12 A Mermaid By A Waterfall
They docked the ship not too far off from the island, boarding a smaller boat to carry them the rest of the way. Kidd waited for them on the shore, waving as they came into view.
"Hallo, Kidd." Thatch greeted, stepping off the rowboat as it reached land.
"Good to see ye," Kidd nodded to the three. "Any word from Kenway?"
"No, but I have good faith he's got that plantation in the palm of his hand."
"Aye." Kidd turned to Jemima. "Jack, mate, I need to talk to you for a bit. Won't be long."
"Sure." She said and left her father and Thomas sitting on the shore.
"How many people know?" Kidd asked, as soon as they were out of earshot.
"Thatch and you, that's all." Jemima said, her voice slipping back to her natural tone, instead of her gruff, masculine voice.
They were silent for a while as they walked along the shore, tiny crabs scuttling past, burying themselves in the sand.
"Why do we need to pretend to be men?" Jemima asked. "It wasn't my choice. People would treat me the same if I was Jemima Thatch, instead of Jack Thatch."
"So that's your real name," Kidd mused. "We wear this outfit not to be treated the same, but different. Why do you think your father made you wear trousers instead of skirts? Why he made you hide your hair? Or wrap up your chest?"
Jemima bowed her head.
"Women have every right to be on a ship and are every bit as dangerous, if not, more than men. After all, ships are named after women, they're 'shes', aren't they? But they don't see that. We are things to them, things for them to use. So we dress as men for them to respect us. Because no man respects a woman."
"Maybe they would." Jemima said, turning over her shoulder to see her father and Thomas, chatting over a small bonfire.
"Always looking for the good in people." He grinned. "But think about it. What would happen if they found out you were a woman?"
Jemima said nothing. She thought of the stories she had heard from the sailors, of men that had taken a woman against her will, treating her like an object, a plaything with little use.
"We are men for a reason, Jemima."
It was strange to hear her real name spoken. Her father rarely said it, so hearing it from another voice sounded very strange indeed.
"What's your real name then?" Jemima asked as the two stepped among the dense jungle, overcoming the island.
"Mary Read." Kidd said.
Jemima looked about, listening to the faint crash of the waves behind them, the rustle of leaves and the cry of the monkeys that bounced above them.
"Where are we going?" She asked, noting the growing roar of a waterfall.
"When was the last time you had a good wash?" Mary replied with a question.
"Uuuh, a long while ago. I can't exactly wash in the sea with the crew."
Mary grinned as they arrived at the waterfall, the water crashing against the smooth stone, trailing down to a shallow river.
"The river is just deep enough to bathe in, but stand under the waterfall and it'll take off all that dirt you've gathered."
"Ah, Mary!" Jemima laughed, pulling off her hat and untying her hair, shaking her head so her hair fell loose down her back. "This is great!"
"I'll keep watch, just in case." Mary smiled. "Go on."
Jemima jumped up to the rushing water, throwing down her coat, kicking off her boots, unwrapping her belt, pulling off her shirt and trousers and unravelling the fabric strips that concealed her chest. As the water fell on her face, she smiled, feeling it rush over her body, drenching her hair. She glanced down to the river, formed by the waterfall and with a squeal of joy, she leapt down into it.
Laughing, she broke the surface, twisting her body around in the cool water.
The moment seemed to call for song, so Jemima did so. Her voice was naturally low, but it still held a sweet, feminine tone that would raise suspicions among the crew if she joined in with their song, even though she longed too. So now was as good a time as any.
"Of all the money that e'er I had,
I spent it in good company,
And all the harm I've ever done,
Alas it was to none but me,
And all I've done for want of wit,
To memory now I can't recall,
So fill to me the parting glass,
Goodnight and joy be to you all."
Thomas stopped listening to Thatch's drunken ramblings and turned his attention to the faint voice in the distance, nearly masked by the waves.
"Ah, where you off to, lad?" Thatch asked as Thomas stood.
"Gotta piss." He lied and followed the voice.
He blinked back and forth from Eagle Vision to normal sight, taking a higher course as he leapt through the trees, tracing the sound.
