55 The Observatory
"Have you given the path of an assassin any more thought?" Thomas asked Jemima as she stood beside Anne and Rhona, a Scottish assassin, sharing the same tattoo on her chest as Mary.
"I've thought about it, aye." Jemima replied, pouring over the maps and charts on the Bureau table.
"My heart hasn't decided yet." She said, standing up to face him. "But you know I'll follow you whatever path I decide to take. My heart has decided on one thing. My path will always lie with you."
He smiled and pulled her in for a kiss.
"Let me know when you do decide."
As Kenway approached, the four turned to face him.
"We got word Torres left the city." Rhona said, stepping from the charts on the table and towards Kenway. "Who were you chasing?"
"That vial was labelled Torres but held the blood of his second." Kenway growled, storming over to the two assassins and the two pirates, snatching up the skull. "Where's he gone?"
"Left port this morning, heading west along the coast." Rhona told him.
"The Observatory." He breathed.
"Will we follow?" Jemima asked, the excitement beginning to grow at the chance to see this mysterious place.
"Send word to Ah Tabai." Kenway told them as he left the Bureau. "We've cornered our man."
"What's this Torres doing looking for the Observatory when you're holding the treasure yourself?" Anne asked as the Jackdaw glided on through the waters.
"Torres doesn't know I have it." He replied.
"So why bring it to him and risk it's capture?" She further questioned.
"I'd like him to know I have it, just before he dies." A dangerous smile played across the captain's face.
"Be careful, Edward." Jemima said. "Don't be so arrogant as to think you can walk up to the man, hold it out before him and put a bullet between his eyes. That's not how these stories go."
"Ah, you doubt me, lass." Kenway sighed. "Since that's how I intend my story to go."
"And you think you can control it?"
"Are we not the authors of our own stories? Don't we decide the ending and where our chapters open and close?"
Jemima paused. She turned and looked down the ship to where Thomas jogged about with the crew, securing the rigging and changing the sail at Anne's command. Maybe Kenway was right. Her life was a story and a new chapter began when she met Thomas. She felt it close when he left, in fact, she felt the whole book ending. But his return brought that story back to life and the tale continued.
"That may be, aye." She said, smiling.
Suddenly, Anne called out, sighting ships ahead of them, obscuring their way.
"Edward, there's a fleet blocking the cove we want!"
"Aye." He nodded, narrowing his eyes. "The Armada. That's Torres and his men."
"And you're going to do what exactly?" Anne raised an eyebrow.
"Find our way past them." He said with a grin and she rolled her eyes, knowing his answer included the essence of force.
The Jackdaw sped up, ramming into the Man O' War nearby. Pulling along side it, they sent torrents of heavy fire into it, the ship so caught off guard it barely had enough time to call the crew to its defence before the Jackdaw pummelled into it once more, turning the ship into a shell of floating wreckage.
As it sunk beneath the waves, the Jackdaw continued its course, pulling up to the shore now its way was clear.
"Who's this Torres?" Anne asked as the Jackdaw halted. "And what's your man done to earn a death sentence?"
"He's a Templar." Thomas told her, folding his arms, a look of disgust on his face at the mere thought of them.
"Aye, like Rogers and Hornigold." Kenway nodded, stepping away from the wheel. "Men cooking up schemes to use the Observatory for ill purposes. For power and control." The four of them stepped down onto the deck and the captain held out the treasured skull. "The violence he'd cause with this thing would be subtle, but heavy. Deadly, yet leaving no mark. Does that make sense?"
Anne turned and thought for a moment.
"Like, if there was a drought, and people was thirsty, and one man had a large cask of water but gave a sip to none. He'd be a killer with no blood on his hands."
"Aye, like that." Kenway nodded in agreement.
The four of them stood on the edge of the Jackdaw and dived into the waters below. Mist surrounded them and the uneasy feeling that Jemima had felt a while ago, just before her, Mary, Anne and Rackham were captured, returned to her.
"Lord, there's a bit of a chill, isn't there?" Anne said as she swam through the unusually cold waters.
"Aye. I don't like it." Jemima replied. "Not one bit."
They clambered up onto the vacant land, silence echoing around them.
"Hm." Thomas frowned. "Thought we might see some soldiers and the like. Maybe they've gone?"
"No. They're here." Kenway said. "Deep in the jungle."
They rushed along the shore, ducking into the dense foliage of the jungle, distant animal cries ringing around them. Jemima wasn't sure what she preferred. Eerie silence, or eerie animal cries.
"Soldiers, just there!" Anne hissed, spotting a light of a camp below. "What should we do?"
As an answer, Kenway rushed forward but as they neared the figures, they realised they weren't moving. They weren't breathing either.
"Jaysus, look at all this!" Jemima breathed, staring at the lifeless forms that decorated the jungle. "Corpses for miles."
