The Testimony of John Avery, First Mate
We came upon the island in the
afternoon, m'lord, and it was an ill omened thing to the eye
from the start. The ocean leading to it was a suspicious mix of
orange and red on account of the setting sun and the island
itself was two jagged, shadowed peaks divided by a shallow inlet
with a tangle of thick jungle on either side. It looked like a
burnt out port and of anything living, we could see no sign.
Most folk called it the Black
Island, but some others called it Betty's Refuge, and a few more
yet called it Black Betty's Coffin. Truth was, it was an ugly
little thing surrounded by series of ugly brothers and sisters
located a week out of Jamaica. Ships of considerable size didn't
sail out there and I considered it idiocy to be doing so—begging
m'lord's pardon and all, since I know he lost his son, but the
Meredith was a one hundred and five cannon ship: a beast
in the open sea and wall you couldn't hope to punch through in a
port, but it was much too big and much too slow in those waters
to be of any threat.
M'lord's son, Captain Lewis,
would hear none of my concerns, however. The Meredith had
sunk the Black Betty a week past and he was high on that. We
had caught her in the middle of attacking a trader a day out of
Kingston and it wasn't much of a battle as we came up with the
sun behind us and half the crew of Betty on another ship.
The Meredith's cannons crippled the smaller girl before
she could get untangled and fill her black sails with wind, but
the Captain never liked the way we did that. He said it was
Honour's got no place in such a
battle—if we'd given Betty any time to prepare, she would
have pulled away from us before we could turn ourselves around.
The Captain weren't a man of
the sea, however, and so he didn't understand a bit of God's own
blessing when it came to him. When we didn't find Black Betty
herself on board, he said that we'd be going straight to her
island. He got the position from a tall black man we'd taken
prisoner off Betty. He had a name that sounded
like the Devil himself had shat it out, so the crew and meself
took to calling him Black Bill, which he didn't much like. He
was an educated sort an' had airs about him like—well, now, it
don't matter who I think he was like exactly, m'lord, cause I
won't talk bad about those who survived that island, but Bill
had airs, and he clearly felt that he were better than us.
He didn't want to guide us to
the island, no, m'lord. At first he just wanted to discuss
ransoms, though since the whole crew of Betty were black,
I had no idea where he was going to get coin. Captain Lewis, to
his credit, weren't interested in what Bill said—he saw it as an
obvious lie, and when the black wouldn't tell the coordinates,
the Captain began executing the others in punishment: some he
killed with a pistol, some by hanging. Three nights after
sinking Betty, we pulled up a school of sharks with one
of the dead, and the Captain began making the others walk the
plank. He'd sent six men into the waters that had turned black
in the lamplight from the blood before Bill himself spoke. He'd
been chained to the mast to watch and he could barely speak with
grief, but he managed enough to put us in direction to Betty's
Refuge. The Captain seemed pleased that it had only taken the
six men to get him to speak, but for meself, I thought it was
cruel thing to force a man to watch his mates die like that.
No, m'lord, I never owned no
black man. I been at sea since I was ten—man's got no need to
own another man on the ocean. The closest I ever came was
transporting blacks to the new colonies and I only ever did once
cause it was such a sour thing to me.
I didn't go out to Black
Betty's Coffin, no, m'lord. I stayed on the Meredith,
which was my duty. Your son—sorry, m'lord's son—he had
thirty soldiers with him, and had no need of the likes of me. I
remember when they went out well, though. I was standing on the
deck and the six longboats were sliding out in the morning sun
the shadow of them sharks from the nights before. There were
thirty-four men going out, your son included, and I thought that
there weren't many who would welcome the sight of them.
They were gone for three days
before one longboat returned. It came out in the early morning,
but there was no smoothness to the rowing this time. As it drew
closer, we heard screaming. Closer still and we saw that the
Captain was the one screaming and that he was holding his
guts—some spear or sword had ripped him open and he was holding
in his stomach with his hand. The rowing was being done by one
of the powder monkeys and the Captain's cousin, that boy Aaron,
who was delirious with pain, but he'd rowed all the way without
saying a word about his wound. We lost him on the trip back, and
he was much too young for that kind of death.
