bringmethatnpc: ([Singapore] Temple)
[personal profile] bringmethatnpc
Hot and hazy, night settles over Singapore with an ominous quiet, wreathing the docks and narrow waterways in shadows. Not many people are about, and in the absence of voices, the sound of a sharp cleaver making short work of a fish echoes dully around the creaking wooden boards of bridges and buildings. Below, the soft swish of water against pylons and stilts is ever present.

There's a sense of uneasy anticipation, as if the city herself knows that tonight, the war for the seas is coming to Singapore.

Date: 2007-08-20 12:54 am (UTC)
try_corsets: (Cautious)
From: [personal profile] try_corsets
"The bell has been raised from its watery grave... do you hear its sepulchral tone? A call to all, pay heed the squall and turn your sails toward home."

In the weeks she's had to learn it, Elizabeth Swann has come to love the song for what it is and what it represents. Here, near the docks and beneath the raised city, it's more than just a pirate call to arms; it's their guarantee of safe passage. She sings clearly but softly, intending to be heard only by those who might seek to delay them, and punts through the water with a long, thin pole.

The boat drifts beneath a bridge as a troop of East India Company agents marches overhead with synchronized efficiency. Outwardly calm, Elizabeth falls silent and holds the pole in the water to prevent a splash. Only when she's certain the men are moving in the opposite direction does she begin to sing again.

"Yo ho..."

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Tonks hisses from the bow, arching an eyebrow under the brim of her wide hat. They pick up a burst of unexpected speed, leaving a small wake behind, and Elizabeth answers with a quick, sly smile. "...haul together."

Their rendezvous point looms ahead, and Elizabeth scans the vicinity before steering toward the dock. "Raise the colors high," she continues, a bit louder now, identifying herself as a pirate to anyone who might be listening. She quickly ties up the boat and climbs out. "Heave ho..."

"...Thief! And beggar," a mocking voice interrupts from the shadows of a large sewer pipe. "Never say we die."

Elizabeth straightens, forcing herself to remain still as she watches the man and his imposing guards approach. The weight of ample weaponry stashed about her person is reassuring, and she gives the pirates look for look. If Barbossa's descriptions were accurate, this is Tai Huang, second in command to the Pirate Lord of Singapore, and just the man she'd hoped to find.

Tai Huang looks unimpressed. He leers at Elizabeth and says, "A dangerous song to be singing, for any who are ignorant of its meaning. Particularly a woman. Particularly a woman alone." Moving closer, he glances over Elizabeth 's shoulder at Tonks, still in the boat. "Two women alone."

"What makes you think they're alone?" asks Barbossa. Familiar grin in place, he steps into a thin stream of light cast by a lantern.

"You protect them?" Sneering, Tai Huang examines the newcomer, and gives only a twitch of an eye when he suddenly feels Elizabeth's knife against his throat.

"And what makes you think we need protecting?"

Tonks was right; there's no question Elizabeth is enjoying herself.

Date: 2007-08-20 01:27 am (UTC)
try_corsets: (With Barbossa)
From: [personal profile] try_corsets
Following Tai Huang and his men along dark, narrow streets, Elizabeth stays close to Tonks and alert for danger. "Have you heard anything from Will?" she asks Barbossa, quietly.

It still grates that Will left without a word, but Elizabeth is determined to treat the subject with nonchalance.

"I trust young Turner to recover the charts." Wryly amused, Barbossa spares her a quick, pointed glance. "And you to remember your place in the presence of Captain Sao Feng."

"Is he that terrifying?" Elizabeth retorts, just short of openly scoffing at the idea. She's seen undead pirates, rotten flesh hanging from their bones, and those who are living are decidedly less formidable.

"He's much like myself," answers Barbossa, "but absent my merciful nature and sense of fair play."

Elizabeth smirks and is about to ask another question, when they halt before a large, heavy looking door. Tai Huang knocks and says nothing but "Hoi" to the doorkeeper, and both men hastily usher their guests into a bathhouse vestibule.

