Port Royal, Jamaica
The port is a hive of activity.
Sailors load cargo onto ships, merchants tout their wares, and passengers wait for berths to become available. Wagons and carriages crowd the roads, carrying goods and people to and from the docks.
As you go about your business, a carriage stops and a lone passenger, an attractive young lady of no more than 20 years, climbs down. Although wrapped in a traveling cloak, her demeanor shows she is out of place in Port Royal.
Whatever her reasons for being amid the bustle and activity of the docks, she quickly attracts attention. A small group of rough-looking men rushes out of an alley, and one of them grabs her arm. She screams for help, then swoons, but nobody seems to take much notice.
“I’m the best harpooner you’ll find in all of the Caribbean, Mr. Bonnet” Lok said to the man behind the wooden table whose job it was to recruit able-bodied sailors for the whaling ship, Albatross .
“I’m certain you are,” Mr. Bonnet said. “I’ve got one spot left. It’s yours if—.”
But Lok was not listening to Mr. Bonnet anymore. He was quickly moving to where the woman lay helpless on the ground surrounded by four rough-looking men.
From nearby, another had seen the same event unfolding. Jaques De Liancour, a duelist who had been making a name for himself in Port Royal for the past two years, walked away from his business and made his way to the young woman on the ground.
At that same moment, Jack Pencroft decided that getting a job as a ship’s carpenter could wait. Despite being low on funds, Jack could not stand idly by and allow a gang of pirates—as the four seemed to be—to accost the woman.
Lok threw his harpoon which buried itself in the wall next to one of the pirates who was squatting on top of a wooden crate. He was bald, shirtless, and had the strange habit of repeatedly slapping himself on the head.
“You’d best mind yer own business, " One of the others, a scraggly bearded man, said to Lok.
A third pirate, dressed in a black coat and wearing a tricorne drew his cutlass and pointed it at the whaler. “This here’s our booty, and we aims to keep it,” he said.
“Monsieurs, I’m afraid I cannot let you do that,” Jaques said.
The fight which ensued was over as quickly as it had began. By the fight’s end, all but one of the pirates lay dead upon the wharf. The bald pirate who kept slapping his head was then summarily tied up with ropes and left at the wharf for the authorities to deal with.
The woman was helped to her feet while everyone introduced themselves.
“A hundred thanks, kind sirs, "The woman said. “Had you not come to my rescue, well, I shudder to think what fate may have befallen me.”
“We were simply doing what honor demands,” Jaques said.
“Yes, we certainly could not allow these ruffians to harm you,” Jack added.
The woman thanked them again and introduced herself.
“My name is Virginia Cotton. I have recently arrived from England to search for my father. He was a sailor, but he vanished three years ago. I received a letter from a man who claimed to know him, and have arranged to meet him in the Royal Crown Tavern.”
The others noted that she seemed very concerned.
“Although I have spent most of my money buying passage,” Virginia said. " I have some coin left. It isn’t much, but I would gladly give it to you if you would be so kind to escort me to the tavern. I do not feel Port Royal is a safe place.”
“Port Royal can be a very dangerous place,” Jack Pencroft said.
Lok nodded in agreement.
“Mademoiselle,” Jaques said. “I cannot speak for the other two gentlemen here, but I would be most willing to accompany you to the Crown and ensure that you arrive there safely. However, the Royal Crown is full of…shall we say, unsavory, sorts. A woman of your standing should be extremely careful there.”
The Royal Crown Tavern, or simply The Crown, as it is known to locals, is a typical sailors’ haunt. The tavern is very crowded, and reeks of pipe smoke, stale beer, and unwashed sailors.
The building once served as a Governor’s manor and was then considered the most exquisite and lavishly built home in all of Port Royal. How it turned into a tavern full of drunken sailors remained a mystery, for no one dared to question the current proprietor about how he came to own a place once frequented by the wealthy elites of Jamaica.
“I am glad for your company,” Virginia said turning to all three who walked in with her into The Crown. She looked about the tavern and noticed all eyes upon her. She couldn’t imagine entering the seedy place without the escort of her three new-found friends.
A man dressed better than everyone else in the tavern stood up from his chair and started walking towards Virginia.
Jacques placed his hand on the hilt of his rapier and stepped in front of Virginia placing himself between her and the stranger.
“Miss Virginia, I presume,” the stranger said with a slight bow. “I am Michael Knotts.”
“What news do you have of my father?” she asks. “Is he alive?”
“Aye,” says Knotts, “but he is not a well man. This may be hard for you to accept, child, but your father is in prison. He and his crew attacked a French payroll ship and buried the treasure. Unfortunately, the haul was large enough to attract other parties. There was a naval battle, and your father was taken to the house of Baron Pettigrew, where his identity could be kept secret from the Governor.”
“My father wasn’t a pirate,” Virginia stammered, tears welling in her eyes.
“He was, my lady, but a gentleman pirate,” Knotts replied. “Pettigrew wants to know where the payroll is buried, but your father won’t tell. I fear he’ll be executed unless he talks. Did he tell you anything about the treasure?”
“No,” Virginia sobbed. “I always thought he was a sailor. He told me he was a sailor.”
“A pity,” mused Knotts, “but no matter. I’m sure he’ll talk once he sees you’ve been captured as well. MEN!” he called out, drawing his rapier.
A number of patrons suddenly drew weapons, and rushed toward the table.
Jack Pencroft quickly pushed Virginia aside and engaged the first man who came to attack her.
To be continued…
Cast & Crew:
Jaques De Liancour