She is alone, black skies above, black seas below. No light save the blaze of a prophetic star illuminates the night.
Yet somehow she knows that she stands aboard the Pearl, perhaps because she can see the mainmast etched in impossible lines of silver; she can see the shackles and ropes that hang there, empty and unused.
A wind blows, cold and harsh. From the north, she thinks; a killing wind. But there's no hand at the helm, no men in the rigging. And the Pearl begins to buck, to drift anchorless in the storm.
"Help me!" she shouts into the darkness. And her hands are on the wheel but it's spinning too fast, so fast she cannot hold it.
"You can't sail her alone, Elizabeth." It's Will, at her shoulder.
"Someone has to!" And she leans all her weight against the wheel, slowing it, holding position while above the banshee scream of the storm deafens her to everything.
And now her father is there - oh, her dear father! He's standing on the deck and his lips are moving, but she can't hear what he's saying above the raging wind. He lifts a hand, though, and points out into the tempest. When she follows his gaze she sees the Black Pearl on the very edge of the world, and her sails are glistening bright in golden sunlight.
"Be careful," Will says, gentle as a child. He's holding her arm and she's standing on the edge of Port Royal's battlements, sweating under a stifling sun. "Be careful, Elizabeth. You might fall."
She stares down at the sea-thrashed rocks below and smiles because they look cool and inviting; it's only when she starts to fall that she realises the black maw of the beast is opening like a flower beneath her. She screams then, but it's too late.
And the sound is drowned by the roar of the monster as it rips her to shreds.
Elizabeth woke rigid with fear, a thin layer of sweat cooling on her skin, unable, for a moment, even to breathe.
Slowly, slowly she forced her limbs to soften, her fingers to uncurl from their fists, and her heart to start beating. But it was too dark below, stinking and suffocating in the belly of the Pearl, and she needed the warm night air and the stars above her to drive out the memory of the beast.
His memory, she reminded herself again. A borrowed memory.
The deck was quiet when she climbed the steps, only Ragetti at the wheel and Barbossa asleep on a roll of spare canvas. Will slept below - a discrete and proper distance from her - and who knew where Tia Dalma got to after dark? Elizabeth dared not imagine.
There was another on deck, however, leaning on the ship's rail and drinking steadily. She hesitated before she approached, remembering the darkness in his eyes and the way he had refused to even look at her. For ten long years Jack Sparrow had carried a single bullet for Barbossa, devoted a decade to avenging his betrayal; how could she, who had cost him so much more than his ship, expect even a modicum of forgiveness? And yet she found she must try.
But as she drew closer, she realised that Jack was talking to himself in a low, unintelligible mutter. She hesitated, straining to hear, and afraid to interrupt. Was this madness? Then, startlingly loud, Jack exclaimed, "I'll not listen to anymore of this bilge!"
At the helm, Ragetti did his best not to notice his captain's strange behaviour, but his alarm was evident and touching.
"Jack?" Elizabeth spoke quietly, keeping a careful distance.
He stiffened, back and shoulders straightening, and then turned with a flourish. "Now what?"
"Are you all right?"
"Never better, why do you ask?"
She hesitated. "Well... You were... You seemed to be talking to yourself."
"What if I was?" he said, eyes narrowing. "No one else aboard worth talking to is there? No one else I can trust."
Elizabeth was silent a moment. "Not even Gibbs?"
"He'd sell his own mother for a quart of rum," Jack said, taking a swig of his own. "In fact, I believe he did."
"Oh Jack..." She sighed, moving to stand next to him at the rail. "Will you not even hear my apology? Not even try to forgive?"
He didn't reply and he didn't need to, for she already knew the answer. So they stood together in silence for a long time, until eventually she noticed a thin line of lights on the horizon - land. Soon they would reach Port Royal, and she knew very well that they might not live to see the sun set on the day to come.
She looked over at Jack, at his severe, chiselled features as he watched the dark horizon. There was no light in his face, no warmth; he was all angles and shade. With a sigh, she said, "I'm sorry." Jack Sparrow made an unlikely confessor, but who better than he to hear her last confession? "I betrayed your trust and I'm sorry for that, Jack. But I was afraid - we were all going to die and I didn't know what else to do. If there'd been any another way... " Her voice cracked a little and she was forced to clear her throat. "What else could I have done? Jack, tell me what else I could have done..." He made no answer, but she felt some measure of relief in just having spoken the words at last.
