now.” Higgs said, shrugging.

“I trust you will not, but do not tell the guild I took it. I cannot draw anymore attention to myself than I already have at this point.” Mack said, sighing.

“You know you can trust me. I will not utter a word to them. Unfortunately, with now word travels around here, I cannot promise your secret will be kept for long. Others are bound to check on Nevarro and see the coveted treasure is taken.” Higgs said, as the two keep this information quiet from the other residents currently in the tavern. 

Higgs looks at Treasure again.

“What do you plan to do about that fellow?” Higgs inquired to Mack.

“It is in my care, for now. At least until I can find it a suitable home, provided I gather any knowledge on its origins. I cannot let any pirate or hunter or thief or whoever else bring any harm to this guy. I call him “Treasure” by the way, tis poetry. He…saved my life back on that island, from a horned eel. He has a special power, I’m telling ya, Higgs. I do not know how to explain it.” Mack said to him, as Higgs looks in curiosity.

“Aye, I may have been a cold hearted pirate before, but even I know this thing ain’t for keeps. Creatures aren’t cargo.” Higgs said.

“Unfortunately however, I have a new conundrum. I have no rides off the island now, and the navy folk are getting more antsy over finding me.” Mack said.

“Actually, there may still be hope. Clarence is here with his boat, at a private port past the clothes store. I was going to meet up with him, but I wanted to wait for you to come back. We could convince him to give ye a ride to Swashbuckler Outpost.” Higgs revealed, shocking Mack.

“Clarence, here? Wow, I have missed that sly devil. Wonder what he has been up to the past few years. However, that will be…inconvenient given who is on my tail, and the storm, but I shall do what I can to approach his destination.” Mack said.

“I'll come with you to show you the way, and plus, I too have been eager to see with Clarence again.” Higgs said.

“Tons of those soldiers will be hunting me though, thought you said you did not want to get involved, yes?” Mack reminded.

“I know, but I still want to help you get off this island and away from trouble. Especially knowing what you got in your hands. I will help sneak you away, but if the soldiers find me, my cover is done…” Higgs said, admittedly nervous but still willing to risk it to help Mack.

“No worries mate, I will try to keep you safe. We best move now before the storm gets worse.” Mack said.

The two are about to leave the tavern, but the bartender stops both in their tracks.

“Might wanna take one of those. I hear that rain coming down hard.” The bartender said, pointing to an umbrella stand near the entrance, as they too hear the rain bouncing off the tavern windows outside.

“Thanks mate, I will. That will do as a good cover too from those navy rascals.” Mack said, grabbing one, as does Higgs.

The two walk out of the tavern and put their umbrellas up, shielding themselves from the rain. However, they see Tyrell with some of his soldiers patrolling through the pouring rain up ahead. Tyrell orders some of his soldiers to check each building, worrying Mack and Higgs. They are getting close, so the two quickly goes back inside the tavern. Mack hides under the bar counter, surprising the bartender, and Higgs sits down, not paying any mind. One soldier enters the tavern, holding their shotgun, and approaches the bartender. Higgs looks at this worried.

“Hello sir, we are on the hunt for a dangerous pirate across this island. Have you seen one pass through this area?” The soldier asked him.

“Nope, but I heard whispers he might have fled to the other side of the island by now. Probably want to check there now.” The bartender replied, covering for Mack.

“Thank you sir. We will do what we can.” The soldier replied, as he leaves the tavern.

Mack sighs a breath of relief and gets up. The soldier reports this to Tyrell outside.

“Very well, we will move our efforts there. Valek can keep his men in this area. Governor Rose and Juliet are safe inside their mansion with heavy protection. Hopefully the storm calms soon.” Tyrell said, looking up at the darkening stormy sky, as his soldiers head for the other side of the island.

“I owe you one.” Mack said to the bartender, joyed.

“Not a problem.” The bartender replied.

Mack and Higgs leave the tavern again, heading their way down the alley, seeing the coast is clear once more. They put their umbrellas up once more, hoping that will make any soldiers think Mack is a civilian at the very least. They see the clothes store and turn around, heading for where the private port is.

Meanwhile, The Eclipse Pearl is sailing through the seas, as the eerie fog follows it. Bedossa’s crew are preparing for their attack on Port Royale, getting their weapons ready and

“If the last piece is at Port Royale, then that means Turner must be there…” one of the pirates realized.

Bedossa walks out of the cabin. He is wearing a dark black pirate coat, and on his head, he displays a fancy, black hat with a feather on it. He bites on a green apple, stopping in his tracks before the crew.

“Indeed it does. We will find Turner, yes. And perfect timing, because a Triple Dark be brewin’. A storm that be the ally of pirates, as they say.” Bedossa said.

The pirates cheer, ready to strike Port Royale.

“However, I ain’t such the fool to risk all me men out there. Port Royale is the only isle in all of Enhalas to have a Royal Navy occupation, and thus, is likely heavily guarded. I need to know what kind of defenses they got and how we’d fare in a full scale attack. A small group of ye can go scout the island to see how much of the navy be stationed there, and where Turner may be hidin’.” Bedossa explained to his crew, disappointing some of them.

Bedossa could have just gone for a full on assault, but he is clever, patient, and calculating. He knows how to coordinate his attacks, and he is not a fool to poke the hive that is the Royal Navy. Bedossa goes to the steering wheel, and sets the ship course for Port Royale, as the stormy winds blow the sails. The ominous fog keeps following the ship, as it sees Port Royale in the distance. Bedossa stops the ship, not wanting to go any further lest he risk the navy ships spotting him. A small boat is taken out of the storage room by a group of pirates, and it is lowered into the water below. Five pirates from the crew hop aboard

Back at Port Royale, Valek and his men are seen patrolling throughout the town, near Fort Weatherby. 

“Admiral, with all due respect, we may want to take a break due to this storm…” a soldier said, getting cold from the pouring rain, as more thunder rumbles in the distance.

Valek looks at the soldier with an angry glare, making him nervous.

“You are soldiers, this is what you signed up for. You will not let a storm distract you from the task at hand. You know what I do to weak links in my troops…” Valek said sternly and threateningly, worrying the soldiers.

Valek then looks up at the clouds, realizing what kind of storm it is.

“This is no ordinary storm, either. It’s a Triple Dark. Perfect for any surprise pirate strike.” Valek said, surprising his soldiers.

“You mean, those are real?” A soldier asked.

“Indeed. I too had only heard the stories and never seen one in person until now. Yet rather strange, as they are supposed to be extremely rare phenomenons. Any clever pirate would launch an attack during this lowered visibility period, so stick through it and stay on high alert.” Valek ordered, as they keep patrolling, as Pearson approaches them.

“Commodore Tyrell wanted me to inform you he heard an anecdote that the pirate fled to the other side of the island. He dispatched his group there to investigate.” Pearson informed.

“Thank you. Divide and conquer will be a most helpful tool in weeding Stark out. Keep our patrol up at a steady pace.” Valek ordered, as he continues marching them through the streets.

Juliet is looking out her room window at the pouring rain, and sees Valek’s men marching below. 

Mack and Higgs make their way to the private port, where no soldiers are, much to their relief. They see a light gray merchant boat docked there, named “The Shady Deal”. The two recognize the boat well. They run through the rain and walk aboard, where a tent is set up overhead. Rain is pouring down over it. The man known as Clarence is under it, checking his merchandise seen on several shelves. Clarence is wearing a shady dark gray jacket, and is wearing goggles. Clarence turns to see Mack and Higgs, startling him.

“Ahoy mate, we got the memo.” Higgs said, as Mack waves.

“Haven’t you two ever heard of knocking!? Haha, just joking! Mack and Vince my boys, it has been far too long! Lovely weather, we are having tonight, eh?” Clarence said, standing up, laughing.

He gives Mack and Higgs both firm handshakes, joyed to see them again.

“Still in your black market shenanigans?” Mack asked curiously, looking at his merchandise which consist of weapons and products. 

“You bet I am, I have delved really deep into the black market of Enhalas. A lot of people appreciate the stuff I find, especially in a technologically sparse part of the world like this. Shame it appears you still are crew-less, but destiny has reunited you two once more!” Clarence explained, and then sees Mack’s treasure chest. “What’cha got there?”

“Long story, and for another time.” Mack replied, as Clarence gasps.

“Wait…is that what I think it is? And here I thought that thing everyone was hunting was simply a fairy tale! I knew if anyone could get it, it’d be you!” Clarence said, giving Mack a pat on the back.

“As much as I am joyed to have your company again, friend, I must say, this was not the most smart meeting spot because those navy soldiers are hot on my trail…” Mack said to Clarence.

“Sorry pals, but I too have to keep a low profile from those nuisances.” Clarence replied.

“How did ya even dock this here?” Higgs asked.

“You know me and my charming bribes, those port workers are easily swayed.” Clarence said, winking.

“I can attest to that.” Mack said, referring to his own bribe to “dock” his boat.

“Very nice merchandise you got here.” Higgs said, inspecting several of Clarence’s illegal swords and guns.

“Indeed, if you would like any, you better have a great deal. Also, how rude of me to not give my guests some refreshments. Casey dear, bring the drinks!” Clarence said, calling for a name.

From the cabin, a girl exits, holding a plate of drinks. Mack and Higgs take drinks from the plate.

“Thank you, miss. Uhh…who is this?” Mack asked, unfamiliar with Casey.

“Oh, I would like to introduce you to my daughter, Casey!” Clarence said, as this makes Mack go wide eyed, and Higgs is shocked too.

“…You have a daughter now?” Mack said, surprised.

Mack knew Clarence had quite “the way” with trying to woe women for as long as they knew each other, though those efforts usually always ended in failure for him. He is wondering who Clarence may have settled down with, though Casey looked to be a teenager from Mack’s view and he knew Clarence did not have any daughter when they last met a few years back. 

