Bird Of The Sea

2 The Adventure Has Begun

Thomas blinked, surprised he had survived. Sunlight covered the island, drying his saturated clothes as the young assassin, disguised as a sailor, still clung to the bit of wreckage. Tossing it to the side, he breathed out, a faint laugh leaving his lips as the unbelief of his survival continued to reason with his mind.

The ordeal over, he wearily climbed to his feet. He checked his arms and legs, finding nothing but minor scratches. Satisfied he wasn't at risk from dying by a major wound, he stood up straight, stretched and looked around.

Was he the only survivor?

Then, a strange laughter echoed through the air, joining the cry of the gulls and the gentle crash of the waves.

On unsteady feet, he followed the sound. He crouched in the shrubbery, watching the prone form of the rugged sailor lie on his back, gazing up at the sky. As the assassin dragged himself along the beach, Thomas growled under his breath, his hidden blade springing out.

"Was it good for you as well?" The rough looking sailor joked, breathless laughter following.

"Havana..." Walpole gasped. "I must get to Havana."

"Well, I'll just build us another ship, will I?" The sailor said sarcastically, tilting his head as he lay still.

"I can pay you..." Walpole insisted, his voice gravelly. "Isn't that the sound you pirates like best? One hundred escudos."

The sailor, or rather, the pirate didn't answer, instead sat up, snatching up the bottle beside him. He raised to his mouth, then frowned, checking its contents. Finding it empty, he threw it away.

"Keep talking."

"Will you or won't you!" Walpole snarled, still lying on his side.

The pirate stood and stepped towards the assassin, looming over him, his shadow darkening Walpole's form.

"You don't have that gold on you now, do you?" He asked ominously, already knowing the answer.

Walpole rolled over, pistol in hand, jumping to his feet as the pirate staggered back, landing heavily on the floor. Now at an advantage, Walpole stood before the pirate, pointing the pistol at him, the defenceless man holding up his hands in surrender.

"Bloody fucking pirates!" Walpole spat and pulled the trigger.

The pirate flinched, as did Thomas, but the pistol merely clicked uselessly.

The pirate grinned.

Walpole tossed the gun to the floor and stepped back, turning and running away. His expression wasn't clear, whether he was afraid or frustrated, Thomas couldn't tell.

The pirate laughed, standing back up again.

"I'm onto you, Sneaksby!" He called, racing after him.

Thomas followed, keeping his distance. He blinked, the scenery becoming obscured as he focused on the two characters. As expected, Walpole was illuminated in a red form; an enemy and his target. However, the pirate was glowing blue, symbolising a bystander, or, an ally.

Curious.

Thomas ran on, ducking through the tropical foliage, constantly hidden as he stalked the t two men. An assassin chasing a pirate chasing an assassin. This was some day.

At the sound of gunshot, he picked up his pace, careful not to be seen by either man.

He watched the Walpole limp and run across the land below, the pirate hot in pursuit. Thomas crept along the small cliff, following the pirate that raced ahead. As he dove down to the ground below, Thomas stopped and watched as he stormed up to the traitorous assassin. He drew his swords, striking the assassin and Walpole barely knew what hit him. The pirate moved instinctively, twisting his wrists as he struck, slicing the assassin as he tried to defend himself, to no avail.

Within seconds, Walpole was dead.

The pirate sheathed his weapons and then took hold of the corpse's collar, dragging him away from the clearing. Thomas leaned forward, crouched in bushes above, in an attempt to get a better view.

Finally, Walpole was dead. He had always imagined it would be by his hand, instead of this idiot. He would have returned to England having saved the Brotherhood from a traitor, maybe go up the ranks, earn a promotion. But they wouldn't know any difference, he could still claim Walpole's assassination, even if in reality it was a scumbag pirate that killed him.

As Thomas dreamt on, his feet neared the edge, the ground crumbled and gave way. With a yell, Thomas fell, tumbling down onto the hard land below.

"What do you think you're doing, lad?" The pirate threatened, dropping the body, resting his hands on his swords.

"I'm not here to hurt you, don't worry." Thomas managed, scrambling to his feet, holding his side.

"Good, it wouldn't be wise if you did." He said, relaxing.

'I doubt that,' the assassin thought.

"Do you need a hand?" Thomas offered as the pirate resumed his chore..

