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Here which follows, are some of the saga's of the natorious Captain JD "Blood Bath" Black, the Crew memebers or associations. Gain some insight of the life in which these barbaric individuals live, and remember, they are far from over, even as the last is read.......


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There was good reason she never let on to the nature of her travels. Not just to anyone. A few had been informed, and over half of those had traveled with her. Her purpose, revenge and a warning to others. Never cross Captain JD Black, it could be detrimental to your health. She was on her way to the Estate of one Sir Victor Wellington III. A man in which a recent transaction had taken place.

She was approached by a woman who had expensive taste, but no coin in which to sate it. The woman offered a hefty pouch, for procurement of a certain set of jewelry. Contacts had been made, the wheel set into motion to the finding of this particular grouping of gems, silver and gold. Once found, it was then that JD set into action. Finding out those very items were afloat, crossing the sea, in the possession of their owner and her husband as they booked passage to make their way from Belfast to London.

She'd be able to catch them where St. Georges Channel and the English Channel met. Everything was planned down to the minute, both Black Swans utilized in the plan of attack and dominate. The Black Swan I would be used to block the Fredericton from passing. She'd present her port side, cannons loaded and at the ready. With that many guns trained upon you, it was bound to gain notice and cause a pause, if not panic.

While they were fixated upon the looming black sails of the larger vessel, from behind the Black Swan II would arrive. Do to the Brigantine's maneuverability and fire power, they'd never know what hit them. The first round of balls to sail from her hulls, would be directed at their masts, to destroy them and render the ship helpless. Reloading as they neared, no resistance met when they boarded along side. In no time, crews from both Black Swans infiltrated the merchant ship.

Any crewman, or passenger by that matter, who put up a fight was quickly cut down and tossed into the sea. Bloody bodies floating lured those predators of the deep, causing them to circle in their hungered frenzy. The women were rounded up to be taken as living bounty. The men and crew, less the captain and first mate, were placed into smaller boats, their oars removed, as well as any survival gear. The captain and first mate had put up a fight and survived, there would be a little fun had with them.

All the others forced to watch as the pirates laughed and jeered at the condemned men. Both were wounded, so it wouldn't take much to attract attention. Wrists bound before them, stripped of all clothing. Comments made to the women being held as taunts were tossed at them, leaving some aghast, while amusing a few others. Soon the men would be made to voluntarily (against their will), step off the plank and plummet into the shark infested waters. It wouldn't take long before their screams of terror and pain would fill the air.

It didn't stop the pirates from their task, the men set adrift and the women were transferred to the Black Swan I and placed into the hold. She personally seen to the task of ransacking the passengers quarters, while her men tended to the cargo hold. There was a gold mine of valuables found upon the ship, from all areas. Jewelry, exotic wear, cases of liquor and kegs of fine wine and dark ales. Bolts of silk shipped directly from the orient, and decor in only the way they specialized in. Fine china inlaid with gold and silver patterns.

The jackpot would be the chest of gold coins that were found. One of the passengers was an investor, and was in the process of transferring his cold coin to one of London's major banks. All would end up in the hold of the Black Swan II. Not taking any chances that the women held wouldn't tamper with their bounty. As the two Black Swans pulled away, cannons would bark out for the last time. Wood splintered as the hulls of the ship were peppered. The haunting groan of wood trying to resist the tons of water it was taking on, before the ship began to list to it's side and be drawn down into the murky ocean depths.

It would be to Cutthroat Cove that they'd sail. Here the women would be unloaded to a local auction house. JD gained fifty gold a head for the pampered women, they were healthy specimens. She then sought out the man who she'd carry the transaction out with, Sir Victor Wellington III. When she arrived to his fancy estate, the terror of the sea had changed her looks. Instead of the striking appearance loaded down with weapons and dressed in the same manner as her men, she had adorned a gown.

Faux pas of a merchant middle man (woman), representing the best interest of one Captain Black. Many assumed the Captain to be a vicious, black hearted man; if they only knew. Upon arrival, she was greeted with the flamboyancy of a diplomat. An evening of fine dining, sharing of Sherry before the fire. She even exhibited her lady like behavior. Laughing at all their jokes, when inside her want to slit their throats only mounted more. Soon the evening would come to a close, the transaction to be made in the library as Lady Della Jamison - Wellington excused herself for the night.

A crate of gold filled pouches were given in exchange for the fancy jewels. Five thousand coins total, as was the prearranged agreement. They parted ways, JD to return to her ship, then sail back to the Port of Heathfield. It would be here that she'd discover the deceit. When the crate was unloaded and carried into her office at the Dockside Tavern, the bags would be cut open to expose the ruse. Lead coins weighed down the bottom of those sacks, to give them weight. There were only five hundred coins present, only a tenth of a percent of what was to be paid. Enraged she instantly became, to the point her men quickly left to save themselves from her angered state.

Immediately she began to plot her revenge, as hard as it was to do, a month would pass by. It was then she was ready to set into action, all that had been mulled over for countless, sleepless nights; no matter how drunk she got.

Black sails of the Black Swan II would erect to capture the wind. Soon they were on their way, back to Cutthroat Cove, and to the establishment of what they had come to call ..." The walking dead. ". Each stage of her plan would be executed without a hitch. Having been in their home once, it was easy for her to gain access the second time.

The Lord and Lady were at a neighboring home, invited to a formal dinner. Which made it easy for the crew to take control of the stately manor. Servants rounded up, finding they had been purchased or indentured. All would be explained that they would be gaining their freedom, but only after witnessing the punishment that was about to be doled.

The owners of the home would arrive back several hours later. Puzzled by the lack of greeting when their coach arrived, or the opening of the door with the announcement of their return. They'd step into a darkened and silent home. Which they began to quickly explore to find answers, and what an answer they'd find. In the formal dinning room, the servants had been gathered, and were sitting down to enjoy a fine meal. Eating off the fine china and drinking the best of the wines the owners possessed.

Enraged, Lord Wellington would rush into the room, followed by what sounded like a screaming harpy of a wife. They'd never reach the servants who moved not to the oncoming assault, for no sooner had the Lord and Lady dashed into the room, they were succumbed by the crew of the Black Swan. Indignant curses flew from the mouth of man and woman alike.

That was until they turned to see the one who entered into the room soon after. There she stood, weighed down by weaponry and looking every bit as menacing as she was. Both paled when the recognized who she was, and even more when one of the men addressed her as Captain Black.

Both were stripped of all their clothing, and it just so happened, the woman was wearing the very jewels that started this all. JD would take those into her personal collection, for now. They were then roughly hauled out of the house and into the coldness of the night. Torches lit their way, as they wound deeper into the thick cover. The servants were made to come along, this would be their price for freedom.

After several hours, they'd soon reach the predetermined destination. Twin trees stood virtually alone in the midst of a meadow of wild flowers. The man and woman would be tied to these trees, one to each. But not in the customary way, upside down and slightly spread eagle. The servants were told to take the nearby buckets and completely coat the couple with the contents they held. They were surprised to find it to be honey, but questioned it not, they set to the task of what they were told to do. Turning a deaf ear to the pleas for help, from the Master and Mistress of the house. This would teach them for being cruel as well.

Once this task was accomplished, the next stage would then take place, she'd have groupings of fruit to be strategically placed upon both individuals. A perfect place that was created due to the position hung, although it did cause a few of the men to wince in the interim. Not in pity for the man, but to the pain of such a delicate area.

That accomplished, the next stage would be carried out. Not once did she or her men answer the man or woman's plea for mercy, or bartering of their life for monetary value. The growling and roaring would be heard as a wooden, mobile cage was pulled near. Confined within was a very large brown bear. It had been purposely starved for three days, so there would be no hesitation of it's actions upon release.

The servants would be lead back a safe distance, and behind cover, so they could witness but not become a victim themselves. Once the area was clear, a rope and pulley would be utilized to pull the door open of the cage. It didn't take long for the bear to find it's food sources, the screams would denote this fact.

JD even cocked her head to listen, making a mention of how she couldn't tell the scream of the man from that of the woman. It gained laughter from her men, but the servants stood in shock as they watched the bear shred the couple apart. Some felt justification, while others became physically ill.

The crew and JD would see the servants back to the manor safely. Documents were drawn up and forged, giving the servants rights to the manor and it's property. Giving the excuse that the Lord and Lady had decided to move to London. It's not like it'd be questioned. The predators of the night and day would take care of the carnage so there'd be nothing left.

With their collected bounty of gems, coins, and jewelry, all would return to the Black Swan and sail home. The incident long forgotten by midday by herself and crew. Though it would not be by those left behind, by time they finished spinning their tale, it would be legendary. As per usual, to make it more believable, JD's gender would be switched. Not many could or would believe that a woman enacted in such a barbaric way. They were too soft. This was something that always amused JD.

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Caught

SSDD


It wouldn't be long before she was on the prowl again, seeking out a fat noble to lessen the weight of his purses. A right fat cat she did find, when she bumped into one Duke of Thimes, Lord Akin Freeshold. He was quite the dandy too, a womanizer and out right peacock. One she'd enjoy lightening the pockets of.