"Hot," Tonks murmurs near her ear. Elizabeth nods, distracted, unhappily watching Barbossa hand over his pistol. The doorkeeper looks her way, and she offers up her sword with great reluctance.

"Did you think because they're women we would not suspect them of treachery?" the pirate inquires when both Elizabeth and Barbossa start forward.

Barbossa gives a small, obsequious laugh. "Well, when you put it that way..."

"Remove, please," says the doorkeeper with barely restrained glee. It's not a request.

While Tonks surrenders her sword and lone pistol, Elizabeth sulkily shrugs out of her tunic and throws it and her hat at one of the guards with more force than is necessary. Mal will be so disappointed, she thinks. The harness he'd given her is revealed, along with several pistols and grenades, and all are confiscated. Elizabeth is dimly aware of Barbossa's faint astonishment. Tonks, less surprised by the multitude of weapons, meets Tai Huang’s eyes, prompting another "Remove, please."

"Do you really intend to dishonor a pregnant woman?" Elizabeth snaps, eyes blazing with exaggerated insult. "Pat her for weapons, but she had no more than two." After a tense moment, Elizabeth appears to remember something and shifts her gaze sideways, pulling attention from Tonks. She bends backwards and reaches down her leg, under her pants, and grunts at the awkwardness of retrieving the mare's leg. Smiling slightly, she finally pulls it free and drops it atop her other weapons, then looks around like this is a common occurrence and motions impatiently to Tonks. For want of words, Tai Huang complies and pulls the witch's wand out of her boot with a puzzled scowl.

Tonks blurts out, "It's a talisman. ...for a safe pregnancy."

"A worthless piece of wood, only," Elizabeth announces haughtily, arching an eyebrow as if to suggest Sao Feng must not be very worthy if he fears such a ‘weapon.’

This is a step too far for the doorkeeper, who gives Elizabeth a lecherous smile and repeats: "Remove, please."

Elizabeth's mouth drops open and she starts to refuse, but when they enter the bathhouse several minutes later, she's wearing a short blue robe and trailing behind her companions -- her still clothed companions. The thin cloth sticks to her skin in the steamy room, and she looks around uncertainly, wondering which of these hulking -- possibly barnacled -- pirates is the famed Sao Feng.

Date: 2007-08-28 02:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They move through the stifling heat and moistness of Sao Feng's lair, conscious of the many pairs of eyes following them with cold, calculating glances, Barbossa returning them with haughtiness. It never pays to show that you know you are at a disadvantage. And of course, if Gibbs has made his part, they aren't. As they approach the dais at the very further end of the bath house, clouds of steam part slowly to reveal the figure of Sao Feng, his elaborately decorated gown being adjusted by two identical women dressed in black tunics. Slowly Sao Feng, Pirate Lord of Singapore turns around to greet his guests.

"He's very much like myself" Barbossa can't help an inwards smile. Elizabeth may have thought it a joke, but he was very much serious with that. Not unlike with himself, everything about Sao Feng has more than one meaning, even down to his physical looks. His gown is a suit of armour, his nails are lacquered claws, every scar a badge which meaning the wise will strive to read… His face a mask he wears to play the game of deception. But Barbossa knows that game well. It is as much his game as Sao Feng's. He bows, a little more theatrically than needed, and with a gesture of his hand beckons Elizabeth to do the same.

"Captain Barbossa." Sao Feng's voice is quiet, his English faintly accented. "Welcome to Singapore." There is a carefully half-concealed hint of amusement in his face as he responds to Barbossa's nod by daintily sniffing the red cloth wrapped around his hand.

"More steam." He requests from one of the women attending him. She actions a bell-pull and glances sidelong at the Westerners. Her glance is a little too hard, a little too edged for a simple concubine or a mere servant. A bodyguard, maybe?