“Adopted, of course, not related by blood. I needed help and when she had nobody else to turn to, I, being the generous connoisseur that I am, took her in under my wing!” Clarence explained delightfully.

“…Oh.” Mack said, shooting down many of his theories.

“Still single, but trust me, I will find a lovely woman someday!” Clarence vowed. “Casey, say hi to our guests. These two are Captain Mack Stark and Vincent Higgs, two of my favorite customers!”

“Hi, I guess. I can tell that one is a pirate from the rugged, real bad clothing, and the teeth. Crikey.” Casey said, looking at Mack.

“Hey now, this is quality fashion, and my teeth look nice!” Mack scoffed, adjusting his wardrobe.

“Forgive her, she has a bit of a snarky mouth. Now that we are all up to speed, any products I can get for you gentlemen?” Clarence inquired.

“Well actually, not so much merchandise we want. Instead, we were thinkin’…Mack has no other way off this island, and perhaps, you could sail him to Swashbuckler Outpost?” Higgs suggested.

“Of course, another selfish pirate who only wants to use my father.” Casey said annoyed, looking at Mack with uncertainty and annoyance.

“Selfish? Captain Mack Stark is certainly far from that, given what I rescued earlier!” Mack scoffed one more, annoyed at Casey.

“I can confirm, Mack is far from selfish like the other rude pirates that have tried to rip me off in the past! It is okay though, Casey is still adjusting to our black market life. She will learn to trust the people I trust in time.” Clarence said, as Casey groans.

“I don’t blame the miss, since as you know, trust no one in these parts.” Higgs said, thinking about how Bedossa mutinied Mack.

“You can trust me though. I will sail you Swashbuckler Outpost. We want to move now too, since it appears a Triple Dark is brewing tonight.” Clarence agreed, taking a look at the storm.

Lightning then flashes, making Casey jump. Visibility in the area is becoming lower and lower.

“Haven’t seen a Triple Dark in a long while either. Yes, off we go now.” Mack said, as Higgs approaches him.

“I suppose this is goodbye then, once more. Good luck Mack, and take care of “Treasure”.” Higgs said, giving him a farewell handshake.

“I am sure destiny will reunite us again. See ya for now.” Mack said, saluting, as Higgs salutes back.

Higgs steps off the boat, and walks along the port. Clarence begins starting the boat up. Higgs has accepted that once more, Mack and him will part ways. As he makes his way back to the clothes store, suddenly…

“HALT! Unauthorized vessel, you are harboring a criminal.” Pearson yelled, as a group of soldiers storm into the area.

“Stand aside citizen, we will handle him.” A soldier assured to Higgs, as he is pushed off to the side.

Higgs looks at Mack worried, unsure if he should help him since he would blow his proclaimed peaceful life cover on Port Royale. But part of him knew Mack could probably handle them anyways, as he keeps standing there. The soldiers have their guns aimed at Clarence’s boat, and his boat isn’t starting properly, making him panic.

“Oh no no no, not now! Dammit!” Clarence yelled, as he smashes on the controls angrily.

“This is why you don’t trust pirates, dad!” Casey said annoyed to him.

“I got it working!” Clarence said gleefully, as it begins to sail off. 

“Go on without me, I will handle them.” Mack said, about to jump off the boat.

“What!?” Clarence asked surprised, and Casey is too. “You can’t go, this is your ticket to escaping this terrible island!”

“I know. But if we go now, they would come after us full force with their mighty ships. I ain’t gonna put you in danger over me.” Mack said, as he jumps off the boat, and readies his sword, facing the soldiers.

“Godspeed, Stark.” Clarence wished to Mack, waving to him, as he sails The Shady Deal away, not wanting to look at the ensuing violence behind him. 

Mack begins fighting at once. Due to the low visibility from the Triple Dark, the soldiers have a tough time aiming through the darkness, which Mack takes advantage of. He runs around, disarming guns from the soldiers’ hands, and pushing them down. He uses his umbrella to counter a soldier’s sword, and flings it out of her hand, surprising her. He then grabs her and sends her spinning into another soldier, as both fall. He swings Treasure’s chest at one soldier, hitting them in the face and pushing them off the port. Treasure rolls around on the inside, clueless to the chaos occurring on the outside. He swings the chest at another soldier’s head, knocking him out. Higgs watches in wonder, about to step in. From the distance, Casey sees this as The Shady Deal keeps sailing away.

“Huh, maybe that pirate ain’t a selfish one after all.” Casey said, having a somewhat better view on Mack now.

“I told you, dear! I am sure he will be okay, never understate Captain Mack Stark!” Clarence said, as he sails The Shady Deal off, getting it as faraway from there as possible.

Mack takes out two other soldiers with ease, and he spins around, coming face to face with Pearson’s shotgun.

“It’s over, pirate.” Pearson said, about to fire.

“Oh dear.” Mack said

Higgs sees Mack is in danger and runs behind him. He holds out his drink bottle from Clarence’s boat and smashes it against the back of Pearson’s head, making him collapse to the ground.

“Come on!” Higgs said, helping Mack up.

“Guess you can't stay away from me, huh.” Mack said.

Mack and Higgs watch as The Shady Deal drifts off through the stormy ocean ahead of them.

“You really gave up your one chance to leave this island?” Higgs inquired.

“Indeed, I did. Tis a shame but I could not risk getting Clarence into any danger. Tis okay, though. I suppose I will just have to adjust to Port Royale for a while until a new opportunity presents itself.” Mack said, accepting his situation.

“That's bold of ye, Mack. Let’s get out of here before they wake up and alert their friends.” Higgs said, as the two make a run for it back down the alley.

Bedossa’s crew is seen docking their boat at the main port. The five get up and eagerly run across the port. The port worker approaches them, wanting them to pay for their docking.

“Excuse me, that will be two shillings-“ the port master was saying.

The pirates march right past him, knocking him aside.

“How rude! I would have at least taken a bribe! The Royal Navy will be informed of this intrusion!” The port master said, as he runs off to contact them.

“Remember men, only here to scout, not bring chaos and set the town ablaze…yet.” One of the pirates said in a grim tone.

“Curses…” another one said sadly, wanting to cause chaos. 

The five run around, as they look for any sign of the medallion, “Turner” or to see how much strength the Royal Navy has. As they go near the blacksmith shop, they see Sawyer down the street, holding trash. He the drops it, seeing the pirates before him.

“More pirates? My lucky day.” Sawyer said, holding out his sword, and ready to fight, but they laugh.

“You truly think you can take us five on at once? Step aside boy, the moonlight draws near, when we’ll be at our most powerful…” One of the pirates said ominously, staring at it in the sky.

“What are ya blabbing abou-“ Sawyer was saying, as the pirate hits him in his forehead with the back of his sword, and then slashes at his shoulder.

“Gah, you scumbag!” Sawyer yelled, as he is dazed and falls to the wet ground.

The pirates laugh, as they run off into the night, unaware they fought who they were supposedly searching for. Sawyer tries to give chase, but the port worker appears with several soldiers.

“Did you see them?” A soldier asked.

“…Yeah, they went that way.” Sawyer said, pointing north, as he gets up and is furious, holding his wound spot. “Not a lucky day after all, I don’t wanna see another pirate for a while, that’s for sure…”

The soldiers give chase, as Port Royale becomes chaotic through the night. Lightning flashes again in the sky. Mack and Higgs keep running, as Higgs has his umbrella up, concealing his identity. Valek suddenly corners them with his men.

“No more steps, Stark, and whoever your accomplice is.” Valek said, unable to identify Higgs. 

“Thank goodness for umbrellas.” Higgs said, relieved.

“You may have fooled Tyrell into checking the other side of the island, but I am no fool. I’m Admiral Valek, pleased to meet you. You’re under arrest.” Valek introduced, pointing his red gun.

“I wish I could say I share the pleasure.” Mack said, holding his sword and the chest.

Valek takes notice of the chest Mack is holding, and is surprised. Before he can say anything however, Bedossa’s men come running down the street, yelling and screaming, as they are shooting their guns into the night. The other soldiers continue chasing them. One of the soldiers shoots at a gunpowder barrel.

“NO!” A soldier yelled, as they get down.

An explosion goes off, sending the soldiers flying around. Mack and Higgs quickly make a run for it during this chaos, as Valek is blinded by the smoke. The two then come face to face with Bedossa’s pirate crew, as Mack gulps.

“…Hello there.” Mack said awkwardly.

“…Mack? You’re alive…” The pirate said, shocked, and then smiles. “Bedossa will be pleased when I report this-“

Gunshots go off from behind, as the soldiers try to apprehend the pirate gang. The pirate threatening Mack gets a bullet through their leg, but he feels no pain strangely. Mack then throws Treasure’s chest at the pirate’s head, knocking him down.

“This is making a surprisingly useful weapon, I must say.” Mack noted.

The pirate falls on a street spot where the moonlight is shining down bright on his leg. Illuminated under the moonlight, Mack sees the pirate’s leg turns into a skeleton. He recognizes what this means, and it gives him a morbid sensation. He then grabs Higgs, as the two run back down the alley toward the tavern. Bedossa’s crew keeps fighting the soldiers, shooting back at them, as they are forced to let Mack go. 

“Another time, Stark, but we’re gonna tell Bedossa!” One of the pirates laughed, smashing his sword against crates, and kicking them at the soldiers.

Due to the explosion smoke and Bedossa’s pirates providing distractions, Higgs and Mack successfully make it to The Sailor’s Tavern unspotted. Valek makes his way through the smoke, and opens fire at Bedossa’s pirates with his soldiers. Their bullets go through parts of their bodies, but they do not cause them any pain, and the pirates laugh.

“…How is this possible, sir?” A soldier asked confused.

Valek knows the answer, but does not say. Commodore Tyrell’s men then approach, opening fire at the pirates. 

“Apologies for following a dead end, sir.” Tyrell said to Valek.

“Forgiven, now help us deal with them.” Valek replied, as Tyrell understands.