Having dressed in her best gown, preparing her hair in the way most hauty tauties did. She looked every bit the part of a noble woman, one that was well to do. Her story was that she was a widow, left childless, when her husband died in a carriage accident. How easy it was to gain his interest. Her acting demure and lost, as if she needed a man's hand to guide her through the harsh realities of the world. Inwardly she felt like retching all over the man's tweed pants.

It started out by an "Accidental" meeting between the two. She carrying a glass of wine across the room of the tavern, to be bumped by a staggering drunk .... Mister Gibbs was such a wonderful actor .... so that she was knocked over, her wine to douse the man's frilly white shirt, while she ended up haphazardly upon his lap.

Able to blush on cue, stuttering apologies would flow past her lips breathlessly. What an actress she was, a perfomance that would have gained her a Grammy in another time.

Now this pompus Lord would do his best to sait her embarassment. Laughing off the spilt wine, and even making comments about how he couldn't complain about having an angle fall from the skies and land upon his lap. She nearly gagged.

There would be several meetings to take place after this first, all within the safe confines of a public tavern. It started with drinks, then an invite to dinner. Followed by an afternoon brunch, then a carraige ride in the country. Finally, after a week's hard work, she gained the invitation to his stately manor. A weekend get away, with activities planned for the two.

The night of her arrival was full of fan fair and an elaborate meal. Followed by a walk around his estate, as he bragged of his worth and all he had to offer. When he hinted to the fact that his home was cold and empty without a wife, she again nearly turned and ran in the other direction.

When the evening passed and it was time to say their good nights, she moved into the room prepared for her and sat in silent wait. Several hours passed before her exploration of the home would begin. She wouldn't enact this night, no, just case the place out to find what she wanted to know.

The second day was much like the first. The pompus Lord doing his best to impress her and laying more heavy hints on his want of a woman at his side. She'd play them off, with no commitment or agreement offered. Just saying enough to keep him dangling on a thread.

It was during the afternoon meal, a picnic near a local lake, that he took it upon himself to steal that kiss. How she wanted to take a dagger and slit him from gullet to throat. Yet again that actress part of her stood firm, returning the kiss, then feining embarassment after. Due to the intimate nature of that which was shared.

It was at that point she decided that this night would be when she took her chance. Having found his safe in the confines of his den, and the fact the man was so full of himself, the combination written clearly on a piece of paper, found in the top drawer of his desk.

This night was like the other. A prolonged good night at the door of her room. Surely he was expecting an invite into her bed, which would never be gained. Again she'd dangle him at the end of that rope, then send him off to his room, perhaps to take a long, cold bath.

Several hours more passed, then as before, she slipped from her room. Making her way down to his den to quietly sneak into it. The combination, now memorized, would be worked to open the safe. To her delight she found quite the booty. There was at least twenty five, one hundred pound notes. A sack of gold. A leather box, velvet lined, that held a very expensive set of jewelry. A necklace and matching ear rings, comprised of silver, diamonds and glimmering rubies. All of this was stuffed into the pillow case that she had brought along.

Just as she had turned to the nearest window, opening it wide in preperation to depart, the door of the den flew open and there he stood with two servants. It seems one of them had seen her sneak into the den and went to warn their Lord when they peeked in to see her at the opened vault.

Shouts rang out as they rushed in, which only quickened her haste to get out that window. As she ran across the well manicured lawn, heading towards the thickness of the forest, that's when it happened. She heard the bark of the pistol as she ran, it was the burning sensation in her side that let her know where the ball would end.

Stumbling, but not losing her footing. The pillow case was in a death grip, she'd not lose what she came for. Especially now that she was carrying lead in her side, had to make it worth something.

The forest would be made before they could exit the manor with torches. Due to earlier plans, a horse was awaiting her not far away. Her crew was excellent on ensuring that her plans were executed to the most minute detail. The horse was reached, the case tied off around the saddle horn. The shouts behind her became distant as she rode like the devil himself were on her tail through the thick forest.

She rode through the night, into the next day. It would be the evening of the second that would find her back home. The horse and that which she had taken, would be left in the care of her local fence. All to be sold off and only the profits of the sale, minus his ten percent, would be returned to her.

Once the Thistle tavern was reached, the nearest establishment on her return to the docks, that's when she found the aid she needed. She would have had it seen to by her ships surgeon, but it just so happen that the Douglas brothers were present, and quite efficent at the task. Malcolm the first to step up to her aid, then his brother Quinton to tend to the task of removing the lead ball and sewing the wound up neatly.

Another scar to add to the managery that covered her flesh. Her medal of bravery in which to show her near brushes with death. Not one soul knew of how she was injured, nor had she yet to inform, even when directly asked. Vengence would be hers, of that there was no doubt. No one shoots J.D Black, and lives to tell about it later. Besides, she had to ensure that he didn't get the authorities searching for her either.

He would be looking for one Alison Pride. Countessa of Westminister. Heir to the Estate of one Lord Stafford Pride. That was the information he was given, and that would be what the playbills of wanted signs would read. Yet she'd make sure he could never truely identify her. Taking no chances that they might bump into each other again in the future.

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From living the nightmare, to becoming it!

SSDD


The evening had started out as one of laughter and a good time to be had with newly made friends; Elliot Deveredge and Anya Kearney. Now isn't that a strange word for the swashbuckler to use ....friends. Even stranger those to whom she had began to develop such relationships with. The very type of people she had sworn to hate and destroy at every possible chance.

The death of her father and many of the crewmen, her family, the only ones she ever knew in her life. The men had taken her under wing, taught her every skill they possibly could. Then, just as now, times started out good and being happy. That was until that fateful day when the nightmare would be created. Her father and crewmen rushing back to the ship, within days, they laid dying upon their bunks. Flesh rotting off their bodies, and no one knowing why. Though she suspected it had something to do with the War Lord that ran Kildare. A noble, a man of wealth and power.

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Only when the nightmares ended, had she became it instead. Attacking any and all ships that crossed her path. Targeting wealthy families to rob them blind, then slaughter them; children and all. No concious did she have, no heart, no mercy, no forgiveness. Death and destruction laid in her wake, and she truely didn't care. It had become a game to her.

Her happiness robbed of it's existance and in it's place was a deep seeded anger and hate. It was during this time that her notoriety flourished. Land and sea both would be left burning as the Black Swan sailed away. Bodies slaughtered, broken and dismembered. The strangest thing of this all. She gained no satisfaction in what she did, never truely feeling vindicated of the life which was robbed.

On a rare evening, usually when she was well into her cups and had yet to pass out, did her men ever see a fraction of the spirited, light hearted girl, she once was. Only to melt away as the sun rose within the sky. Then she was back to her old self, barking orders and making threats. Never once did she make them idly. If the warning wasn't heeded, then blood did flow, without hesitation.

Things did change when she met Leoric McLarkin. Finding a kinship in a mutual hatred and want for revenge. Both their fathers had been the victims of the War Lord of Kildare. In this kinship, they found a deep comradery. He was even able to over look her brash behavior and seek the person for who she truely was.

It was in this friendship developed that she made the Port of Heathfield her base home. As well, in time, to purchase the proprietorship of a particual dock side tavern, so appropriately named. Her fleet began to grow, a second, then third ship to be carrying her flag. Life was good, she was starting to find happiness that had once been lost. She was even beginning to permit some feelings to come back to life.

What a fool. She should have learned her lesson once. Happiness wasn't in the stars for her. She wasn't permitted such a luxury. Perhaps the legends about the ever elusive Captain Black, the Blood Thirsty Pirate were true. It was said, the Captain of the ship that rose black sails was cursed. As was her crew and the ship itself. Demons and devils served upon that vessel. It was a living example that hell truely existed.

The bringer of horror and terror. A vessel of destruction and chaos. She should never have gotten comfortable in her life. Putting trust where once she never would have dreamed. It was all coming back at her, like the flashback of that fire that had so deeply scarred her flesh. One man, it took but one man to make her world come tumbling down and reality faced. In a way she didn't find that awefully suprising. Men were not to be trusted, they were worse liars and theives than what she could ever lay claim to.

What was the cause of such a drastic change in the swashbuckler? One man, Randall Simon Cann. Once a trusted crewman of the Black Swan. Then to become the Captain of the third ship of her fleet. That was until he came into the Thistle Tavern to drop the bomb at her feet....

" I know who you truly are. I served under your father, I knew your mother well. All that aside, I must tell you now .... I was granted a pardon by the King of England and reinstated to my position as Admiral of his fleet. ..... We are now advisaries, Miss Black."

This shared with her as if they were discussing the weather. All she could do was stare at him. This man who knew more about her than many others. He knew of her deeds, her haunts and hiding places. Those she associated with, by the most part. There were some she kept silent of knowing, to protect both side. Worse of all, he knew her true name. He also knew, that the Captain Black on the playbills, the one listed as a man was none other than herself. The King of England and the Queen of Spain, along with the heigharcy of France and Italy, had a substantial price on her head. Now one of the men she was closest with, was to be the one to hunt her down and destroy her.

No bigger blow could she have been dealt. No greater pain did she feel in her heart at that moment; it nearly equalled that felt upon her father's death. This was beyond betrayal or mutany. This was also personal.

"Go t' 'ell Randall. Ye go straight t' 'ell for makin' me care."

