8 - The trip to Sanctuary
Then I went home and I never told anyone about it,” Grace finished her story and wiped her eyes.
“I never thought you could…” Connor couldn’t bring himself to say it.
“Well I did. And before you say anything I do regret it. I regretted it before I even arrive back on the Nocturne. I was angry Connor. I was so angry. I would have given anything to have been able to return and tell Lorcan that we were going to have a baby, and then because of one of her lackeys I couldn’t. That didn’t make any sense to me and I just wanted him dead.” Grace looked away before her brother could say anything more.
“I just never thought that you could do that. Gracie, you’ve always been the sweetest—”
“Captain,” The door of the cabin opened, cutting Connor off mid-sentence.
“Henry Moore, what could you possibly need that is so important that you would not knock on your Captain’s door?” Connor asked, picking up his captain’s hat and looking at him with disapproval.
“Captain, we have no set course. At the moment we seem to be drifting. Aside from that, I have been told that there was an intruder who came aboard last night. I suggest that we put together a small party to find the—” Connor held up his hand to stop his Deputy mid-sentence.
“The so-called ‘intruder,’ Mr. Moore, was in fact my sister. And she is right here.” Connor gestured behind him, to Grace, who nodded a hello.
“Your, sister?” Henry asked.
“Yes. She’s a Dhampir, that is, half human, and half vampire.” Connor looked at his confused deputy with an amused smile playing at his lips. Henry’s eyes widened in surprise and Connor laughed. Grace smiled, purposely baring her fangs in the process.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Henry stuttered, obviously just being polite.
“Don’t worry,” Connor laughed, “She’s friendly. Besides, she wouldn’t do anything with her kid here.” As if on cue Grace’s son waddled carefully out of the bathroom.
“Mommy, my legs still hurt,” The boy whispered, hugging his mom.
“Come here,” Grace said, lifting her son and sitting him on the desk. She put her hands on his knees—just above where the burn finished—and closed her eyes. She imagined pulling the burn from her son and absorbing it. Her face contorted slightly with the pain of it, and Connor noticed.
“Gracie? Are you okay?” He asked, concern evident in his voice. Grace didn’t answer, but he could already see his nephew’s legs slowly returning to their normal color.
After a minute Grace opened her eyes and smiled at her son, who looked at her in awe.
“Mommy, you have magic powers!” The boy said, hugging his mother.
“Did it really take you seven years to learn that?” Grace asked. Her son laughed, his own fangs sparkling.
“Uh, Gracie, now that that’s all settled, and, without wanting to interrupt anything, why are you here?” Connor asked from her side.
“To spend time with my brother until I get to Sanctuary. And I was hoping you would spend some time with your nephew,” Grace answered, lifting her son and turning towards her brother.
“As long as you’re aboard of course; I’ll spend as much time with him as possible, but once you leave the ship, I do not see how I could spend much time with him, and Sanctuary is only a day’s journey,” Connor explained. His deputy took the hint and gratefully left the cabin to change course towards Sanctuary.
“I wondered if you would keep him with you while I am away. I will be very busy, so it will be hard to look after him, and I do so want you to get to know him,” Grace smiled at her brother.
Connor opened his mouth to answer, but was cut off by a sleepy, “Yes,” from the bed. Grace, Connor, and the little boy turned to see Kaiya sitting up, stretching, her blonde hair tangled and askew. “As long as he doesn’t try to eat the crew,” She added, “I love children.”
“I suppose we could keep him for a while,” Connor told his sister.
“Wonderful!” Grace smiled. She looked at her brother with true happiness—the kind he had not seen in a long time—and he could not help but smile back at her.
“When is his bedtime?” Connor asked, hugging his fiancée as she came over.
“About an hour ago. Is there somewhere that he can sleep?” Grace answered.
“The bed is away from the window,” Connor shrugged. He noticed that the little boy was already falling asleep in his mother’s arms.
“That will do nicely,” Grace whispered. She walked to the bed and hummed a shanty as she tucked in her son.
Her brother picked up the words easily at the right moment;
…And its mighty fearsome crew.
Yea, I’ll sing you a song of an ancient ship
That sails the oceans blue…
That haunts the oceans blue.
As Connor and Grace finished the verse, Grace looked up and smiled. They both stopped for a moment, remembering together a time when their father—Dexter Tempest—would sing the same shanty to them, little did they know back then how much truth lay in its words.
Together, they continued the shanty, an eerie feeling of déjà-vu settling over them as they sang.
The Vampirate ship has tattered sails
That flap like wings in flight.
They say that the captain, he wears a veil
So as to curtail your fright
At his death-pale skin
And his lifeless eyes
And his teeth as sharp as night.