“We may have an advantage over them, but there’s too many and our scouting objective is dead! Retreat!” One of the pirates ordered, as they run off.

The pirates run off, throwing crates and debris from the explosion behind to slow the navy down. The soldiers are about to give chase, but Valek stops them.

“No. Let them go.” Valek ordered, confusing Tyrell and his soldiers.

“With all due respect admiral, why? That was a whole pirate crew ripe for the taking.” Tyrell protested.

“That was not the entire crew, they’re retreating to their superior. They knew they were outnumbered. I prefer to let them bring the whole dinner to us.” Valek explained.

“Understandable, admiral.” Tyrell noted.

"Overall, even though we didn’t catch Stark, decent job, men. We defended the island and sent those pirates running back like the vermin they are.” Valek said, 

The pirates make it to the port, getting into the boat, and quickly row off. The pirates retreat from Port Royale, heading back to The Eclipse Pearl. Valek, Tyrell and their men reach the port, seeing the boat is sailing off. 

“Were they Stark’s friends?” Tyrell asked.

“No. They were not here for him. But for what, I cannot say as of yet. What has me most interested is in that treasure chest Stark had…” Valek said curiously, as the soldiers head back to Fort Weatherby.

The Triple Dark storm is clearing, as the rain has stopped. Mack and Higgs are resting inside The Sailor’s Tavern, exhausted after the long day both have had.

“No more antics for a while, I promise. I need rest. I will have to settle down in Port Royale best I can I suppose.” Mack said, tired, and accepting his predicament.

“You can stay here at the Sailor’s Tavern, just like I. They have spare rooms upstairs, I got ya covered.” Higgs explained.

Higgs walks to the bartender and places doubloons on the counter.

“One room for the pirate, please.” Higgs said.

“All yours.” The bartender said happily, counting the money.

“Thanks, mate, for everything. I guess fate cannot keep us apart.” Mack said, as Higgs shows him upstairs to his quarters.

“Aye, I could never abandon ya, and I must thank you too for gettin’ me out of there. Since it appears we are roommates now, I’ll return the favor however I can.” Higgs said gratefully.

Mack settles into the room, which looks a bit dusty around, but it overall seems passable enough for a place to lay low for a while. He sits down on the bed and places Treasure’s chest by his side. He opens it, looking inside. Mack looks as Treasure sleeps peacefully, and he smiles to himself. While he has many people wanting him dead now, he will make the best of what he can for now, fully accepting he is stuck on Port Royale.

At The Eclipse Pearl, the row boat is brought back up, and the crew come back on board. Bedossa looks disappointed in them, realizing they do not have the medallion piece, nor do their faces indicate they have any idea of Turner’s whereabouts.

“Ye all came back empty handed. Frustrating and pathetic, I must say.” Bedossa said annoyed, taking another bite of his apple. “But no matter, scouting makes for practice.” 

“We apologize, captain. There were too many soldiers. However, during our raid, we did find a valuable piece of information to report...” One of the pirates said.

“What be that?” Bedossa asked curiously.

“…Stark is alive. He was spotted on the island. I could not believe it either, but it was truly him.” The pirate reported to Bedossa.

“I recognized that face as clear as day…” another pirate said angrily.

Bedossa does not initially have much of a response, as he thinks it over for a bit. He then lets out a hearty laugh, seeing an opportunity

“So that is where he has been all these years. Quite frankly, I am surprised he made it off where we stranded him. I presumed by now he would have been a rotting corpse ripped apart, or in a coffin ten feet under! I shall be keeping a closer eye on the isle from now on. And when we launch our true strike, we shall be givin’ ol’ Mack a welcome back party…” Bedossa said sinisterly, smirking, as the pirates cheer.

Notes/Trivia

-Character Debuts: Clarence and Casey

-Ship Debuts: The Shady Deal

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5. The High Tower

The next morning, Juliet wakes up and gets out of bed, feeling much better now that her illness is gone. She struggled to get as much as sleep as she would have liked, due to the chaotic day she had yesterday, and the ensuing noisy night of patrols that followed. She looks at herself in the mirror, and adjusts her hair. She then sees the sapphire dress Rose got her yesterday, hanging in the closet. She appreciated the sentiment, but does not want to wear it anymore after it almost made her drown. Not to mention it was a tad too tight on her anyways. She closes the closet door, wanting to lock those unfortunate events yesterday behind her. Speaking of the incident yesterday however, Juliet thinks about how Mack saved her. Juliet, while initially grateful a pirate of all people saved her, has many conflicted feelings about it now.  He later tried to use her as ransom to escape, which somewhat ruined much of her appreciation, very fast. Of course, she knew that being a pirate, he was in a difficult situation, but she still didn’t like it. Did he truly save her out of the kindness of his pirate heart, or was it for his own selfish, personal reasons? Perhaps in hopes of winning her father’s favors so he could stab him in the back when he least expected it? She had no idea what to expect with pirates anymore. Despite her fascination with them, they could make very, very dangerous enemies if you crossed the wrong foot with them. This was not a risk she was willing to take. 

She looks into her drawer and sees the gold medallion inside. She picks it up and stares at it in wonder once again, as the skull face looks back at her. Juliet remembers Mack asking her where she got it after she woke up. Did the medallion mean something to him? Was it one of his treasures? Hopefully, he did not come back anytime soon to take it from her. This medallion means too much to Juliet for her to let it go. She puts the medallion back in the drawer, and before she closes it, she sees several old photos off to the side. Juliet flips through the photos and reminisces at the memories they contain. She looks at several photos of her younger self, who is with old childhood friends at her original home, many years before her and her father headed to Port Royale. Juliet sighs, missing those days. Ever since moving here, she had lost her friends and family back home. She has felt homesick, and is tired of Rose being overprotective of her, even though his reasons were understandable and his heart in the right place. Even though she is now a woman, she still feels as if Rose treats her like a child. She then sees a picture that makes her sad: it was her mother. Her mother had died many years ago due to a severe illness. Rose was shaken badly, which led to him understandably becoming very overprotective of Juliet, not wanting the same fate to befall her. He could not lose another part of his family, and did everything in his power to keep Juliet safe from the pirates and dangers beyond Port Royale. Granted, bringing her to Enhalas of all places in the first place was not an admittedly great idea to begin with, but he had no real choice in the matter. Her father was sent on an important diplomatic mission eight years ago to lead a colony to Port Royale, and he did not have it in his heart to leave her behind, despite the many risks in this area. In addition, there were no other nearby family members Rose felt comfortable leaving her with anyways.

Juliet then hears a knock on her door, startling her. She closes the drawer, still holding a picture of her mother. Rose enters in.

“Juliet, apologies for the intrusion, I just wanted to check how you are doing after yesterday’s ride of events…” Rose was saying.

Rose then looks at the picture Juliet is holding, showing her mother. Rose shows a depressed expression on his face upon seeing it.

“Sorry, I was simply reorganizing my pictures-“ Juliet was saying.

“I miss her too. It’s okay.” Rose said to her. 

“She is in a better place now, I suppose. I am sure she would want the best for both of us in our lives.” Juliet said.

“Indeed she would. Just know that everything I have done for you is on your best interests, and so I do not lose you like we lost her.” Rose said.

“I know, father. To answer your original inquiry, I am doing fine, or as fine as I can be.” Juliet replied awkwardly.

“When that filthy, disgusting pirate grabbed you and used you as a hostage ransom…my blood boiled beyond comprehension. I will never let that happen again to you. We will annihilate all of those pirates so people like you can have a brilliant future in Enhalas.” Rose promised.

“Thank you.” Juliet replied, still unsure how to feel. Was every pirate out there truly an evil, wicked creature like her father made them out to be?

“I shall be heading to Fort Weatherby to discuss urgent matters with the navy folk, especially in dealing with that pirate. The servants will be here if you need anything.” Rose said, looking at the high tower from the fort that stares directly at their mansion.

“Understood.” Juliet replied.

“Oh, and my apologies for the dress. They insisted to me it would be the right size, but alas, nobody is infallible. You grow so fast. I shall take that back and get a better version when I have time.” Rose said.

“A replacement not be necessary, but I appreciate the sentiment.” Juliet said, as Rose heads to her closet and grabs the sapphire dress.

“Very well. I still want my money back, nonetheless.” Rose said.

Rose then leaves the room, closing the door behind and taking the dress with him. Juliet is surprised Rose listened to her so easily for a change, not that she was going to argue it. Maybe he was willing to let her make her own choices more? Probably not, but it was a start. Juliet then goes to her drawer, and takes out her pirate book. She hops into bed and reads more of it to pass the time. She knew it felt somewhat evil to be this fascinated in them despite the fact one almost put her in danger, but she wanted to learn more about them. After all, if you wish to get an advantage over your enemy, you must know them.

At Fort Weatherby, multiple soldiers, officials, and workers are seen heading inside. Several others are left to stand patrol outside, as they hold their guns high. Valek heads in with his soldiers, as people see his red cave waving as he walks.

“I would love a cape like that…” one soldier said, jealous of Valek’s attire.

Tyrell is already inside with his soldiers, as they are waiting around in the foyer.

“Wonder what the meeting is for?” Toby wondered, looking at Murray.

“Probably to demote us both for letting the pirate get close to stealing the Interceptor, I would reckon.” Murray replied.

“Us? No, that would be your fault, not mine!” Toby replied back.

“Both of you be quiet. The meeting will be about reevaluating our strategy to capture the pirates in this area.” Pearson said, who now has a bandage on the back of his head due to the injury Higgs inflicted upon him last night, as he holds an ice pack against it.

“In addition, we will be reviewing everything that occurred yesterday from official reports, checking for any oddities.” Valek said ominously, as a worker approaches him and Tyrell.

“Here are all of the navy reports from yesterday, gathered for your ease, sirs.” A worker said, handing them the papers.

“Thank you, we will examine them thoroughly.” Tyrell replied.