Those were the last words to be spoken to Randall. Leaving a stunned Salem "Frenchy" De La Court and Anya Kearney in the Thistle Tavern as she stormed out. It would be straight towards the docks that she made her way, that's when all unholy hell broke out, and she was the beast to which was it's cause ..........

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Almost unheard footfalls took Randall and his men closer and closer to their chosen target..They stuck to the shadows, so not to be seen...And if they had been, then by all means no one would recognize their uniforms due to the fact they were dressed in dark materials, with hats pulled down low. Looking more like dock hands rather than Royal Marines 'dedicated' to 'His Royal highness'. They were clad in black clothing...Comfortable, yet sturdy clothing..Well kept, yet purposely smudged with dirt..Their hair was made to look unkept, their faces unwashed....

Their target?..The unsuspecting Captain Daniel Gibbs. The man did the one thing he never should have, traveled alone from his route of leaving the ship and heading towards the tavern they all frequented at night. Soon enough five of the the Royal Marines dashed ahead, taking snagging Gibbs and muffling any verbal warning with their hands, as they drug him into the dark recesses of the nearest alley. It would be here that Randall awaited his men to return. A surprised Daniel Gibbs looked up, just in time to see the tip of the Falcata (A shortsword used by the Spanish during Roman times..Obviously used as an insult because he used Spanish steel to kill one of J.D's Officers..) ram through his left eyesocket..The iron blade splintered the skull around the blade, ripped through his brain..and pinned his head to the wall, with the rest of him..Then Randall drew out his much favored Dagger..and cut open the man's throat..then took a quill from his inside coat pocket and a piece of parchment.. He dipped the tip of the quill into the gushing out blood, then began to write in Daniel Gibb's blood upon a piece of parchment.

Dear Miss Black,

I'm afraid that you have let your guard slip in not strengthening your position and fortifying it. Alas, I wish I had not killed such a good man as I did, but it's really your concern isn't it? I've rushed in like a theif in the night and stolen your right hand..Soon, I may do it to your left, then systematically destroy you...Unless of course, you surrender. Roll up your flags and never sail into the sea again under hostile intentions.

You get the privilege of me imploring you to do so, otherwise you'll find that I am not quite the man you think I am. Chivalry died the day I told you I was leaving..Know this, for this is the best advice I'll ever give you...Infact, it's advice your father gave me once. ' Keep your best strongholds fortified, your best officers safe, and your best men happy.'

Love,

Randall Simon Cann

Without a momen to spare, Randall cleaned his dagger off, then reholstered it..Before taking Capt. Gibb's knife..Then placing the letter upon his chest, he stuck it there with the knife. It was then he and his men would steal off into the night, leaving the warning behind in the form of a man now impaled against the alley wall of the very establishment that she ran. He knew the effect this would have upon her business as well.

The tavern would be avoided like the plague by all others. It was tainted with death, and not by the one being sought. It also angered many, as the note did not state exactly who she was, besides the woman all had come to know.

The tavern owner, the middle woman of trade. She had some influential ties in all levels of society. Those who were not steered away from lack of wanting to get involved, would be seeking the woman they had all come to admire and/or befriend.

The body would be found by Carlotta Basinstoke, the young woman who managed the Dockside with excellent skill. She knew JD was spending time inland, due to recent events. Instead, she immediately sent for members of JD's crew. Having the body carried to a room upstairs and out of site, until the Captain could arrive to tend to the details. At the same time, a messenger was dispatched to fetch JD back. Carlotta would explain what she found, and also include the bloody note. It was then all prepared for the storm that was about to hit. No typhoon or hurricane could equal the anger that would be unleashed by their captain.

The men would double their posts as guards, even those around the docks would be increased to protect the merchants and workers there. It wasn't uncommon for a murder to take place in the dark alleyways or secluded docks during the night. Usually that was due to a robbery, or the death of one who paid not their gambling debts. It was common place enough, though each one always gained attention. Usually quickly forgotten, but then none of them ever effected one Captain JD Black as this one had. This battle had just been made personal

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Revenge

SSDD

It would be upon her way back to the docks that she was intercepted by one of her men. It was an ominous sign, that much she felt within. Only trouble would have the man rushing towards her, out of breath. Anxious to learn what news he carried, still she forced him to sit down and take a drink from the flask she offered him. Steeling features from any show of concern, arms crossed over her chest as that narrowed gaze of blue fixed upon him.

After a moment, he handed her the crumpled parchment. The blood upon it was noted as it was accepted by a stilled hand. No outward sign as to her inward reaction as that dreaded feeling pulled more weight upon her shoulders. Straightening the parchment to be able to read the scroll of words upon it. Mister Hines watched her, awaiting the eruption of the volcano he knew would come.

There would be no outburst of curses. No release physically in trying to destroy all within grasp. Though those ocean blue eyes did turn more cold in their stare upon the words that were read for the tenth time. Tick of muscles as her jaw clamped tight. The parchment would then be neatly folded and tucked into her shirt.

It was then those piercing blues would turn upon her shipmate. "Fetch Mister Tinney. Have him prepare the port side cannons upon the Black Swan II. I then want you to get some men together and prepare the sails upon the Penelope. Both ships are to set sail within the hour. We're taking them out just beyond the boundries of the harbor."

Mister Hines began to question her orders. It was then that look he knew all too well came upon her face and touched her eyes. It was that very mask he'd seen a hundred times before, as she prepared to attack, or invoke her revenge. He just nodded and turned to run back to the docks. She'd be there before either ship would leave their slips, she had something else she needed to accomplish.

It would be to one of the taverns that rested in the most darkest portion of the dock area. That which was rougher yet than the very area in which her tavern rested. The door was flung open wide as she strode in. To the center of the loud tavern she stepped, pulling her pistol from her waistband and pointing it up over her head. Pulling the trigger, it would bark out it's blast, as well as filling the immediate area with the thick black powder residue and smoke.

It would gain everyones attention. Some drawing their own weapons, others diving beneath their tables. All that mattered was that all eyes were upon her. The pistol shoved back into her belt line, it was then she spoke loudly to all in the crowd.

"Ye all ken me once mate Randall, Captain o' the Penelope. He dun went turn coat 'pon us, sold his soul t' th' British Navy 'n that arrogant pig, th' King 'imself." She'd draw the letter from her shirt and hold it high for all to see. "This 'ere letter was written in the blood o' me best mate. A fine seaman, many o' ye ken him from him losin' t' ye in gamblin'. Mister Gibbs was murdered, nae t' be robbed 'r fer money owed. Mister Randall killed 'im, wit' threat o' killin' more t' make me fold me sails. I 'ave made many o' ye some 'eavy purses o' gold, 'n I'm willin' t' make 'em 'eavier. Twenty-five platinum coins t' any man 'r woman that brings me Mister Randall .... alive."

The letter was then dropped onto the floor. Not awaiting a reply, she turned on a heel and headed to the door and out. She could hear the shouts behind her, the anger in the words. This brought a cold, wicked grin to rest upon her lips. Word would spread like wild fire of the bounty she placed upon Randall's head. One she was more than able to pay, and even increase if need be.

Arriving at the pier just as both ships were fully prepared to make way. Mister Hines met her at the plank of the Black Swan II.

"Thar be sum o' that scums men tha' be refusin' t' leave da Penelope Cap. Se I just tell 'em we be takin' a trip t' get sum cargo."

He just grinned after telling her this. He knew what her intent was. Having him fetch Mister Tinney was all he needed to know. Why else get the gunner to prepare cannons, unless they were to be shot off. She just nodded and walked past him. No job well done or the like spoken.

"Cast off." The only thing she'd state, and this yelled loud enough for the crew of both ships to hear her. One of the men on the Penelope, a foppish rake, much like Randall, who claimed he held high rank and thus would be manning the helm. She yelled across, telling the Penelope to take the lead and head out of the harbor, further instructions would be given then.

After several hours, the ships were soon out of neutral waters. Motioning for her men to gain full sail, to bring them along side the Penelope, as she steered them to within cannon range. A motion of hand would send Zack into motion, along with the men assigned to him, to get the cannons at the ready.

"As soon as we are near parallel. Open the hatches and fire at will." Would be the command given. All her men set in preperation for any possible counter attack. She had the element of surprise, she doubted they'd be able to do much, if anything at all. Not to mention they were nothing more than a skeleton crew, barely enough to properly sail the vessel.

Standing at the helm, she watched as they closed in on the Penelope and soon pulled up along side. Feet spread and planted firmly, preparing for the rocking that the setting off of six guns. Men moved to man two of the swivel guns as well. She could see the crew of the Penelope, so clueless they were. As the Black Swan II pulled up along side, a good thirty feet seperated the two ships. The crew of the Penelope waved and began to shout over to those of the Swan.

It was priceless, the looks upon their faces as the hatches flew open, exposing the barrels of those cannons as they were thrust through. They had barley began to scatter when the first barked out and the sound of crashing wood could be heard. Followed by yet another, then yet again. Zach was a master of the cannons, as she come to see. Single shots, yet close enough together to set the onslaught. Giving him time to ready the cannon moments after it shot out it's load.

The swivel guns would bark out as the smaller balls began to bombard the Penelope's deck. For lack of anything else to do, some of the men on the Penelope had drawn their pistols and shot at the Black Swan, only to fall short.