"They brought every ounce of menace they had." Kenway said, running on.
They continued on, cutting through the jungle by rushing across the trodden path or swinging through the canopy above, jumping across platforms and poles that stuck out in helpful places. As they stepped out of the jungle, to the other shore, the air was filled with smoke, the sky red as fire crackled around them, leaving traces of where Torres had been.
Kenway and Thomas rushed forward, striking down the soldiers that stood over the native guardians, muskets to their heads. Once dead, the natives were freed and raced away, leaving the four to continue their search for the observation room. Close behind the captain, they followed Kenway through a cave, wading through its murky waters before they climbed to a higher point, rescuing as many natives as they could as they went.
"That damned Torres!" Kenway growled, watching another two natives run free. "Why can't he leave this land in peace? Why does he feel the need to execute those who are only trying to defend the place they call home?"
"He's a Templar, what do you expect." Thomas said as the four approached a clearing, a stone floor decorating the small piece of land, surrounded by a river.
"It's all so strange." Anne whispered, looking around. "What is it?"
"It doesn't seem real." Jemima added. "As if it was something taken from a dream."
The jungle soon faded away, and the four reached as strange structure, grey, perfectly cut blocks scattered around it.
"Holy mother of God." Anne breathed, hardly believing what she saw. "Is this the place we've come to see?"
"This is the Observatory?" Jemima asked, curious at the sight. She imagined it so differently as to what stood before her now.
As Kenway reached the entrance, he turned and waved the three to stop.
"Stand watch here and let none follow." He ordered.
"We can't follow you?" Jemima asked, disappointed, desperate to see what secrets it held inside.
"Not yet. It's too dangerous. You'll know when it's safe to follow." He told her and raced on into the darkness.
"Dammit, Kenway!" Jemima shouted after him.
"Hush, lass." Anne put a hand on her shoulder. "You'll see everything you need to soon enough. Have patience."
Jemima nodded and sighed.
"I wish my father was here." She whispered and Thomas put an arm around her. "I promised him he'd see all that the Observatory had to hide from the world and he never lived to see it."
"How do you know he never saw it? Wherever he is now, he's learning of all the secrets that his earthly body couldn't allow. I think he's beat you to it." Thomas kissed Jemima on the cheek and she smiled.
"Maybe you're right."
As two figures approached, the three drew their weapons but lowered them when they recognised the forms of Adé and Ah Tabai stepping towards them.
"Where's Kenway?" Adé asked, looking around for the captain.
Anne turned her head towards the Observatory and he nodded in understanding.
"And we're not to follow I'm guessing?"
"Aye, but we'll know when she should." Jemima told him and the five of them waited for any signs to tell them it was safe for them enter.
Suddenly, there was a loud rumble, shaking the ground beneath their feet, and then it all fell silent. Ah Tabai turned to the Observatory's entrance.
"Now we follow." He said and he led on.
Jemima gasped as she looked around the place, the strange walls looking like things she'd never seen before, far from the extent of her vast imagination.
"Is this what you'd thought it'd be like?" Thomas asked her.
"No." She grinned and held his hand. "It's better."
"Torres awakened something fierce!" Kenway called as the five approached him. "Are we safe?"
"With the device returned, I believe so." Ah Tabai said, holding up the skull.
"What d'ye call this place?" Anne asked, gazing at the scenery, just like the others.
"Captain Kenway's Folly." Adé replied, grinning at the man.
Ah Tabai approached a set of huge gold rings and placed the skull in the centre.
"(Quiet now. Go back to sleep.)" He said, in a language none were familiar with. "We will seal this place and discard the key. Until another Sage appears, this door will remain locked."
"There were vials when I came here last." Kenway remarked, noticing their absence. "Filled with the blood of ancient men, Roberts said. But they're gone now."
"Then it's up to us to recover them." Ah Tabai told him. "Before the Templars catch wind of this. You could join us in that cause."
"I will." Kenway nodded. "But... Only after I fix what I mangled back home."
The Mentor and Adé exchanged a look before Ah Tabai reached into his pocket and handed Kenway a letter.
"It arrived last week."
They fell silent as he opened the letter, his eyes darting across the page as his face fell. With a mournful expression, he looked up.
"Kenway, what wrong?" Jemima asked, stepping forward.
"Is it news from your wife back home?" Thomas added.
"Aye." Kenway nodded. "I... I have a daughter. A little girl."
"That's wonderful!" Jemima laughed. "Tell us, what's her name?"
"Jennifer. Jenny Scott Kenway." He played the name around his tongue, a faint smile on his face.
"Why the gloomy look, Edward?" Anne asked, noting his expression.
He turned to them and Jemima's laugh faded into silence as he spoke.
"Caroline. My Caroline." He whispered. "She's dead."