Date: 2007-08-29 11:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There's no time to ponder, though, as the clouds of steam rise around the dais and Sao Feng steps down towards Barbossa, one hand on the hilt of his sabre… No, not on but gripping it.

"I understand you have a... Request to make of me." One hand waves idly, as if to emphasize the unimportant nature of the visitors and their wishes. Both captains stand face to face now, their mouths curled in almost identical little smirks, playing a game they both enjoy. If only these two and others like them, could put their petty egos aside to work together...

"More of a proposal to put to you." Barbossa can feel Elizabeth peering at Sao Feng around his shoulder. If only she won't make a stupid move now. If only that glimmer of a change that sometimes shows could become a constant… But he knows it's probably wishful thinking. And despite those thoughts, the mask of jovially sharing a piratical enterprise with a fellow Pirate Lord doesn't break for a moment. "I have a venture underway, and I find myself in need of a ship and a crew."

Sao Feng's face changes, his eyes widening momentarily in apparent surprise. He takes a step back, scratching his head slowly with his long nails. "Hm! Is an odd coincidence." Barbossa can feel the situation starting to slip out of control, and to compound it…

"Because you happen to have a ship and crew you don't need?" Barbossa turns his head to regard Elizabeth as she speaks. Of course, it was too long since the last time one of them stepped out of line at a bad moment.

Sao Feng stops scratching the side of his head as he replies "No, because earlier this day, not far from here, a thief broke into my most revered uncle's temple and tried to make off with these." He takes an object, a long, thick roll-up of bamboo mats from the hands of a wizened old man who seems very much out of place amid the pirates, and holds it in his hands with a satisfied little smirk. –Now- Barbossa starts to feel distinctly uncomfortable. At least, with any luck, mister Turner will have had the good sense to die trying. "The navigational charts" Sao Feng continues with the same smile. "The route to the farthest gate." He throws the charts aside into his lieutenant's hands and paces back towards Barbossa, slow and confident like a tiger, his hand once more on the grip of his sword. "Wouldn't it be amazing if this venture of yours took you to the world beyond this one?"

Now Barbossa knows they are trapped, but keeps smiling. You have to play your hand until you can't play it anymore. And give Gibbs and his group time to get in position in case things take a turn for the worse (-even- worse than this would indeed be very, very bad, but he knows things can always turn for worse). "It would strain credulity at that!" he says in his best outrageously surprised voice, knowing there's no fooling Sao Feng by this point. The smile on the face of the Pirate Lord of Singapore fades slowly into a hard, angry expression and he jerks his chin towards two men that have been standing by an empty tub.

Correction, a –seemingly- empty tub that is now revealed to have been containing a battered, tied and, to Barbossa's surprise and mild chagrin, alive William Turner.

Date: 2007-08-30 01:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They made their way through the murk and the muck. It was best for all if no one thought about what was in the river. Best if they kept to the job.

Gibbs was at the middle of the pack, herding the most motley crew of reprobates he’d ever been with. Ragetti and Pintell ahead, Marty and Cotton behind. So far, so good. No one had noticed them. No one had seen them reach the edge of the sewers.

If their timing is right – an iffy proposotion – the music would be starting any second…

And there it is. The sounds of an organ grinder. Tia knows what she’s doing. “All right,” Gibbs says, and out come the files. None wanted this job, this dull, menial task, but Gibbs knew none needed reminding that it had to be done.

To their surprise and relief, however, the grate gives way fast. Gibbs declares in a low voice, “We're through! Make ready!” As one, the pirates pull the grate away and scurry down the tunnel.

The directions Gibbs was given prove accurate. Soon the gang is under Sao Feng’s chambers. They can hear Barbossa and the fearsome Singaporean in discussion. They can feel the heat of the sauna. And they can see a fat man tending a boiler. A fat man who doesn’t seem to notice them as he passes. Ragetti, showing the valor that has earned him the respect of none, tries to run off. Gibbs grabs his arm.

