Chapter Fourteen

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A/N: Warning, this chapter is a downer and deals with some tough subjects. Happier content coming soon!


I watched silently as Dark stepped up onto the podium. He stared down the judge, gaze unflinching. Those gathered were vibrating with anticipation, shifting and fidgeting where they stood.

The courtroom had been tidied up and a space cleared, but it was the best that could be done under the circumstances. Of course, the courtroom was the deck, the podium was a crate, and the judge was Raoul wearing an old wig the crew had dug out of a box.

The assembly was the entirety of the crew, some seated on spare crates or leaning on barrels, waiting anxiously for the judgment of their captain to begin.

Raoul stood, his wig at odds with his dirty shirt, gaping open at the chest, worn trousers and heavy boots. He called for silence and the rumblings from the audience stopped.

"Captain Dark Byrne" Raoul began in a formal voice, reading from an imaginary scroll. "You are hereby charged with treason against His Majesty, the King..."

The crowd whooped and whistled. Raoul continued. "Piracy, thievery, lawlessness..."

The long imaginary list grew more outrageous, charging Dark with crimes that weren't even real such as snoring too loudly, general rudeness, being overly handsome, not paying his pirate crew enough stolen bounty and not letting anyone else wear his captain's hat.

On the podium, Dark held his fist against his mouth, suppressing laughter. Raoul's serious expression never wavered, though his lips twitched once or twice. The men cheered and lauded Dark for his 'crimes' against the crown, then booed when the offenses were against them.

"You are hereby charged with stealing away a married woman," Raoul finished, pretending to roll up his list. "We were going to charge you with witchcraft, but the court didn't find any evidence," he added in a stage whisper.

I rolled my eyes, then punched Keith's arm when he snickered next to me.

"Was this your idea?" I demanded.

He shrugged innocently. "The witchcraft charges? He does sort of look like a male witch, don't you think?"

I thumped him again. My role was supposed to be audience member and juror. Now I would have to 'testify' as the married woman Dark was accused of stealing away. I glared at each and every one of the crew, knowing they would immensely enjoy this.

Keith's eyes danced with mischief, then we turned back to the fake courtroom proceedings.

Kaspar stood on Dark's right, acting as the prosecutor. Dressed in a stolen coat, he'd combed his hair back and tipped his nose in the air—a picture of Captain Worthington. When Kaspar spoke it was a haughty air and a dignified walk.

The crew laughed uproariously at his impression as he accused Dark, pointing his finger and calling him a blue-eyed demon, a scourge of the crown's noble pursuits.

As 'Worthington' called out Dark's crimes and his evidence, one of the audience members would jump to their feet, defending their captain. They dismissed evidence, attacked Worthington's character and wove elaborate, over the top lies to get their captain out of trouble.

Keith was nearly on the deck rolling with laughter when they reached halfway through the list of charges.

He cast a glance at my attire, my usual shirt, vest, men's trousers and tall boots. Since the wind was so light today, I'd left my coat behind. Keith whisked off my bandana, letting my hair fall around my face.

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