The lights on the horizon broadened, grew more defined, until she could recognise the shapes of home. Beneath them, the sea marbled from black to dark green, diamonds streaking across the surface as the first crescent of the moon breached the night.
"Drink up," Jack said in a rough voice, knocking his rum bottle against her arm until she took it. "We've a long day tomorrow, and probably death at the end. If we're lucky."
With that, he turned and walked away, leaving her holding his half empty bottle. She found herself surprised that the glass was warm from his touch, as if she'd not expected his fingers capable of anything but icy cold.
Frederick Mercer watched from the darkness as Lord Beckett passed by, en route to his rooms in Port Royal's fort. The shadows were Mercer's favoured vantage point, for they gave him time to study his opponents, to find their weaknesses. And, make no mistake, in this world all men were his opponents - and all men had their weaknesses.
Cutler Beckett was no exception and his Achilles Heel had not been difficult to determine; he had been humiliated, and he wanted revenge. The rumours were old - thirteen years was more than a lifetime to most sailors - but Mercer had spread his net wide and found at least one credible witness to the events at Elmina. A young privateer captain, possessed of a boy's rare beauty, had turned pirate and betrayed the trust of a young officer of the East India Company, one Lieutenant Cutler Beckett. The officer had hunted him down, had him flogged, and wielded the brand himself as it burned the young man's flesh.
And not a sound had the pirate made, save when he was dragged weak and bleeding before the outraged Lieutenant. They say his smile was as sinful as whore's. “It would never have worked out between us, mate,” he'd said, before kissing the officer full on the mouth in front of the entire, startled crew. And though the wretch had been beaten and cast adrift for his impudence, Beckett had been left, by all accounts, standing upon the deck with flaming cheeks and a raging horn.
The story amused Mercer no end and, as he watched Beckett's precise, restrained steps, he had every faith in its accuracy; the man looked as though he'd not had a bit of tail in years.
Mercer waited a few minutes before following, preserving the image of decorum. Wouldn't do to have Beckett imagining himself followed, or watched. Wouldn't do at all.
When Mercer knocked, with all due deference, the answer was immediate and clipped. "Enter."
Cutler Beckett sat, as he often did, behind the protection of his overlarge desk. "Ah, Mr. Mercer. What news?" His eyes were bright and eager. Hungry, Mercer thought.
"My man in Tortuga arrived not an hour ago, upon the Honour. The Black Pearl docked in Tortuga two days before that."
"And her captain?"
Mercer allowed himself a pause, drawing out the tension. "Jack Sparrow captains the ship."
"Excellent." Beckett smiled, a brief flash of triumph and anticipation. "And has the bait been taken?"
"My man reports seeing a woman in men's clothing weeping in the street, in the company of Sparrow. The Black Pearl was still docked when the Honour sailed, but I believe we can safely say she will follow."
"Good." Beckett's fingers drummed upon the table. "Good... We must have men waiting at the port. A whole platoon. As soon as Sparrow docks we will take him."
Clearing his throat, Mercer clasped his hands behind his back. "Pardon the presumption, my Lord, but I doubt such an overt plan would work on a man such as Sparrow. We must employ a more underhand strategy."
"What do you mean?"
"Sir, if the Black Pearl does not wish to be seen - which, I think we can assume, she does not - then she will not sail into port. She'll anchor off shore and they'll land in longboats."
Beckett frowned, his agitation evident in the tapping of his fingers. "But where? We don't have the men to patrol the entire coastline."
"No, indeed. But here, sir, the girl is the key. It is her father they are coming to save... We must allow him to lead us to them."
"Swann? He would never betray—"
"Not knowingly, sir."
"Ah..." Understanding dawned with a malicious smile. "Of course. Do what must be done, Mercer, to bait the trap. But know this; if Sparrow escapes, it shall be your body swinging from the gibbet at Gallow's Point. Do I make myself clear?"
Mercer bowed. "Perfectly so, sir." He backed away a step, then paused. "And what of the Governor, my Lord. Once the trap has been sprung...?"
"Once the trap has been sprung, I care not what happens to the old man."
"I'll take care of it then, sir."
But Beckett had already turned back to his papers, or at least so he pretended. His fingers, however, still drummed on the desk and his pale cheeks were unnaturally flushed. Mercer smiled to himself as he left the room; Lord Beckett was close to placing himself in a highly compromising position, and Frederick Mercer intended to ensure he did just that. For there was nothing he enjoyed more than wielding power over powerful men.
And Lord Beckett was a very powerful man.