”None of that! If things don't go the way we want then we're the only chance they've got!” If… Were Jack with them, he’d be sure that it would all go wrong. But with Barbossa? That he finds Jack’s inevitable need to improvise a comfort is, he thinks, not fully a comfort, is it?

Ragetti falls back into line, and all are silent as the grave while the servants shovels coal into a furnace.

They listen again as things seem to go badly. Sao Feng is not buying any of it. He doesn’t trust Barbossa, wisely doesn’t trust Miss Swann, and seems to be half a step ahead of both.

No, make that several steps, as Will Turner is revealed. In a way, Gibbs is relieved now. The worst is about to happen after all.

There’s another call for steam. But the attendant seems to have gone away. Or passed out. Cotton is standing there, confused. It’s not his job, after all. Ragetti gets it, though. There had better be steam, or someone will come down and see what’s going on. He and Pintell try to emulate what they saw the fat man do, but it’s useless. A voice – Sao Feng’s, no doubt – calls again for steam. Cotton tries this time. Marty, however, is happily seated on the attendant. Who gets hits with his own shovel. Gibbs doesn’t recall Marty starting up with the fat man, but it’s just as well.

For it’s time to make ready. Things are falling to pieces above. Will’s usual skill for being in the wrong place has undermined any hope of Barbossa getting anything. Or Barbossa getting out alive. Unless the crew is ready. Each takes a gun. Gibbs takes two, in fact, as does Ragetti. “Wait for the signal.” He hopes none get trigger happy.

Ragetti, stepping under a slit between the planks in the right place at the wrong time, looks up. And sees Miss Swann, who has apparently learned too much from the shamefully dressed women of the future and is devoid of a decent skirt or even trousers. Gibbs hears Ragetti leer to Pintell, and shakes his head. Pirate or not, there are still some standards one should keep.

Above, the discussion grows ever more heated. Miss Swann shows her usual lack of discretion or calm and challenges Sao Feng. Will chimes in. Below, Gibbs knows that soon thing will reach a head. He ignores Pintell, who’s shoved aside Ragetti to see Miss Swann but who only sees a fat and homely lackey. He signals that the swords should be made ready. Each stands in place, two below Barbossa and two below Miss Swann.

And then, acting as one, they shove the swords through the slits and into the air. Barbossa and Miss Swann catch them. The plan works.

Later, Gibbs would wonder what signal they all thought Barbossa was giving. And he would conclude that each pirate, men of the sea with keen senses, knew what was about to happen next. Knew that all hell would be breaking loose.

Although, Gibbs might concede, it’s also likely that the pirates were just jumpy.

Date: 2007-09-03 04:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"This is the thief. Is his face familiar to you?"

There's a skill and art to being a pirate, and an even bigger skill and art to being Pirate Lord of Singapore. No small part of that has to do with lying very well and knowing when others are lying... badly. When he sees the flicker of recognition on the girl's face, he knows exactly what's going on.

And since a pirate is never unprepared and that rule holds doubly so for a lord among pirates, he draws out a metal stake from a hidden pocket -- one of many -- and holds it to Turner's throat.

"Then I guess he has no further need for it." Stabbing one in the neck is so effective, if not the quickest way to kill. And that draws an expected gasp from the female with Barbossa, from Elizabeth Swann. Turning to her, he smiles -- not pleasantly -- and puts the weapon away. "You come into my city, and you betray my hospitality."

Barbossa makes noises about how wrong he is with his Sao Feng, I assure you, I had no idea... but he is never wrong on this kind of assessment. At an invisible signal, the guards stand tall.

"That he would get caught!" There is mockery there, well-intended: it takes a thief to know a thief. "You intend to attempt a voyage to Davy Jones' locker. But I cannot help but wonder why."

The movement is automatic when Barbossa throws something to him through the air. He catches it, long fingernails clearing one another in a practiced move: a piece of eight. He blows on it, holds it to his ear, and listens.

It rings.

