33 The Madman
In the midday sun, Thomas took shelter, frowning as he drained the last of his water supply. He cursed, shaking out a single droplet into his mouth, then threw the canteen to the jungle floor. Lying back in the tree, he sighed, wondering what would come first; death by starvation, dehydration or boredom.
He remembered that voice, shouting 'stop!'. It was this heat, plaguing his mind with the sound of her voice, as if Jemima was there behind him. The heat had already riddled the mind of Vane, the patience of Kenway and now, the heart of Thomas.
Footsteps stormed by below and the assassin sat up, noting the figure thunder along the path. Thomas jumped down and followed the furious man as he trekked through the jungle.
"Kenway, what's wrong?" Thomas asked, having to jog to keep up.
"It's Vane." He growled. "He's lost his mind but gaining my food. This is the last straw."
"Here's a health to the King and a lasting peace,
To faction an end, to wealth increase,
Come, let us drink it while we have breath,
For there's no drinking after death,
And he that will this health deny,
Down among the dead men,
Down among the dead men,
Down, down, down, down,
Down among the dead men,
Let him lie."
Vane's gravelly voice echoed through the jungle as they hunted the source of the song. They ran on, pushing past bushes and trees until they reached a clearing, stone towers or what used to be buildings, littered the area.
"Go dance with the fisherman and their dories, Kenway!" Vane shouted from atop one of the ruins. "This island's mine! Come at me and I'll cap you, bastard! It were your bloody imagination that landed us here, Kenway! I'll be fined if I let that mind make one more decision for me!"
"Will you not talk to me, Vane?" Kenway called, scanning the area for a way to reach him. "Are you fixed on this madness?"
"Madness? Nothing mad about a man fighting to survive, is there!"
"I mean you no harm, you corker! Now let's work this out like gentlemen!"
"Ah, God." Vane grumbled. "I've got a bleeding headache on account of your jabbering. Now stay back and let me live in peace!"
"I would if you'd stop filching the food I gather and the water I find!"
"I'll stop nothing 'til you've paid me back in blood. You was the reason we were looking for slavers. And you was the reason Jack Rackham took my crew!"
"Kenway, maybe we should leave him-" Thomas started but Kenway waved him off.
"No, I need to talk some sense into him. If we're not careful, this madman is going to kill us all in our sleep just to rule this bloody island."They continued to climb as the furious pirate bolted, scrambling around the rock face.
"Vane!" Kenway roared as a shot rang out.
They reached the top and peered down, seeing Vane race away down the river.
"Face me, man!"
One by one, the assassin and the pirate flung themselves down into the water, wading through the river, jumping onto thick branches to run quicker. They ran further into the jungle, finally leaving the alligator infested waters for dry land. The two slowed, walking towards the madman who sat on an ancient tree branch.
"I said not to follow!" Vane yelled, firing his pistol.
Kenway scrambled for cover, standing behind an old stone structure while Thomas ducked into the shrubbery.
"Jaysus!" Kenway cursed. "You've lost your head, man!"
"And that's just occurred to you now?" Thomas exclaimed.
"It's a fair exchange for finding these flintlocks and grenadoes!" Vane crackled, standing, reloading his newly claimed weapons.
"Listen, Vane!" Thomas stood slowly and raised a hand in surrender. "We could hunt with those guns!"
"And I mean to!" Vane fired his pistol and Thomas threw himself to ground, narrowly missing the shot.
"That bastard!" Thomas spat, checking to see if he was hurt. "Kenway, I'll distract him. Take him out."
He nodded and while Thomas darted across the scene, a moving target too quick to shoot, Kenway had cut across the murky lake, ducking down behind stone chunks of rubble, reaching ever closer. As he did so, Vane began to run, but not before destroying the log that served as a bridge. This didn't stop Kenway and as he climbed, he signalled for the assassin to follow him.
"You and your bloody fairy stories got us into this mess, Kenway!" Vane's voice carried, echoing around them. "And I'll be damned if I let you drag me into another!"
"You keep this up, I'll have to kill ya, Vane!" Kenway threatened.
"Bloody try! By all means!"
Kenway took to the trees as Thomas ran below. As the pirate ran above, he dove out of the way of explosives, small gunpowder barrels laid in wait for him.
"I see you coming, cur! I see you plain and clear!"
Soon, the jungle cleared but the weather did not. With a clap of thunder, rain poured onto them and the two looked up to see Vane standing proud on an old, temple like Mayan structure.
"Only one of us is leaving this island, welchers!" Vane shouted, holding a rifle. "'Cause I'm not gonna sail again in a world cursed by your ugly mug."
"That bloody man." Kenway gritted his teeth. "Thomas, I'm going to have to ask you to distract him again."
"Done." He nodded and took off, cutting and weaving through the scattered rubble, ducking from the gun fire.
Once Kenway was in the clear, Thomas hid, watching the figure climb above Vane. Kenway leaped, wrist blades glinting in what little light was about, slamming into the madman below. Standing, Thomas looked on as Vane rolled, laughing, mocking Kenway for not killing him. But he didn't have to. It wouldn't be long before his mind had rotted so much that only death would change it.