Valek and Tyrell begin checking reports from throughout yesterday with their soldiers, reviewing all necessary materials of every account. The worker then grabs something else of note from a table.

“These may come in handy too.” The worker said, holding all of the port ledgers, containing listings of every person who docked on Port Royale in the past month.

Valek is then handed the ledgers. He begins reviewing all the names and times 

“Interesting…” Valek said, catching something abnormal in the listings. “This will be useful for our meeting.”

“We should head upstairs to the high tower while waiting for the governor.” Tyrell said, looking at the clock.

Tyrell, Valek and Pearson head down the main hall. As he walks however, Valek feels an uncomfortable sensation in his body and panics. He quickly breaks off from the group and goes down a small hallway, away from anyone else. Valek begins to cough uneasily. Blood briefly comes out of his mouth, and he wipes it away.

“Not now!” Valek said angrily, not wanting to be seen like this at the meeting.

“Admiral…are you alright?” Tyrell asked him from behind, worried.

“…It’s nothing. Head upstairs without me.” Valek replied, sounding groggy and sick, but manages to overcome it.

The bleeding from his mouth stops, and he relaxes, feeling somewhat better now, but still tense. Tyrell and Pearson begin heading up the stairs, as Valek takes a minute to compose himself. He then follows, heading up the stairs as well. The three reach the top of the tower, where a large meeting room is. Several soldiers are already there, standing guard in the room. At the large table sits several port workers and officials, including a senator and ambassador. A chair at the end of the table is reserved for Rose. An unfamiliar lieutenant approaches the three.

“Greetings. You must be Admiral Valek, Commodore Tyrell, and Lieutenant Pearson.” The lieutenant greeted to them.

“Hello there, I was not expecting a new lieutenant.” Tyrell said.

“That was going to be announced at the meeting, but we shall let it out of the bag now. Admiral Pellaeon has allowed us to borrow a lieutenant from his team, whom he has spoken highly of. Introducing: Lieutenant Theodore Gravel.” A soldier explained to them.

Gravel is a young, but aspiring, lieutenant in the Royal Navy who will do the job to the best of his ability. 

“Yes, we heard chatter that you needed help with your pirate problem, and I will help you however I can. It will be an honor to serve with you.” Gravel said, shaking Tyrell and Valek’s hands.

“Another lieutenant? Welcome to the team, I trust we will get along.” Pearson said, shaking his hand.

“I have much respect for Admiral Pellaeon, so I trust his judgment in choosing you. Welcome aboard.” Valek said to Gravel.

Rose then enters the room, and sits down. Valek, Tyrell, Pearson and Gravel take their seats as well.

“Apologies for not being here early, but I had errands to run. Now then, I am sure you are all aware of the “pirate situation” we had yesterday. Captain Mack Stark, an infamous pirate, is on our island with no way off. In addition, a group of unrelated pirates attacked last night, but thankfully were driven away before they could cause major harm. Right now, we are essentially glorified warlords with our limited control of Enhalas. After eight years, we still only have this one island. The rest of our forces are too busy defending the homeland and the Eastern Trading Company does not seem invested in helping us out right now. If we cannot deal with Stark, then we are in big trouble for more pirates. We need to reevaluate our efforts if we are to deal with them all. Killing pirates like Stark is only a small, but symbolic, step to ensuing our victory. I will not let anymore pirates near my daughter and the residents of the isle.” Rose said boldly.

“If the governor would let me speak, I have a crucial piece of information I would like to address first that will set us on a path to ending them.” Valek said.

“You may proceed.” Rose replied.

“Last night, a black market dealer visited Port Royale, who Stark tried to get away with. The problem here many in this room likely are overlooking would be: why was he allowed to dock his boat there to begin with?” Valek asked, bringing the question out in the open.

Everyone then immediately looks at the port workers, and the workers look at each other suspiciously.

“It wasn’t me, I wasn’t working the night shift.” one of the other port workers said. 

“The records do confirm that.” Tyrell noted, checking.

The worker who let Mack and Clarence slip by gets nervous within a second, as he sinks into his chair. Valek then looks directly at him.

“Do you have any explanation of how that could have happened…Mr. Harrison? You were on duty most of yesterday, I’m aware.” Valek asked the worker known as Harrison, putting him on the spot.

“Well…you see admiral, there are several ports to check and I likely was not there when he arrived, you may want to ask one of the others…” Mr. Harrison was saying.

“Except you were, according to this.” Valek said, showing the ledger page for Clarence’s arrival time, which he wrote as “Mr. Smith” and has his signature next to the arrival. “I also know about your greedy history and will do anything for money. He has been accepting bribes from criminals this whole time, and let Stark arrive on Port Royale.”

Rose and Tyrell are angry at this. The worker tries to make a run for it, but Valek quickly pulls out his gun and shoots him straight through the chest, as he falls to the ground. He is dead within seconds. His body is picked up by two soldiers, as they take him away. The senator attending the meeting looks at this with unease. 

“Make no mistake, anyone who is caught aiding pirates like this traitor, will be executed.” Valek said grimly, blowing smoke off his gun, as one of the senators has a worried expression on their face. “That was the first lesson in changing our strategy. The less people for him to take advantage of, the better.”

Gravel is impressed with Valek’s deduction skills and courage. He had heard the stories from his own admiral about Valek’s brutal and crafty skills, but they always provided results as he just saw. 

“We promise, none of us will take bribes or let any criminals on the island, admiral.” A port worker said dedicatedly, as the others nod in understanding.

“We know Stark has at least one accomplice with him right now, and we will figure out who they are as well. Pirate sympathizers like Mr. Harrison must be snuffed out, which is something we must look out for more, beginning today.” Tyrell added.

“With all due respect, hunting down these sympathizers seems like it will only put the town into a scare and make them hide themselves better, no? Mr. Harrison was an outlier, not the norm. A lot of ‘em can only lead so far anyways up the food chain.” The senator spoke, known as Randolph Casterfel.

“Your concern is noted, Senator Casterfel. We will be subtle in how we hunt for them, obviously we would not make it clear. But as for your other concern, not all may know everything, but even cold trails make a good base.” Valek said curiously. “Besides, any sympathizer, no matter how small they are, needs to be eliminated.” 

The group continues to discuss their new strategies to combat the pirates.

Meanwhile, Mack is seen in his room at the Sailor’s Tavern, just waking up a few minutes ago. Mack looks around and opens the chest, to see Treasure looking up at him, as it too had just waken up. Mack then thinks to himself about last night’s events: Why were Bedossa’s crew here, exactly? They had no idea he was here initially, so it wasn’t for him. Then he remembered the medallion Juliet had, and put two and two together. He realized what it meant, and knew she was in danger. Mack heads downstairs in a hurry, where he sees Higgs at his usual table.

“I’ve been thinking, Mack. What do ye think Bedossa’s crew were after? Seems a tad odd for him to send only a few to attack here…” Higgs pondered curiously.

“They weren’t here to attack. They wanted to find someone…or something.” Mack said.

“Your pet?” Higgs asked.

“No. That lady I saved, the governor's daughter. She had one of the gold pieces. It must have sent out a call to The Eclipse Pearl.” Mack revealed, surprising Higgs.

“Of course, but how would she have it?” Higgs asked.

“That, I am going to find out. I am going to sneak into their quarters and ask Mrs. Rose to give me the piece.” Mack revealed.

“That is a bad idea.” Higgs said, sighing. 

“And you and I both know that means I will see it through.” Mack replied stubbornly and confidently. “I know it is not smart, but I cannot let harm come her way because of me. Also, I owe her a favor in return. I’m a man of my word.”

“The Roses live in a mansion near the town. If you are going to do this, at least get a good disguise.” Higgs said, as he heads to his room upstairs.

He comes back down with an old cloak, handing it to Mack. Mack puts on the hooded cloak, which disguises him perfectly. 

“Not bad, it fits well, surprisingly. Thanks, mate. By the by, can you watch Treasure for me?” Mack requested.

“Sure, ain’t like I have anything else to do.” Higgs replied, as he heads upstairs to watch Treasure.

Mack heads outside of the Sailor’s Tavern, and sees several wanted posters with his face on them scattered about across almost every building.

“Wow, what a horrible representation of me!” Mack said, unimpressed by the artist’s attempts to recreate his face, and rips up the poster.

He keeps heading off toward the Rose mansion. As he walks down the street, the passing civilians and soldiers do not take notice of him. He is relieved the hood is working.

“I truly owe Vincent a lot for the amount of times he’s had my back.” Mack realized.

He sees the mansion is somewhat far off from the rest of the town, along with Fort Weatherby in the distance. 

“That will take too long, and the mansion is too out in the open so I would be spotted easily.” Mack said, finding a conundrum in his plan.

He then sees a ladder outside a building, and realizes with enough precision, he can use it to climb up to the rooftops.

“However, I believe I have found a way to increase my stealthiness, and get to the mansion faster, at the same time!” Mack realized.

He climbs up the ladder and jumps off, grabbing onto a flag pole nearby. He then swings from it into the air, and grabs onto a window ledge.

“What is that man doing!?” A woman asked from below, confused.

Several other residents below join her, looking at Mack in confusion and curiosity. Mack stands on the window ledge, and begins to climb onto wooden building, jabbing his sword as hard as possible into it, which he uses to hold onto. He then makes it to the rooftop, victorious. Mack looks out from the rooftop, having a great view of the whole Port Royale island. He then begins running, and keeps doing so. He jumps at the edge, and lands on another rooftop right across from the one he was just on. He feels the roof wood, and picks himself back up.

“Now this is how you sneak around in style!” Mack said, overjoyed. 

He runs again, and jumps off the edge, landing on another rooftop nearby, with no passing civilians below noticing the jumping pirate above their heads. He jumps off more roofs, but on his latest attempt, he slips on the roof he lands on.

“Oh no…” Mack said, trying to regain balance.