The crash of the waterfall greeted him and it was Kidd that he saw first, facing away, playing with a strange tube. He switched to Eagle Vision and nearly fell out of the tree as he found the gold form. He blinked back and watched the girl sing, her eyes closed as she ran her hands down her long, dark hair. Her lower body was obscured by the water which made him question the tales he'd been told while aboard the ship. Was she a mermaid? Was she one of those beautiful creatures that used their voices to lure men to their doom? But something was familiar about her.
The girl turned and looked up.
"Mary..." She gasped, covering herself as she spotted him.
Mary spun, the tube to her lips, sending a dart flying into the assassin's neck. He winced, but hardly had time to react further as his eyes rolled back and he fell.
"Thomas!" Jemima cried, throwing her clothes back on as she ran to him. "Mary, what have you done?"
"It's a sleep dart, don't worry. And I'm sure he's had harder falls."
"He's seen me! What do I do?" Jemima panicked, fixing her outfit so she could return to her male façade, although, by now, she didn't see much point.
"Relax. Take his legs, I've got a plan." Mary gripped Thomas under his arms and together, they dragged him through the forest, back to Thatch.
"Some piss he had!" Thatch cackled as he saw the three of them approach.
"He'll be awake in a bit," Mary told her. "Just follow my lead."
Sure enough, Thomas blinked, wincing as he stretched, curiously looking around.
"We found you passed out, mate." Mary said. "You were babbling about some girl in a waterfall."
Thomas stared at the sky, thinking.
"Aye." He said. "I remember. It was some dream. She was singing so beautifully and her body was perfection-"
"Right, I think that's someone telling you to lay off the drink for a while." Jemima said, trying to hide her red face.
They turned away from Thomas as Thatch began to sing a mash up of shanties, badly. He waved a bottle about, above his head and Jemima raised an eyebrow at the litter of empty bottles beside her father.
Thomas shrugged, sitting up.
"He said he was thirsty."
"He would." She said, slumping to the ground beside Mary. "Don't tell me he had more while he was steering the ship."
"Fine, I won't tell you." Thomas said and Jemima groaned.
"Ah, leave off me, lass!" Thatch mumbled and the two women exchanged a panicked look.
"Lass?" Thomas remarked, his brows furrowed.
"Er, aye." Jemima nodded. "He calls me lass when he's annoyed, sometimes thinks I'm a girl."
"Ah." Thomas nodded, still curious, but thought no more of it as Adé and Kenway joined them.
"Here's to our Pirate Republic, lads!" Thatch toasted, raising his bottle. "We're prosperous and free, and out of the reach of kings, clergy and debt collectors."
"Near five hundred men now pledge their allegiance to the Brethren of the Coast in Nassau. Not a bad number." Mary said as Kenway and Adé sat down beside them.
"Truth." Thatch nodded. "Yet we lack sturdy defences. If the king were to attack the town, he'd trample us."
"Then let us find the Observatory." Kenway said, to which both Thomas and Jemima nodded to. "If it does what these Templars claim, we'll be unbeatable."
"Not that twaddle again, Kenway." Thatch growled, casting a cautionary look towards his daughter to stay out of it. "That's a story for schoolboys. I mean proper defences. Steal a galleon. Ship all the guns to one side. Would make a nice ornament for one of our harbours."
"It will not be easy to steal a full Spanish galleon." Adé warned. "Have you one in mind?"
"I do, sir." Thatch drunkenly drawled. "And I'll show you. She's a fussock she is. Fat and slow." He cackled, raising the bottle to his lips.
"Right, that's enough for you, I think." Jemima said abruptly, snatching the bottle from her growling father's hands.
"Fine." He grumbled.
It wasn't long before Thatch began snoring, the deafening noise replacing the calming sound of the waves.
"Let's give him a while to sober up," Kenway decided. "Then we'll go after this ship of his."
"Aye." Thomas agreed, nudging the pirate's leg with his foot. "It may be a while."
"That's fine by me." Kenway said and lay back, arms folded behind his head.
In the peaceful nothingness, the six of them sat, saying little, just enjoying each other's company. Soon, they'd be out on the water again, living as pirates should, but for now, they were no one but simple men, sharing a drink among friends. And that was fine by them.