Oh, they say that the captain, he wears a veil
And his eyes never see the light.
Grace couldn’t help but remember a time when a nervous boy—who had grown up into the man who was now her brother—would shiver at the words of the song, at the idea of the captain and his ship, which was now her home and family.
You’d better be good, child—good as gold,
As good as good can be.
Else I’ll turn you in to the Vampirates
And wave you out to sea.
Yes, you’d better be good, child—good as gold,
Because—look! Can you see?
There’s a dark ship in the harbor tonight
And there’s room in the hold for thee!
(Plenty of room for thee!)
The twins looked at each other as they sang with an intensity that seemed to fil the room. Kaiya, still half asleep, was tempted to leave, but she found the twins’ harmony mesmerizing.
Well, if pirates are bad,
Connor smiled slightly as he sang, the left side of his mouth curling up ever so slightly.
And vampires are worse,
Grace couldn’t help but smirk at the word vampires—which was, in essence, what she was—and showed off her sharpened canines.
Then I pray that as long as I be
That though I sing of Vampirates
I never one shall see.
Kaiya rubbed her arms as Goosebumps formed there.
Yea, if pirates are danger,
Connor allowed himself a cold smile at the thought of just how dangerous pirates could be.
And vampires are death,
Grace smiled a proper smile, thinking inwardly of how she had never died to get to where she was, nor had her son.
I’ll extend my prayer for thee—
That thine eyes never see a Vampirate…
The twins reached out and touched each other’s’ hands lightly as they finished the song.
…and they never lay a hand on thee.
They laughed only slightly as the song ended, the eeriness still hanging in the air of the cabin.
“It has been years since I have sung that song,” Connor said, shaking his head.
“For me as well. I hadn’t thought I’d remember the words,” Grace answered.
“That is not the type of shanty you forget, Gracie,” Connor told her, smiling.
“You two are the creepiest pair of siblings I have ever met,” Kaiya commented from the side. Her arms were still full of Goosebumps.
“Wait until you meet my family,” Grace smiled, showing off her sparkling white fangs with a twinkle in her eye. Kaiya looked ready to faint.
“Grace, don’t scare her!” Connor said defensively, walking towards his fiancée, who stood still as stone and pale as death.
“She chose to live with pirates, and she’s afraid of a ship of good vampires?” Grace asked, but she backed away and sat down, trying to seem as un-threatening as possible.
“You don’t understand,” Connor told her, “Her whole family was killed by vampires.” He rubbed Kaiya’s arms and whispered soothing nothings in her ear.
“That is hardly my fault,” Grace answered, but she was not upset. Instead she stood and smiled at Kaiya. “My crew—my family—does not consider themselves Vampirates. We call ourselves Nocturnals, as we live aboard the Nocturne. They are all vampires as they are regularly turned, but they are the good guys. Not one person aboard the Nocturne would hurt anyone, and none would take blood but from their donor. You will not likely meet many of them, perhaps only the captain, my fiancé and my best friend—perhaps her husband. My son spends almost all of his time reading, and takes blood once a week as the rest of the ship—on feast night—from a bottle—more like a wine bottle than a baby bottle—that we have stored for him. No harm will come to you or anyone else on this ship, you have my word.” Grace nodded her head slightly, as though bowing or promising, and Kaiya nodded. Her Goosebumps were long gone and her color had returned to normal.“Thank you,” Kaiya said, smiling. “I’m going to get ready for the day.” She smiled and kissed Connor on the cheek as she turned and walked into the bathroom.
Later that day—around lunch—Grace sat again at her brother’s desk, admiring the polished wood—well, admiring the wood and wondering how she would tell Mosh Zu what had happened three years prior. She felt guilty about hiding it for so long, and she felt that now would be as good a time as any.
But she still had at least twelve hours until she had to worry about it.
What truly was nagging at the back of Grace Tempest’s mind was the idea of getting married after all these years. She had grown accustomed to being engaged, but had never put much thought into what would happen when her brother returned and she was ready to be wed.
And she was worried that Lady Lola Lockwood Sidorio would want her son back.
From the first day that Connor had been hers she’d known that the evil woman who was, for a time, her step-mother, would want her baby back. She also knew that she was a smart woman, who would not make the same mistake twice. Grace knew that Lola would wait, bide her time, and make detailed plans, knowing that she had eternity.
Grace found that she was tired, likely from healing her son earlier, and stood to wake herself up. She shook herself mentally and left the cabin to roam the ship.
The crew was mostly men, the kind that Grace had met when she’d first boarded Molucco Wrathe’s ship, though there had been more women then.
