I didn't have much time to dress or pack as the cannon balls tore through the house and bombarded the island. Grabbing the book, I made my way to the door and sprinted for safety aboard my light sloop.
As I sailed away from the barrage, I could hear the unmistakable clatter of the undead. It's just like Jolly to only send his minions after me, but I digress. Eventually I was able to sail away, ship hidden from them by the night.
It was some days later that I found port once more. After setting up camp, I flipped through the pages of the book - exhausted, but needing the distraction. As I turned the pages, a letter dropped into my lap. Upon first inspection, it appeared to be a letter containing the tale of one Lady Grace Anderson…
As requested, here is the details of my joining, I hope they help you. My name is Lady Grace Anderson, born on Padres del Fuego eighteen years ago, the only child to doting parents Charles and Abigail Anderson. I come from a life of money, title, and privilege; the sole heiress to my father's fortune. My father is a wealthy owner of a successful sugar plantation, given directly to my grandfather for honorable service to the Crown. Why am I, a lady of good breeding, a member of the Keepers of the Code you ask? What could I possibly contribute?
Answering the latter is simple. I am a spy. I attend all the balls and soirees with the EITC and Navy officers and gather information. I move seamlessly in the circles of which I was born to navigate, and play the part of the vapid female to perfection. I am left alone in EITC offices as I make my rounds, visiting all the high ranking officials and officers in Fort Dundee. As I rifle through their desks, I read their reports and orders, and pass on information that I deem important. Men talk freely in front of me, discounting me as yet another feather-headed female only concerned with the latest fashion and not the dark-sided business dealings that they have going on with each other - bounty hunters and Jolly Roger himself. They do not look past the pretty surface to see that I am an educated, independently wealthy woman who also happens to be an expert in handling knives and has vengeance burning in her heart. There are rumors of spies amongst their ranks, but they have completely underestimated and overlooked me, a mere woman, one of their own, of such treachery.
Why would I risk my perfect life you may wonder? The answer to that is a bit more complex. For that we must delve into the past. Growing up on Padres del Fuego, wealthy and carefree, my life should have been perfect. As far back as I can remember, it was. I spent all my days being taught to be a proper lady by my mother. She was perfection and my father adored her. I have so many happy memories of all of us. Then when I was seven years old, my mother became ill with a fever, and she died. I think we buried a piece of my father that day as well, as he was never the same. He became withdrawn and secluded himself in his office more and more. The plantation manager, Henry Hartley, ran the sugar business for my father, and was thankfully an honest man. He made sure everything on the plantation ran as it should; he negotiated sales for our sugar and even showed me how to make entries to the ledgers... It wasn't long before I was helping with the bookkeeping. With no one really watching me, I began to enjoy more freedom than most women my age. I even went as far as wearing the housekeeper's discarded clothing so I needn't worry about ruining my clothes while outside exploring or otherwise running a bit wild. It was Mr. Hartley's son, Thomas, that really kept me somewhat in check back then. He ensured that I was back in time for meals, lessons, and to host the guests that my father had over, while also making certain that I attended the numerous parties hosted by my father's associates. Thomas had an easy charm that quickly won over the household staff. They would always make sure that I was bathed, dressed, and presentable whenever it was required to appear before the East India Trading Company and Royal Navy.
Thomas Hartley was two years my senior, and often looked at me like I was a nuisance. Being the owner's daughter had its privileges though, and I was free to tag along after Thomas to my heart's content - which I did on a daily basis. I had no friends on the Plantation, save for Thomas, which made for a rather lonely experience. Even though he really couldn't say no to me because of my station in life, I always knew he actually enjoyed my company, because whenever we were alone he'd always call me Gracie. It was highly improper for him to do so, but I liked it, as titles had no place in friendship We spent countless hours together, riding, hunting, and fishing; things a lady shouldn't be doing. One day, I found him throwing knives at a target on a tree and begged him to show me. He thought it would be humorous to teach me, never dreaming that I would have a knack for it. At first I was awful and Thomas would ridicule me for my efforts, saying I should go play with my dolls or tea sets in a mocking tone reserved just for me. I am my father's daughter and stubborn to a fault, so I continued to practice until the day I could hit the target. From that day forward, there was no stopping me. I am not sure who was more surprised at how adept I became with throwing the knives, Thomas or myself. I found knives to be the perfect weapon for a “lady” as they fit in my reticule and were silent, as to not draw any attention.
Life on the plantation continued in its quiet, comfortable routine until one day just after my sixteenth year that I, again dressed in my “play” clothes, followed Thomas into town and into a tavern of all places! I could tell from his tone that he didn't want me around, but I went anyway. . The tavern was totally different from any place I had been before. It was loud with music and people shouting, and it wreaked of ale and unwashed clothing. Looking around at the clientele, I quickly assessed them to be privateers and possibly pirates. Common sea riff raff, yet surprisingly they didn't break the place up as I was told their type did. I found them intriguing, but not as much as the mysterious woman that Thomas met with. He spoke with her briefly and quietly, and although I am am not sure what was said, I could tell she was listening to him, as well as everything else in the place. After we left, he was visibly agitated, yet refused to tell me what they spoke of. He told me that I should not have followed him, but still I pressed for answers. Thomas explained to me that not all good people are well-dressed, and not all well-dressed people are good. The woman that he talks to helps everyone by keeping our island and others safe. Safe from what, he wouldn't say. That’s about all he would reveal.. He told me that for my own safety, I had to stop following him. Of course I didn’t listen to Thomas and followed him there almost weekly. It was always the same; Thomas would quietly speak to the same woman and then we would leave. It was after several visits that the woman asked Thomas to bring me forward and introduce me. He told her my name was just Gracie, and that I was no one special. She eyed me suspiciously, and I could tell she didn’t believe him, but she allowed him that lie. One day, the tavern was unusually quiet, and I was able to overhear bits of what Thomas and the woman discussed. To my surprise, he was relaying information that he overheard in the stables from a party we had the week before, and information that I told him a Navy Officer mentioned to me. I was livid! I questioned him the entire way back to the plantation. Who was this woman? Why was he telling her things I told him? What was going on? I demanded to be answered, but was hesitant to tell me. Thomas only said that he would divulge more on the morrow, as we had to hurry back home. My father was taking me to yet another party that evening, and I needed to prepare. All Thomas would say was to keep doing what I already do, talk to the officers and tell him stories and gossip, and he would explain more in time. The last thing he said as I left him in the stable that evening, was that there are some things worth risking your life for, and he believed what he was doing, was worth that risk.
Alas, my eyes grew weary as the night fell once more. My journey had taken its toll, and although the story before me was captivating, I knew I needed my rest if I was to continue onwards. As I drifted off into slumber on the hard ground, the words of Lady Grace swam through my head. Could she be the key to finding what I long for?