Barbossa explains, as if it's necessary. "The song has been sung. The time is upon us. We must convene the Brethren Court. As one of the nine pirate lords, you must honour the call."

This bears consideration. "More steam." His orders are always obeyed, and obeyed immediately. When his woman pulls the signal cord and no steam issues, he grows annoyed: what good are servants if they do not serve? "More steam!"

That's better.

"There is a price on all our heads. It is true. It seems the only way a pirate can turn a profit any more is by betraying other pirates." He turns to Will, not kindly: he hates a thief who almost gets away with it.

Again, Barbossa continues with his pleasantries masking demands. "It be time to put our differences aside. The first Brethren Court gave us rule over the seas. Now that rule is being challenged by Lord Cutler Beckett."

If there's one thing he despises more than a bad pirate, it's Beckett and his men. "Against the East India Trading Company, what value is the Brethren Court? What can any of us do?"

And then, finally, Elizabeth talks. "You can fight!"

This is interesting: she has unexpected fire in her eyes and that, in a woman, signals unexpected passion. It's what helps her break free of his man and struggle forward to face him as few women have dared face the Pirate Lord of Singapore.

"Get off me! You are Sao Feng, the pirate lord of Singapore. You command in an age of piracy where... where bold captains sail free waters, where waves aren't measured in feet... and those who have passed the test become legend. Would you have that era come to end on your watch? The most notorious pirates from around the world are uniting against our enemy and yet you sit here cowering in your bathwater?"

Stepping forward, shaking off his own women, he eyes her up and down and back up again with great deliberation and no small amount of appreciation. He's used to taking exactly what he wants: few dare argue. "Elizabeth Swann." Her name rolls off his tongue as if there were suddenly flowers in the room. "There is more to you than meets the eye, isn't there? And the eye does not go wanting. But I cannot but notice you have failed to answer my question. What is it you seek in Davy Jones' Locker?"

Date: 2007-09-03 04:15 pm (UTC)
turned_captain: (being tied up sucks)
From: [personal profile] turned_captain
Will struggles against his bonds, but the ropes hold fast.

He might lament having lost control of the situation, had he ever fooled himself into think he had control to start with, but that was never really the intention. What he sees now is that no one has control, and Sao Feng and Barbossa in particular, strong willed Pirate Lords that they are, they're striving for the upper hand. The hours Will spent 'enjoying' Singaporean hospitality have shown him that - Sao Feng tried so hard to show William Turner he wasn't in charge, that Will now has no doubt the Pirate Lord of Singapore fears his own diminished power.

This was fine, as far as Will is concerned. He'd been willing to watch the altercation of words between Sao Feng and Barbossa, confident that eventually they'll get the crew and ship they want and Will could get the Pearl he so badly needs to save his father.

And then Sao Feng turned his attention to Elizabeth. He used her name, and Will recognised in him something stronger and darker than anything he'd seen in the other pirates around his fiancée. Will has encountered a lot of rivals for Elizabeth - won her from all but one - but one thing all men who associate with her- Jack, Norrington, even Pintel - have in common is a hard-earned respect, and a fondness, even love for the woman she is.

Sao Feng whispers in her ear, and Will sees none of that. He just sees lust, fierce, untempered, and more dangerous for her person than anything he's seen her face before. Even when she was first captured by Barbossa, thanks in part to the Aztec curse, there were some things she's been kept safe from. And now this pirate, with knowledge of her gleaned from Will's own mutterings while half drowned, threatens her so completely with one sentence.

Will struggles against his bonds, but the yoke doesn't shift. They've spent too long talking. It's time they moved.

Date: 2007-09-03 04:17 pm (UTC)
turned_captain: (repeat that please)
From: [personal profile] turned_captain
Sao Feng is still talking, pacing away from Elizabeth and back up to his dais.

"...but I cannot but notice you have failed to answer my question. What is it you seek in Davy Jones' Locker?"

