I'm sorry for the long delays between updates, but things have been crazy between school and a new video game! :D Anyway, I hope to finish up this story session soon and then get back to posting on some semblance of a schedule in the next few weeks.
This story is a present for the amazing Crescent Moon Dancer, and Kenway and Muse belong to her, I'm just lucky she lets me borrow them! :)
Also please check out the cover that goes with the song (link to Youtube channel in the description) "Let the Mermaids flirt with me" by Mississipi John Hurt.
I hope you enjoy!
Today was the day.
Muse closed her eyes as her head broke the surface of the water, her golden hair fanning out behind her as she watched the crowd under the awning, keeping her form hidden in the water. Her blue eyes, curious as always, also held a deep sadness as her hands balled into fists.
The sun beat down on the awning as the people underneath it chatted in low tones. Many of them were tattooed and dirty, wearing informal clothes that betrayed the purpose of the event they were attending, while others were dressed in elegant clothing, complete with medals and brass buttons. The two groups mingled cautiously as drinks were poured and a Mediterranean band took up a soft tune, the singer singing something about death and remembrance.
This was the night Captain Brady Kenway had died.
The painful memories struck her like a thunderbolt as she took a breath. She could still see his ship, struck by mortar fire, explode. She could still feel the sharp loss of contact on her mind as the incident had occurred. She could still feel the storm of rage that dwelled in her at his death, even a year on.
She'd saved him from sinking ships twice before, so why didn't she do it a third time?
Muse blinked back tears, digging her nails into her palms as she took a breath, letting the salty air calm her. Crying, despite how good it felt, would not bring Kenway back to her. Nor would rage.
She'd beaten herself up enough times for failing him, for failing his dream, for failing to understand the stupid feeling called love that made everything hurt so much.
She turned as the crowd settled down and a man, dirtier and more tattooed than the rest, stood up and began to speak.
"Alright boys and ladies. We might not all agree on many things, but we were all pirates once."
The man's eyes looked around at the group before him, men and women who were still pirates operating under the noses of the governments who claimed the seas as their own. Former pirates who lived off their ill-gotten riches like kings. Privateers who fought in European wars to further their own gains, and even some pirates who had escaped the purging of their kind and were supporting piracy under the table with money and knowledge born from experience.
"We all knew how it felt to have a ship under your feet and the wind in your sails, to have a drink of rum in one hand and a woman in the other, to be able to run riches through your fingers and know that no one could ever take it from you. But the man we honor today remembered something about piracy that we all had forgotten." He paused, taking a shaky breath. "Captain Kenway understood that freedom was the essential part of this life, and without it, you were nothing more than a glorified thug."
"I served under Kenway during his time in Nassau, and the one thing he'd always speak about is freedom on the seas. Freedom from want, class, station, and rule… he believed that the safest hands a pirate could carry were his own, and everything was okay as long as you could put out to sea unattended, and do as you pleased. His ship was an open one, any man could air a grievance, vote on an issue, pick his battles… because Kenway trusted his crews and gave us the freedom society never did." His eyes glistened with tears as he smiled. "Kenway may be dead, but he's finally in that world where he can sail free waters forever. I hope you're happy there my friend"
He sat back down as the crowd of pirates looked on until a second one stood up. He was older, battle scarred, and one eye was permanently white with the other as green as an emerald. "I'm Captain Thortan, formerly commander of The Duchess. Kenway was my first mate on my man of war years ago, and he saved my life."
"We had just raided a French convoy in the Mediterranean Sea, and we captured a French Frigate after an hour of battle. I had Kenway take command of the ship in the battle that followed, as French reinforcements cut us off.
Brady Kenway kicked the last dead Frenchman overboard, letting the crew run to their places as he grabbed the wheel. "Men, take us to full sail and get us away from the convoy!"
He saw the wreckage of three sloops drifting in the water, as well as a crippled brig that had already struck its colors and was floating limply in the water, too damaged to be of any use. The Duchess glided alongside the captured vessel, having taken only minor damage in the battle, and Captain Thortan yelled down to him.
"Alright boy, get our vessel back to the island and have the men start repairing her! She belongs to our fleet now."