The pirate gave an obscure look but shrugged.

"Sure, grab his feet."

The young assassin did so, helping the pirate take the body into the shade, a trail of blood marking their way.

"I have to say, lad, you don't seemed very fazed by the body." The pirate remarked, letting out a heavy breath as he shifted the corpses weight.

"I've seen worse."

'I've done worse,' Thomas thought.

"What's your name, lad?" The pirate asked.

"Thomas Young. Yourself?"

"Edward Kenway. You sound like you have some interesting stories, Thomas. I'd like to hear them some day."

Kenway dropped the body and searched through Walpole's satchel, tugging it from his waist band.

"What's this?" He asked, holding up a clear, glass cube.

Thomas shrugged.

He pocketed it, recognising it as a treasure of some sort, and resumed his search. He pulled out a letter, crouched beside the corpse and read it silently.

"What does it say?" Thomas asked.

"Take a look yourself." Kenway said, passing it over his shoulder.

'Mr Duncan Walpole,' the letter opened, 'I accept your most generous offer and await your arrival with eagerness. If you truly possess the information we desire, we have the means to reward you handsomely. Though I will not know your face by sight, I believe I can recognise the costume made infamous by your secret Order. Therefore, come to Havana in haste. And trust that you shall be welcomed as a brother. Your most humble servant, Governor Laureano Torres y Ayala.'

"The bastard!" Thomas exclaimed, scrunching the letter up in his hand. "He was going to sell us out! The Order needs to- Kenway?"

Thomas turned to find himself alone.

"Er, Kenway?"

The pirate emerged from the shrubs, clothed in the deceased assassin's attire.

"What are you doing?" Thomas frowned.

"If there's going to be a bit of coin up for the taking, then it's going to be mine, mate."

"They're expecting information."

"I'm a good liar."

Thomas sighed. He may as well go and pose as Walpole. Kenway knew nothing of the British Order, that much was clear. He was just a greedy pirate, in it for the gold. In fact, if they believed he truly was Walpole, assuming Kenway was right in saying he was good liar, this would put the assassins at an advantage.

Kenway flipped up the hood and flashed the young man a grin.

"Well, you coming?"

"I'll come to Havana, but not to see Torres."

"Fair enough." Kenway tilted his head in the corpse's direction. "Mr Walpole... let's collect your reward."

The pirate and the assassin made their way towards the shore, leaping among the foilage and climbing up the trees. As they made their way to the beach, Thomas glanced over at Kenway. He was a curious man. Although he held the rough exterior of a pirate, thirsty for gold and battle, there was something about him that wasn't clear. Something strange, mysterious.

When the shore came into view, they jumped down, greeted by red uniformed soldiers, swords drawn. With a shout, they began to run at the two, cutlasses glinting in the midday sun.

Kenway drew his swords as Thomas flicked his wrists, the blades darting out.

"Let's see what you can do, lad." The pirate gave a wicked grin.

As Kenway barrelled head first towards them, Thomas took a more artistic approach, racing up along higher platforms and springing down below, slicing his blade through the soldier's backs. One soldier pulled out a pistol, aiming for the young assassin, who snatched another soldier from Kenway's fight, using him as a human shield, before throwing the corpse to the ground. Before the soldier could even reload, Thomas was upon him, wielding his blades, striking every spot that the soldier left unprotected.

"Ah, keep up, lad!" He heard Kenway say as he executed his last cut, the body falling to the ground, still.

Thomas turned to see Kenway waiting impatiently, arms folded, tapping his foot, surrounded by corpses. He rolled his eyes, sheathing his wrist blades, following Kenway to the cowering merchant, who's eyes were closed, shaking as he curled up in the sand.

"Er, you alright?" Thomas asked as Kenway approached him, poking the form.

The merchant's eyes snapped open, darting around, seeing the two before him. Recognising them as allies instead of enemies, he stood, brushing the sand off his coat.

"By God's grace, sir, you saved me!" He exclaimed, shaking Kenway's hand as he was helped up off the beach. "A profusion of thanks to you both!"

The merchant was a stout, mousey looking man, his eyes beady and his whiskers unkempt. But his smile lit up his face, breathlessly thanking his two rescuers.

"Is that yours?" Kenway asked, nodding to the ship docked not to far away.