The lights of Port Royal glittered in the distance, a band of low stars on the horizon, spread like a carpet beneath the baleful eye of the new and brightest star in the heavens.
Deliberately, Will Turner turned his eye from that fiery omen and focused instead on the glittering lights of the town. There had been a time when he would have greeted them with relief, the welcome sight of home after a long voyage. But not tonight. Tonight they looked like the torches of a mob, wielding hatred and death. And yet somewhere among them burned the comforting lamp in Mr Brown's smithy; it seemed strange, now, that he should see this place as home to the enemy.
"Thought you'd be below deck, mate, making free with your bonny lass." Jack had come from nowhere, it seemed, to stand at the rail a few feet away, staring out across the water.
"I don't know what you mean."
Jack's gaze slid sideways, a sly curl of his lips impersonating a smile. "Then you really have spent too long polishing your sword, boy." An unfriendly glitter brightened his eyes. "I'll wager Miss Swann would know exactly what I mean."
"I'll thank you not to talk about my fiancée in such terms."
"Come, come, lad. 'Tis the night before battle, who knows what the dawn will bring? You'd not die untouched would you?"
Will was silent, remembering the sight of Elizabeth in her drenched wedding gown, reaching for him through the bars. I'd have you now... So beautiful, so ardent. How she'd teased him in the months before their wedding, how far she had pushed his self control! Funny, how he had always been more concerned with such things than her. If he'd asked, he thought she would not have waited for their marriage bed.
"We're off the edge of the map now, boy." Jack sounded like the very devil himself, whispering from the darkness. "The world's turned upside down. A man should take his pleasures where he can."
"And that's where we differ, you and I." Irritated, Will turned toward him. "If I wanted a whore, there are plenty to be had at the docks. I'm sure you're personally acquainted with them all - and their charming diseases. You're welcome to that kind of pleasure, Jack. But you'll never understand what it is to love a woman, nor to have her love you in return."
A bitter little smile touched Jack's lips and he looked away again, toward the town. "I've lived twice your life, boy. D'you think you're the only lad to ever love a girl?"
Will studied him for a moment. "If you knew how I feel about Elizabeth, you would understand why I want to respect her virtue."
"Her virtue is it?" There was bleak humour in his tone, but none whatsoever in his eyes.
"I meant— You can't blame her for what she did, Jack. She's no murderer. You would have condemned us all."
Again, that flickering smile. "Perhaps." Then his gaze slid toward Will. "A word of advice, lad. Father to son, as it were. Or...elder brother to slightly younger brother, which is possibly more accurate." He cleared his throat and turned to lean against the rail. "Women like your Lizzie? 'Tis not virtue they dream about at night, but a little reckless abandon. A little foolish passion. Savvy?"
"I won't listen to—"
"Woo her, Will, while you've got the chance. We're all a long time dead."
With that he turned and walked away, swallowed quickly by the Pearl's dark shadows, leaving Will to contemplate his words.
A little foolish passion...
Involuntarily, his mind was drawn back to that glimpsed moment upon deck – the way the wild wind had caught her hair, the way her whole body had pressed against Jack's, the way she'd kissed him so urgently... So passionately.
"Woman's heart fickle as de tide, hmm?" The voice, close to his ear, made him start. Tia Dalma smiled her black smile. "Your father, him a man of de sea. I know him; I feel him. But you? Destiny mark you a man of de eart', Will Turner."
"Is that so?"
Woo her, Will, while you have the chance. He wondered if he should go below...
But Tia Dalma had his hand in hers now, turning it over and examining his fingers as if she could read the future there. "Tell me," she crooned. "Tell me how a man shape de metals of de eart'."
She looked up, large eyes luminous in the moonlight. "When dese hands shape a blade, tell me how it feel..."
It seemed such a strange question, and yet, as he considered the answer, he could almost feel the heat of the forge against his face. The sharp tang of molten iron and tempered steel were his constant companions, the rhythmic chimes of the forge, metal on metal, hung always about him. "I don't know," he said softly. "It feels... natural, I suppose. It's not so much shaping a blade, you see, as it is allowing the blade to emerge – like a carving from a block of wood, releasing something beautiful from its base elements. Sometimes..." He laughed a little, thinking how ridiculous his words might sound to another, but the woman's gaze held him and encouraged him on. "Sometimes I think I can hear the metal singing to me, as if it's guiding my hands."
"De metals of de earth call you to do der biddin', hmm?" She smiled and clucked over his hand. "Aye, I see it here, de mark of de Blacksmit' – de mark of destiny!"