As she walked across the deck the men working looked at her strangely and she noticed that the crew wasn’t mostly men, it was only men. Connor’s entire crew was made up of big, burly men with thick beards and round bellies, or gaunt faces and no bellies, or something in between.
Some of them whistled at her, but one show of her fangs kept them away. She didn’t know if she liked her brother’s crew very much.
“Where y’all from, honey?” A younger man with a built frame and long blond hair asked her, stepping in front of her and leaning on a broom. He had gold upper canines and an odd way of smiling with only his top lip.
“Australia,” Grace answered vaguely.
“That’s pretty much the only land in the god-forsaken sector. Whereabouts in Australia?” The man asked. He pronounced Australia as though there was an “r” at the end of the word, and his drawl sounded Southern USA.
“I like on another ship,” Grace answered, mostly because she wanted to move on, but partly because she was intrigued to hear his accent some more.
“Oh? Which one?” He asked. His dark brown eyes lit up with the question.
“The Nocturne.” Grace smiled at him, showing off her own canines. He jumped backwards and dropped the broom. His hand went to his hip, where he had a sheathed cutlass.
“You’re one a’ them things,” The man told her, bewildered.
“And you’re crew consists only of men. The name’s Grace Tempest. Don’t take your sword out,” Grace warned him. She was suddenly very conscious of the fact that she was wearing one of Lorcan’s uniforms.
“Tempest?” The man asked.
“I’m your captain’s sister,” Grace nodded. “And don’t worry. I don’t bite.” She smiled again and the man sighed, seeming to decide that there was no danger.
“Name’s James Carter,” The man said, sticking his dirty hand out to her, “pleased ta’ make yer acquaintance.” Grace shook his hand and thought to herself that James Carter’s accent was not unlike Johnny Desperado’s. “Ya’ can call meh Jimmy,” James Carter smiled at Grace, his gold canines sparkling in the sun. His accent came out stronger now, as though he’d been holding back before.
“Why do you have gold canines?” Grace asked, letting her curiosity take over. “And I think I’ll stick with James, thanks.” James pursed his lips.
“Well, when I was thirteen, so ‘bout fourteen years ago now, I got inta’ a fist fight wit’ mah step-dad. He knocked out one a’ ‘em, an’ I didn’t like the look a’ just one a’ ‘em bein’ gold,” James answered, shrugging.
“What a tale. I should go. The sun is low on the horizon and my son will be waking.” Grace turned around and walked away without a second glance, but James Carter followed her.
“How old’s yer son?” He asked her.
“Seven,” Grace answered, without turning around. She took long, quick strides, but found that she had walked a long way from the captain’s cabin, and that she would have to go below decks to get to the other side, to the door.
“Well he’s nearly a man! He’s gon’ be a’ headed off ta’ Pirate Academy now, right?” James Carter asked.
“No.” Grace continued walking, navigating her way through a maze of corridors and rooms. She wondered how Connor had found his way around such a ship.
“Well why in the Lord’s name not? Pirate Academy’s the very best place ta’ learn ta’ be a pirate! Why, I went ta’ the Pirate Academy off the Eastern coast a’ the USA!” James said, jogging now to keep up with Grace, who stopped and turned to face him, her long hair flying around her and settling over one shoulder.
“Because he isn’t human. He isn’t a pirate. He is a Vampirate. A Nocturnal. He belongs on the ship, not wasting away in a classroom in the middle of the day, when he will burn away into ash and nothing. Now, if you will excuse me, it is very close to my son’s waking time and I must be there.” Grace turned around and marched into the cabin, shutting the door behind her.
“Something wrong, Gracie?” Connor asked, without looking up from his desk. He was busy copying something from a dirty old sheet of paper onto a clean sheet.
“One of your crewmen fancies himself my friend,” She answered, leaning against the door and focusing on her breathing.
“Which one?” Connor asked, changing both sheets of paper so that he was now copying off of a different old sheet and onto a brand-new sheet.
“James Carter,” Grace answered, watching him curiously. She noticed, as she watched, that he wore a ring on the index finger of his left hand; a thick silver band with a ruby on the top and a gold carving around it. She was sure that he hadn’t been wearing it before.
“The one from the Pirate Academy?” Connor asked for specification.
“Yes,” Grace answered, watching as he changed the sheets of paper again.
“He’s one of the youngest of the crew, and he is the most flirtatious. He fancies himself a ladies man—which, as I’m sure you’ve realized, doesn’t get a lot of buyers here. He thinks of himself as a perfect catch for any dame. I wouldn’t worry about him. He’s harmless. The only thing you have to worry about is being annoyed for a few days.” Connor signed his name on the bottom of a sheet of paper with a flourish and changed the sheets for a fifth time.
