34 The Rescue
Thomas cleared the jungle, stepping out onto the familiar shore, leaving the two behind him. With a heavy sigh, he gazed out at the same horizon that he had seen a countless times. The sun beat down on him as he thought of the days they'd spent here. Long, insufferable, hot days that he'd exchange in a heartbeat to be anywhere else. And like always, he thought of Jemima. He used to feel guilty because of it, her presence occupying his thoughts more than Elizabeth's, but not anymore. He thought back when he first discovered her identity, then when he helped her to heal. He let his guard down, that brutal assassin exterior crumbling to a caring friend that would do anything to help the people he loved. He saw her at her best; when she fought with the fury of an angered dragon, pistol in one hand, blade in the other, cutting down opponents as if she were swatting flies. At the thought, Thomas smiled, imagining her roaring curses and abuse, all the while grinning like a madman. But, he saw her at her worse too. He remembered, the sounds filling his ears, of her screams, crying out for her father as he crumpled to the ground, his head rolling beside him. He remembered having to pull her away, her strong form now as weak and frail as a leaf, sobbing in protest as she was dragged into the water, leaving her father forever.
In the memory of Edward Thatch, Thomas bowed his head. He respected the man. His ideals weren't perfect, but for a pirate, he was a good man.
"In a land without gold, we might have been heroes." He quoted, recalling Blackbeard's last words.
Thomas lifted his head as the sun that nearly blinded him was obscured by something. Blinking, a large, bulbous silhouette grew before him, as if it was approaching him.
Was he dreaming?
After confirming he wasn't, Thomas nearly cried out with joy as a ship pulled up to the island. Kenway approached him, patting his shoulder as he stepped up to their rescue. Before he boarded, Thomas snatched his assassin apparel that still draped over tree branches, jogging up the smooth wooden planks that he had missed so much.
The breath flew out of him as Jemima rushed at him, throwing her arms around him.
"Hallo, Jemima." He smiled and hugged her back. His voice was quiet but the moment was blissful, so grateful for her to be back once more.
"And it's good to see you too, Kenway." Jemima stuck out her hand to which Kenway raised an eyebrow at.
"Nice try, lass." He grinned and pulled her into an embrace. "It does good to see your face again."
"And yours." She nodded to Kenway, but it was obvious to the pirate who she was more pleased to see.
"We haven't been introduced," Kenway turned to the man and young woman who stood behind Jemima.
"This is Alice and her father." Jemima told him as Kenway shook their hands. "Alice helped me escape the... She helped me escape."
In unison, Kenway and Thomas collectively remembered where Jemima had been sent off to.
"Are you... Did you..." Thomas fumbled over his words.
"I wasn't raped if that's what you're asking." She told him. "Your blade made sure of that." Jemima flicked her wrist and gave him a smile.
"That's what it's there for." Thomas felt a huge relief flood him, the heavy weight of the deep fear of Jemima's fate was lifted from his chest.
Kenway stepped up to the wheel and let out a breath, smiling as he felt the heart of the ship in his hands again. As Thomas made ready to join the crew, a flash of deep red caught his eye. The ribbon around Jemima's neck caused her to look as if her throat had been slit, making him feel sick.
"Hey, Jemima..." He signalled to the ribbon and she felt it, suddenly remembering it was there.
She tugged it off and waved Alice over to the side of the ship with her. Seeing the ribbon in Jemima's hand, Alice untied her own restriction and held it out before her. With a smile, the two young women stretched their arms out over the ship's edge and let go, watching the red and lilac strips play in the wind before landing in the water.
"The sea's a beautiful thing." Jemima mused, leaning on the edge, gazing at the ribbons that sunk, dragged under by the waves. "But she's only beautiful so far. She holds pain, death and torment. And now, two more memories of a broken past."