Bill was there, yes, m'lord, he
He was still chains and sitting
straight and dark and serene in that lonely longboat. There
wasn't a wound on him.
The Testimony of Robert Blue, Powder Monkey
I was hired in Jamaica, sir. The Meredith put into
Kingston with a skeleton crew with the aim to flesh her out with
sailors who knew the waters and I was hired by Mister John
knew—that Captain Lewis was going to hunt the Black Betty.
The rumour went through the ports quickly as to why: they said
that he had killed a landed man in a duel; that he had left a
string of poor girls pregnant; that he had gambled too much; and
that he had been stripped of his commission in the army because
he sympathised with the Indians. It was difficult to know for
sure what he had done, and the Captain was not forthcoming with
the information, but we were all certain that he was disgraced
and needed redeem himself before returning to St. Lucia.
Yourself, sir, must known the reasons for that, because you
financed your son-
No, I apologise.
You're right, sir. It is not my
place to question you.
Yes, where was I? Mister Avery
told me that there was easy money to be made for anyone signing
onto the Meredith. I was a bit concerned at first,
because I had never been on a ship before, and Avery is—well,
you've seen him, sir? He's a squat, hairy man, with scars across
his back from a harsh lashing that he took some years ago. I
heard tell that he used to be a Captain himself, but turned to
hiring out his skills after a falling out with a Commodore over
unfit behaviour. The last part I can credit—I found out that
Mister Avery's interest in me was not just my education on the
You looked shocked, sir. Is
your moral compass that straight?
No, I do not believe that I
will lie for you, sir. I've not enjoyed my time in on the
Meredith and I want nothing more than to be away from it and
everyone involved. I should have listened to myself and signed
onto a smaller vessel. One not charged with hunting a
pirate. But I allowed myself to be made a fool by listening to
Mister Avery. He told me that Black Betty was now one
hundred and four years old, if she were alive, and that the
Black Betty—which she didn't captain anymore—was one of the
fastest ships on the ocean. We wouldn't be meeting either, he
assured me. Personally, I count myself lucky to be alive and I
never wish to sail upon the ocean again. Your kindness of
confining me to that cursed ship with men I no longer wish to be
with was one that I could do without.
The crew? Yes, most of the crew
had been to sea before. They were quite familiar with Avery, so
he no doubt had sailed with them and was quite confident in
their ability. This was proven when, two days out of port, we
found ourselves in battle—which I should have taken as a sign of
Avery's misjudgment of the task and jumped overboard. I suppose
I found reason to ignore my instincts because the battle itself
was so short and one sided.
When they bought the survivors
of the Black Betty on board, I discovered, as the
rumours about the ship said, that the crew was made up entirely
by black men. My first thought was that they were runaway
slaves, and Black Bill confirmed it for me later, shortly before
we set out to the Black Island. It was not uncommon, he said,
for Betty herself to buy slaves and give them their freedom,
which I considered quite curious, since I had never heard that
rumour about her. It is strange how the positives are often not
repeated, is it not?
I thought Bill was harshly
treated on the ship. He spent most of it chained to the centre
mast and was barely feed food and water. In fact, his presence
was the cause of some friction between Avery and the Captain.
The night before we left, they had an argument about him, which
though they kept it confined to the Captain's cabin, was one
that we all heard. The two of them had been at each other’s
throats for the entire voyage, mostly because the Captain was so
ignorant of the sea. For all his good looks due to his height
and blond hair and clear blue eyes, he did not know a thing
about the ocean. He needed Avery to run the Meredith: to
organise shifts for the crew and to pick paths to sail. It
bothered him, I think. The Captain had been trained to hold a
rifle, to use a sword, to lead troops, and it chafed at him that
he was clearly unable to command here, and he and Avery were
always arguing because of it. On the night before we left, they
fought over Bill. The Captain wanted to take him and two of the
Black Betty's crew onto the island, but Avery would have
nothing of it. He believed the Captain planned to use the other
two men as ways to ensure that Bill cooperated. Given that we
had all seen him march men into the sea for sharks, none of the
crew disagreed with the accusation.