Twice those cannons would each bark, she lost track of that of the swivels. The air thick with the smoke and heavy scent of powerder, intermixed with the screams and cries of the men from the other ship. She didn't wait for the smoke to clear to take a sense of pride in what just happened. Barking out her orders, the Black Swan would be turned to head back to the harbor and docks.

No cheers, no celebration was shared upon the deck following this. The mood was somber, to the point of being dark. This was just one small step in the revenge they'd unleash. Randall was going to pay, and pay dearly. JD had painted the man as a coward, attacking her men in waylay whild claiming to be an honorable man of the throne, instead of having the gutts to face her himself and take his chances. He'd soon learn well enough, Captain JD Black had no intention of rolling up her sails or retiring the Black Swans. In fact, due to his actions and threats, they would now be turned into the very vessels of revenge they had always been.

She had no intention on stopping with him alone, there would be a few others who would be reminded just why she was called, the Reaper that sailed the seven seas.

______________________________________________________


The Challenge.


News had reached him..It hadn't been hard to know that he was now a "wanted" man. Honestly, all-in-all the old 'Wolf of the Seas' wasn't that surprised. "So Miss Black thinks she really can match wits with me on the sea?" He asked himself, bemused as he just handed the messenger boy eight shillings, then patted him on the shoulder before he ran off.

Now that he was alone, he frowned..Yes, frowned..All he could to do to keep from breaking down in sobs. "Daniel, you bastard..Why couldn't ya killed me 'fore I killed you? Then it all woulda been over..Kin' George wouldn' 'ad chance to 'arm my family if there was no reason..Th'Nobles wouldn't allow it." Oh..The faith he had in those nobles, the poor man had no idea.

"Wai' Lad, C'back 'ere!" He shouted to the lad who came running back...Randall detatched his gold purse..Then tossed it to him. "Wai' a tic lad..I gotta do somethin'.." With that..He retrieved parchment from his pocket, pulling out his black feathered quill, he quickly used the tip to cut into his left arm..Dipping it in his own blood, he proceeded to write.

" JD, you've got nerve girl, calling me a coward..We'll see who's bowing before who. Venture into the woods upon Freya's Day, and you'll meet me in single combat..That's what you want isn't it? Pit yourself against me, to show me how 'weak' I am?...Daniel wasn't killed from the dark, he knew who killed him..And as for your cute little bounty, three've been to collect..All three died, so we'll finish this on our own, no?"

With all the love my heart posseses,

Randall Simon Cann

And upon completing it..He handed it over to him and told him the new address to which he should deliver it...Something JD should remember..Gold can turn damn near any pirate.

______________________________________________________


Dropping the Gauntlet

SSDD

It would be in the small office she kept in the back storage room of the tavern, that she now wore a new path upon the wood planked floor with her pacing. The newest letter rested atop the piles of papers upon her desk.

"Damn him, damn him to hell I say." Complaining to those walls and all other objects in the room. None dared to approach her door this afternoon. That brooding darkness had turned into a violent combustion within the swashbuckler.

"I'll cut his heart out and tie his lifeless body to the foremast, that's what I'll do." The last glass would be lifted and sent crashing against an opposing wall. As had four others prior. "With all the love my heart possesses? How dare he! Patronizing me in this manner. Speaking of my family and his respect he held for them, then telling me he was to be the one to hunt me down. Damn him to hell I say."

Words were not screamed or cried out. It was a low growl in which they'd pass her lips. "I'll show him just how weak he is all right." It was then she moved to her desk, three notes to be written by her hand. One to be sent to Annabelle, one to Geddoe and one to Zach. All stated the same thing.

Fellow mates,

I intend to take up Randall's challange and face him off. Ending this once and for all. I am giving what may very well be my last order. I want the three of you to find this sister of Randall's. The wench is presently behing held by the Royal Court of England. I want you to find her, and kill her. Whether I live or die, matters not. I want her dead. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Randall took Mister Gibbs life, now we're going to take on in return to make it even. Frenchy and his lover, one Joffre LaFayette, may know where she's being kept, or in close proximatey. If you must get the information by lying and saying you're attempting to save the sea dogs sister, then so be it. Do what you must, but do it.

If I survive this confrontation, you will all be well rewarded. If not, then take all off both the Black Swans, divide it up between all the crew, though you three are to keep a larger portion for yourself. Then I want both to be sunk. That way my father and I can sail upon our ships in the next life.

Captain JD Black

All three would be sealed with black wax and the signet ring of her father used to set them. None knew of the noble status the "Reaper of the Seven Sea's" held rights to. Or so she had thought. All were dead, or that's what she was lead to believe. Until Randall spoke up. He knew, he knew way too much. He knew about the past she had buried at sea so many years ago, as well as the crimes in which she was guilty of, that were being blamed on some nameless man.

The next letter she wrote would be directed towards Randall. Not knowing where to find him to send it, if she did, she would have slit his throat in the midst of the night, long ago. This would be posted upon the message board that rested on the dock.

To the foppish leader of the Ton, Randall Simon Cann,

I accept your challange and shall meet you face to face to end this once and for all. No matter the outcome, it ends here. Be it your death or mine, it matters not. One thing I can and will promise you, the price that you'll pay will be double that of my own. I intend to cut your throat and feed your entrails to the gulls. There is only one thing that I care about, where it concerns you, anymore. That is that your death be slow and painful, no mercy will I show upon you or any of yours.

She left it unsigned, he'd know whom it came from. As would countless others. It was then she called upon Carlotta and had her deliver the messages to their perspective recipient, and the last to be tacked upon the post board. It was now time to prepare for the up and coming encounter. The tavern would be left as she made her way to her ship and cabin. She was going to fight him all right, someone is going to die.


______________________________________________________


Freya's Day

Friday -- Freya's day

Middle English fridai
Old English frigedæg "Freya's day"
composed of Frige (genetive singular of Freo) + dæg "day" (most likely)
or composed of Frig "Frigg" + dæg "day" (least likely)
Germanic frije-dagaz "Freya's (or Frigg's) day"

Freo is identical with freo, meaning free. It is from the Germanic frijaz meaning "beloved, belonging to the loved ones, not in bondage, free".

Freya (Fria) is the Teutonic goddess of love, beauty, and fecundity (prolific procreation). She is identified with the Norse god Freya. She is leader of the Valkyries and one of the Vanir. She is confused in Germany with Frigg.

Frigg (Frigga) is the Teutonic goddess of clouds, the sky, and conjugal (married) love. She is identified with Frigg, the Norse goddess of love and the heavens and the wife of Odin. She is one of the Aesir. She is confused in Germany with Freya.

___________________________________


The fight

Where was the Treacherously Handsome Captain at?...In the forest clearing like he had said he would be..He wore the usual clothing for himself..Black, baggy pants that were held up by a hardened, leather belt that bore a crucifix clasp. His upperbody was dressed in a white, long-sleeved dress shirt..It was buttoned up, except for the top three buttons..Then the sleeved were rolled up to the elbows..His long-coat and hat were set aside..Near the base of the tree that wasn't to far away..In his hand, he carried the sword that he often used back in his real admiral days...The handle was made from oak, wrapped in leather...The guard of the sword was wrought from steel..And the blade itself was damascus steel..However, the edge was special..It was made from obsidian..and sharpened to a very thing point, making it beyond sharp..Both hands bore leather gloves..So it'd be hard for that saber to slip from his hand..All the Admiral needed, was his partner for this much-waited for dance.::

From the shadows of the forest, the swarthy captain would enter the clearing. Adorned in the usual tight fitting pants of black, tucked neatly into the top of thigh high boots with a low heel. A woolen peacoat worn over the top of the usual black linen shirt and cobalt blue satin vest. Devoid of hat, long hair had been pulled back into a long trailing braid. Light were those steps that carried her forward. Intensity of those cold, dark blue eyes were upon him. If he had any men hiding in the bush, it would be founded out. She wasn't stupid, and she damn well didn't trust this man. Standing a few yards from him, she'd stop.

::He didn't have any men hiding....Duels were sacred, even to wolves...That famous, wolf-like half-cocked grin formed upon Randall's pale lips, his grip on the sword hilt shifted as he looked her up and down..::"..Don' think any words are needed at this point, Jacquoylette....So, Come on..Let's see th'wrath you've been savin' jus' for me."

To that she'd nod. "You're correct, no unnecessary words." Turning to pull her coat off, it would be laid to the side. The cutlass she wore now clearly seen upon her hip. When she turned, there was a flintlock in hand. The motion was fluid as it was lifted and cocked. "Wrath Randall? You have not a clue how far my wrath will reach." With that the trigger was pulled. It would be his right shoulder, more along the chest she'd aim for.

