The following short takes place during the first Devil’s Fire novel, with a story thread that figures in the upcoming fourth novel, Scarlet Devil. Enjoy!
THE GOLDEN AGE
A hideously scarred face passed through a drunken fog, observing Jack Rackham with a contemptuous glower. “Is this man ill?”
“Ish the rum,” Jack slurred as he aimed a fist at the terrible apparition, preparing to strike.
Captain Woodes Rogers slowly stood and moved away from the table. The six redcoats that accompanied him started forward with their muskets, but Rogers halted them. “Violence won’t be necessary. He can’t even stand.”
Rackham placed his palms on the table, heaved upward with all his might, and felt his ass slap the bench before he realized gravity held more sway than his feeble arms. He gave up the impossible task of standing and reached for the near-to-empty jug of rum instead. “A minute, if you please.”
“I can arrange for my physician to have a look at you.”
Even through his drunken stupor, Rackham knew Rogers’ concern was feigned. “You mock me,” he concluded. He was struggling to make sense of all this. His forehead felt as though it had been cleaved by a boarding axe, with a granado crammed in his skull for good measure. His last plunder had afforded his crew a long holiday in Nassau, and he had been drinking for six days straight. He’d heard rumors of the Crown’s imminent arrival, but that was nothing new, so he hadn’t taken them seriously. Now, as he looked over the town from the upper balcony of Sassy Sally’s tavern, he saw redcoats instead of pirates. They had filtered through like ants, lining the main street and setting up camp in the old fort. Many of the citizens had retreated to their shacks or tents. Half of the ships had fled the harbor when the two frigates arrived.
“I intend no offense,” Rogers flatly replied. His attire was as plain as his personality, the antithesis of the colorful and varied garb found among the pirate inhabitants of the island he had invaded. He wore a tan leather coat, a brown waistcoat, white breeches, and a black tricorn hat. The only thing truly notable about him was the scar that cratered his left cheek, where he had apparently been struck by musket shot. “I offer peace, not violence, which is more than you have granted your numerous victims, pirate.”
“Don’t riddle at me. Speak plain Engsh . . . Engelsh . . . lish.” Continue reading