In the morning, however, when
we set out in longboats, it was only Bill who came with us. He
had chains on his wrists and ankles and he sat straight in the
boat as we rowed into the narrow inlet that ran into Black
Island. He had a look upon his face that—well, in truth, I
suppose that you might have called it a mix of ecstasy and fear.
He was a man caught between emotions, of that I am certain. I
myself have been caught in such moments and I can recognise it
in any fellow man.
When we landed, the soldiers
dragged him from the boat, for he would not leave by himself,
but once his bare feet were on the dirty sand, he led us readily
enough through the narrow trails that weaved through the dense
forest of the island.
The town that he led us to
consisted of a dozen buildings, each building made from mud
brick and wood and grass thatching. As a whole, the town was
coloured brown and sat like an ugly stain in the forest around
it. The whole thing had a hastily, slapped together feel, as if
anyone who lived there did not truly care in what conditions
they lived. A sword, rusted brown, had been thrust into the
middle the road, and it sat there, sticking up, like a sun dial,
allowing for the passage of time to be marked, even if there was
no one around to watch. Which, of course, there wasn't. The
entire village was deserted.
Now, sir, if I may, I'd like to
discuss being removed from the Meredith—I'll tell you no
more until I'm removed.
Testimony of Shawnte Belzar, Prisoner
My name is Shawnte Belzar. I
was on the Black Betty for three years before your
Meredith sank it.
No. I am not the First Mate
your Mister John Avery suggests. We sailed under the Captaincy
of a man named Sebastian White who kept no First Mate. His name
came from Black Betty herself. She told him that he was the only
power upon the ship. If he were here he could tell you the truth
but Captain White was killed when the Meredith opened
fire upon us. A cannon splintered a railing and it pierced his
neck. It was from there that command of the crew fell to me
though I do not wish to say that I was anyone of importance. I
am a deck hand only. But I am also the only survivor who spoke
your English. It is the last that elevated my status with your
son and made me responsible for the crew of the Black Betty.
The night before the longboats
left the Meredith I tried to tell your son that I had
never been to Betty's Refuge. He was unwilling to believe me and
told me that should I lie to him more of Betty's
crew would be killed. I was in his cabin when he said this and
the comment was overheard by Mister Avery and it resulted in an
argument. The First Mate threatened mutiny and said that your
son did not have enough soldiers to stop him and the crew. He
must have been right because your son did not chain Mister Avery
beneath decks. I am grateful for his words though I fear our
fate remains the same-
What right do you have to take
I do not care what happened to
your son! He died! Is that not enough? The crew of the Black
Betty is still alive and they are my concern!
You would have them hang from
the docks of St. Lucia?
You are like your son. You
offer me this... what is it that you call it? A carrot. You
offer me a carrot made from men.
No. I will answer your
questions. There is no need for threats.
To answer your first question:
I did not know what was on Betty's Refuge because I had never
been there. Only Captain White went to the island. He said none
but he were allowed and that we would be killed if we stepped
upon the island. I had seen it twice though both men died at the
Captain's hand and nothing else. I tried to tell your son this
as he was rowed up the inlet but he would not listen to me.
After a few attempts to get him to speak I lapsed into silence
and listened to the oars slap quietly in the water. Around us
were the soldiers that your son commanded. Each of them carried
a rifle and sword. Some had pistols. I wondered how they would
react to what we said upon the Black Betty about her
namesake? What would they think if I told them that we thought
Betty to be dead? She was too old to be alive. We believed that
Captain White came to the island so that he could hide his goods
and put fear into other captains on the ocean. Black Betty was
nothing but a myth now.
