A modern girl in a 19th century world (robes_of_earth) wrote in piratechallenge,
A modern girl in a 19th century world

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Challenge 17

Title: Caged
Author: Penny-Elizabeth
Characters: Barbossa, Elizabeth
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Credit to Knightly, Rush and Co.
Word Count: 1033
Genre: Missing Chapter
Summary: between the Pearl leaving Port Royal and the dinner in Barbossa's cabin
Notes: Another splodge of story written off the cuff while in the library. I'm trying to get back into the darker parts of their relationship- using their past and present to build up a strong testimony and what about them is similar, albiet in slightly different terms. or seomthing. I don't know- I can't think, I'm hungry and I've run out of time!

"Take her below."

Elizabeth gaped open-mouthed at the towering bulk of a pirate who climbed the stairs away from her, limping slightly. She felt stupid and lost, panicked and tricked. It was here she learned her first lesson- never assume what isn’t said, though that wasn’t registering now. Filthy hands grip her either side, and the two who brought her there began dragging her roughly below deck. She slipped a little on the stairs as they decended into the hold. "Careful there poppet," the bald one jeered, while the wooden-eyed skinny pirate leered in her face. "Wouldn’t want to get hurt now, would we?"

Once below, they shut her in an iron cage, turning the key with a rust-hindered clack. Elizabeth grasped the bars and scowled at them darkly, refusing to show any fear. Laughing and swinging the keys, the pair retreated up the stairs, and she turned her back on them, wondering how long she’d be a bird in their cage. Finding the part of the floor that was the least abhorrent and curling up to her own body warmth, her body gave out and she drifted off to an uneasy sleep of gold, pirates and deep, dark water.


In the silence of his cabin, Hector Barbossa chewed the inside of his mouth and looked out of the grimy window in front of him. The light spotted shores of Port Royal receded from sight, cannon smoke still curling in the air above it, mixing with fog and the smell of powder hanging heavy on the air. Let them go back to their pitiful lives, he thinks, I’ve the last piece of the gold now, the beginning of an end to something I’ve long become tired of.

Barbossa heaved a great sigh and settled into a chair by his table. He closed his eyes briefly, taking a moment to forage around in his mind for that glimmer he once knew called hope. The desire to sleep washed over him, and in wry celebration that the coins were finally reunited he let it come, broken and wretched as it usually was. Sleep was not something to look forward to when satisfaction is barred from your life- in the years since taking the gold, he was restless and easily woken, the brief snatches of slumber peppered by nightmares. And yet, true to the curse, he wanted it constantly.

Ten years was along time to go without a decent night’s kip- whether or not you need it. He didn’t really; his daily energy came from the constant sniff of gold on the wind and the ever-present craving for everything he didn’t have. In a strange way the fact that they were supernatural creatures gave them energy more belonging to unnatural forces, so the more practical sources of a man’s power- food, sleep, good health, were not so needed. Be that as it were, he was tired, heartbreakingly so.

What crushing and desperate horror it was to have insatiable greed, even to be able to slake it for a moment- that would be something. Satisfaction these days came in the form of flittering seconds. He could enjoy himself here and there; send someone off the plank, wear out three whores a night, or impress himself with the cleanest sword strokes any man ever saw- but these fancies were fleeting, and his soul soon turned to look for more, never stopping, always hoping the next feeling would stay. But it never did.

Curse was too light a word for what they’d had inflicted upon them. Some days even Hell seemed too light a term.


Elizabeth lifted her head violently and scuttled against the cage wall, wide-eyed and confused. Slowly she came to full consciousness, realizing where she was and the situation she was now in. She had been woken by terrible visions in her head- skeletons had pushed in around her, holding knives to her throat, tearing at her nightdress. She shook the nightmare from her mind, but her thoughts only moved into full speed; forming plans, devising new bargains.

Rubbing her eyes, she noticed a small hole in the black wet wood- peering out of it she saw a wide open expanse of cannon-grey water, glassy and endless. Elizabeth thought back to the last time she saw such an expanse of water- and her memories of eight years ago flooded in, the tattered sails, the skull and bones, the fog that pressed against it, and the cool heavy weight of gold in her hand. She leaned her head against the timber and breathed in a smell of salt and seaweed- they must be miles from anywhere now.

She knew the only way around a pirate was to kill him or strike a bargain. She certainly didn’t have strength enough to kill him- a towering force of a man he was, and though she stood determined not to show fear, he made her nervous- he was still an unknown element to her, and though he had been reasonably well-mannered enough during their first meeting (more than she’d expected of a pirate), she had an instinct that he had yet to show a true form. It was clear he was intelligent and liked a war of words- and although she had learned to negotiate and manipulate her way around her father, she wondered just how easily this captain could be swayed. But in the contest between the strength of her mind and the strength of her body, she knew her mind would win.

When the same unwashed pair that had brought her down there came to fetch her, swinging their rusty keys and grinning at her with yellowed teeth, she remained silent. When they led her to the Captain’s Cabin and offered her the plum colored dress, she pushed down the desperate instinct to reach for the warm clothing and pushed her coldness in to her heart. When she sat, silk wrapped and blunt in manners while the smell of food rose up through the boards of the cabin- she bargained. Accords, offers, deals- he wouldn’t have any of it. He just sat there, boots on the table and a grin on his face, offering her apples and wine.
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