He looks below to see several navy soldiers patrolling, and he quickly looks back up as he tries to not fall. Thankfully, he gains his balance and casually walks his way onto the roof.

“Whew.” Mack said, relieved, as he keeps on walking.

Due to his skirmish though, a tile falls off the roof and hits a soldier below in the dead. The soldier looks up annoyed, and sees nothing.

“Wretched old buildings…” the soldier said, as he shrugs it off and keeps going on his way.

“Did you see that man on the roof?” A civilian said in passing, confusing the soldiers.

“Excuse me sir, what man on the roof?” A soldier asked to the passerby.

“Some buffoon climbed up a building and onto the roof a few moments ago.” The passerby explained.

“Could that be the pirate?” Another soldier asked.

“Perhaps, but it could also just be a stupid delinquent. Regardless, look up at the roofs and see what you find.” The soldier said, as the group splits up.

As Mack keeps roof hopping, he makes it closer to the Rose mansion, seeing it nearby. 

“HEY! Get down from there!” A soldier yelled, spotting Mack from below.

Mack, by instinct, jumps off the roof, landing onto a wooden platform below. He is surprised that worked, and hops off, as he makes his way to the mansion. The soldier then appears from the side though, making Mack freeze.

“Sir, who are you…wait…your face…” The soldier was figuring it out. “You’re the pirate-“

Mack then kicks sand right into the soldier’s face, blinding them. He pushes him to the ground, and makes a run for it to the mansion. 

“Sorry mate, now in the mood for a fight today! Perhaps another time!” Mack promised, as the soldier keeps trying to clear their eyes.

Mack makes it to the mansion’s front, and hides behind a wall, seeing the luxurious building right before him. There are several guards patrolling around outside, and two stationed at the entrance. Mack carefully sneaks around the outside, trying to figure out another way in. He hides behind several exotic, imported plants in their fancy garden, as several soldiers pass by. He sneaks around again, and looks at several room windows up above. He begins climbing the mansion walls, trying to see which room belongs to Juliet. He looks through a window, to see Juliet reading her pirate book. Mack then knocks on the window, startling Juliet. She approaches it. She is both confused and annoyed to see him.

“…What are you doing here!?” Juliet asked.

“We need to talk, lass. That piece of gold you have…it is evil, and there is an evil man that will be coming to take it from you.” Mack warned.

“Why should I trust you after you used me as a hostage?” Juliet asked, on edge.

“Somewhat a stretch of what actually happened, but touché, you don’t know you can trust me. However, I normally never warn anyone about anything, so I suppose you will have to come up with your own interpretation. If you keep holding onto that gold, you may endanger the ones you love.” Mack warned to her cryptically. “So give it to me like a good girl.”

“Are you just trying to increase your treasure count?” Juliet asked.

“I could be, but I could also have no use for it. Remember I owe you a favor after you helped save me yesterday, and this warning would certainly count, no?” Mack replied cryptically again.

Juliet thinks it over, when she hears knocking on her door.

“Juliet, is everything okay? We heard noises.” The butler asked from outside.

“If you will not give it to me, then I hope you put it somewhere faraway from here as possible. G’day!” Mack said, as he drops below.

The butler opens the door, to see Juliet standing near the window. Both of them look below to see Mack is not there.

“It’s nothing, I thought I saw something outside.” Juliet said.

“Alright then. If you need any help, let me know.” The butler replied, as he shrugs and leaves the room.

Mack makes a run for it, as he hears soldiers approaching. He quickly begins climbing over a wall, and manages to make it to the other side, as the soldiers pass by. Mack looks up to see he is right near Fort Weatherby, as he looks up at the high tower. He then hides in a bush, overhearing the guards outside.

“How long is this meeting going to last?” one soldier wondered.

“A meeting, eh? Curious to hear what they are discussing, most likely about yours truly…” Mack said, getting an idea.

Seeing as his plan to get Juliet to give him the coin failed, he decides to eavesdrop in on the meeting to hear about their plans, in hopes he can take advantage of them. Mack stealthily climbs up the stone fort tower, as he gets closer to the meeting room, when suddenly…

The soldier he knocked out earlier comes running to the entrance.

“Alert them, I’ve found our pirate!” The soldier said.

One of the guards goes inside at once, running to the meeting room.

“Uh oh.” Mack said, as he climbs faster.

Mack then gets to the window for the meeting room, as he looks inside, seeing them talking.

“I have sent a notice to pull most of our forces from the other side of the isle. The small settlements there have not reported and sightings.” Tyrell said, as Mack keeps this information in the back of his head, getting an idea.

The guard then barges into the meeting room.

“The pirate is…” He was saying, and looks at the window.

Everyone looks at the window, and gasps upon being Mack. 

“Hello there.” Mack said awkwardly.

He then gets out of the window, as one soldier tries to follow. Mack then pushes them off the ledge, as they fall below. The rest of the soldiers are heard going downstairs, planning to attack him from below. Mack carefully walks around the tower edges, as he sees small pebbles drop below. 

“There he is!” Gravel spotted from below.

The soldiers begin firing at once, as Valek looks at him, noticing he does not have the treasure chest with him. Mack sees a rope hanging from the side of the tower. Mack grabs the rope and swings from it into the air, avoiding the gunshots. Gravel shoots at at the rope Mack is swinging from, as it breaks. Mack begins to fall, as he screams. He manages to land on a roof nearby, much to his pleasure. He gets up and looks at the soldiers below.

“You simpletons shall all remember this as the SECOND day you almost caught Captain Mack Stark!” Mack bragged, tipping his hat to the soldiers below.

A gunshot nearly hits him in the firings, as his eyes go wide and he continues his escape, disappearing into the rooftop horizon. 

“And so, once again, Stark escapes…” Rose said, getting irritated at their progress. “How much of our plans do you suspect he overheard?”

“Little to none thankfully, given the timing of his appearance, he only just got here.” Valek replied.

“Not bad, lieutenant, you almost had him on your first task.” Tyrell said to Gravel.

“No problem, sir. Now that I’ve seen him in action, I must say he’s quite a fascinating pirate.” Gravel said.

“Indeed he is…” Senator Castefel said in wonder, as he and the other officials are dismissed.

At night, Valek and Rose are seen in the high tower meeting room together.

“We will catch him in time, governor, I promise.” Valek reassured.

“Time is what I am afraid we do not have.” Rose sighed.

“Neither does he, since he is trapped on the island, along with the treasure. He may run, but he cannot hide for long.” Valek said.

“Whatever treasure he has is irrelevant, I just want him executed. No offense admiral, but I worry your obsession with this “treasure” is going to compromise our mission…” Rose scoffed. 

Valek stays silent for a few seconds.

“Governor, I must ask: what if you had the power…to live forever?” Valek asked deeply and mysteriously to Rose, catching him off guard.

“…What are you talking about?” Rose asked, confused.

“There are mystical pathways to immortality some would consider to be…”unnatural” in Enhalas. I am sure you aware of the cursed pirates, or even the tales about a pirate lord who tried to create his own way to immortality. Fascinating stories, wouldn’t you agree?” Valek explained, showing more of his impressive knowledge of pirate myths and history in the area.

“I have heard the cursed pirate stories, but I never took too much stock in them myself. People will make up all sorts of tales about this area, that who knows where the truth begins and stops. You should not let ghost stories interfere with your duties.” Rose said, clearly not believing Valek.

“There is always truth in legends, governor. I didn’t believe them either at first.” Valek said.

“If you say so. Living forever does not sound particularly amusing to me. Death is an inevitably for all, but I will make the best of my life until that fateful day.” Rose replied, as Valek looks at him.

“What if I told you…I’m dying?” Valek said bluntly.

Rose is initially not sure how to respond to this sudden reveal.

“…If this is an attempt at humor, I am not amused, admiral.” Rose replied, confused.

“There is no humor. Not many know this, not even my crew. Long ago, when I was only a mere lieutenant myself, I participated in a major naval battle against pirates. It was brutal and bloody. I made it out alive, but…barely. The ship took a heavy beating, and I was caught in an explosion of debris. The medics told me my body suffered near irreversible damages, and that I would only have several years left to fight it out. This may surprise you given how I appear healthy on the outside, but on the inside, there's always something hidden underneath.” Valek explained, hinting to possibly knowing what Treasure truly is and of the powers it holds.

“…I do sympathize. I lost my wife to an illness as well, and Juliet had quite a difficult time growing up after that.” Rose replied.

“And with the powers that treasure may hold, perhaps you could save her from dying too.” Valek promised, trying to sneakily manipulate Rose into helping him find the treasure.

This infuriates Rose, however.

“That is enough, admiral! I know you are obsessed with that treasure, but making people live forever?! It's utter nonsense. You have heard one too many myths. I truly do hope you get better, but not through a magical fairy tale. Get some rest, please, and focus on the task at hand tomorrow.” Rose said, as he leaves the room.

“Understood, governor.” Valek replied contently.

He then looks out the window from the high tower.

Mack heads back into the Sailor’s Tavern, annoyed he did not get the medallion from Juliet. Nonetheless, he is still smugly content to himself that he got away from them once more, and knows that the other side of the island will be safe to visit. He heads upstairs, where he sees Higgs asleep in a rocking chair. Mack whistles, and Higgs wakes up, startled.

“Wha…oh, you’re back already.” Higgs said, surprised.

“Was he a good boy while I was gone?” Mack asked Higgs.

“He don’t do too much, lemme tell ye. He’s mostly been staying asleep all day.” Higgs said, pointing to Treasure resting in its chest. “How did it go?”

“Not great, afraid to say. I did not get the girl to give me the medallion, since she does not trust me, somewhat understandable, but also a tad rude. Oh well, I tried. We shall see if the lass takes my wisdom to heart.” Mack said, shrugging.

At the Rose mansion, Juliet is in her room, bored. She heads to her drawer and pulls the golden medallion out of it again. She looks at it once more, this time with dread due to Mack’s warning.

