Lady Grace Anderson
Fencing was never my forte. But I found it helping me in the wretched situation that I was in. I held my ground against the force of the piercing end of the bayonet using one of the soldiers’ blades, thanks my strong footing. I immediately slid my sword and broke the walking cadaver’s leg in two. It writhed on the floor, attempting to pull itself back up, letting out a few horrific animalistic screams before rambling on about wanting to protect the Company, followed by which it spoke of destroying the Company's fleets.
I pushed it towards the trees where the dead soldiers lay. The dimwitted creature lashed out at me in any way it could. I'd made sure that the other two corpses were disarmed, but I feared that that wouldn't really be effective.
I'd ran away from the creature earlier as it chased after me from the beach, but it eventually got lost in the woods. I had to find the soldiers and awaken them, as my screams from earlier didn't seem to have any effect. It took me some time to find the encampment, where I found that the creature slew the only other living beings on the island. They were murdered in their sleep. I quietly drew one of their swords to attempt to fend off this monster, and immediately charged at it in order to catch it by surprise. But its reflexes were quick, and it immediately countered my attack. And so we found ourselves wrestling with our swords for another ten minutes.
As the creature lay down practically incapacitated, the other two bodies began to stir, their faces began to visibly rot away as if they were eaten. I nervously walked back a few paces as I thought of another plan to end my would-be murderers. I thought back to my first tryst with the living dead - when the axe wielder was defeated by being pinned down with ropes.
I ran back to the beach to grab some of the rigging, and without hesitation tied the bodies to a tree before they could fully reanimate. It was a shame that these gentlemen had to die in such a terrible manner. One of them was even kind enough to ensure that I was warm by placing a torch by my side. A torch… my mind was alight with another idea.
The forest that once sheltered me was set ablaze by the fire of the torch. This enabled me to create a smoke signal to save me from eventual death, hailing over Graves, Wade, and Charity to my rescue.
Captain Edward Graves
Upon returning to my flagship, amid the sounds of hammers and saws, and the directions of my ship’s carpenter directing repairs, I approach Lady Grace Anderson as she is brought aboard.
“Welcome aboard, m’lady,” I say, tipping my hat. “It be truly an honor t’ have ye aboard our humble vessel.”
“Thank you, Captain Graves,” Lady Grace answers. “It is nice to be among civilization, as it were. The undead are lacking in that regard.”
“Aye, we may be brigands and ne’er-do-wells, but we’re not without hospitality,” I say. “Ye’ll be treated with all th’ respect that a young woman such as yerself deserves.”
I gently take Lady Grace’s hand and kiss it, while Wade McAllister rolls his eyes.
“Master Wade, if ye’ll summon Miss Charity and meet me and Lady Anderson in m’ cabin. We has a great deal t’ discuss.” Offering Lady Grace my arm, which she politely declines, we head that direction.
In the cabin, after Lady Grace had finished relating her experiences on the island, I begin.
“Now that Lady Grace be rescued, I feel we should discuss what we’ve come across in our search. We’ve seen some strange things, an’ I feel we need t’ be prepared for whate’er comes next.”
“First things first, Captain,” Grace says. “How do you intend to return me safely to Padres del Fuego? We cannot exactly just sail into the harbor and drop me off; my cover would be blown if I arrived in the company of pirates.”
“Indeed.” Wade agrees. “Charity and I have a plan for that.”
“As pirates, the three of us carry a fearsome reputation.” Charity supplies. “We be aboard Graves’ ship, so we use the fear that surrounds it. We sail into Padres del Fuego’s harbor and state that we know of the reward for Lady Grace’s rescue and that we will receive it, or she dies.”
“I take it my safety is not really in question?” Grace asks.
“Of course not,” Wade says. “But a threat against yer life not only fits the situation but removes all doubt about yer loyalties. If you were our friend, we wouldn’t kill you just because the Royal Navy didn’t pay for you.”
“I has a better idea,” I say. “We do what th’ Greeks done at Troy.” I take a sip of my rum and continue. “We simply sail into Padres under false colors an’ I take a small party ashore pretendin’ to be merchants who happened upon Lady Anderson’s signal. We return Lady Anderson t’ her own an’ take the reward. We then leave town with none th’ wiser.”
