X Marks the Spot/C8 Chapter 1-8
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X Marks the Spot/C8 Chapter 1-8
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C8 Chapter 1-8


The deafening crash of the thick oak door slamming shut reverberated throughout the small cabin as Thomas was thrown to his knees. The bustling arms of his burly captors pulled his torso upright before releasing their grip and waiting silently for instruction. Thomas’ chest heaved with fear as he studied his surroundings. Pale blue moonlight filled the room, casting an ominous glow against the single lantern lighting the room. It sat atop a large ancient map, pinned to a mahogany desk by three short daggers. Stacks of rolled scrolls and volumes of various literature littered the room, filling every chair and surface available in the room.

“Leave him,” a dark figure bellowed from the far corner of the room, his back turned to Thomas. The two men obliged, hastily remarking their respects and slamming the door behind them. “Now then. Who are you?”

“Who am I?” Thomas spat. “Wouldn’t you know? You’re the bloody pirate bastards who sank us.”

“Aye, pirates,” his captor replied, stepping into the light. “That we are. But attack you? Nay.”

Thomas stayed silent, studying the face of his captor curiously. It was a tall man with skin tinged by the kiss of the sun. He was fairly well groomed, with the faint stubble of a mustache filling the gap above his lip. A crude crimson cap adorned the man’s head, the cloth accompanied by a black leather patch covering the man’s right eye. He was much younger than Thomas expected, appearing to be in his twenties.

“Are you deaf?” the man bellowed, growing impatient by the silence. He took a seat at the table and pulled a leather drawstring pouch from his breast pocket. “Who are you?”

“Thomas. What do you want from me?”

“Answers, the man casually said, opening the pouch and lifting a pipe overflowing with tobacco from within. Strands of leaf fell from the bowl as the man ran his thumb atop the rim. He pressed gently atop the cluster of leaves, taming the pack before pulling a small box of matches from his coat. “Yes, Mr. Thomas, what I seek is information.”

“What information?”

“As you said, pirates attacked you. What I wish to know is who and why. These pirates weren’t interested in loot. They left those trinkets to the sea. Neither were they interested in commandeering the vessels, for they left those in shambles. Which brings to question why? What were they after, Mr. Thomas? Why bother with the attack? And who has the firepower to take on three ships? Two of which, might I add, were fairly armed themselves.”

“I don’t… I don’t know who,” Thomas stuttered, struggling to regain his courage. “And if I did, why would I tell you? We both know I’m a dead man walking.”

“Mr. Thomas, I’m offended,” The pirate shook his head, clicking his tongue against his teeth as he pulled a small match from the box and flicked it to life. “How could you think so poorly of me?” He lifted the pipe to his lips, taking three sharp puffs as the flame hovered above the bowl. “I saved you, Mr. Thomas. I pulled you from the chilly grips of the sea and denied Davy Jones your spot in his locker. WHy would I go through so much trouble to just slaughter you but a mere few hours later?”

“Why did you save me?”

“I told you,“ the man replied, snuffing the fame of the match out with a flick. “Information.”

“I don’t have any.”

“Oh, but I’m certain you know more than you are letting on.” The pirate puffed slowly on the pipe, filling the room in a creamy aroma of baked wheat. “Judging by the soiled rags you wear, I’d wager you were more than a cabin boy. Am I wrong? A military man, I presume?”

“Navy,” Thomas reluctantly agreed. “What’s it to you?”

“What transpired is quite troubling, Mr. Thomas. For a pirate to go through the bother of sinking the ships that they did, as well as managing to sail away seemingly unscathed, can pose a significant problem. A pirate with a vendetta against the crown will only bring further ire our way. A war with the royal mistress is not in our best interests. Not to mention, we are still pirates. What’s stopping the said buccaneers from attacking my crew?”

“I suppose that is troubling.”

“Then you understand my interest in this particular dilemma.” The captain lifted his feet and plopped them atop the table. Droplets of soggy mud falling from his leather boots, staining the ancient map below. “I may think poorly of my pirate brethren, but they aren’t daft, Mr. Thomas. No. They know better than to hunt for sport. So the question falls on why? They wouldn’t go through the trouble for silk, leaf, or pieces of eight. No, they were after something far greater. And that, dear Thomas, is what I seek to know. Do you understand, my boy?”

Thomas stood silent, his glare locked on the thin grin growing on his captor’s face.

“Now, what is a navy man such as yourself doing on a merchant’s vessel?”

“They ordered us to escort the ship.”

“And a fine job you did at that,” the pirate laughed. “Steep price for one measly vessel. What was the cargo?”

“Why would I tell you?”

“Well, Mr. Thomas, it’s your lucky day. It just so happens I could use a man such as yourself on deck.”

“Piracy is treason,” Thomas scoffed.

“Oh, it most certainly is,” the pirate chuckled, leaning back in his chair. “But it’s better than death, wouldn’t you agree? Now, if you may, what was on that ship?”

Thomas’ head lowered, his glare fading as he contemplated the man’s offer.

“Time is running out, Mr. Thomas.”

“I-I don’t know,” Thomas stammered, lifting his gaze from the floor, his eyes widened in a plea for mercy. “They told us it was cargo from the East. Nothing special about it.”

“Nothing special doesn’t deserve a military escort. What was in the cargo?”

“I don’t know!” Thomas screamed. “It was just cargo.”

White smoke fell from the pirate’s mouth as his face hardened. He lifted the pipe from his lips and spun it along the palm of his hand. “Then, Mr. Thomas, I do believe we are out of time.”

“Wait!” Thomas pleaded, struggling to pull himself to his feet. “There was this man.”

“A man?” The pirate’s brow arched as he studied his captive with intent. He placed the pipe back between his teeth, drawing the wisps of smoke into his lungs. “Go on.”

“There was this man. Some garland fellow. John, I think. I believe his name was John.”

“You’ll have to give me more than that, Mr. Thomas.”

“He was an older fellow. Had a glass eye and a nasty scar. Walked with a limp.”

“Details, my boy. Details. What is so important about this Garland fellow who walks with a limp and can barely see.”

“We were ordered to protect him.”

The pirate’s eye widened. He pulled his feet from the table, leaning closer to his captive with interest. “Interesting. Continue.”

“Orders didn’t say why. There were rumors, though. Something about treasure. Some of the crew believed he was some kind of treasure hunter. Said they saw him with a map.”

“A map?”

“Aye, but it wasn’t complete. It was only a fragment. It didn’t have a destination.”

The pirate’s face soured to a sullen brood. Smoke exploded from his lungs with each breath the man took. He glared at his captive, studying the sailor in thought. A growl formed beneath his breath before the man lifted himself from his seat and turned to the window behind him.

“Sir?” Thomas stuttered, taken aback by the pirate’s odd reaction.

“Well, Mr. Thomas,” the pirate softly replied. “Welcome aboard.”

Thomas studied the man carefully, still uncertain of what to expect. After a brief moment, his gaze fell to his shackles as his thoughts debated if his decision was rash. “Sir, if I may ask… Who are you?”

“Cutler. Captain Cutler.”

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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