At Fort Weatherby, Tyrell is walking through the main foyer, about to head outside, when Rose approaches him.

“Commodore, we need to talk.” Rose said, pulling him aside.

“Yes, sir?” Tyrell asked.

“We have a problem with Admiral Valek.” Rose said.

“What about him?” Tyrell asked, confused and curious.

“I do not trust him. It is clear he has his own goals that will not intwine with the best interests of the navy’s own goal, unfortunately.” Rose explained.

“With all due respect sir, I know it may appear that he has his mind set on that “treasure” but he sees a bigger picture than the rest of us. The rest of the navy speaks highly of his talents. If that treasure is important to ending the pirates, then he will find a way to connect the two.” Tyrell replied.

“He told me outright that he wanted the treasure for a personal reason, which could be treason in the books…” Rose said worried, as this concerns Tyrell.

“What do you want me to do about it?” Tyrell asked.

“I want you to be my eyes and ears. Keep a very close eye on Valek’s activities from now on. Report to me in private anything he does that may come off as treasonous or breaking any navy codes.” Rose said, sneakily going behind Valek’s back.

“As you wish, governor.” Tyrell replied.

“Thank you. I always knew I could trust you.” Rose said contently.

The two then leave the fort together. Valek is seen still in the high tower above, and looks down at the two below curiously.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Lieutenant Theodore Gravel and Senator Randolph Casterfel

-Death: Mr. Harrison

-Juliet’s mother passed away due to an illness long ago.

-

 

It is revealed Valek is dying, and hints Treasure can stop it.

 

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6. Sanctuary

The next morning, a small farm is seen near a village, deep in the forests on the other side of the island. The farmers are seen harvesting their crops, while in the village, a woman is watching her child chase an urchin. Suddenly, gun shots are heard being blasted into the village, as the villagers panic. Several thieves come charging in, as they begin stealing the village’s crops and supplies. The woman grabs her child, and goes into hiding in their house, away from the chaos. Once the thieves have what they need, they run back into the forests, leaving the villagers alone. The woman looks out a window, still holding her child. The villagers are horrified by this, worrying for the next strike. They try to clean up the mess left behind and make do with what they can for now.

At the Sailor’s Tavern, Mack is seen already awake, and looking out the window at the morning sunrise. Treasure is crawling around on the floor cheerfully. He knows he needs to visit the other side of the island in hopes of finding another way off. He cannot keep staying in this area or he will endanger both Higgs and Treasure more than they already are. He picks up Treasure from the floor, puts it back into its chest and closes it. He grabs a bag containing his pirate materials, and heads out of the room, carrying both. He is ready to depart, as he walks down the hallway and encounters Higgs.

“Yer leavin’ already, huh.” Higgs noted, aware of Mack’s decision the night prior.

“Aye, sorry lad. The longer I stay here, the more I endanger ye. This place is your sanctuary, not mine. If there is a chance I can get off the island on that end, I must find out.” Mack said selflessly. 

“I don’t know how likely there’s any boats awaitin’ over there, but if this is a true farewell once more, then I wish ya luck on getting a new crew.” Higgs said, shaking Mack’s hand. “But if anything goes haywire, you are always welcome back here.”

“I always like to have a little faith, Vince. Even if there is no rides, I will hide out there for a while since the soldiers will not be there as much and see if I can discover anything of note. Hopefully our paths cross again soon.” Mack said, as he grabs his cloak to disguise himself once more.

“You’re bringin’ Treasure too?” Higgs inquired. “I could take him off your hands for ya permanently.”

“Nah, appreciated, but if I left him here he’d be at risk. It’s better for him to wander the unknown with me.” Mack replied.

Higgs sees Mack off, bidding farewell once more for now. Mack leaves the Sailor’s Tavern, making his way toward the other side of the island. Mack carefully walks, seeing civilians and a few soldiers walking around in the morning. He waits for them to pass, and stealthily walks his way along the street sides. He once more makes his way off, walking off and leaving the tavern behind him. He looks back to see Higgs at the entrance, giving him a final look of luck on his journey from afar. Mack gives a nod, as he heads off. Mack makes it beyond the town’s perimeter, and sees the large grasslands leading to the rest of the island up ahead. He then looks back again at the town behind him, hearing the ocean winds blowing. Mack then heads off into the grasslands, ready to explore what the other side of the island has to offer.

From the distance, Sawyer is seen outside the blacksmith shop, and spots Mack in the distance. He looks carefully, trying to identify who actually the figure is. His look shows a mysterious mix of familiarity and unsureness. Whoever it was, Sawyer knew he didn’t like it, and keeps his look on Mack as he heads further into the grassland.

“Turner, help me out in here.” Mr. Brown’s voice said from inside the building, as welding noises are heard.

Sawyer keeps looking out in the distance for a few seconds, with a hint he will eventually find out what Mack is doing. He then heads into the building to help Mr. Brown.

As Mack keeps walking, he sees the beautiful trees and flora around, as the sun shines down into the area.

“Ah, this is paradise.” Mack said, taking in the scenery. 

He then looks at the chest and thinks about Treasure. He opens the treasure chest, letting Treasure feel and enjoy the sunlight. Treasure looks up in pleasure, enjoying the relaxing warmth.

“I suppose your kind likes that, yeah? Be a good boy and don’t cause any trouble for me, who knows what awaits us in this part of the island.” Mack said, as he keeps heading onward, going past a small, abandoned warehouse where the navy used to store their weapons.

He then goes back to it, and looks through a tattered window, trying to see anything interesting inside. He then realizes it is cleared out, much to his dismay. He heads back on the path he was on, and follows along several stone tiles. They lead to a stone lighthouse on an edge, as Mack looks up at it in fascination. Vines grow all over it, showing its age, but it is still perfectly functional. Since it is the morning, its beacon is not shining right now. Mack keeps this lighthouse in the back of his mind, feeling it may be useful later on, as he strolls past it. Mack makes his way into a forest entrance ahead, going into it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on another part of the island, someone is seen angrily making their way through the forests. This scares the wild life, as many jellyfish fly away from the area. The person slash a large, familiar machete through the vines. Soon, it becomes clear that the figure is the lead bounty hunter that Mack faced on Nevarro, revealing he survived the explosion, but not without many scars across his body. However, the other two members of his team did not make it. He swam all the way from Nevarro to hunt down Mack and Treasure, determined to complete his mission. He keeps making his way through the forest, slashing through what he can.

Back at the Sailor’s Tavern, Higgs is sitting quietly to himself, when two soldiers enter the establishment. They are both determined to find something like wild hunting animals. They approach the bartender.

“We are on the hunt for any pirate sympathizers and are going to check your inn to see if you're harboring any.” one of them said.

“Not a problem, good sirs. Only one of them has a resident, and I can assure you they are not a pirate.” The bartender replied, cleaning the counter.

The two go upstairs, and begin to check every room. They find several empty rooms, and then go into Higgs’ room. Luckily, Higgs had made sure to hide his pirate past from being found in the room, so they find nothing. They then finally check Mack’s room, and find it is empty. They then head back downstairs.

“Thank you for your cooperation. We will be on our way.” One of them said, as they leave the tavern.

Higgs looks out one of the windows, and realizes Mack made the right choice to leave when he did, or this scenario would have spelled doom had he still been here. He hopes Mack is doing okay, wherever he is now.

Mack keeps heading deeper into the forests, and he hears noises coming up ahead. He decides to keep following the trail, and in the distance, sees a settlement approaching.

“Avast, so there is life over here!” Mack said, genuinely surprised there is a settlement on this mostly uninhabited part of the isle.

Mack makes it to an entrance, marked by two wooden logs standing up. He looks in to see the village, which has multiple houses made of birchwood, and a farm nearby. Trees surround the whole perimeter. A man is making food outside their home, as smoke is blowing off of the pot from the chill breeze. A few children are also running around the area, playing with toys. Mack sees a sign on one of the logs, indicating the settlement as “Sanctuary Village”.

“I hope their advertising is not misleading.” Mack said, hoping the area truly lives up to its title of being a sanctuary.

He carefully walks into the village, taking in the scenery before him. He hopes he will not attract much attention from the residents.

“The navy appears to have pulled most of their forces back from this part of the island, wonder why…” a villager said, which Mack overhears in passing.

“Great, the one time they are not here to help us…” anther villager replied, referring to the thief attack from earlier, indicating that the soldiers had help defended the village from the thieves in the past.

“Who is that stranger?” another villager wondered in curiosity, seeing Mack and his cloak disguise.

He then notices several small pieces of debris from the earlier attack on the ground, wondering what happened. He sees several bullet marks against several spots on a wooden house, and can tell there was clearly a skirmish earlier, which struck him as odd given how peaceful the area seems currently. Mack keeps looking around and sees a larger wooden building, which is the village restaurant, simply only titled “Diner” by the sign over the entrance. He decides to go inside, as a decent sized crowd is in there. He does not see anyone striking him as suspicious, at least initially. The crowd looks like normal villagers wanting to relax. However, from the corner of Mack’s eye as he approaches the bar, he spots a red haired woman sitting in the corner by herself, wearing mostly black attire. As she takes a drink, she looks up at Mack and gives him a brief glare of suspicion, implying she knows he is someone on the run. Mack tries to keep walking by, but can tell that her presence in here sticks out like a sore thumb. Mack has had a lingering worry for the past few years that other bounty hunters or assassins would be coming after him sooner or later. Given his reputation, it was inevitable. And whoever that woman is, he could tell she was likely one of the two just from her appearance alone. He knows he has to tread carefully from here on out. He reaches the bar, seeing the bartender.

“What can I get for you, sir?” The bartender asked.

“Got any rum?” Mack asked.

“No, we ran out today, thanks to a robbery. Sorry.” The bartender said, shocking Mack.

“No rum!? That is a true sin against man! Oh well. Say, can you tell me if this village has any boats nearby?” Mack inquired curiously.