“Would it not bolster yer reputation as a feared pirate to openly humiliate th’ Navy over this?” Wade asks. “It beats hangin’ if we’re caught.”
“I’m the best pirate cap’n this side o’ the Leeward Islands,” I say, leaning forward. “I’ve snuck into fortresses, defeated whole armadas, an’ my name be feared across these seas. Ye be needin’ me to be out of there as quick as possible in order to return t’ Tortuga with our vital information.”
“What vital information?” Grace asks.
“Ye actually provided the final piece o’ the puzzle,” I reply. “Let me lay out th’ facts. One, th’ mad bugger Bartholomew claims t’ have seen a figure raisin’ th’ dead on Port Royal. Charity claims to have heard similar; tombs givin’ up thar dead an’ loved ones comin’ back t’ life. Grace collaborates that with her tale o’ her Navy entourage on th’ island. I has no choice but t’ believe th’ dead are bein’ raised at an alarming rate; despite this, thar be no more undead than usual around th’ Caribbean, an’ in some areas I’m told, thar are actually fewer. Where be they all goin’?”
No one answers, likely assuming a rhetorical question, and Lady Grace sips her tea. So I continue.
“Two, th’ unnatural fog banks ‘round the main islands. That be odd, but not outside the realm o’ what we been seein’ lately. Again, Lady Grace provided th’ final piece o’ the puzzle. Th’ EITC has somethin’ that Jolly Roger be wantin’. The final piece o’ which is one of three islands. One of three islands with an unnatural fog bank nearby; a fog bank which be host t’ a lot o’ undead ship activity. What are they doin’ there?”
Again, no response. They know I know and are waiting for me to supply the answer. I let the silence hang for a moment until Lady Graces asks;
“So, what is the answer? What is coming?”
I take a swig of rum while the other Keepers look on expectantly. Finally, after letting the silence build, I explain the situation to them.
“There is no time to waste, then.” Lady Grace says. “We must make haste for Padres del Fuego.”
A few days later, we arrive aboard a captured EITC ship in Padres del Fuego harbor. My crew and I are disguised as Company sailors, and we have Lady Grace Anderson with us. As the Commander of Fort Dundee hands me a hefty bag of gold coins, he says;
“There we go, as promised. 6,000 gold pieces, t’ cover the reward and yer costs.”
“Thank you, Commander,” I say in a smooth, even voice, very unlike my normal pirate one. “Though I must pay my men, the return of such a lovely young woman to her home is reward enough.”
I take Lady Anderson’s hand and kiss it gently.
“Perhaps we will meet again one day, Lady Anderson.”
“Yes, perhaps we shall,” she answers, before being led away by a group of soldiers.
Lady Grace Anderson
Sitting here in the confines of Fort Dundee has never felt more comfortable after everything that’s happened as of late.
I'd put the pieces of the puzzle together with the help of Edward, after which I approached my old friend Valentina for her thoughts on the matter. She was certain that Jolly Roger was searching for the last of the shrine, and she had reason to believe that it is being kept somewhere secure on Padres. She'd noted that a number of new faces among the gypsies were seen walking into the heart of the volcano.
I decided to tag along with her as we followed them into the Lava Gorge, where they hid the object. We watched from a safe distance as they were accompanied by a few high ranking Company officers, but to give me an added layer of security, I was provided with another dress to wear as well as a face transfiguration potion.
I almost gave up after a while, as I was still weary from my last adventure. That is until the procession was interrupted by a force of Spanish skeletons, who seemed to outnumber the EITC guard. Valentina made use of the distraction to quickly steal the artifact away from the witchdoctors, who were deeply entranced by the spell they were casting. No one followed us on our way out. We made it out to the docks, where I handed the piece over to Charity, who was waiting by the fishing lines.
Charity has informed me that she will take the last piece of the shrine back to Port Royal, as Lucinda and the rest of the gypsy coven have agreed to shutter the Hollowed Woods once and for all.
This is great news, as the spell that would have otherwise afflicted Port Royal will now be put to rest. The Watcher will be sent back to whichever ungodly place it arrived from, and the spirits that still roam the town will be finally put to rest.
I hope that the good news so far finds you in good health, Alaina. I'm sure Graves will tell you all about his side of the story when he brings this letter to you. I still worry about what Jolly Roger seems to be planning at this very moment, but I believe that we will persevere in the end.