Not if I have anything to do with it.
From my gun belt I pulled a pistol, checked the ball and powder.
“It was you there that night, wasn’t it, Wilson? The leader? You were the one in the hood?”
I had to know. I had to be sure.
“Aye, it was. And if it had been left up to me, you all would have died that night.”
I almost smiled. You missed your chance.
Up on the rail Rose whimpered but checked herself.
“Now throw out the hidden blade, Kenway. I can’t hold her forever,” warned Wilson.
“And what about you, Emmet?” I called. “Were you there?”
“I was not,” he retorted, flustered and frightened.
“You would have celebrated my death, though?”
“You have been a thorn in my side, Kenway.”
“Your pride has been your undoing, Scott. Your pride has been the undoing of us all.”
“You know nothing.”
“I know that you allowed my beloved to die.”
“I loved her too.”
“No kind of love that I recognize, Scott.”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“I understand that your ambition and thirst for power has led to the deaths of many people. I understand that now you will pay.”
From inside my robes I took a throwing knife and weighed it in my palm. It was a bit different from using trees for practising with a target.
I stood and inched towards the edge of the stack, taking deep, slow breaths.
“Come on, Kenway,” called Wilson. “We don’t have all n—”
I rolled out from cover and darted forward and found my aim, firing my pistol and using the throwing knife at the same time.
Both met their targets. Emmet Scott span away with a hole in his forehead, the pistol dropping uselessly to the planks of the gantry, while Wilson had returned fire before my knife found his shoulder. Yelling in pain, he staggered back and fell against the office wall with the blade embedded in his shoulder, fountaining blood as he scrabbled in vain for the second pistol.
His ball had found its mark. I felt it thud into my shoulder but couldn’t let it take me down. I couldn’t even let it slow me down because Wilson had let go of Rose and Rose was falling, her mouth wide in a scream I didn’t hear above the echoes of the gunshots and the rushing of pain in my head.
She fell and the rope unspooled behind her. I had an image of failure, where the rope tautened and her body jerked and her neck snapped.
I hit a crate at full pelt, stepped up in a run and launched myself off it. I twisted, engaged my blade and with a yell of effort sliced the rope, caught Rose around the waist and the pair of us slammed heavily and painfully to the stone floor of the warehouse.
From above I heard Wilson cursing. I snatched a second pistol from my belt and squinted through the gaps in the boards above me, seeing the light flicker and squeezing off a shot. There came another scream from the gantry, then a crash as he made his way into the offices.
I dragged myself to my feet. The pain from my wound was intense, and the older wound in my flank flared up too, making me limp as I made it to the steps of the gantry and climbed up in pursuit of Wilson. I came crashing through the office, where I found an open back-door leading to steps, and at the top I caught my breath and leaned on the rail for support as I peered over the warehouses.
No sign. Just the distant clattering of ships at rest and the squawk of the gulls. I concentrated, using the Sense, and I heard something. But not Wilson. What I heard was the sound of marching feet as they approached the port area.
They were coming. The soldiers were coming.
I cursed and limped back inside to check on Rose. She would be okay. Now I ran back to follow a trail of blood left by Wilson.
You were safe in my cabin. Asleep, so I’m told, and you missed what happened next. For that I’m thankful.
I reached the harbour to find that Wilson had died on the way. His body lay at the bottom of the steps. He’d been going to a ship I recognized. One that when I’d last seen it was called the Caroline but had since been renamed, in honour of the woman Matthew Hague had gone on to marry. It was called the Charlotte.
Hague was in there. A man awaiting death though he didn’t know it yet. I could see poorly defined figures in the grey haze of the evening moving across the stern gunwale. Guards, but it didn’t matter. Nothing was going to stop me getting on board that ship.
If the guards had seen or heard Wilson fall, they probably thought he was a drunk. If they saw me squatting by his body, then they probably thought I was a drunk too. They didn’t care. Not yet.
I counted four of them as I raced along the harbour wall until I reached where the Jackdaw had not long docked. In between the two ships was a smaller sail-boat held by a line that I unwound and let go, giving the stern of the craft a shove to set it off before dashing back to my ship.
“Hanley,” I addressed the quartermaster.
“Prepare the guns.”
He’d been sitting with his feet up on the navigation table but dragged them off. “What? Why, sir? And bloody hell, sir, what’s up with you?”
“Musket ball in the shoulder.”
“Did you get the men you wanted?”
“Two of them.”
“I’ll fetch the doc . . .”
“Leave it, Hanley,” I growled. “It can wait. Look, there’s a vessel to our starboard, name of Charlotte. On it is the third man I seek. Ready the starboard guns and if my plans fail, blast her out of the water.”
I ran to the cabin door then stopped, screwing up my face in pain as I turned to him. “And, Hanley?”
“Yes, sir?” He had stood, his face a picture of worry.
“You’d better prepare the stern guns as well. Make sure the crew is armed. There are soldiers on the way.”
I gave him an apologetic look.
“Just look sharp, Hanley. If all goes well, we’ll be out of this in moments.”
He didn’t look reassured. He looked even more worried. I gave him what I hoped was a confident smile, then swept a wedge from beneath the cabin door as I left.
The sail-boat had begun its drift out to sea. I heard a shout from the deck of the Charlotte as they spotted it. The laughter. Fools. They saw the joke, not the danger. I leapt overboard from the Jackdaw, planting my feet on the stone of the harbour, then raced the few yards to the stern of the Charlotte.