“Nope, sorry pal. We did have a few small boats for decoration, but the navy took them away, said they feared a pirate would try to take them.” The bartender explained, much to Mack’s dismay.

“I see…yes, it is a good thing the pirate did not get their hands on those…” Mack said sarcastically.

“Good thing there’s no pirates here, eh?” The bartender said, smiling, as Mack also smiles.

“Yes, indeed. Also friend, can you tell me anything about that woman in the corner? Such as, when she arrived here?”  Mack asked, carefully eyeing at the mysterious woman.

The bartender looks at her, which she notices.

“She’s been here the past week, that’s all I know-“ the bartender was saying, clearly hiding more.

Mack then places several shillings on the counter, wanting to know more. After doing so, he realizes his bag is getting light on cash, but does what he must.

“I’ll give you those if you tell me more.” Mack bargained, as the bartender cannot resist.

“Alright, she is definitely not here for farming or to take residence. She wouldn’t reveal her name, so clearly she has a story to hide.” The bartender revealed, as Mack gets even more suspicious of her.

The mysterious woman then gets up and walks out of the restaurant, as both the bartender and Mack notice. Mack then leaves Treasure’s chest on the counter.

“Watch this for me.” Mack said.

“Whoa, okay-“ the bartender was saying, as Mack heads outside after the woman.

The bartender curiously opens the chest, seeing Treasure inside, as it looks at him.

“Are you his pet?” The bartender wondered.

Mack keeps following the footprints outside, as they lead around the restaurant, and eventually going behind it. Mack then stops dead in his tracks, as right behind him, the woman is aiming a gun at him. He turns around, startled by this.

“Make one wrong move, and you’re done.” The woman warned.

“Easy there, madame, I believe we have gotten off on the wrong foot. We need not be adversaries, yeah? Let’s start with names, I am Mack!” Mack said, hiding his usual name reveal in case this woman is trouble.

“Mara.” Mara revealed, still looking at him on edge, and also not telling him her full name either.

“What a lovely name for such a lovely lady. I must say, you are quite a beauty.” Mack said, checking Mara out and admittedly finding her attractive.

Instead of finding this charming however, this only annoys Mara further.

“Keep looking and I’ll blow your face off.” Mara replied coldly.

“Now hold on, we can talk this out like civilized folk…” Mack offered, using the same words he used on Sawyer before.

Mack then tries to grab her gun but she punches him right in his face, dazing him. He then pulls out both his gun and sword, as Mara keeps aiming her gun at him. 

“You’re a pirate, fascinating.” Mara said, analyzing him.

“Indeed I be.” Mack taunted back.

The two circle each other, as Mara strikes at him, trying to punch him many times, as Mack barely avoid. He is admittedly impressed by her skill, telling she is trained well in combat. Mack swings his sword at her, and she avoids it, but he uses the distraction to hit her in the leg, tripping her. But as she falls, she grabs him, sending both to the ground. They lean up at, and quickly hold their guns at each other. The two have each other held at gunpoint while on the ground, resulting in a stalemate. Treasure is then seen slowly moving up with it sluggish body. It looks at Mack and Mara both on the ground, curious as to what happened. Mack realizes the bartender did not do his job of watching Treasure and is annoyed.

“…The hell is that?” Mara asked, wondering what Treasure is.

“Truce?” Mack said, getting up, and reaching his hand to Mara.

“Fine.” Mara replied, as he helps her get up.

Inside the restaurant, Mack and Mara are seen at the table in the corner together. Treasure is crawling around on the wooden floor near them. His chest is on the table.

“So what’s a freebooter like you doing on Port Royale of all places?” Mara asked curiously.

“Wanted to find a friend, and then nab a certain labeled treasure I am sure you have heard about.” Mack said.

“I have. Did you find it?” Mara asked.

Mack is hesitant to tell her anything further, not wanting to endanger Treasure. He is still unsure whether if Mara is an enemy or ally right now.

“No, I did not.” Mack replied.

“I can tell you are lying. Let me guess, that thing is the treasure.” Mara replied, looking at Treasure on the ground.

“Fine, you got me. But that secret stays between us, savvy?” Mack said.

“If you don’t piss me off, then I’ll keep it a secret.” Mara replied, taking another sip of her drink.

“Alright, I told you my magnificent story. What brings you here?” Mack asked.

“I’m a trained assassin. A week ago, I was sent on a mission at this island to find some dirtbag.” Mara explained.

“Is it me?” Mack asked, flattered.

“No. Believe me, if I was hunting a pirate, you would be dead right now.” Mara said casually.

“Fair enough.” Mack replied.

“I had no look finding my target, so I took a rest in this spot. It’s the only settlement I could find in this large area of nothing.” Mara replied annoyed.

“Wait, you were sent here by a boat, correct? Is it still near the island?” Mack asked, hopefully.

“No, if you were hoping for a ride, I’m afraid you are out of luck. A friend dropped me off here, and they won’t be back for a few more days. Also, they wouldn’t like a pirate on board.” Mara explained.

“That is unfortunate. I assume you are no pirate fan either?” Mack inquired.

“I am indifferent to your kind. Being an assassin, I both work for and against them depending on the task and price. You better hope you’re not on my wrong end one day.” Mara replied.

“Regardless, it appears we both are stuck on this island for now. Sounds like we have more in common than we first thought!” Mack said, flirting, giving her a smile.

“Cute. Anyways, I should warn you this village probably isn’t going to be the nice sanctuary you think it is, despite the name. Can’t say anyone here would likely be a big pirate fan, and not to mention the thief attacks lately.” Mara explained, making Mack curious.

“I noticed there were signs of what appeared to be an attack earlier, I assume that was the thieves’ doing?” Mack inquired.

“Yes. This place had a ton of soldiers nearby here when I first arrived, who defended the village from the thieves, but after they pulled their forces back, to hunt for you I presume, they got a clear strike early in the morning.” Mara explained.

Mack feels some slight guilt toward this revelation. His presence on this island has inadvertently made these villagers’ lives worse, but he knows it is what his nature will bring, as unfortunate as it is.

“So they must be who took the rum, how disgraceful.” Mack said.

“You should probably leave here. Trust me, if they find out you are a pirate, they will not hesitate to alert the navy. They prefer to be a peaceful village and want to avoid any liabilities.” Mara warned.

“Leave? How silly, I only just arrived! I am sure I can convince these people to harbor a fugitive for a while.” Mack replied.

“To them, pirates and thieves are all the same enemy.” Mara replied.

“Oh. Well, since this place has no boats for me anyways, I suppose I shall be on my way. Thank you for not killing me, miss Mara. It’s been a pleasure meeting you.” Mack replied.

He stands up and reaches out his hand to her, waiting for her to shake it. She just stares at him awkwardly and does not shake it.

“Okay then. Come Treasure, we shall depart.” Mack said, grabbing the chest.

He gestures for the creature to follow, seeing it sitting on an empty table chair, surprising him.

“Sheesh, it’s only been three days, if you wanted to get out of the box more you could have told me! Or, however you communicate.” Mack said, as it makes a noise.

It crawls off the chair and begins following Mack out of the restaurant, as Mara watches. As Mack leaves, the woman villager from earlier is seen outside her home, cleaning clothes and putting them on a clothesline. She then takes notice of Mack, looking at the cloak he is wearing, and Treasure following him. She can tell off the bat that he is disguising himself. She then takes notice of the sword, and puts two and two together. She realizes Mack is a pirate. Instead of fear or anger however, she sees this as an opportunity to end the village’s thief problem. She approaches him.

“Excuse me, stranger.” The woman spoke, as Mack turns around.

“Yes, ma’am?” Mack replied.

“I am Gloria. Thank you for visiting our little village. Sorry if things look a little messy, we just barely made it out of a thief attack.” Gloria introduced.

“Not a problem, it is quite nice. I heard about those thieves, quite bothersome! But alas, I am on my way now, I have other places to explore. I hope you can get those vermin off your back.” Mack replied.

“Hold it. I know you are a pirate.” Gloria said, as Mack stops dead in his tracks.

“Well, let us not jump to conclusions-“ Mack was saying.

“It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone else in the village. You must be the pirate the soldiers were looking for yesterday. Most of them stationed on this part of the island left, and without their protection, those thieves struck the hardest they ever have today.” Gloria noted.

“I know. Because of me, those thieves had a better window to steal your stuff, and thus, you must hate me, right?” Mack said, accepting what he deserves.

“No, on the contrary. Their wickedness is not your fault, you had no way of knowing. It was an unfortunate chain reaction. The navy was not doing much to hunt them down anyway, so it was inevitable they would succeed in one of their thefts. That is why I want you to hunt them down for us and get our supplies back.” Gloria offered to Mack, wanting him to make amends for the unintentional burden be brought to them.

“I would love to help madame, but I fear I have brought you enough trouble already. Isn’t there anyone else in the village that can fight them?” Mack inquired.

“No. Well, I can shoot a gun decently, but…that is it. I wouldn’t be a match for them in hand to hand combat.” Gloria revealed, surprising Mack.

Mack for a few seconds is taken aback by this. Gloria spotted his disguise rather easily for a common civilian, and the fact she knows how to use a gun is odd to him for a proclaimed peaceful villager. She is not a navy spy. Mack knew how to identify them by now with a few tricks, and she passes his test, so no need to worry there. But perhaps she knows more about pirates than she was letting on and had a past related to them?

“How unfortunate-“ Mack was saying, getting back to the subject at hand.

“We’ll pay you handsomely.” Gloria offered, which gets Mack attention, as he knows he is low on cash.

“…Sure! Fine, I will help take care of your thief problem, and after that, I will leave here for good.” Mack replied.

Although the money was the main treasure for him, he also deep down feels pity for the small group of villagers, wanting to make things right for them.

“I’ll go with you, wise guy.” Mara spoke, holding her gun, who had been overhearing them the whole time.