“Speaking of that, why are there no women on your ship?” Grace asked.
“The North-West sector still believes that piracy is purely a man’s trade. Women can be pirates, but it is frowned upon and they are never given positions higher than lookout,” Connor explained, squinting to read something on the sheet of paper that he was copying from. Grace was tempted to point out that lookout was technically the highest position, due to the fact that it was in the crow’s nest, at the top of the mast. But she decided against it, for fear of angering her brother.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
“As amazing a captain as Captain Morgan was, he knew nothing of organization. The crew files are a mess, and most of them are hardly readable. Therefore I have decided to re-copy them all. And it gives me something to do other than toy with treasures,” Connor answered, signing his signature again and adding a small note that was obviously his own.
“When did you become so organized?” Grace asked, impressed.
“About five years ago,” Connor answered after a moment of thought.
“Why?” Grace asked.
“I ended up in the same place four times,” Connor explained. Grace knew the signs of being too engrossed in work to carry on a conversation, so she left it at that.
She sat on the bed next to the bundle of blankets that she knew was her son. She debated tickling him, but decided that it would be best to simply wake him.
“Connor,” She whispered to the blankets, a smile on her face.
“Hmm?” Her brother asked.
“Sorry, Con. I meant my son,” Grace told him.
“Alright,” Connor said. Grace turned back to the blankets.
“Connor?” She said again. The blankets didn’t move. She pulled the blankets away and saw only more blankets, a pillow, and a piece of paper. Her son was not there.
“Connor!” She yelled.
“What is it?” Her brother asked, standing up suddenly and grabbing the hilt of his sword.
“He’s gone! My son is gone! Connor where is my son?” Grace yelled. She had to fight not to cry or hyperventilate.
“What do you mean he’s gone?” Connor asked.
“He’s not here! Where is my son, Connor?” Grace demanded.
“Gracie, if I knew, you’d know,” Connor said, walking over to her and putting his hands on her shoulders. He looked into his sister’s emerald eyes—his emerald eyes—and said, “You need to be calm. We’ll find him. I promise.” Grace nodded and Connor looked at the bed. “What’s this?” He asked, picking up the piece of paper. It was addressed to Grace.
“I don’t know,” Grace whispered, taking the not from Connor with shaking hands. She unfolded it carefully and found the page filled with a beautiful scrawl, unfortunately familiar.
It has been seven years that you have called my son your own. No more. I want my little Evil back. A boy needs his proper mother. And a mother needs her boy, even if she has another. Remember one thing, Grace Tempest, I have always been and will always be a better Vampirate than you, and what’s mine will always remain mine, and what’s yours will become mine; and by that I mean your brother, because your fiancé already belongs to me. Have a nice eternity, Miss Tempest. I certainly will.
The mother of your fake son,
Lady Lola Lockwood-Sidorio.
I do so love Mr. Furey’s eyes, as blue as the sky as they are.
Grace’s hands shook as she re-read the letter two—three—four times.
“Connor,” She whispered. Her brother carefully took the note from her and read it. His face grew ashen, his eyes darkened.
“Did you know?” Connor asked.
“What about?” Grace answered, her voice barely above a whisper.
“About your son being her son. About Lorcan being hers, whatever that means.” Connor sat on the bed and put his head in his hands.
“I knew. I had Johnny’s help to get him. And Lorcan and I spoke before I left, he told me that Lola was the one who turned him,” Grace explained, sitting down next to her brother. He looked at her sadly.
“I’m sorry Gracie, about your son. I’ll help you get him back, I promise. I won’t stop until your son is in your arms and that thing that calls herself a lady is dead,” Connor told her.
“She wants you too, Con. She said it. I don’t know why, but she does,” Grace countered.
“Probably because the last time she saw me I was obsessed with blood. I couldn’t go three days without at least a pint. I had at least three bottle while we were on the ship. I know you never knew that, but she and Sidorio did. That was the last she saw of me,” Connor shrugged, standing and walking to his desk.
“What about your death?” Grace offered.
“I never for a minute believed that she thought I had actually died,” Connor told her. He put away the crew files and pulled some maps out of a drawer.
“What do we do, Con? She has my son! How did you not notice?” Grace asked. She wanted to be angry at her brother, but she couldn’t bring herself to do so.
“I don’t know, Gracie. I honestly don’t know. I only got here after supper, and I was so focussed on the files that a bomb could have gone off and I may not have noticed,” Connor leaned on the desk and turned his head to look at her. His scruffy beard made him look older, more worn and shadowed; more like the dangerous pirate she knew he could be.