"It is my vessel, yes. But, ah..." The merchant turned, looking down on the bloodied corpse beside him. "Here lies its poor captain. And I have no art for sailing."

"I can pilot her myself, no mind. Thomas, what about yourself?"

"I've never steered a ship, it looks like that's going to be your job." The assassin replied.

"You don't mean to abscond with my ship, do you?" The merchant asked, more nervously than anything else.

Kenway paused.

"I'm Duncan." He said, stepping towards him. "What's your name, friend?"

"Stede. Stede Bonnet." The merchant said, shaking Kenway's hand again.

"Well Mister Bonnet, let this stay 'twixt us, but I'm on a secret errand for His Majesty the King, God save him and I must get to Havana with speed."

Thomas rolled his eyes, his arms folded. But the merchant appeared to believe Kenway's story and with eagerness to help the crown, he agreed.

"Ah, that is a relief! Sir, Havana is also my destination. Our ways lie together!"

"Natural allies then." Kenway gave an assuring smile.

"Oh, you put me at ease, sir." Bonnet sighed as Kenway unsheathed his sword, prying into the crates that littered the shore. "To think I took you for a pirate when you first appeared."

Kenway and Thomas exchanged a glance.

"Did you?" Kenway asked innocently, closing the crate lid.

"Yes! You had an... uncommon way of handling yourself, quick and easy if I may say. Gave me quite a fright! But all things considered, it's turned out to be a rather fortuitous day, hasn't it?"

Kenway said nothing and Thomas shrugged.

"I suppose, mate."

"And what about you, sir," Bonnet asked as Kenway left them, approaching the water. "Are you also working for the King and crown?"

Thomas smiled and tapped his nose.

"Ah, of course, confidential information, I understand." He nodded.

Without a rowboat in sight, the pirate and the assassin waded into the water, the reluctant merchant following.

"Oh... Oh, this is difficult." Bonnet gurgled behind them. "I should have taken the coat off!"

Kenway clambered up onto the small ship, stepping out of the way as Thomas joined him on deck.

"Er, a little help?" A voice called from the waters, Bonnet awkwardly paddling below.

"I got you," Thomas sighed, extending his hand to help pull up the man.

Despite Bonnet's rather stout frame, Thomas managed to take his weight, thanks to his extensive upper body strength from his assassin training.

Kenway took the wheel, Thomas on his left and Bonnet on his right. The assassin leant against the rail, looking out over the crew that scrambled about as the ship was set into motion. They made no notion to suggest that had noticed the ship's sudden change of captain and it only supported Thomas' opinion on sailors. They either poorly lacked in observation skills or they would sail under anyone as long as they were paid, fed and had a bed to sleep on.

"Welcome aboard, Duncan." Bonnet said, patting his clothes in an attempt to dry them. "She's a modest Schooner but well suited to my purpose, trafficking cargo from my plantation and such."

"She'll do fine." He was assured. "There's a strong wind now. Let's strike to full, shall we?"

After receiving the confirmation from Bonnet, Kenway shouted the order and Thomas and the rest of the crew set about in extending the sails, making sure they gathered as much wind as they could to pull the vessel along.

"Ah, there's a tug of the wind at my hair!" Bonnet exclaimed, sitting himself on a large box. "I find it a bracing comfort in the feel and the smell of the ocean. The raw stink of... Of possibility!"

"That's a top way of seeing it, mate."

"We've really opened it up now, haven't we!" Bonnet noted.

The ship twisted and turned through the small islands, carefully avoiding the risk of running aground. As the ship cleared the island and set for the open ocean, Bonnet stood.

"You're a natural sailor, Duncan." He congratulated.

"I did a decent trick at the helm some time ago." Kenway told him. "Two years before the mast as a privateer."

"Dash my buttons! Your life seems a grand one, if I may say. So full of adventure! How marvellous."

"I've seen my share of strangeness, aye."

The young assassin turned from the rigging and around to the face the pirate. It appeared he too had some interesting stories to share.

Thomas gripped the side of the ship, closing his eyes as the cool, salty air played with his hair. He breathed in deeply, taking in the breath of the sea. Opening his eyes, he gazed at the horizon. He thought his adventure would end with the death of Walpole but instead, it had just begun.

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