Mack is startled by her surprise appearance.

“Were you eavesdropping the whole time?” Mack asked.

“Yeah. Assassin, remember?” Mara reminded, as Mack sighs.

“Thank you two so much. I do not care about whatever sins you may have done in the past, you are helping the lives of many today, and that will mean everything in the world to me. Including my daughter.” Gloria said, pointing to her daughter sitting on the steps outside their house.

“You have a daughter? How quaint. Is her father around?” Mack asked, as this makes Gloria have a grim look.

“No. He passed away many years ago.” Gloria replied, not wanting to say more.

Mack wonders if perhaps her husband was a pirate, given her knowledge, but refrains from saying anything further, out of respect for the widow.

“Very tragic. When I am through with the thieves, she will never have to worry again.” Mack said, as Mara looks at him. “I mean…we.”

“The thieves usually strike from north of the farm. You can probably find their den deep in the forests.” Gloria explained.

“Alright, thank you ma’am. I also have a favor for you while we are out there. Watch my pet for me, if you will, and please do a better job than the bartender did.” Mack said to Gloria, pointing to Treasure, as it looks at her.

“Very…fascinating pet you have there.” Gloria said, never seeing anything like it before.

“Ooh, it is cute!” Gloria’s daughter said, as she gets up and begins petting Treasure.

“He won’t bite, hopefully. Just don’t do anything to upset him! Now then, we will be on our own way!” Mack said.

Mack leaves the treasure chest outside Gloria’s house. Mack and Mara then both head off to the thieves’ den together, as they walk past the farmlands. Several farmers look at them in curiosity, wondering what they are up to. The two head into the forests, trying to find the thieves’ trail.

“There’s footprints.” Mara said, spotting them in the dirt.

“Excellent eye!” Mack said, as Mara tries to keep finding more footprints.

“Trail goes cold here. Looks like they covered up the rest of their tracks. Pretty smart for thieves, I must say.” Mara said, trying to unearth more prints, but not finding any.

“Not to worry, I have this!” Mack said, holding out his compass.

“Does that compass even work?” Mara asked snidely, noticing it doesn’t point north.

“If you believe.” Mack replied contently, seeming to know there is more to the compass than he has let on.

“You are one of the worst pirates I have ever seen so far, and I’ve seen a lot of awful pirates in my time. How you have avoided capture so far from the navy is beyond me.” Mara replied, with a slight hint of amusement in her tone.

“Believe me, I wonder the same thing every day. Ooh, we have a bearing!” Mack said eccentrically, as the compass needle moves around, pointing west.

Mack follows the path, and Mara shrugs, following as well, though unsure how accurate the path is. They make their way through the forests. As they make their way through vines, Mara starts to get annoyed.

“You don’t know where you’re going, do you-“ Mara was asking, when. Mack stops her in her tracks.

“Stop!” Mack said, as he points ahead.

They look to see a smashed bottle of rum in front of them. They then look up to see the thieves’ den, which is an old, run down wooden shack they have commandeered. The entrance is broken open. They see stolen supplies outside the shack. Mara looks in closer with her binoculars, seeing the thieves inside. The thieves are getting drunk off of the rum they stole and laughing. One thief is asleep outside the shack, holding a gun in their hand, who is supposed to be on patrol.

“Alright, the guard is sleeping on the job, so this will be a breeze. On my signal-“ Mara was saying, as casually Mack walks on without her, heading for the shack entrance.

Mara rolls her eyes, and follows. Mack walks into the shack, introducing himself to the vandals thieves.

“Greetings, I am Captain Mack Stark! You have a loot that I am going to take from you.” Mack introduced, holding out his sword.

The thieves all awake from their drunken stupor in a flash, and jump up.

“Wha…how did you find us!?” A thief asked, holding out a pistol, but Mack disarms it from them, and puts his sword up to the thief’s neck.

“This is all ours, you ain’t stealing what we stole!” Another thief said, holding a small shank knife.

Mara then rushes in and begin taking out the thieves, swiftly punching them in the faces. The one with the shank knife tries to hit her, but she grabs his hand and twists it, making him yell in pain. Another thief then tries to shoot Mack, who swiftly avoids it. Mara then throws the thief she is fighting into the bullet’s path, killing him, as he falls to the ground. Mack then slashes his sword at a thief, ripping into their coat. He slashes their leg, making them drop their gun. Mara then shoots right at the thief, killing him, and quickly turns around, shooting another thief in the face. Mack then duels a thief who is wielding a half-broken sword, as it breaks off. The thief panics, and Mack grabs him, throwing him against the wall and onto the floor. Another thief then jumps Mara from behind, grabbing her, but Mara snaps a thief’s neck, and throws his body into a pile of junk. Mack looks around at the messy room, seeing all the thieves are taken care of. The thief he just dueled then moves their arm, but Mara shoots him, finishing him. 

“Show off.” Mack scoffed.

The thief who was on patrol outside finally enters in, holding their gun at Mack from behind. A gun shot goes off, as Mara shoots the thief first. His body collapses to the ground outside of the steps. All of the thieves are now dead.

“That was close, I owe you for that save! I’ll repay my debt for that at a later point in time, pirate’s promise. A tad messier then I would’ve preferred, but it will do. You have quite the moves!” Mack said, impressed by Mara’s talent.

“Yes, not bad yourself. Now help me get all of this.” Mara said, seeing all of the stolen supplies belonging to the village in the corner. 

Mack and Mara grab what stolen supplies and crops they can from the den.

“Hopefully there’s still rum inside…” Mack said, checking the barrel.

“None of this is for you.” Mara said to Mack, making sure he doesn’t steal anything.

“I know lass, I may be an untrusting pirate but I am not a thief…most of the time, depending on your view.” Mack replied.

They head back to the village, carrying the supplies. They arrive, as a farmer notices them.

“They got our crops back!” A farmer said happily, gaining the attention of the villagers, who are relieved.

“And the rum!” Another villager said happily, seeing the barrel. 

They return the supplies and crops to the villagers, who are very grateful. Mack looks over at Treasure, who the children have been fascinated by the whole time.

“Much appreciated, travelers, now we can finally live in relaxation again!” An elderly village said to the two.

“The thieves will not be a problem for you anymore, ma’am.” Mack said to Gloria, approaching her.

“I will uphold my end of the bargain.” Gloria said, as she hands Mack a bag of doubloons, and also gives Mara her own share of the pay.

“Thank you very much!” Mack replied, counting the loot, and then looks at Mara’s. “I just hope she did not get more…”

“No thanks are needed, it is you who deserves them most. I still do not care that you’re a pirate. I know my daughter, and the rest of the children here, has a safe future now because of you. Whatever you’ve done in your past is forgiven because you have returned peace to us.” Gloria said, looking at her daughter happily.

Mack then thinks of Treasure’s own future and looks at him, noticing he is happy with the children of the village. He knows what he has to do.

“Welp, it is time I depart. Treasure is now yours to took care of.” Mack said to Gloria, ready to leave.

“You’re going to leave your pet here with them?” Mara asked surprised, looking at Treasure.

“Yes, take good care of him, will you? Simply put, it is not safe for him to travel with a dangerous pirate like me. I will only bring chaos to him, and whatever he is, he deserves to have a peaceful life here, with you. He will be happier here, it is the best place to hide him.” Mack explained to Gloria and Mara, ready to let Treasure go.

Treasure looks at Mack with a sad look.

“I’ll miss you, mate. Thank you for saving me from that horned eel. Goodbye.” Mack said, looking at Treasure somewhat sadly.

He exchanges one last look, and then walks away, sighing. Treasure seems to want Mack to come back, but the children get its attention and keep playing with it. Mara then senses something, and goes off somewhere to investigate. Mack keeps walking, about to leave the village and hope to explore other parts of the area. As the children play with Treasure however…

From the forests, the lead hunter is seen crouching on the ground, and aiming their gun right at Treasure, on lock. He has finally found Mack and Treasure. He had been watching them from afar the whole time, and realized Treasure is the bounty he was tasked to hunt.

“You’re mine now.” The lead hunter said to himself smugly.

A gun shot then goes off, as the sound echoes throughout the village and forests. The lead hunter then falls to the ground, dead. Mara is seen standing behind him, with a gun aimed at his back. Mara had shot him before he could do anything to Treasure. Mack approaches after hearing the commotion and examines the scene. He is surprised to see the hunter.

“Hmm, thought that explosion had taken care of this bloke. Oh well, at least he is dead now! Thanks once more, madame Mara! Twice in a day, twice the debt I must repay now though…” Mack said, sighing.

“No problem, you don’t need to repay me anything. Just don’t cross my bad side and we’re good.” Mara said, reaching out her hand like he did to her earlier, as Mack shakes it.

“Understood!” Mack said.

However, this incident has made Mack realize Treasure has to still stay under his protection, and that people will do whatever it takes to get him at all costs.

“You know, he’s most likely not the only one coming after your friend. I’m sure you knew that, though.” Mara noted.

“I knew, sadly. You know, miss Mara, I happen to be putting together a brand new pirate crew. Would you like to join? I could use your services, especially with fending off more hunters like him.” Mack offered her.

“Pass, not about that life. I still have an assassin job to complete here first. Good luck on your journey though, wherever you go from here.” Mara replied, showing some newfound respect for the pirate. “I hope you two are okay.”

“I too wish you success on your own mission.” Mack said, as he heads back, grabs Treasure and puts him back in the chest.

“I’ll miss him…” Gloria’s daughter said, looking at Treasure one last time.

“You are welcome back anytime!” Gloria promised to Mack.

The villagers and children wave farewell to Mack and Treasure. Mack departs the village, bidding farewell back to the residents behind him. Mara then blows him a somewhat sarcastic kiss from behind, as she walks off on her own path.

Notes/Trivia:

-Character Debuts: Mara Dume and Gloria

-Area Debuts: Sanctuary Village

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