Tired, and more than a little unsettled, Will pulled his hand free of the witch-woman's grasp. "You talk in riddles," he accused, moving away, looking for the hatch. He longed for Elizabeth, for the beautiful simplicity that had always lain between them. "And I've no time for riddles, I'm sorry."
"Riddles?" She smiled again, wild and dangerous as a spring storm. "De twice-dead son sail wit' him marked by destiny; dey sail together beneat' de Midnight Sun. Not riddles, Will Turner. Prophesy."
"Prophesy?" He cocked his head. "What are you talking about?"
"All dat is made by man can me unmade, hmmm? Dat which is forged can be cast back into de fire and forged anew." She reached out her hand and snatched it shut like a claw. "Fate have you now, boy. Fate have you all!"
Silvery threads of moonlight wove themselves through the undergrowth as Weatherby Swann batted thick foliage from his path. Ahead, he could discern the vague shape of the soldier and hear the soft crunch of his footfalls on the forest floor. He struggled to keep up, despite the weariness in his bones and the knot of hunger that tightened his belly; he couldn't remember the last time he had eaten.
By his reckoning, it had been three days since the key had rattled in the lock of his cell door and he'd heard the urgent whisper from Lieutenant Beaumont. Weatherby knew that, despite the all too frequent snap and groan of the gallows outside his cell window, there still remained on Port Royal those individuals who were reluctant to align themselves with Lord Beckett's regime. Beaumont was one of them. Weatherby's heart had soared when the soldier had told him that he brought word from Elizabeth and that his daughter was alive and on her way back to Jamaica
But despite his elation at hearing news from her at last, he was all too aware of the perils inherent in such an endeavour. "No, she can't come back!" Weatherby had protested. "It's too dangerous for her. She must know that. You must send word to her."
"I think she'll already know that much, sir," Beaumont had replied, solemnly. "But I daresay there are no lengths to which a daughter won't go to save her father."
So he had taken him from his cell and led him into the forest, to a shaded copse and bid him wait. "I'll return, Mr Swann. As soon as she's here, I'll return."
The man had proven good as his word, and now they pushed their way through the undergrowth in the direction of the coast. Eventually the strands of moonlight grew broader as the forest thinned and Weatherby realised he could hear the hush of sea against shore. Up ahead, Beaumont stopped just short of the tree line.
"I can go no further, sir. If I don't return to the fort for my watch I'll be missed and the Admiral will know something is awry."
"But where am I to meet Elizabeth? Did she say?" After months of confinement, Weatherby suddenly felt cut loose, unsteady on his feet. A vague, fleeting sensation of panic gripped him.
Do not trust open doors...
Beaumont shook his head. "I'm sorry, sir. She gave no further word. The message passed to me merely said that when the time came to meet her, you would know the place. I'm sorry, Mr Swann." The man turned to head back through the forest but, as he went, Weatherby reached out and grasped his arm.
"Thank you, Lieutenant," he whispered, his voice close to breaking. "For... for my daughter. For everything. Thank you."
For a moment, Beaumont's face seemed to cloud and he opened his mouth as if to speak, but then his gaze dropped and he covered Weatherby's hand with his own. "Good luck, Mr Swann. I mean that, sir. There's a wickedness in these parts. A man's life isn't his own anymore. I hope..." He paused and swallowed, raising his eyes to meet Weatherby's once more. "I hope you make it, sir. I hope you all do." And then he was gone, darting back through the trees, leaving Weatherby alone with no clue what he was supposed to do next.
She said I would know, he thought. How would I know? Then a memory flared into life. Miranda's Bay. The place where, as a child, Elizabeth would often be found paddling amongst the rock pools or sailing her tiny driftwood boats. On occasion, the boy Turner would be found with her, holding her shoes and making entreaties for her not to wade so deep. Such a wilful child, her governess would complain, arriving back at the mansion empty-handed, after yet another failed attempt to retrieve Elizabeth for her bath or for supper. And so the task would fall to Weatherby to try and drag his daughter away from the seashore.
At first, the endeavour had inevitably ended in a teary-eyed sulk, until, on one occasion, he had reasoned that perhaps his stubborn child would respond in a more satisfactory fashion were he to submit to her apparent fascination with the sea. Thus began their reading of The Tempest. Weatherby would head to the bay with the volume in hand and together they would spend the better part of an hour upon Prospero's storm ravaged isle. By the end, Elizabeth's eyelids would droop heavily, though she would beg to hear more, and when the time came for Weatherby to lead her home she would willingly acquiesce, while refuting all claims that she was even remotely tired.