When we beached I led them down
the one path that I could see. The village was empty and old. I
believed that we were on the wrong side of Betty's Refuge for it
was clear that no one had lived here. There were no human
tracks. The buildings that were open had the tracks of wild pigs
in and out of them. The only thing that suggested that a person
had been into the village at all was the sword stuck in the
middle of the road. It was a short and straight bladed weapon
without anything fancy upon it. The blade was coated in dry
blood. Betty's? Or was the sword Betty's? It was not an old
sword though I think there was some rust gathering upon the
blade. One of the young men told the other that it was all rust.
We were standing in the middle of the village with your son as
his soldiers swept the area. When the first boy said this your
son looked to reply but at that moment two soldiers returned.
They held an old woman between
them. She was small and slim and her hair had gone white. She
wore a loose dress that I think was once red but was now a faded
brown. The two soldiers were dragging her through the mud. Her
frail legs could not keep up though she continued to try to find
her balance. As she drew closer I could see that her mouth was
empty of teeth and her eyes milky with disease. Yet she was
cursing at the two men loudly in Creole and calling them White
Devils on account of their skin so she must have retained some
“What is this?” your son said.
“We found her in a hut-”
The soldier was cut off as she
screamed at him.
When she stopped he said, “She
says her name is Betty.”
Your son laughed. I looked hard
at the old woman twisting before him and when he asked me if
this was Black Betty I could only shrug.
“That's not all,” the shorter
soldier said. “You should see where she was living.”
I followed though it was not
requested of me. I was curious as were the two young men and so
we all went. I was not terribly pleased to think that Betty
might be this old woman. In ports men spoke of Black Betty the
runaway slave who would sooner kill a man than bed him. She was
the girl who made deals with the Sea to live forever. She would
bow to no man or woman or god. She was fearless and dangerous
and beautiful. But all men and women must grow old and perhaps
both she and Captain White had always known this. I thought it
possible that both had secreted her here for a reason. I thought
it better if they had just killed her.
The two soldiers led us into a
small hut. It smelt of shit and piss and animal. There was a bed
at the far wall and across the floor was bottles. At first I
thought them to be wine. There were too many to count in such a
short time but it saddened me to think that Betty could be an
old drunk woman muttering in Creole. But as your son raised one
of the bottles I saw that all was not that. I saw as he did. I
saw a set of eyes tumbling slowly in liquid. The shadowed stalks
floating like tails behind them.
As my eyes adjusted I saw that
in all the bottles around us were pieces of men.
Each of them had ragged ends as
if they had been hacked from the larger hole. Your son turned to
me and said, “What horror is this?”
I had no answer but one was
given by Betty who began screaming at him. In Creole she said,
“Put them down! They are mine, devil! My trophies!” She broke
free of the soldiers and lunged at your son but fell before him
instead. She could barely walk it seemed. I looked at your son
still holding the bottle of eyes. He had a look of disgust and
pity upon his face and I could not say that he was alone with
Yes. I can read.
A Letter by Andrew Lewis, Captain of the Meredith
I have lost twelve men to the
Black Island now. I will lose more, before we leave.
Our cousin, Aaron, sweet young
Aaron, he who has never been to war, never known a girl, he who
is so innocent... our Aaron found the last man. His throat had
been cut and bloody fingers marked his neck from where he had
tried to stop the blood. The prints tattooed across the skin
like the wet marks of a strangler. Yet, perhaps most horrifying
was that the man's—his name was Daniel—Daniel's tongue had been
sliced out. A trophy to be placed into a dirty glass bottle for
this old pirate we hold, no doubt.
I fear for the boy more than
myself. He is too young for this and should we manage to make it
back to the longboats and back to the Meredith and then,
then, back to St. Lucia without a mutiny—it is coming, of
this I have little doubt—then I will thank God himself for
keeping him alive. I will be asking of God tomorrow when we try
to leave. When the light leaks into this dirty village, those of
us that remain will make our way through the paths.
Outside, I can hear movement.