Before he could respond, the sound of cannons cut through the air, as shot smashed into the side of the Duchess.
The attack had come from two more French brigs already at full sail and bearing down towards them, their frontal cannons spitting out flaming balls of iron.
"Get our prize back! I'll hold them, the new ship is all that matters!"
Kenway turned the wheel to starboard and let the wind fill his sails, knowing that the faster frigate could easily outmaneuver the Brigs. They could slip back to the island unscathed, and the prize would be safe. While The Duchess was a powerful ship indeed, it was a slow Man of War, unsuitable for any faster raids on single merchant ships. The pirate fleet did need a faster ship that was able to catch up too and then defeat merchant ships that were not in convoys.
The French ship he commanded was lightly damaged, which was rare, and its weapons had not been sabotaged by the crew prior to the boarding, which was rarer. This was a worthy prize indeed, and his head would be on a pike if it were damaged.
The sound of cannons and muskets firing caused him to turn, seeing that The Duchess's rudder had been struck by a cannon ball, which had shorn it partially off. The large ship now moved even slower as the French Brigs danced around it, filling it with shot and raking the decks with close quarters fire.
Half of the Duchess's crew was on board the vessel he had captured, and although Thortan was good with a blade and a pistol… his men wouldn't be able to withstand an attack from two French crews, and for any man unlucky enough not to be given a quick death by French steel and shot, he would be captured and it would be a short trip to the gallows.
No one deserved that.
"Turn us around! Hard to Port and then full sail, let's take advantage of this tailwind!" He yelled "Now!"
Thankfully the men quickly obeyed, turning the ship around with a splash of spray and foam, manning the cannons for battle.
The frigate's cannons boomed, sending the shot directly into the back of one of the Brigs, which stopped its attempt to board the man of war and instead forced it to expose itself to a broadside from The Duchess's cannons.
"Ramming speed! We need to cripple her!"
Once again Kenway's orders were obeyed as the frigate bore down on the wounded Brig, smashing into its side and shearing off chunks of wood as it pulled away, sending one final cannon shot towards the Brig's sails and letting the ball and chain rip into and drag the sails down, snapping the main mast off at its base.
The Duchess fired again, its cannons thundering as the broadside smashed into the second Brig, catching it as it attempted to sail away.
The pirates cheered as Kenway's frigate halted within shouting distance of The Duchess "Sorry for disobeying sir, but I don't leave any ships behind."
Thortan smirked "Normally I'd whip you black and blue for this, but you saved my life… so you'll get off with no drink on shore."
He took a breath "That man saved my life that day, and even when he got a ship of his own, the life of his crew and friends was the only thing he protected. I've seen him walk away from gold, treasure, and revenge if a friend was in trouble… because nothing was worth more to him than the lives of the people he cared for. In a world of black-hearted pirates and the endless hunger for treasure, he was one of a kind… and he deserves all the happiness he's getting… wherever he is."
As the captain sat down, a brown skinned woman walked over next. She was elderly, with streaks of black still showing through her long silver hair, but she was still beautiful despite her age.
"I am Madame Rosalina, and for a time I was the owner of "The Silver Doe." She chuckled "Once the most famous night house in Nassau. My girls and I lived a good life by supplying the pirates with women, and the money poured in. Like everything in life, there were a few bad men… but unlike everything in life, there was a good one."
"Captain Kenway always ordered his men to be sober, polite, and respectful for any trips to the Silver Doe and whatever he threatened his men with worked. They were clean-mouthed and always paid generously in advance. When Kenway accompanied his men, it was as if he was an admiral, and they his seconds. Half the time you didn't remember they were pirates until you saw the tattoos." She chuckled and smiled "Most of the girls cried their eyes out when they heard he was in love with a Mermaid because no one can compete with a legend. So Kenway left a lot of broken hearts behind him, but that was the only crime he ever committed in the Doe."
She flicked her eyes out to sea, starting at it for a moment before she nodded "I hope that Mermaid knew how lucky she was."
Muse blushed at the compliment, her eyes peeking out at the group, as she ducked into the water. She was hiding very well, but she was almost certain the lady knew she was there…
As she sat down, Muse kept listening, getting lost in more stories of the man she cared for, hoping to know him better.