::With that raising of the Flintlock, his eyes grew cold, at the cocking of it, he stanced himself...At the motion of her finger going backwards..He lunged to the side..Just barely, barely avoiding the pistol ball..In fact, it braized his right arm, cutting up his flesh as it passed..It didn't strike through..And despite the fact he had to lunge to the side, and was now bleeding..He didn't lose focus..He used his current crouching position as a spot to burst into a quick, short sprint towards her...Randall'd waste his breath on breathing, rather than a retort..The blade was gripped so the pommel was near the top of his fist..The blade rested its flat against his arm..And as he came within range, he brought it across , lifting the blade from his arm slightly....The pommel was aimed at the hand which bore the empty flintlock..The blade..was mainly to act as a barrier between her and himself...She may win, but she wouldn't do so by using a flintlock.::

As soon as the pistol had barked, it was dropped for she knew it was useless a second time. The distance between them would give her a small amount of time to act as he rushed forward. She knew she was a good shot, but never put stock in it hitting it's mark always. Having turned to the side to draw that cutlass in one hand, a dagger about to be brandished when that pummel stuck out at her. Another turn would have her hand free of the bludgeoning, though close enough that she could make an attempt, utilization of shoulder and motion of both, to push him aside. Hopefully to stumble, but him being a vetran, that would perhaps be not the fact. It would at least allow her distance to prepare for the next attack, which included finally brandishing that long bladed dagger in hand.

::He was pushed aside..But barely, he had half expected it, but it was better to go with the flow of her blow..And as she went to draw that long-dagger..Randall swiftly rotated his blade in hand..Of course, the blade wasn't what he was going to use to attack..He sent his left left out in a sweeping-type kick at her right knee, hoping to take her to the ground..His blade was poised, ready to deflect an attack..He hardly took his female opponent lightly..::

She'd move so that the kick would not disable that knee. As she began to fall, twisting so that it would be her back that she'd land upon. At the same time, the hand holding dagger tightly. Drawing her hand back to her chest slightly as she moved downwards, then an outward thrust of that arm and hand. If not the upper thigh, a calf would be where the blade would be thrust into before she hit the ground. Anticipating the landing, she'd immediatly roll away from him, releasing her hold upon the blade.

::And she had left herself open with that..He could've nailed her aorta, or cut her deep brachial artery..But he hadn't..He swiftly shot his blade down..Her dagger would nail the broadside of the blade..A brow being arched as she rolled away..A perfect chance for a follow-up and possibly a quick end to this fight..He didn't take it.::"...Up on your feet Jacquoylette! I won't kill you when you're on th'ground like a dog!"

To her feet she would stand, glaring at him. Cutlass gripped tightly in her hand. If that dagger didn't bite into flesh, then in her hand it would still be. The release would only have been if embedded. Stance taken as she stood across from him. "Don't call me by my given name ever again. You have not the right, nor permission." Lowly growled. Her hatred for him prevelent upon features and in those dark blues.

"...I'm the master in this duel Jacquoylette...You knew this before you dare come here.."::He spoke cooly..::"...You think I *really* want to kill you?...I just had two very fine chances...And none were taken...I need this duel to stage my death..You see, no way in 'ell would the crew be able to infiltrate the Tower of London..By Stealth or force...So, that's why I didn't come to you...Assuming you already know why...That French Fellow thought he was smooth I guess.."::He rolled his shoulders in a shrug::"..So instead..You get to "kill" me...And after I'm "dead"..I'm going to rescuse My dear family...Now, if you continue to fight me..I'm going to do what I've been dreading to do, ever since I came up with this plan, kill you.."::He spoke cooly..::"..As for Mr. Gibbs, God rest him, He was the victim of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time."

A sneer formed upon her lips. "You're going to be dead, Randall, as will your family. You think me to be some fop? Whether I survive this or not, your family is dead. You can't stop it now." Cold was the grin that formed. "Even if it means instigating the foppish Brit's to do it for me. Her hand was already in motion as she spoke, her gaze holding his the entire time. She too was a marksman of blade and pistol alike. The dagger would be snapped towards him, it means instigating the foppish Brit's to do it for me. Her hand was already in motion as she spoke, her gaze holding his the entire time. She too was a marksman of blade and pistol alike. The dagger would be snapped towards him, again, the broad width of his chest to be that which she aimed for. No sooner had that dagger snapped free of her grasp, she was rushing the short distance between them with that cutlass raised to strike at what ever side was to be presented to her if he moved to dodge the oncoming blade of the dagger thrown

"...So..You were stupid enough to send people after my family..Well now Luv, that means it's officially no 'olds barred."::That....Meant trouble for JD...He seen her hand move for the dagger..And her on-rushing..Randall was getting old, sure enough..So he couldn't dodge both completely..He rose the sword up, parrying her dagger, so it bounced off went to the side..As for her rush-and-slash..Randal shifted the blade again..He avoided a stab, but to avoid it all hardly possible..It sliced down his side..leaving a cold...trickling sensation in his side..He knew he'd been cut..However, he seen through the pain..And decided to attack her right back..He suddenly rotated the handle of his sabre, , and sent it downwards..Aiming to send a cut across J.D's thigh..Hopefully to cut her femoral artery..Which meant she could survive, if she had a surgeon not to far away..She could still fight if it landed..It'd just be alot damn harder.::

The sharp, burning pain of the blade slicing through skin would be felt. Due to continuation of motion, it would be the side which would gain injury. Why was it men constantly tried to place their swords between her legs? Which would be where the slice would have had to bite deep, in order for the femoral to be reached. As she moved past, the blade which pierced his own flesh would be repositioned in her hold. As she turned, both hands to grasp the hilt, the edge now swung with power of arms, as she stood behind him now, his back would be slashed across.

::No! That, would not be allowed! The man swiftly dropped down to a knee, sort of turning as he did it..One hand was pressed against the ground..The sword hand was gripping the sword as to parry to..Rather than try to block the obviously power-packed slash..So now that he was relatively safe..What did the Admiral choose to do now? He lunged out with his left foot, which was aimed right for her the side of her knee..He hoped sincerely, that it'd disable that leg for the remainder of the said dance..He couldn't have JD beat him without recieving a hefty wound.::

The blood oozing from the deep slash of her outer thigh was no meer scratch. As he dropped and his blade rose to meet her own, another shift of stance taken, which would save her from a blown out knee, but his impact would show later as a deep bruising. A growl sounded as the leg nearly buckled, the weight upon the other would keep her from being dropped to the ground. The position he was in now, was one that left her wide open for the next move. The screech of metal against metal as her blade pressed against his moving downwards. Allowing the hilt to shift in it's hold, the tip of the blade now pointing downwards. More momentum added to drive it further. The position of his own blade, and the motion of her body, she'd would be piercing her own arm, but that was a price she was willing to pay, as she'd move to embed the tip of that cutless into the thickness of chest, or side.

::He held back a scream as he felt her blade move into his side..Cutting through muscle and sinew..Starting to pierce his ribcage..He clenched his teeth as blood began to spurt out..He knew, as of now..He was good as dead..And that. was..Bad news for JD. He suddenly gripped his sword and moved upwards..Making the sword pierce more of his skin..Starting crack his ribs..He suddenly sent his sabre at her stomach through the close range of their fight...He planned to take JD into the depths of Hell with him.::

To insert the blade into the abdominal area, it would have had to be pulled free of it's embedding within her arm. Due to this fact, she was able to turn slightly. This saved her from being disemboweled, though the metal would bite deep into the flesh of her side, the very same area that was repaired by the Douglas's when she was shot. Another groan of pain, her own blade still buried deeply into his chest. The only way to free herself from his swords blade, was to twist, which gained her a larger wound, but at the same time, she'd fall forward slightly. Her own blade would now pass through his body completely, then as she moved forward in that fall, it would cause it to shift inside him. The tip to move so that it would rip through internal pulmonary organs. Lung, aorta, all would be sliced clean through as the edge cut through his outer side. she'd then release her hold upon that sword and continue to fall with a roll away from him. The pain that surged through her was great, but she'd not let it stop her. The dagger hidden into the top of her boot to be snagged and held in hand.

::And she'd killed the Wolf..Her blade..had done its work..Randall's light blackened..The tormented wolf was finally gone..but, in his dying breath....He spoke three last words.::"Please forgive me."::Then..He sort died..Just like he predicted..With that wolfish grin upon his face..and a sword through him..One of History's infamous sea captains, was finally laid to rest by The Reaper of the Seas herself...Almost poetic, live by the sword, die by it.::

Sitting up, dark blues would turn upon the prone figure of Randall. Gripping that dagger tightly, she'd Slowly rise, her hand pressed against her injured side. Limping over to his body, she'd nudge him with her foot. Glaring down at him. "There is no such thing as forgiveness Randall, only revenge. Your family will be joining you soon enough." She meant what she said, his family would die at the hands of her men. Gibbs would be revenged, that was how she intended it to be. Another swift kick, she'd recover her weapons, as well as his. She'd even clean out his pockets before she'd stand again. His long coat would be that which she'd make into a makeshift sack to carry it all. Moving away to collect her own coat. It was then she moved back into the forest. Perhaps he had no men with him, but she did with her. Those who awaited in the bush, ready to attack Randall if he should seem to have been winning. They would move to collect his body, another the booty she held, while two others would aid her back to the Dockside to gain medical attention. Randall's body will be shipped back to England, special delivery would be that "Bloody" package to the King. With deep regards from one Captain JD "Blood Bath" Black.

_______________________________________________________


A Game of Cat and Mouse

Early in the morning, even before the sun rose, while most of the port side tenants were still sleeping off the previous night of drinking, a rider on a mammoth war horse rode through the narrow streets. The steed moved with a showy, rhythmical walk, a high-stepping trot and a smooth, rocking canter. Standing an astonishing 16.9 hands high. Under the obsidian black glowing coat was muscle sliding leisurely into muscle as the steed stepped with pride along the streets. Hooves would stomp and pound into the ground, large nostrils flaring a steamed breath each time the beast stopped and the rider tossed a bundle to the ground before a doorway.