The wind? I cannot tell. I have not seen one of our killers. No
Father would tell me that I was
being idiotic, but there is something about this island that is
not quite right. Something... unsettling. My men broke the jars
of white men's body parts in Black Betty's hut, believing,
unreasonably, that they were responsible for the deaths. But
even with the cuttings lying wetly on the dirt, nothing changed.
We found another—Richard, his name was Richard—we found him
sitting in the middle of the street, his face a discoloured
bruise, as if it had suddenly stopped getting air. There was no
other mark on him. No sign of a murderer. In our attempt to find
one, we tore open buildings, knocked down roofs, and scoured the
jungle. We found nothing but death, however, and the emptiness
of the village has now been altered. It is as if we are standing
in a pit of snake eggs, waiting for the beasts to hatch, fully
grown and lethal.
I would think it the work of
Black Betty, but she is clearly mad from age. If that is not
alibi enough, her and her madness have not been out of my sight
since we found her. It is possible, however unlikely, that she
killed the first man before being found, but how does that
account for the others? She has been by my side since then,
accompanied by Black Bill, who, I will admit, looks as if he has
been forced to reevaluate his entire life in a short span of
time. I imagine that it must be hard to meet the woman you
idolise and find her to be that which is before me. He does not
even request that his chains be removed anymore, or that he is
not the First Mate of the Black Betty, or that he was born
free. Instead, he sits beside her, watching, and talking to her
softly. She replies always with loud laughter that distresses
Tomorrow morning I will have to
take the chains off his feet. I want him to be able to run, and
to carry the old woman, if need be.
I do not like the idea of
taking the old woman to Father, Andrew. In truth, I do not like
the idea of doing anything for him. His thirty soldiers are not
mine, but rather keepers, who exist to keep me in line, and to
make sure that I bring Black Betty back. They defer to me, yes,
but only because he makes them. Each one of them knows about
Zaierra, and the commands I refused for her. What man could do
otherwise? She only worked as a doctor—and if she used herbs and
potions rather than knives and drills, what did it matter? She
did not deserve to be hanged by our father. His anger against
the black men and women is-
I have gotten angry again.
It is not your fault. You
argued with our father. You said the same things I did.
It does not matter, anyhow.
Zaierra is dead, you are gone, and Father has sent me out to
regain my stature in St. Lucia. Thus it is that I find myself
here, on this island, listening to every sound, and imagining
that every one of them is a death or the prelude to one. If we
are alive come the morning... well, my luck shall have changed,
Testimony of Shawnte Belzar, Prisoner
Your son sounds bitter.
I have no respect for you.
I realised as I was reading
this letter that the crew of the Black Betty and I are dead.
If a man would treat his own son like this then how would he
treat strangers? How would he treat runaway slaves? You will
hang us all. You will brand us with a letter P. You will hold a
festival for the day. You will invite white men and women like
yourself to watch. You will give white children gifts. And as
they enjoy their day you will hang us all. You will hang us one
by one. You will do it for the festivity.
There is no need to threaten
You want to know what happened
to your son? You want to know how he died?
It was much like he said. When
the morning arrived in the village it shone its light on three
more corpses. They had lost ears and teeth and eyes. They had
died painfully but quietly. I thought that it was as if the
village were alive around us. That it reached out with its limbs
and murdered us one by one. You mock but how else to explain it?
Betty herself had only seen one person on the island in the last
ten years and that was Captain White. He would arrive with
bottles made from glass that held trophies he cut off captains
at sea. At least that is what he told her. I had never seen him
take any eye or ear in my three years on the Black Betty.
After finding the three corpses
your son wasted no time in leaving. He gathered up the soldiers
left and unlocked the chains around my legs and told me to carry
It was there I told him no.
“Do as I order,” he demanded.
Tall and strong though he was I
told him no again.
I shook my head.
Your son looked as if he was
going to speak again when the powder monkey said, “Captain, I
don't really give a damn about the woman. Leave her.”