"Brady Kenway and I were once cornered on a burning ship, murderous slavers surrounding us. I gave him one look and told him it was over. His eyes burned as he drew his swords and told me 'No, it's never over… not until we win or die.'
"There was a hurricane once in our town, the rain flooded the streets and the ocean rose against us. We were caught during the worst of it, but Kenway kept urging us to rebuild and survive… even as things got worse he was still fighting to bring everyone to the highest ground possible. People still ask us how we kept going during that storm, the answer was because he kept going."
"I courted Kenway once, during the English occupation of Nassau. It was a terrible time to be a pirate, but it was worse on him. His dream of free seas was becoming clogged with treaties and letters of marque, his friends were either giving up or dying, others were becoming pawns of the Crown. His entire dream was falling apart at his feet, but he didn't break like the rest of us. He didn't drown his sorrows in rum or grog, he simply worked and fought harder to keep his dream alive. I'm only sorry I let him go, a man like that is one of a kind."
Muse smiled at the intimacy of the stories, each one showing her a new side, a new trait of Kenway that she wasn't able to find herself. She suddenly recognized his quirks or where his kindness stemmed from… she could picture him in every story as if he was there.
And each story helped her understand why she cared so much about him.
As the last story was told and the crowd ambled back to their regular lives after a final farewell, she turned back to the sea as her coral colored tail sped her forward. Forward to pay her own respects.
The patchwork pirate ship hadn't aged well with the years, but anyone could see that it was different than any other wreck out there.
It still bore the wounds of cannon fire and the gaping hole the English mortars had torn through it was prevalent, the patchwork wood had faded into a dull brown by the sea's treatment of it and the front of the ship was covered in algae. A single ten-pound cannon, rendered inoperable from the years on the ocean floor was the only armament on the ship, and its silver sheen had mellowed to a dark black.
The Neptune's Trinity had met the same fate as the other ships Kenway had captained, a final resting place at the bottom of the sea. Unlike his other ships, however, this time the captain had gone down with his ship.
Two curved swords shifted slightly as the current caressed them, the only marker Muse could find for his grave. She had stuck them halfway in the sand and bounded them with magic, making them never leave the ground nor rust away.
They would stay there forever, as long as the sea and her memory endured.
Out of habit, she touched the piece of fabric that rested on her upper arm. It was from Kenway's clothing, and she wore it not only as a badge of remembrance for him but also to force herself to remember her own failure.
How she couldn't save him.
She swam closer to the swords, taking a deep breath. She'd combed through every nook and cranny of the ship until she knew it as well as the scales on her tail, and hadn't found his body or anything remotely resembling it. She had nothing to bury but a memory, and yet she could feel his presence there.
It was as if some part of him refused to leave the ship, despite his body being completely… gone.
"Hello, Kenway." She smiled, staring at the swords as if they were a real person. "They had a funeral for you today, all your friends. They told these amazing stories about you… about all the things you did. One of the stories was from a Madame Rosalina… I wish you were alive so you could explain that to me."
She chuckled softly, but her voice broke slightly as she kept speaking, anything to halt the torrent of emotions bubbling up inside of her like an undersea volcano. "I really feel like I can understand you now. Those stories have helped me a lot in seeing a different side of you. Despite it all, I s-still don't know why I saved your life that day."
Her nails dug into her palms as she forced the words out of her mouth. "Maybe I was curious about you because humans don't normally enter our domain under the sea. I might have just wanted to see the human whose ship I caused to break on the rocks, I might have even wanted to see a fearsome pirate up close… and wanted to understand. I don't know what made me save your life… but I'm glad I did, despite everything else."
"Your memory is a curse Kenway, and yet if I hadn't met you I wouldn't be who I am. Mermaids don't bind themselves to names, yet you gave me my own… and that is what matters. Because of you, I'm an individual." Tears filled her eyes as she struggled to continue. "You gave me something I didn't think I needed, and I am grateful for it… but I still miss you Brady Kenway."
