"Sykes." Dark inclined his head and gestured to the seat opposite the desk. His first mate remained still.
"I see ye were studyin' the page again. Are ye able to glean its meaning?"
Dark sat down, eyes riveted on Sykes. "Yes and no. It holds no new information, other than that—"
"There is more than one character known as Grimm," Sykes finished. His tone was too calm, too even.
"Yes," Dark agreed, hesitating to meet his friend's accusing stare. "The Grimm you killed...he wasn't the same man you've been searching for," he finished. After scouring the contract for clues, it had become apparent that the wording referred to 'Grimm' as a kind of title, one that was passed down as if from father to son, pirate to pirate.
It was highly likely that the man responsible for Sykes's long-held grief had worn the Grimm name for only a short time before handing it down.
"He's still out there," Sykes mused, his eyes on the still ocean beyond the window.
"Perhaps not," Dark said. "May have been killed."
Sykes's eyes hardened to blue steel. "No. He's alive."
Not wanting to argue the point, Dark changed the topic. "Sykes," he said firmly, bringing his first mate back to the here and now. "It may have been my demon that you slew the other night, but I swear to you I shall not rest until I have helped you slay yours."
He'd walked around the desk and reached out a hand to his friend as he spoke, but Sykes jerked away, his hands curling.
"I do not need, nor want, yer aid," he hissed. Dark pulled back abruptly. Sykes began speaking, his voice no more than a whisper, but his tone laced with increasing venom.
"I entered this partnership with reservations. I thought ye would betray me for Grimm at first. I fully expected that I would have to kill you." Dark stayed where he was, not speaking. Sykes inhaled deeply. "That day didn't come. But ye made some poor calls, and I forgave them as yer friend. Then I was thrown into a jail cell because of you, and ye promised me as my friend that ye'd do all in your power to free me."
His gaze, full of apathy, didn't waver from Dark's. "When the fort was attacked, I thought surely ye would come to spring me."
Dark tore his eyes away. Excuses jumped to his tongue, but he didn't disrespect Sykes by voicing them. His actions had been selfish. He'd only been concerned with bringing an end to Grimm.
"Did I not cross yer mind?" Sykes accused. His large body was shaking ever so slightly from his leashed anger. "Did ye not think I deserved to see it through to the end? Or did ye not care?" he asked callously.
Dark's gaze snapped up. "I did everything I could to save you," he retaliated. "Christ, Sykes. Ryan died on the mission that was meant to save you."
"You used me as a bargaining chip in a deal with Worthington," Sykes growled. "Ye bartered with the lives of Zaina, Tallera, and the crew. Ye left me to die while you chased after Grimm."
Seething, Dark hissed, "I had no choice."
"Ye could have come to me first, Dark. I would ha' helped you. We could ha' been partners and made a plan to get out of the sticky mess." Sykes shook his head in disgust. "But ye always act alone."
Dark stiffened. Sykes breathed a heavy sigh. "I do not think we can be partners who act alone, Dark."
"What are you talking about?"
A glimmer of sadness traveled over the first mate's face before it became impassive again. "I don' think this is to our benefit any longer. Once the season passes and we can leave this place...consider me resigned. I'll no longer be yer first mate."
YOU ARE READING
Swashbuckling on the EdgeAdventure
***SEQUEL TO SWASHBUCKLING IN THE DARK*** Having escaped once again from the reach of English law, Zaina, Dark and crew recuperate on a remote island. Contemplating their uncertain future and recovering their losses, Dark and Zaina become entangled...