The remaining soldiers agreed
with him. I doubt your son would have allowed it if not for
them. We were all standing in the middle of the village. Near us
was the sword that we had first seen. In the morning light it
looked redder. Bloodier. Betty was sitting in the mud next to
it. Her thin legs were pushed out in front of her and her thick
tongue was running across her gums. She was talking about the
kind of food she would like for breakfast and did not seem to
notice us. She had a habit of forgetting that anyone was with
her and would begin talking about food and clothes and men she
had known in the past.
That was what he said. Fine.
Your son was angry but I do not think he truly wanted to bring
her back to you. It was as his letter said.
We left her sitting in the mud.
I would turn back as we walked to see if she had moved but she
had not. When the trees closed in around us and the village
disappeared I stopped looking but she was never far from my
thoughts. It was better for her to be dead I thought. Better for
anyone to be dead than to live like that.
The shore and the longboats
emerged from the forest slowly though we had made our way
quickly and there had been no problems. We thought we were free.
We thought that as we grabbed hold of the beached longboats. We
thought it as we began to push them into the sea. We thought it
as the first arrow fell. We thought it as the first man fell.
That was when I heard the
screams. There was the sound of arrows hitting the wood of the
boats. The spears punched through with a loud crack. Both were
coming out of the jungle behind us though I had not yet turned.
I did not dare turn. I pushed the longboat out into the sea.
Your son was pushing also. Neither of us turned to look at the
men screaming. We had both broken. This final attack had broken
us and we were running. We did not consider anyone but
ourselves. The powder monkey and cabin boy pulled themselves
into the boat. If they had not we would have left them. I was
pulling myself in when the boat sagged dangerously.
It was then that I saw the
spear in your son.
The long wood was sticking out
of his back like the mast of a ship.
Behind him I could see the
remaining soldiers lying on the beach. Spears and arrows stuck
from their bodies and they screamed and moaned. The sand was
black with blood. One man was trying to stand. From the jungle
there was an eerie absence of movement. I could not see anyone
there but I knew that there was a presence. I could feel it.
Your son had not let go of the
boat and neither boy would row while he was there.
The absence of movement from
the forest began to worry me. I turned to your son to push him
off. His gaze was desperate. Pull me in it said. Pull me in!
It was the cabin boy who did
so. He climbed past me and grabbed your son. With a scream they
both managed to get him over the edge of the longboat. It caused
him more pain and opened his wound more. I thought that we
should throw him over. I considered saying it to the two young
men but they were rowing now and I did not. I still had chains
on my wrists. It is very difficult to row a boat in chains.
Instead I sat and saw that both boys had injuries. The powder
monkey had cuts on his face and neck but it was the cabin boy
who had the worse. An arrow had struck his lower back but he had
broken most of the shaft off so it was not immediately
noticeable. There was dark blood seeping out of him and I did
not think that he would live much longer than your son.
Of myself I took no injury.
No. I do not believe so.
Whatever is on the Black Island
left me alive but I do not know why.
From the Diary of Meira Louis, alias Black Betty
Mister Avery's bird arrived today. All is ready in St. Lucia—I
sail out tomorrow.
I will enjoy seeing it burn. I
will enjoy hearing the screams of men and women. I will enjoy
parading the venerable Lord Richard Lewis before his port
gallows. I will cut off his cock as he stands naked before
me—and I shall put it in one my jars and take it back to the
Black Island where it shall be my most prized trophy! But before
that, I will cauterize the Lord's wound and put him in a gibbet.
I will watch as the crows feast on him before I leave. I will
watch as they peck at his skin and at his eyes and pull at his
hair and I will relish it like nothing else.
There are but a few pleasures
left to me, and revenge remains one, thankfully. No man hangs
the granddaughter of Black Betty and lives. No man's family
does, either. All that is before all them is pain and suffering.
This plan of mine has been a
difficult thing to accomplish. It was complicated at first when
Lord Lewis learned about my granddaughter's heritage—a fate that
was ensured when my own daughter bitterly spat out the knowledge
when she collected the body. Lewis responded by increasing his
garrisons and the bounty on my head and, finally, by taking his
disgraced son and his own considerable fortune and putting them
on that huge warship of his to hunt me down. It forced me into
spending my not very considerable fortune in repainting and
refitting a ship to look like the Black Betty to take
its place. The real Betty (and the fake) could not stand
against the Meredith—few could, especially when it sits
in the port of St. Lucia...