"Jack Sparrow," Will cuts in, breaking his silence. He's had enough of talking; it's time they came to a conclusion, and the women - Elizabeth in particular, apparently pregnant women mean as little to Sao Feng as one of his bath tubs - have been exposed to him enough.

Sao Feng's slave girls giggle in unison, and the Pirate Lord looks from one to the other in frustration.

"He's one of the Pirate Lords," Will adds as explanation. It ties in well enough with Barbossa's story, anyway.

Sao Feng's resultant anger is expected, but given he's had time to process Will's own proposal by now, the prisoner suspects it an act.

"He only reason I would want Jack Sparrow brought back from the land of the dead," the Captain fumes, "is so I could send him back myself!" The last word is almost shouted, and he kicks at a stool, demolishing it with the force of his anger. For a second, Will worries he might have overplayed it, but the other three don't seem to suspect. It's hard to tell with Barbossa, though, as that man still has his back to Will, and when he crosses the room to talk face to face with Sao Feng, his hat obscures both their faces. Will allows himself a quick look to Elizabeth, watching the captains, and Tonks, who is still scanning the room probably looking for Mal.

"Jack Sparrow holds one of the nine pieces of eight!" Barbossa is saying. "He failed to pass it along to a successor before he died. So we must go and get him back."

"So," Sao Feng says slowly, "you admit you have deceived me. Weapons!"

He draws his sword right in Barbossa's face, and the bath house erupts with piratical cries as men leap out of all the baths, brandishing their own swords. Barbossa is forced back, he and Elizabeth flanking Tonks.

"Sao Feng," Barbossa says quickly, hands spread in supplication, "I assure you our intentions are strictly honourable."

His words are belayed, however, by the four swords that come flying vertically up through the floorboards, caught expertly by Barbossa and Elizabeth. Will still feels a burst of pride when he sees how adaptable and ready she is for all circumstances. Tonks simply raises her hand, and the piece of wood she's been handling innocuously becomes a raised magic wand.

Sao Feng frowns at the sudden change in circumstances, and Barbossa grunts a token admission of guilt. Nevertheless, Sao Feng reacts quickly, grabbing a bath attendant who until now had been standing inconspicuously to the side. Will hadn't even sparred him a second glance, but apparently something has made Sao Feng suspicious of him, for the Pirate Lord has his sword to his neck.

"Drop your weapons! Or I kill the man!"

Barbossa looks back to Tonks, who looks to Elizabeth, who gives only a glance to Will, before both women shake their heads, and Barbossa turns back to Sao Feng.

"Kill him," he says indifferently. "He's not our man."

"If he's not with you," and if challenged, Will's not sure whether 'you' refers to Sao Feng or to Barbossa, "and he's not with us... who's he with?"

Date: 2007-09-20 10:49 pm (UTC)
clumsy_auror: (pirate: gunpowder and magic)
From: [personal profile] clumsy_auror
Tonks bellows spell after spell, mostly Stunning Spells and Full-Body Binds, and it isn't long before most everyone is giving her a rather wide berth, because witch. Such women are feared, and she's giving them enough reason for the reputation to stand firm. One of Sao Feng's henchmen darts past her, and she spies a familiar gun in his hand: it's Mal's, she's sure of it.

Cursing under her breath, she easily ducks a badly-parried sword and wonders again where Mal is. He should be here, and someone else carrying around a gun he'd be loathe to part with is a very, very bad sign. Tonks is very pale as she hurries to catch up with Elizabeth, reaching out one hand to steady her friend's shoulder as they run, pale from fear and pale from exhaustion. Charlotte is a heavy weight in her belly, today.

Date: 2007-09-21 12:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
From the hole blown in the floor come Gibbs and Ragetti leading the rest of the crew, firing their pistols into the fight as they run. Behind them, Marty climbs out of the hole with a miniature cannon; taking aim at a group of Company soldiers, he fires, but is immediately thrown back through the hole in the floor by the recoil.