“How long until we reach Sanctuary?” Grace asked, desperate for a distraction.
“We should be there by midnight,” Connor answered. He turned back towards the maps and scanned the South-East sector of the oceans.
“Alright,” Grace answered, but once again was brought to the hard topic of her son’s kidnapping as she could not understand what her brother was looking at. “What are you looking at?” She asked.
“I’m trying to figure out where she would go. As far as I know everyone has pretty much been laying low for seven years, so she especially wouldn’t have made any new friends, and she didn’t have many left in the first place. So, we’re roughly here and—” He cut himself and his eyes widened with understanding.
“Con? What is it?” Grace asked, standing up and walking towards him.
“You killed one of her men. Albeit one she obviously lost no sleep over, but she probably did lose sleep over the fact that you were the one who did it. Think about it, Gracie. Even when she’s at her weakest, her least powerful she always knows. Who was the one who caused the war to tip back into our favor? Who took her hospitality and threw it in her face? Who won the heart of the man she turned? Who took her son and called him her own? Who killed one of her men—what?—four years after the war? Think about it. In her eyes it would look like you’re the one destroying her life. She would want to make you just as miserable and she knows enough about you to know that to get to you she has to take things that you care about! Gracie, she’s trying to hurt you,” Connor said enthusiastically, putting his hands on her shoulders again.
“Why would she do that? What’s the point?” Grace asked, utterly dejected.
“To get back at you. To make you miserable. To prove a point,” Connor offered, kneeling in front of her and stroking her arms, obviously trying to soothe her. Grace shook her head and started crying silently.
“Captain?” Henry’s voice said from the doorway of the cabin. Connor turned his head to look at his deputy.
“Yes?” Connor asked.
“Your fiancée is missing,” Henry said, obviously bracing himself to be hit.
“What?!” Connor yelled, standing up suddenly and taking a step forward.
“She was in the mess hall and myself and some of the boys were trying to make her feel comfortable and she was having a beer and she was laughing and having fun with the boys and then she passed out at the table so we all went back to work and when I went to check on her she was gone and I’ve had our men searching the whole ship for the last hour and no one has found her,” Henry explained quickly, obviously nervous.
“Thank you,” Connor said. “Was there anything? A note, maybe?” He asked, obviously torn apart.
“I found this, on the seat. I didn’t open it, it’s addressed to you,” Henry answered, pulling another folded piece of paper out of his pocket and offered it tentatively to his Captain. Connor opened it and read the note over four times.
Well, you’ve been almost as much of a pain as your sister. I’m sorry about that Eva girl, but it took so long to find you, I just had to ruin something, and I so needed you to return with this wonderful ship. It will look so grand as part of my fleet. Do not worry, Connor Tempest. Your next death will be permanent, and will come after you’ve fed my boys. And after this beautiful woman you call a fiancée has fed my girls.
Until we meet again,
Lady Lola Lockwood-Sidorio.
“How close are we to Sanctuary?” Connor asked, handing Grace the note. His voice and body both trembled with anger, hurt, and sadness.
“Less than an hour, Captain. We can already see the island,” Henry answered, obviously pleased to change the subject.
“Good. As soon as we’ve dropped my sister off you are to set course for Lola’s last known-whereabouts,” Connor said, walking back to the maps on his desk and sticking a knife into a small island; one of the Cook Islands.
“Captain, are you sure?” Henry asked.
“Do not make me repeat myself,” Connor answered savagely. Henry nodded and mumbled agreement before quickly backing out of the room.
“We have to do something, Gracie,” Connor said, leaning against his desk with his head down.
“Don’t you think I know that?” Grace answered from the bed.
“I’m sorry. I just—” He took a deep breath and looked at his sister. “If she’s dead when I find her I swear to whatever gives you your powers that every single head on Lola’s fleet is going to roll all the way to the North-West sector!” Connor said, smashing his fist on the desk.
“Con, we will get them both back. I promise you that. You will get her back, Con. You will,” Grace told him.
The boat rocked as it lined up with the shore and Grace stood to leave. She looked at her brother and squeezed his shoulder once before she left the cabin. She walked across the deck and looked at the island. Henry was waiting at the bow of the ship.
“Tell my brother that if he finds her, he needs to tell me. And take care of him for me. He’s just had someone he loves taken away from him, and he’s never been able to control his temper. If he finds her, or any of hers, he’ll get himself killed before he can kill them.” Henry nodded and Grace turned away from him, her back to everything on the ship. She jumped and landed graciously on the island. She jumped up to a ledge on the mountain and ran towards the path.“Those things are absolutely crazy,” Henry muttered to himself, shaking his head. He turned and walked back to the ready-room to set in the new course.