It was with a none too gracious thud that the body was laid out on the waiting table. Maris watched from the doorway, emotionless, as the three members of her crew made a hasty retreat from the shack that sheltered the table and, perhaps more importantly, the woman who had sent them racing off to retrieve it. Tia Dalma had been waiting impatiently for them to arrive, and had leveled Maris with a sharp glare when she entered the shack far later than she had been instructed. The mystic had rather irritably waved off the men, and presumably Maris as well, though the female captain had ignored her. She stood by, watching in silence as Tia circled the dead pirate, her long fingers hovering mere inches above him, muttering all the while.
After a few long moments she huffed in frustration, her eyes glinting in the low light.
It was obviously not going well.
Not that Maris knew why. Tia had once offered to teach her the ways of voodoo, mysticism and whatever other fantastic things the woman was capable of. Maris had invariably declined. She knew her destiny was to roam the seas. Tia had been furious and, beneath that, disappointed, and had never quite dropped the issue. But Maris had never regretted the decision. The sea was in her blood. Captain Teague had once laughed that she had more salt water in her blood than any scurvy sea-dog he'd ever met. Then, she had often made him laugh with her tenacity, her spirit, scrappy nature and her love of the sea. Why else would he have kept on the scrawny stow-away, or taken her under his wing. Admittedly, her instinctual understanding of the sea had undoubtedly helped, but she liked to think she had earned his respect on her own merits.
Tia turned from the body, deep in thought. Maris, her arms still crossed in front of her, shifted slightly. It was enough to draw the voodoo queen's gaze.
"You 'ave brought 'im to me too late." Maris could only shrug.
"It's not as if de Isla de Muerta was easy to find." Tia scoffed. "Perhaps if you 'ad given me a better bearing—" Tia scoffed again.
"If you 'ad agreed to my lessons, you could have found it yourself. Den it would not be too late." Tia's accent thickened with her annoyance. Apparently the emotion was contagious, as Maris found her own feelings of annoyance grow.
"So it was a waste, den." Tia shot the Captain a patronizing look, a sly pride surfacing under the fading irritation.
"No. 'E is only dead. It will just take a little more—work." Maris couldn't keep the skeptical look off her face. Not that she didn't believe it, mind. She knew Tia Dalma was immensely powerful. It was Tia's hesitation to elaborate that she was reacting to. Tia rarely revealed her secrets, but she seemed to let a lot more slip when she was alone with Maris. It was really one of the few hints of connection and even affection that Maris ever noticed in the woman. This reluctance to share was unusual. Tia froze for a moment, her eyes glazing as a thought from 'beyond' obviously came to her. She swung back to face Maris, her stare once again piercing.
"'E 'ad a monkey wid 'im. Where is it?" Maris was taken aback, but she did remember a monkey.
"As soon as we made shore, 'e ran off. Why?" Tia once again looked thoughtful.
"'E could be de key."
"Key? What key?"
"To bringing 'im back," she gestured to the table. Maris found her gaze once again drawn to the dead pirate. She wasn't quite sure she wanted him to come back, to be honest. It was one more claim on her ship. Maris groaned.
"You mean you want me to go back and get de monkey? No. I won't do it." Maris vehemently shook her head at the prospect. Not only was the idea of chasing down a monkey humiliating to consider, but she could also feel a hurricane beginning to form over the seas. It was not a storm she wanted to sail through.
She had also seen one very familiar ship before her own had taken flight from that cursed place, and she dreaded confronting the man she suspected would be onboard.
Annoyance once again began to creep onto Tia's features, only to be smoothed out again as the familiar glaze returned to her eyes.
"You will not 'ave to. It is no longer on the Cursed Isle anyway. Dat place will soon be no more." Maris threw up her hands.
"Den what? What of your plans now? You need him," she pointed to the body, "you said you do." Tia waved off her questions, turning her focus once more to the dead Pirate. The mystic was once again deep in thought, drawing on her talents to read what she could of the future, by the look of it. Maris watched in astonishment as genuine joy began to suffuse the woman's familiar features.
"Tings are in motion, my sweet girl. You will not 'ave to bring the creature to me, I tink, but it will come wid another in time." Her voice began to trail off, a delicate thread of hope weaving through the whispered words she spoke mostly to herself. "Soon, I will be free." Maris was confused now. She had barely heard the words, and they worried her. She knew the voodoo queen was far more than she seemed, even to Maris, who knew Tia better than almost anyone alive. There were secrets even the Captain was not privy to. But this sounded ominous to her sailor's heart.
Tia did not say anymore, however. Instead, she maintained her vigil at the dead pirate's side. Maris straightened from where she had been leaning against the crude doorframe, slowly walking over to gaze down at the body. She knew his grizzled face, it was familiar, and not as old as she would have expected, but then again, he had been under a curse… She turned her own blue-eyed gaze to the Mystic, taking in her profile as it was silhouetted against the wash of candles behind her.
"What is going to happen? Why do you need him?"
"A new t'ret will soon sail dese waters, and de Bred'erin Court will meet again. And as one of de nine Pirate Lords 'e will be in my debt when I return 'him to dis world."
"De Court?" Maris was taken aback enough that her own long-suppressed accent began to surface more completely, colouring her words much like Tia's. "But, de Court—" in her mind, the pieces slowly fell together, revealing a terrible truth that Maris realized she had always known on some level. The sly smile returned to Tia's face, though this time there was a deep and frightening cruelty lingering below the surface. For the first time in her long life, Maris felt a twinge of fear as she watched Tia. The mystic slowly turned, her gaze meeting Maris'. It seemed as thought the woman she knew had melted away, revealing something primal, powerful…and terrible.
And then Tia was back, as though nothing had happened. Her wily, clever gaze still focused on Maris as a pleased expression flitted across her tattooed face.
"Truly, you did not believe you came of mortal blood, my sweet girl." It wasn't until that moment that Maris realized she was trembling. "Your—bond wid de sea, your long years."
"You're—you are—" Maris couldn't even get the name to pass her lips, but Tia nodded anyway, her wide smile off-putting. Maris shook her head, forcibly clearing the apprehension growing within her. She had always attributed her longevity and relative agelessness to Tia's powers… and to her father. She had always known, somehow, that he was an immortal, though she had never technically met him. Tia had always alluded as such. And she had never attributed her bond to the sea as anything more than a talent. Though as she mulled it over, feeling that hurricane forming such a long way off as she did so, she could've kicked herself for ignoring such a glaring bit of evidence.
Her emotions once again under control, she locked gazes with the woman who had, for however short a time, raised her before turning and striding purposefully toward the door. She paused before she crossed the threshold, though, sparing Tia one last glance.
"You want dem to free you." There was no question implied, as Maris had no doubt. That alarming joy had never left Tia's features, but her fury surfaced again, though her features remained distinctly mortal this time. She glided over to the Captain, not stopping until they were practically touching.
"And den I will 'ave my vengence," Maris suppressed the spike of fear that shot through her. Tia smiled, her hand reaching out to softly stroke Maris' cheek, "de Court will pay de price for what was done to me." Maris fought to suppress the shiver that threatened to run up her spine. Inhaling deeply, ignoring the pungent and faintly unpleasant scent of herbs and macabre miscellany that filled the shack, Maris took a step back from her mother, and left her without another word.