The rider was a tall male with broad shoulders, a slender waist and athletic build, he wore dark trousers with a white linen shirt, covered by a long, tailored brown-leather coat. On his left hip was a blade with Norse ruins on the hilt, the long coat though worn open, concealed the weapon out of sight. The man brought his right hand up and raked it through that dirty blonde hair he wore in an untidy mess, then touched a finger to the shadow of a goatee on his chin and rubbed at the thin mustache above his lip. His work this morning brought a slight grin to his mouth. "This should flush out some rumors, Leopold." Patting the large Andalusian along its thick neck. With only a slight press of his knees into the horse's flanks he nudged the horse forward into a slow trot. "C'mon, let's head over to the tavern we stopped at last night and make a little delivery there too."

Turning down an alley they made their way up towards the front of the Dockside Tavern and Inn. The last of the newspapers was tossed against the doorstep, then the large bounty hunter quietly rode off before the sun rose and the residents of the port would awaken to read the latest news.

|| The London Gazette ||

_______________________________________________________

A Game of Cat and Mouse

SSDD

It would be before the empty slips that she now stood. After finding the paper outside the Dockside, she felt it was time to put her ships into hiding. But she couldn't go herself, that would be way too obvious. Instead a small crew of her most trusted men were assembled to take her ships and hide them out for a while. The black sails were tucked neatly away in their holds, those of dark blue to now take their place. They would be on their way to the small Caribbean Islands they often hid upon. How she ached to be with them, but knew this was the best course. Time to lay low for a while. Besides, she had crewmen on their way to England to kill Randall's family. Leaving the mark of 'Blood Bath' upon the scene. That would draw attention there for a while. Have them scourging the countryside's looking for someone that was never there. Pulling that heavy woolen cloak more tightly about her, still wearing those loose fitting gowns of velvet, less confining on the soreness of wounded areas.

It was time now for the bounty hunter to play the guise of a simple tourist or sword for hire, just your ordinary traveler looking for a bit of work. The rouse would be a good cover for now. It was late in the afternoon and the sun was just dipping beyond the western horizon as the man strolled along the docks, keeping an eye out on any sudden developments. He'd noticed earlier in the day a small fleet of ships setting sail. It was worth a mental note, but that could also be easily explained away since merchant ships were routinely setting sail for their next destination of goods to be transported. He walked along the dock with one hand shoved into a coat pocket, the other held a red apple he was currently taking a bite from and chewing up the sweet bit of fruit; a little afternoon snack. Hardened steel blues twinkled with the eagerness of the chase he'd just started and the man was now ready to bend his ear and catch the bit of news that was flittering around the port side of Heathfield among the residents over the newspapers he'd left scattered about a few doorsteps.

The evening air was a bit mild this time of year, and thus would be the reasoning behind the hood being drawn back, to rest over shoulders. The buzz of activity behind her, intermixed with the scream of gulls that began to fight over the tid bits tossed by the local fishermen coming in from their days hard work. All that usually gained a steady eye of assessment, went unseen this night. So many things toiled in her mind over recent events. She still had a noble to contend with, the one who shot her not too long ago. He may not know who she is, but he'd be able to identify her easily enough. Her men already scattered, this would be a task she'd undertake herself, per usual. Though it would have to await the healing process. She was in no condition to fight at the moment, which angered her within even more. Though she couldn't help but to smirk slightly at the thought, of the look on the King's face when Randall's body was delivered to him. How she wished she could have been there in person to see that reaction. It would have been priceless.

He came to a stop along the dock to watch the sun fall behind the horizon. It was a magnificent sunset, the sky lit up in hues of deep purples and reds. The apple was finished and tossed out towards the gulls. He caught a bit of movement from the corner of his gaze, which brought his head to turn towards the figure off to his right. Something about the curves that filled the dress, even under the cape she wore, brought recognition to his eyes. Raine stepped towards the female to speak with her, a dip of his head as he approached. "Evening there, if I'm not mistaken I do believe you're the dove I met last night at the tavern up the road." He thumbed over his shoulder towards that cozy, little ruffian spot.

The voice would draw her from her moment of glorified reverie. With a slow blink back into reality, those ocean blues would turn to light upon the face of the man met the night before. Slow nod of her head. "Yes, I am. I see you survived the evening here in port. That speaks highly in your favor, Mister Raines." Touch of a smirk to form upon her lips.

Standing in a relaxed stance with his hands in his pockets, he laughed a bit over her assessment of his skills of survival. "Glad to see I haven't disappointed you, JD." He gave her a wink, a nod of his head. "Beautiful sunset tonight, is it not? The sea so peaceful and calm." His gaze moved away from her profile to stare out over the horizon of the ocean.

Dark blues would turn back towards the view of the horizon. So lost in her thoughts, she hadn't really took much note of it. With it being brought foremost into her thoughts, she'd slowly nod. "Yes, it is. Beautiful and peaceful..." As her gaze spanned the horizon, a momentary glance in the direction she had last seen her ships.."...the calm before the storm." The last mumbled under her breath. Focus was then back upon him fully. "Enjoying your sight seeing?"

He rocked back on his heels and pivoted about to face her with a smile. "Actually I am. Took a nice ride about the country side today. Beautiful land here in Heathfield. Think I might take an extended stay here, even find a bit of work for a while." Steel blues focused directly to her face. "What about you? Are you enjoying the sights here?" The bounty hunter grinned down at the mysterious, fetching lass.

"Work? What type of work are you looking for? I might know of someone who's seeking help." It was then her head turned more, slight rise of chin as she gazed up at him. A bit of a smirk upon those lips. "Yes, I am enjoying the sights that's offered here. How can one not?" Was she referring to the landscape, or the individual? Amused glint in those dark blues could very well mean it was meant to a degree in both ways. One truthful, the other nothing more than an out right tease.

It seemed it was a double play on words and meanings. Just which sights was the man asking that she was enjoying? Raine just grinned right back at her. "I'd have to agree with you there." Lifting his gaze up over her head he thought about her questions of employ. "Oh, I don't know. Something that can pay my way while I hang about here for a while. Maybe a little blacksmith work or something?" His steel blues would dropped back down, meeting those dark blues of hers.

"They may be able to use a blacksmith at the stables, or even the ship yard. You might find employment as such closer to the Village of Heathfield. There's a tavern there, called the Thistle. Those who frequent that establishment might be able to help you out more." Touch of a smile before her focus would return to gaze out over the open harbor. The setting sun reflected with all it's colorful glory, upon the near mirrored like surface of the calm seas.

"I appreciate your help. I'll look into it first thing in the morning." His smile eased away as he turned, looking out over the harbor with her. "You seem a bit distant tonight, like a part of you is lost out there...." A hand lifted, pointing out over the sea. "...somewhere." Raine leaned down close to her ear. "Are you really here, JD. Or did we loose you to daydreaming of other shores and adventures?" His voice hinted with a low murmur of teasing before he stood back to glance at her profile.

Soft chuckle and a side long glance over at him when he dared to near. A bit of a grin to form upon hearing his words. "Don't everyone daydream of adventures, Raine? To be someplace other than where they are?" Which was true, without saying too much. As he drew back, her gaze would remain fixed upon his. "Don't you still dream of adventure, like you did when you left the farm? Surely there was something you followed after. To be a grand knight one day, or a hero that the lasses threw themselves at his feet?" Slight rise of a brow as well as a bit more of a smirk. Hands moved to draw that cloak more tightly about her. As the sun sank further, the chill became more on the sea breeze. Turning now so that she was facing him, and blocking some of that nippy air.

"All the time." He winked. "Maybe it's what brought me to these shores." As JD held his gaze, he found his own wandering around as he thought back to his childhood and what lead him off that day to become a bounty hunter, never looking back or returning to his past. "Sure I do. I still hope to become a knight one day when I grow up." She'd catch that quick smirk, before he cleared his voice and looked about. "For now, I'm just your ordinary drifter seeking his own way." He took a step back from her and gave a bow of his head. "Well, my dove. I shouldn't be taking up all your valuable time. Think I'll find me my supper, some good drink, a bit of company and a bed to rest my tired head." One last gaze to look over her dark features before he tipped his head and turned about to stroll off. Hands in pockets the bounty hunter began to softly whistle a catchy tune.

She'd watch as he walked away, a bit of a smirk at thinking him someone's squire. It just didn't fit him, nor did the word ordinary. She remembered Geddoe's words, there was something about this man. She couldn't put her finger on it, but he was someone worth watching. Later she'd put the buzz in a few ears to listen and learn all they could about this drifter named Raine. Never could be too precautious, especially now.


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A Game of Cat and Mouse
(Part two)


It was after two a.m. when a ship docked into Barrett's Bay. Thirty minutes of silence followed, then the gang plank was lowered onto the dock, a rider in a long coat and hat, led a horse down the plank and walked it through town before mounting to ride off to the North of Heathfield. Twenty minutes later another rider came down the gang plank leading another horse. This one rode off to the East. Like clock work a third rider disembarked from the ship twenty minutes following, only to ride off to the West. And so it followed suit, every twenty minutes another rider would lead a horse down that gang plank and silently walk the animal through town before mounting and riding out of Heathfield, until a dozen had made their way out of the harbor town to ride off in different directions.