During the walk home one day, he had made the suggestion that they name the bay after one of the characters in the play. "What about Miranda?" he'd offered, thinking Elizabeth would prefer to name the small cove after the heroine.
But Elizabeth had been aghast. "Oh no, father. I shouldn't like that at all. Miranda is such a silly creature, who wouldn't know her own nose was in the middle of her face if her father did not tell her 'twas so. And she does weep an awful lot."
"But she falls in love with Ferdinand, does she not, my sweet? What a fine outcome for her, don't you think?"
Elizabeth had wrinkled her nose. "I wouldn't think she loves Ferdinand, even if Prospero wills it to be so."
"Why ever not, Elizabeth? Wouldn't you love Ferdinand if you were her?"
Elizabeth had merely yawned, rubbing her eyes wearily before grasping her father's hand. She shrugged. "I shouldn't imagine so, father. He's rather dreary and, besides, I think perhaps Caliban would be a whole lot more interesting."
Weatherby's mouth had opened in disbelief at her assertions, but he sensed that any further contentions against her views would be for naught and so the rest of the walk home had been spent in silence. Despite Elizabeth's low opinion of Miranda however, the name had stuck and it was toward their bay that he now set his course.
It was a trap. Of course it was. How could they, each one of them a known fugitive, wanted for crimes against the crown, ever hope to enter a heavily guarded gaol, on an island governed by the one man who had vowed to see them swing? Of course it was a trap. But as the cry of land ho echoed from the crow's nest, Elizabeth knew that she could follow no other course.
"Dowse the lamps." Jack's order came from the poop deck. He'd said little to her since his unexpected gift of the rum bottle, but Elizabeth fancied that his eyes had lost at least some of the ice she'd seen drifting there previously. A mountain existed between them yet, but now it seemed that it was made of glass rather than rock, and she could perhaps see through to the other side. She suspected, though, that her own hopes had clouded her vision and his opinion of her was much as it had been since they brought him back.
At his command, the Black Pearl fell into darkness, a phantom against the night and sheets were furled to slow their progress towards the Jamaican coast. "We'll take her as close as we dare," said Jack, as he studied the approaching island, "It'll have to be the longboats thereafter. The place'll be crawling with Red." He turned to Will. "We need somewhere to go ashore. Somewhere out of the way that they won't know about."
Will rubbed his chin pensively. "I don't know, Jack. They'll have all the main harbours and bays covered. I can't--"
"I know of a place." Elizabeth came to stand between them and Jack regarded her cautiously, as though this may be yet another ruse.
She nodded and turned to Will. "Miranda's Bay. Don't you remember?" Will's forehead furrowed in confusion until she explained further. "The little cove just off the southern coastal path, where we used to play at..." Her words tailed off and she flicked a glance at Jack. "Where we used to play," she finished.
Realisation dawned on Will's face, but was quickly followed by an expression of concern. "The water's too shallow there, Elizabeth. And too rocky. It would be an impossible task to manoeuvre a long boat through it."
"I daresay the illustrious Captain Jack Sparrow could easily navigate such perilous waters," piped up Barbossa, a glint in his eye and a leer on his lips. "What say you, Jack? Will you play the hero once more, braving unseen dangers and almost certain death to accompany the instrument of your most recent downfall and her love on their quest to save the man who once wrapped a noose about your neck?" Elizabeth waited for Jack's derision of such a scheme, and so was surprised when his narrowed eyes slid in the direction of Port Royal and, after a pause, he nodded his assent. Instead the protest came from another source.
"No," said Will, firmly.
"Do you think us fools, Barbossa?" said Will, ignoring her and striding up to face the grinning pirate. "That we would leave the Pearl in your hands?"
"And you think it would be safer leaving it in the hands of Jack, is that it?"
"I wouldn't trust either of you not to sail off and leave us in the clutches of Beckett's men."
"Then what's your proposition, boy? Are you offering to stay behind?" Barbossa nodded to where Elizabeth stood alongside Jack. "Tell me, young Turner, if given the choice between your young sweetheart and this ship that you so openly covet, which would you rather leave in the blackened hands of Captain Jack Sparrow?"
The lines upon Will's brow deepened and his jaw clenched as his eyes met Elizabeth's. And so, partly to save him from the conflict that raged there, and partly because she was afraid of what his answer might be, she stepped forward and took his hands in hers. They felt cold, as if his blood no longer flowed there.