Barbossa, Elizabeth and Will fight as they run, the fight spreading into the marketplace. Elizabeth kicks an East India Company man before slicing him with her sword, continuing to run as the fight crashes through the fruit and vegetable stalls. Barbossa, upon being charged by a Company soldier, calls encouragement and then neatly flips him over his shoulder and into the river. Will is busy with his own fight, elsewhere, for in the confusion of the fray the three of them have become separated.

In a nearby building, the panicked please of Sao Feng's remaining concubine are cut short by a quick and efficient bullet to the heart, effectively putting an end to her attempt to avenge her twin's death. Mercer turns as the smoke clears, pulling the concubine's pair of steel chopsticks from his left shoulder with a brief look of irritation. As he begins to leave, however, he catches sight of Sao Feng shoving Will up against the wall beside the door of the same building, holding a long knife against Will's throat. Mercer quickly crouches behind a nearby barrel, taking careful aim with his pistol as he listens.

Both are breathing heavily from the exertions of battle, but it is Sao Feng who speaks first, accusingly. "It's an odd coincidence, isn't it? The East India Trading Company finds me the day you show up in Singapore.

Will's voice is flat, "It's coincidence only." With a swift movement, Will clears himself of Sao Feng's hold and has Bootstrap's knife at Sao Feng's throat. "If you want to make a deal with Beckett, you need what I offer."

Mercer's eyes narrow from where he watches, and he withdraws his pistol.

"You would cross Barbossa," Sao Feng near-hisses at Will. "You are willing to cross Jack Sparrow. Why should I expect any better?"

Will looks him in the eye. "I need the Black Pearl to free my father." Point made, he withdraws the knife. "You're helping me to get it."

Date: 2007-09-22 02:55 pm (UTC)
try_corsets: (Cautious)
From: [personal profile] try_corsets
And where's Mal?

There isn't time to ask, not about that or why Will is suddenly in possession of the charts, or how he secured Sao Feng’s cooperation. For all his inaction, the Pirate Lord hadn't seemed the type to scare easily.

Frustrated, Elizabeth gives Will a look and hurries to follow the others, choosing not to dwell on his brief touch. There are explanations she would demand, if she weren't keeping her own secrets. If she felt she still had the right. A glance behind at the destruction they've caused forces her to reevaluate her thoughts on Sao Feng. There's no need for lamps anymore; the city is ablaze, and there's nowhere left to hide.

As he directs them to their new ship, Elizabeth notices that Tai Huang is well armed. In addition to his sword, he has several pistols through his sash and three at his back. One looks a great deal like a pistol she had been carrying, before the humiliating confiscation, and the other...

Elizabeth scowls.

I'll have those back now, she thinks, lengthening her stride until she crashes into the pirate just as they reach the narrowest part of the street. Will bumps into them from behind, assisting her more than he knows. Once everyone has their balance, Elizabeth hisses, "Sorry" and keeps moving, tucking Mal’s gun underneath her robe. She'd only had time to grab the one, but at least it's something.

Mal would undoubtedly agree.

-- -- --

The night sky is bright with flames, but the sounds of explosions and collapsing timber fade into the distance as they sail out of Singapore. Some of the men stare at the burning city in their wake. Elizabeth would rather look ahead. She spies Tia Dalma at the rail, eyes fixed on the open sea, and approaches cautiously.

"There's no place left for Sao Feng to cower," Elizabeth observes. "Do you think he will honor the call?"

At first, Elizabeth thinks the other woman isn't going to acknowledge her presence.

"I cannot say," Tia Dalma replies at last, measuring each word as if it costs her. "There's an evil on these seas that even the most staunch and bloodthirsty pirates have come to fear."

Wondering at the pain and barely leashed anger in her voice, Elizabeth nods at Tia Dalma’s profile and likewise looks out to sea. They have another long journey to contemplate the meaning of those words. Nothing else need be said until after they rescue Jack.

And they will rescue Jack.


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