"I shouldn't be like t-this when I come to see you, but you also gave me these feelings… and I don't know how to make them stop. I should have accepted your death and moved on a long time ago, not be a blubbering mess a year later. I've tried to move on and let you go, but a sound or the sight of a ship sailing on the ocean… the smell of cannon shot… the feeling of men crashing into the water. That always brings me back to you."
"The memories aren't just from the troublesome times, but also from peacetime. I can be swimming and feel your light touch on my mind, or I can sing a song and I know you'd love it if you were watching me. You're haunting me Kenway, making my heart beat and my cheeks flush. You and that silly little emotion called love."
She chuckled "Love, funny… I never thought I'd feel this way about anyone who wasn't my family, but you've made me feel it for you. Me, the mermaid who vowed never to let emotions mess with her head." Shrugging her shoulders at the swords, as if he was there himself to blame for her troubles, she continued, struggling to hold herself together. "I miss you so much, and I wish I didn't."
"Before we met I was a loner, I was an explorer, content with finding new places in the seas and leaving it at that. Then you turned me upside down and showed me this whole new world of emotion and friendship… and now I can't explore it without you." She rubbed her arms softly, tears flowing freely now. "I just want to know why these new emotions hurt so much when I think of you. How do you handle it? How can this much pain be right?"
A rustling of seaweed distracted her as a small blue fish darted out of the green forest and paused, watching her with wide eyes. It tilted itself as if to ask why she was sad, and its tail swayed softly.
Muse reached out a hand and cupped the fish gently, stroking its scales with a finger as she distracted herself. Her hold on these new emotions was tentative at best, she realized, much like her hold on her new friend. One slip and she could hurt him, one slip and she could hurt herself. In both cases, she could break something she might not be able to repair.
Still, Kenway had been her friend without a second thought… maybe that's what she needed to do. She didn't need to logically find her way through the world of her heart, she only needed to jump in and let herself make the discoveries.
Well, making a new friend seemed to be the best way to start.
"Hello" She whispered to the fish, still stroking it. "My name is Muse."
Bubbles left the fish's mouth as it wiggled softly in her hands, its eyes locked on hers as it digested her words. Its tail raised slightly as it blinked at her.
She released it softly, watching as it followed her gaze to the swords. "Those are swords" She explained, her tail flicking herself forward as she stroked the hilts softly with a pale hand "A great human once used these to defend his dream. A dream of a whole ocean all to himself, where he could do anything he wanted. You're lucky little one because you already have the ocean to explore and no one to tell you how to do it."
"That human taught me that a dream is better when it is shared, and I choose to share it with you." She whispered, already feeling the pressure and the pain relax off her chest. "Take advantage of this freedom, because you have what many humans desire."
The fish wiggled excitedly in the current as its gaze remained fixed on hers, and she smiled, dragging a finger over its head gently. "Do you have a name?" She asked "Names are very important, they make you an individual… different from all the other fish out there."
The fish drooped, its eyes looking down at the sea bottom as it thought hard… but couldn't remember ever being given a name.
Muse nodded "Well then I'll pass along the gift Kenway gave me, you're a female fish so I'll name you… Coral. Do you like that?"
Coral wiggled eagerly, bubbles leaving her mouth as she bobbed up and down. She liked the name and the mermaid who gave it to her!
Smiling, Muse flicked her tail and moved away from the grave, noticing how Coral followed her. "Well, Coral… I think we have an ocean to explore and a friendship to discover. No better time to get started than now, right?"
As Coral swam past her, eager and excited to get discovering, Muse turned back to the swords with a sad smile.
She had loved Kenway, and now that his death had been processed she knew she could love him better. Because she could understand the whirlpool of emotions he had dragged her into. She could navigate the tides of her heart and finally give his gift to herself and others.
"Thank you Brady" she smiled, her gaze fixed on the swords as she blew a kiss at them, before turning away.
As she swam after Coral, she felt, for the briefest of instances, the familiar pressure of Kenway's touch on her mind. It was light and soothing, and loving… then it was gone before she could determine where it came from.
Well, I hope you enjoyed!
Muse has a fishy friend!:D I keep saying I'll leave well enough alone with Kenway and Muse, but something about them always brings me back to this universe.
Please leave a review, feel free to check out my other works, and have a wonderful day!