"Stay," she said softly, but Will did not reply, his glance still flitting between her and Jack. Elizabeth reached up and framed his face in her hands, holding his troubled eyes with her own. "Please stay, Will. I'll return. I promise you I'll return. But, for now, we need you here."
"Elizabeth..." he whispered, but she shook her head with a sad smile, forestalling his words, and threaded her fingers through the soft, dark hair that had fallen around his face. Then she pressed her lips to his and kissed him tenderly. "Be ready," she whispered as they broke apart and she turned to follow Jack down into the waiting longboat.
The distance from shore, she guessed, was roughly five miles, but the seas were calm and the skies cloudless, so their passage was swift. Moonlight illuminated their progress, setting Elizabeth on edge, and she scanned the cliffs and shoreline for any unwelcome eyes that might observe their arrival; she felt that they must glow as bright as the moon itself. Under her direction, Jack set their course for Miranda's Bay, but spoke nary a word to her for the length of the journey. The moon was behind him, a fat halo that cast his face in shadow, and Elizabeth could see nothing of his current mood. She wondered if his taciturnity was a result of their perilous situation, or of the objectionable company in which he now found himself.
But she was tired of dwelling on the way things stood between them, sick of her mind returning over and over again to the question of where she might lie in Jack's estimations, like scratching at a wound that would not heal. So instead she focussed on the task at hand. Soon she could make out the small stretch of white sand that was Miranda's Bay and a painful longing welled up in her at the sight of this childhood haunt, a place that held memories of such happier times. "Take us around that outcrop," she said, pointing to a small rocky peninsula that jutted out from the beach. If Jack noticed the catch in her voice, he said nothing. "We can go ashore there and hide the boat."
Cautiously, Jack edged them forward through the sharp rocks that littered the shallow water in the mouth of the bay. He bid Elizabeth keep an eye on the water ahead for any hidden shoals, as he gripped the oars with firm, steady hands, guiding the boat assuredly through the treacherous terrain, adjusting their course according to her instructions. Soon they were on land, pulling the long boat into the shadows of the overhang, and Elizabeth felt the now familiar weight seize her legs.
"Don't fight it," said Jack suddenly, as she stumbled across the rocky beach. Elizabeth turned to him and he nodded at her clumsy legs. "Don't fight your sea legs, love. Just go with it, even on land, let them sway where they want to sway. Welcome the sea into your bones and you'll always fall on your feet." Elizabeth smiled at the unexpected counsel and, for a fleeting instant, it seemed he smiled back. But then her attention was caught by a sound that made her heart leap in joy.
She whirled to face the cry and her hand flew to her mouth as she saw the figure who ran down the narrow, sandy path towards the beach, slipping and sliding in his haste to greet her. "Father!" Her own cry was part laughter, part sob and burst from her mouth, heedless of the need for stealth. Her Papa was here and he was alive and she gave no thought to anything else, not even to Jack's hissed warning, as she ran forward, eager to be in her father's arms once more. She barely noticed the figure who stepped from the shadows until he was almost upon them, and even then comprehension did not dawn. Something shone in his hand, a silver glint against the black of his coat, and the reflection cast a ghostly radiance across his face; a devil carved from the blue glow of a treacherous moon.
I know you, she thought, though still recognition did not come. I know you. And somewhere, very far away, someone was calling her name.
Then came the moment when the silver glint disappeared and her father's face changed; not joy anymore, no joy ever again, but a distorted mask of pain and horror, a contorted grimace that would haunt her in the dead of night for years to come and send her fingers fumbling for candle and flint.
Too late did she understand. Too late did she run forward. Too late did she name the demon.
Then her father, her dear, kind father, was falling to his knees, blood spilling like midnight onto the sand, and it seemed that she could see every soiled grain. There was noise, the thud-thud-thud of many boots running toward her, and hands were pulling her from behind, arms tight around her waist; she was being lifted, carried back to the boat, away from her stricken father who stretched out his desperate hands towards her. She tried to speak, to scream at whoever held her to let her go, but the words became twisted and tangled in her throat. With wild, grief-fuelled strength, she cast off the arms that restrained her and ran forward, catching her father's head in her hands before it touched the sand. Her hand clutched at the wound on his chest, his blood spilling between her fingers.
"Elizabeth..." Her name was a whisper on his lips and his eyes drifted closed. Elizabeth realised that her father's good heart beat no longer. Her voice came then, and it seemed that her scream might echo around the world.
Continued in Chapter Eight