The clandestine group eventually met up far north of the lands of Heathfield and continued on for a two ride outside the borders of this land. Finding a place deep within a forest, they set up camp and waited, though they were not to be completely idle. A few scouts set out to complete their smaller missions while those remaining in camp prepared their plans and set up a few traps.

That same night, while the phantom riders were leaving the ship, a lone man stood at the far end of the dock in the shadows, watching in silence. When the twelfth rider finally left, the man turned around and walked back to his own horse, quickly mounting. He didn't follow after the group, not at first. He had a few things to tend to in town before he'd meet up a couple of days later at the campsite.


- -Two days later, mid afternoon- -

- -Somewhere north of Heathfield lands- -


"As the army rose up over the hill the captain called out to his men to halt. Hand held in the air to give that signal to attack. A thousand strong they stood above their enemies awaiting them in the valley below. Then the captain sliced that hand through the air and like a drove of locusts the army poured down the slope to meet the enemy in battle. In the lead was the captain's mighty horse, Zeus. A black beast, 18 hands high. Nostrils flaring and breathing out steam. His hooves torn up the ground, pounding like the drums of war, thunder booming with each of his powerful steps as he charged the army towards the enemies embrace....!"

Leopold's ear's flicked, his tails swishing back and forth, steps prancing high as Raine sat on his back, reading out of a book. Yes, the arrogant Andalusian loved being read to. That is anything that had to do with a heroic horse in the a tale. As they made their way across a grassy terrain, the bounty hunter flipped the pages and filled the horse's head with the story of the mighty war horse, Zeus and the army of Valakar. Added drama affect was his hand motioning in the air to emphasize each word of the story. "Like the voices of screaming banishes came their war cry..."

A noise in the distance broke the attention of the bounty hunter as he paused to look up, only to see a flock of birds fly up and take off to the north. The afternoon reminded him of some events that took place some time ago. Six months, perhaps it had been a year now? He couldn't honestly recall. He had been on pursuit of a certain horse thief when he'd come across Lewis. The man was always good for a quick cash bounty and so Raine had taken him in, returning him to the wife who held an open ended bounty on her wayward husband who constantly was sneaking off from their home. The events had unfolded perfectly, with Lewis' horse falling and breaking it's neck during the pursuit, which had given Raine the cover story to claim he'd captured the horse, but sadly it was killed in the pursuit and the horse thief was washed down stream. The thoughts brought him to the whole reason he'd been out. It was because of his 'dove'. A crazy little dollie he'd gotten himself caught up with. She was the best of him and the worst. An escapee from an insane asylum. The red flags should have gone off, but caught in a drunken stooper the bounty hunter found himself saddled to the crazy doll.

It was that one night that had been the turning point for him.


- -Reflections of the past- -


Raine had left the pub late that night, stormed out in fact. Angered with the actions of his dove. He didn't wait to see if she followed him out. Instead he'd hurried away from the pub and headed back to the castle. He packed up some things he'd need for the journey he planned to take, enough for a week.

The bounty hunter needed time to think, time to take care of a few dire missions. One being the problem of his dove stealing a horse. First he'd head to the camp where the other group of men hung out and inquire about a bounty on the Andalusian filly. Then he was going to seek the owner out and take the job of hunting down this said 'thief'.

He didn't waste time lingering about his room, he needed to make sure he was gone before Raissa had a chance to return. No note was left for the dove. But he did do one thing before taking off. A red rose was held in his hand and he pressed a kiss to it, laying it on the pillow of their bed for her to find. Then he was gone. To the stables he retrieved Leopold and saddled him up, then took with him the saddle and bridle of Sha'Tara, which he'd need to convenience the owner with, that he'd found his horse and lost the thief.

He rode off, making sure not to leave any sign of a trail to be followed. Miles were put behind him as he crossed over the borders of Windseer, then took a path to the Northeast, along a rock bed road. He crossed several streams and made the winding journey until he reached the campsite a few hours before dawn. A fire was burning and Jasper was on watch when Raine rode up. The two sat for a while as he told his old mentor of the recent news and events in his life and inquired to the bounty of one said black Andalusian filly. Jasper gave him an odd look, but didn't question his friend of the plans to deceive the owner. He figured the bounty hunter had his reasons and left it at that.

An hour before the others in the camp began to wake up, Raine stretched out on a blanket on the ground to get a few winks of shut eye. Before drifting to sleep his thoughts were on the dove and their words tonight.

.....Dreams of that night at the pub.....


Raissa eyed the bottle then Raine but instead of pushing it to him, she pulled it closer to herself. "I'm drinking." Yeah, and it was partially his fault. He had told her he wasn't like the other men but the way he was not telling the truth was proving that to be a lie. She had seen the visions of him and another woman and yet he didn't remember? Pish. "So Raine, who's the trollop that keeps your sheets warm when you send me away?" Unlike Raine, Raissa wasn't good at holding back anything. Even though she probably should.

That was it. Over the bar top vaulted the bounty hunter and landed right beside the dove. "You're done drinking." His voice clipped out and he snatched her up and slammed that bottom of hers on the bar top. Both arms pinning her in place on either side. A deadly look appeared in the steel depths of his gaze, then he brought one hand up and held her chin firmly between long fingers. "Let's get something clear here, my dove." Eyes narrowing as he spoke. "You made sure to get your claws in me and damn woman, you did a fine good job of it." He spat out. "There is no other woman, Raissa. None but you share my bed and no one but you holds my interest."

Hand dropped from her face as he worked to subdue the anger that boiled in him. "If you'd been listening that day as we spoke, you'd realize this. There will be no one else in my life but you, dove, ever." Hands came from her sides as he stood up right. "And if you think you can ever get that through that thick little skill of yours, then you know where to find me. Until then..." He turned from her and waved a hand in disgust. "Eh..." Pivot on booted heels Raine strolled from behind the bar and headed for the door to leave. "I thought by now you'd figured it out that I love you, Raissa. Guess not." Out the door he went and slammed it in his wake.

.....After the dreams.....


I love you, Raissa ..... echoed those parting words in his dreams.

Dreams were troubled and the bounty hunter would awaken with a strange foreboding.


- -Back to present day- -


His eyes narrowed as he looked to the northeast. Leaning low over the saddle he glanced along the path and followed his gaze over some broken rushes. "This way, Leopold." With a nudge of his knee the Andalusian warhorse turned and began to trot down the path that the other bounty hunters had taken.

An hour later Raine rode into the camp, only a single man was sitting in the open on a log.

He was in his forties with a broad girth. He had a scraggly beard, peppered with gray and a weathered face. Brushy brows stuck out over an inch on his forehead and his wiry hair looked like it hadn't been brushed in a month of Sundays. The old geezer turned gray eyes on the younger bounty hunter and scratched at the beard. "Bout time you showed up Sommes. You look like you've seen a ghost? Everything okay?"

Jasper always had a way of seeing right through Raine. The younger man dismounted his steed and patted Leopold on the hindquarters before joining Jasper on the log. "Never could hide anything from you old man." Chuckling as he leaned forward to pour himself a mug of coffee. "Everything set up?"

Jasper gave the younger man a scrutinizing look before nodding. "Yep. Got our scouts out in place and they're gathering as much information as they can dig up. Did find out one thing."

Raine took a sip of his coffee only to turn those steel blues eyes on his mentor. "And what is that?"

Jasper eyed Raine for a long minute then grinned. "You're Captain Black never did sail off with his ships. Figure he stayed somewhere around these lands, or didn't go more than a few days voyage from here."

Raine slowly nodded, his eyes narrowly slightly. "Interesting. Somehow I've had the feeling he's been close at hand and watching, through scouts or even observing himself at a distance."

Taking up a stick beside him, Jasper poked at the fire, stirring the logs to keep it burning. "Way I see it. With the thirteen riders in place now, this Captain Black's gonna have a hard time keeping himself hidden."

Raine turned a look over to Jasper. "Dante's here then?" Referring to the weapons master.
"Yep." Jasper grinned. "Even managed to drag him along for this trip."

"Good. That is real good to hear." Slowly sitting back he drained off the coffee in the mug before setting it down on the ground. "Did you bring along the newspapers and the paybills?"

"Got 'em." The old man replied. "Along with a hefty new bounty put the pirate's head. 50,000 gold."

Raine gave a long whistle, raking a hand through that untidy mess of blonde hair. "50,000 in gold? Now that's a bounty." Grinning like a rake in a whore house. "Alright, I'll take those with me and spread through Heathfield. Meet me in town in four days time down by the docks, at about quarter to one in the morning."

"You got it, Sommes." Jasper nodded, leaning over to add a few more logs to the fire. "Oh..." Glancing up at the young bounty hunter. "And Sommes, don't be dwelling on that little lass. Need to keep your thoughts clear." Pressing a forefinger against his temple, the old man winked at Raine.

"Yeah." Straining over a grin, the old geezer could see right through him. She was gone now, and Raine had moved on. The mystery of that whole evolution was still unclear, but best now not to question it. He had a mission he'd been hired for and Captain Black would be tracked down and brought before his employer.