So I paid for a second Betty
just so it could be sunk. I furnished her with a crew of men I
could buy. I care not for their fate, even now—disposable men
for a disposable ship. The only members of my actual crew on it
were Mister Belzar and Mister White. The pair had once run
slaves and did a very admirable job of organising them as a
crew—or at least one that would pass for being seaworthy to any
that came across them.
It saddened me to hear about
Mister White's death. He had sailed in my name for nearly
fifteen years and a shaft of wood through the neck is not the
way that such a man should die.
Yet still, Mister Belzar was
more than capable of taking his place, especially with the aid
of Mister Avery. He is a man worth his weight in gold—and gold,
indeed, I paid to have him assigned to the Meredith. More
gold than I have paid for any bribe in my long, long life, but I
could not waste time, and forged documents and men moved into
positions of power in such short notice are never cheap. The
risks for all are much higher. I fear, however, that I have
grown partial to 'John Avery' the rough spoken First Mate—or at
least of the stories I have heard about him in which he prowls
the Meredith's deck, spewing orders in a butchered
dialogue that must be twisting a knife in Mister Blue's stomach.
Ha! I should give him a tiny fortune to continue it, though I
doubt he will do it for me. 'Robert' will never allow it—and
Mister Avery has forever played second to his brother, even as
he employs him and the rest of the Black Betty's crew
to run the Meredith as if it were their own.
What I would not give to see
Lord Lewis' face when he realises that his money has financed my
crew I do not know. But I would give more to see him when he
realises that his beast of a ship has been turned and unleashed
upon his own home.
All of my crew has had a part
to play and I was no exception. Taking out my wooden teeth and
storing away my cane shone a harsh light on my frailty, but it
could not be helped. Lord Lewis' son had to be delayed on the
island while Mister Avery and rest of the crew made their way
ashore in the night. To do this, they had to be 'given' Black
Betty, but not the real Betty, just as they had not sunk the
real ship. Regardless of this, there was a moment in which I
thought I had misjudged it all, and if not for Mister Blue's
poisons and skill with a knife, the blade that Captain Lewis had
pressed against my throat might have torn my skin open.
Thankfully, no one notices when a powder monkey disappears,
though even now, I can feel it's warm metal pressed against me.
The Captain's strong grasp bending my neck back. The eyes and
tongues and teeth of the men that I had killed over the years
I had a strange distaste for
the Captain's death. Mister Blue, as always, used his knives and
herbs and other valuable skills to pull St. Lucia's secrets from
the Captain and surviving soldiers, but when it came time to
kill him, when his belly was sliced, slowly, shallowly, and
repeatedly, open until his stomach fell out... I did not like
it. I felt that he should have died quickly. A bad man for the
sea, true, but not a bad soldier and, from the letter he wrote
to his brother, a man unlike his father.
But it is done, and what has
been done cannot be undone, especially now that Lord Lewis has
seen his body. He will have known the pain of that death and
that pain for him, I find, is enough to make me dismiss my
I must remember to savour the
feel of my blade pressing into Lord Richard Lewis' genitals. It
could very well be the last time I am allowed such tactile
Tomorrow I will take command of
Black Betty and, with her skeleton crew, sail to St.
Lucia. There will be no black sails until the night that we
drift into port. The night that the Meredith's own sails
turn black as the Devil's heart. And there, beneath those flags,
both sets of cannons will begin to open fire. In the wake of
that destruction my men will sweep out and into the streets with
swords and pistols and fire. They will make their way to the
beautiful houses of Lord Lewis and his family and secure them
first, before returning to the town itself, where they will set
about turning it into an ashed husk filled with the dead.
And I, I will stand upon the
deck of the Black Betty and watch St. Lucia burn.