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Black Jade Skull Islands

The return of the Black Swans


For several months, shortly after the sinking of the Penelope, both the swans were set up with their crews, just enough men to manage her sails, tend to her guns if necessary, and get them safely to their destinations. They were suppose to be en route to Cutthroat Island, that was until one of those notorious freak storms had taken both ships off course.

When the storm past, a few days had gone by when a shout from the crows nest of the Black Swan II was heard.

"LAND HO..."

This had all the men rushing upon deck, to look out at the ridges that could be seen in the distance. A signal was sent to the sister vessel, that was lagging behind the smaller, faster moving ship. It would be towards the Island that they'd make their way.

As they came closer, they maneuvered to what looked to be a canal, only to find it to be a natural water way that passed between three islands, not just one. Excitement of finding land, when all hope had been given up, they maneuvered the ships close enough to take the smaller boats ashore to land.

What they found was quite amazing. Animals never seen before, birds with brilliant colorations. Trees heavily laid en with multitudes of fruit. Some known, while others were not, although it didn't matter to the men, who's supplies were seriously depleted.

Three small groups were assembled, each had their own tasks. One was set up for exploration, the second to hunt meat, the third to collect the wild, native grown fruits, to fill the large barrels within both ships holds.

The second and third group were quite successful. Boar, deer, and rabbits were plentiful. It wouldn't be long before the first group was busy upon the waters edge, cleaning the animals killed. Letting the meat sit in the temperate waters, so the salt within could cure them. Fresh water was found in an inland stream. This too was collected and hauled to the ships to replenish drinking water. Bathing wasn't something these men worried about. Their only baths would come in the form of treading through water to get to the small boats to and from shore.

The first group traveled for at least a day, before they came upon tell tale signs of habitation of humanity. It wouldn't be long before they came upon the small village, inhabited by the natives. A sailor, pirate or not, having been out to sea for any time, would drool over what they found. In fact, perhaps any man that had been without companionship would have found his bitty to walk to be slightly impaired by the sites.

Women wore only skirts made of grass, upper bodies bared to the elements. Some wore skimpy outfits of thin hide. The men all wore loin cloths of animal skin, or grass skirts like some of the women, many went without any clothing at all. They were all busy tending to their small village. Some in preparation of meals, some tending to the animals brought back by the hunters. All ages were in the village, young and old alike. A picturesque vision it was of peace and harmony. Too bad their lives were about to be changed due to two ships being taken off course.

They'd skirt the village to search further, finding more of the natives tending to crops that were being grown not far from the village they came across. Leaving a the group behind to keep vigil over the people, two would return back to the shoreline, to give word on what was found.

For several days the pirates would sit and watch the comings and goings of the natives, as well as searching for anything that resembled value. One of the things that they noticed, was the bobbles adorned by all. Large stones, unrefined, yet some cut to give off that reflective quality to a degree that could be primitively done. It wouldn't be long before they'd find the source of this either. Several large caves, nestled behind the cover of thick vegetation, would offer them the source of the precious gems and metals that the natives wore.

They had stumbled upon a gold mine, that was quite a delight. Gems, gold, and primitive people, uncharted islands, no bounty of previous take could surmount to what they found here.

The stars were studied at night by the navigator, as he plotted their course to return. Exploration of all three islands would take place, maps made to chart the villages found, and named by the map writer. It took the men two months to chart their surroundings, as well as keeping out of sight of the natives. It was strange that the natives never came to the shore where the Swans rested anchored.

They found several markers in the overgrown vegetation, these were what looked to be extremely large human skulls, though there were fangs were incisors rested, rather than normal teeth. They were made of what looked to be a black jade, and so the island grouping would be named .... Black Jade Skull Islands.

Once all preparations were made, the ships fully restocked and some repairs done, that could be for the lack of materials had. It was then the final step of their plan was put into place before setting sail. The men raided three villages, each to rest on a separate island. Unfortunately, some of the natives were killed, it was what kept the others in line. A language barrier stood between natives and pirates, so verbalization was nothing more than shouts and motions of hands.

The natives had little defense against the pirates more modern weapons of rapiers and flint locks, compared to their spears, bows and arrows. Although a few of the pirates were injured, none were dealt a fatal blow. Soon the hold of both ships would be filled almost nearly beyond capacity, with food, raw gems, gold, and human flesh.

Flags were set to mark the islands as now occupied territory. The Flags of Captain Black snapped in the breeze, above the markers of Jade. Let that be a warning to any who may happen upon the islands until they could return.

The ships were about a week away from the harbor of Barret Bay, when a falcon was released with a message attached to it's leg. This was to let the Captain know, they were not only returning, but with a precious cargo that would bring some heavy purses. A return message would have the ships awaiting to arrive into port just prior to the dawn. She knew the laws of the lands and how they pertained to slavery, no sense in rousting the locals or monarchy.

The ships bore the cobalt blue sails, a cover they utilized to keep any from knowing who they truly belonged to. The name Black was covered by a thick oil cloth, ends weighted down by lead so they wouldn't flap to give showing of what they covered, so the only name to be shown to a glance of eye would be....Swan I, or Swan II. The black sails of the notorious ships were only brought out when searching the high seas, or prior to the arrival of some distant land that was to be placed under attack.

This was one of JD's bright ideas, to help keep her and her ships incognito. Along with the fact that the Union Jack that would usually fly, would be replaced with the flag of Heathfield. She wouldn't advertise until the time was right.

When the ships docked during the wee hours of the morning, a time when all were in their beds and sleeping, no one around to witness the cargo being unloaded. Food stuffs, and that of precious metals and gold were immediately taken to the tavern to be placed into the hidden rooms underground. The human cargo on Swan II would be taken to the already crowded hold of Swan I.

It was then the Swan I would sail along the shoreline away from Heathfield lands, to that of less stricter guidelines. Here the slaves would be unloaded, there would be nearly one hundred all together. Beautiful young women and handsome young men, stripped nude to show off their bronze skin and toned bodies. They would be distributed to various markets that traded in flesh.

Carlotta had been taken along, to oversee the legalities of the trade. It was not the Captain that over seen to this transaction, but the young woman in her employ. They would not auction off the slaves themselves, but sell them to the market heads to auction off. Much haggling was done, and soon the legal advisor was walking away, with a hefty amount. Having negotiated one hundred gold, per head from two of the market areas. Another she managed to gain one hundred and fifty per head.

By time the evening fell, both ships were in their slips at port. Both had ascertained damage from the storm, now the Captain had to seek out someone to gain repairs. Carlotta was quick to give her the name of a shipwright. A new businessman that had settled in Barret's Bay. A man by the name of Baltazar Giovanni.

She'd await a few days before going to seek out this man, to gain the repairs needed. Carlotta spoke highly of the man, but JD was a bit on edge. Her men had come to her with news of a ships arrival, and the fact there were several men who had landed upon shore and rode off in separate directions.

It was bad enough that the son of the woman killed back in England, the sister of the Royal Admiral, was seeking vengeance out against her, and was in the area. Then to learn that a Captain that she had never heard of was seeking her out in some feud that she knew nothing about. This would be something she'd have to check into, and it would mean going back through her father's log. She would have thought little about the men who left the other ship in the dead of night, if it wasn't for the report she gained. One man was noticed, and identified, this man was someone she had spent time with.

It's said that the past catches up with you, never would she had dreamed that it would all take place at once, let alone here in her safe haven. She was on her guard, and she had to be careful. Keeping a low profile, when she went out into public now days, she was the picture perfect showing of a noble woman. A business woman who was tending to her tavern and Inn. Her men alerted, they knew what to do. Now it was only a matter of time. Would it all blow over, or was a war about to break out?


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Until Death we do part

The evening had started out as so many prior. Having gotten off work from the Dockside, she traveled to the Dragon Inn where she spent much of free time, or working behind the bar. Which was how the night had started, serving all the patrons that entered. Then a much needed break had her intermingling with the patrons.

It would be with some of the regulars that she spent her time. Moving from one conversation into another. Getting caught up in a dramatic situation, in which those who were once strangers, were now aquaintances and perhaps eventually friends.

As the even wound down, soon the Inn would be left to enjoy the rest of the evening out on the porch. Again sharing conversation with a newly made friend, and that was where the evening took a drastic change for the worse.

It was while in the midst of a friendly debate that it happened. From somewhere in the darkness, by an assailant that was still unknown or the reason as to the why. A small dart would be released with perfect precision. The tip to embed deeply into the soft flesh of her throat. That which was tained with a fast acting, leathal poison.

Like a lead weight she dropped moments later. Breaking out into a cold sweat. Tanned features had paled to become clammy. Breaths shallow as they slowly began to become labored. Friends would be those who quickly interacted. Their intervention would be that which saved her life. This time.

There was still the needing to know the why's and who's of the situation. Why was she attacked? Who ordered the hit? That would help to gain an understanding as to why anyone would wish to take her life. Or at least pay to have it done, since it was evident it was a proffessional hit

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And so the Saga continues!

(Black Swan SL is copywrited by CaptainJDBlack-mun. 2002 - 2005)

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Links

The Black Swan - A Pirate Story

Black Jade Skull Islands

Dockside Tavern & Inn

Captain JD "Blood Bath" Black

Carlotta Estelle Basinstoke

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