17 - Leap of faith

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The night came and passed in an excruciating pace. Nora's whole body ached, her stiff shoulders stuck in the same position for too long, now almost impossible to move at all. Her legs had fallen asleep and her wrists were raw from trying to get free from the ropes. Every time she tried to get loose, the knot only seemed to get tighter. She'd been in and out of sleep all night, her body and mind too restless to be able to escape into the warm embrace of unconsciousness. James had taunted her as well, exaggerating his movements and sighing loudly out of pleasure as he went to bed, more than once reminding her of how uncomfortable she actually was. When James finally fell asleep, Nora could be alone with her thoughts, desperately trying to find a last way out. But when the sun rose over the horizon, colouring the sky in pink and orange, filling the cabin with a warm light, no idea had yet found its way to Nora. And when James woke up, Nora felt her last shred of hope disappear.

"Ready to meet your maker, love?" James taunted, a sly smile on his lips as he pulled his usual white linen shirt over his head. His tousled hair made him look younger, the constant blue under his eyes no longer as visible. In another time, another place, Nora might've found him handsome. Beautiful even. The way the light struck his blond hair, making it shine like gold. Together with those blue eyes, it looked like the sun and the ocean had met, a constellation of colours that made him look like a sea god, something divine. But Nora knew all too well that he was no god. Behind the facade, James Haddock was a cruel man. Even though his charms might fool too many women, it did not fool Nora. She could see behind the blue and the gold. See the darkness lurking behind it, the pitch black that crawled under his skin, poisoning anything that might've once been good.

"All I'm meeting today is your humility when you get back to this ship and realise that I'm in fact not lying, and that you're probably going to get a lot smaller payment since your merchandise is no longer unharmed." Nora's voice was filled to the brim with hatred, her head help high, the green gaze filled with faked confidence. James paid it no attention however. He only widened his sly smile and winked at her.

"We'll see."

When the sun was high in the sky and the seagulls screaming loudly as they circled the ship, Nora could see the bay. She had for hours watched the land getting closer and closer, feeling the last living moments slipping between her fingers. James had left a while ago and even though Jack had tried to visit her, he'd been sent away - the final punishment; sitting alone with nothing to do but wait for death. And as she watched the crew row towards land, the Gisela anchored out on deeper water, Nora felt the panic grabbing hold of her. She did not know how long they would be gone, but she knew that when they came back, her life would be over. Frustrated, she pulled on the ropes, only causing her already injured wrists to start to bleed again. But Nora didn't care. She refused to die on the damned boat. No, there had to be away to escape. Her faith would not be sealed today. And even though she had thought long and hard all night and ended up with nothing, one, small idea suddenly entreated her head.

The knife.

On the first days on the Gisela, Nora had stolen James's shaving knife and hid it under the mattress. And since James hadn't asked about its whereabouts or even looked for it, it was still there. If Nora could only get to the knife, she might be able to cut herself loose. And with most of the crew on land, the risk of getting caught was considerably smaller. For the first time in days, Nora felt new hope. With a determination like never before, she started to wiggle the chair, slowly but steadily getting closer and closer to the bed, constantly listening after footsteps in the stairs. Soon her bound hands touched the soft fabric of the blanket. Nora only hoped that she was within reach of the knife. And surely, after some determination and almost frantic search under the mattress, Nora's fingers found something cold and hard. With a sigh of relief, she carefully grabbed the shaving knife. Having her back towards the bed made it hard to see what side she was holding and a few cuts made their way on to her hands and fingers. But soon enough she could begin to cut the rope. At an almost painfully slow rate, the ropes gave way to the knife and she would feel her bruised wrists getting released from their rope prison. Tears entered her eyes as she was finally free. With eager hands she cut the ropes around her feet as well. Getting up from the chair she'd spent the last week on was a painful ordeal. But the adrenaline made her get up despite the ache and staleness resisting her every movement. Whilst getting her limbs working again, Nora looked around the room. What was she to do now? Surely the crew had been gone for a while and the clock was racing against her. What was clear was that she needed to get off the ship. How that was going to be done however, that was a different story.

The voices and steps from the few crew that stayed behind was heard from the main deck. Nora had her ear pressed against the cabin door, wondering if she would dare to sneak out. It was frankly her only chance, staying in the cabin would do her no good. With a deep breath she opened the door as quietly as she could and took her first step outside. The floorboard creaked under her bare feet and she froze for a second or two, holding her breath. But no one seemed to have heard and Nora sighed out of relief. Slowly she made her way towards the stairs, her head turning from side to side, constantly looking for anyone who might try to stop her.

"Miss!" A voice suddenly called out, causing Nora to jump. A dirty hand, followed by a red coat tried to grab her from between the bars of the prison cell on board. Nora quickly jumped back and stared at the man locked in there.

"Miss, please! You have to help me!" The voice belonged to a man, only a few years older than her. By the look of his clothes, he'd been one of the English soldiers who had attacked the Gisela and its crew, simultaneously causing Nora to get caught.

"I do not have to do anything!", Nora declared and stared to walk away, but did not get far before the man called out again, louder this time.

"Miss, please, I am begging you!" Hushing the man, Nora stopped in her tracks, trying to figure out what she should do. To leave him would be best, since he wouldn't be of any risk to get her noticed by the crew. But on the other hand, if she left him there, he might start to scream and then the crew would definitely come running. Nora did not have a lot of time, and she needed to make a decision fast. And whilst she looked in to the mans eyes, she sighed heavily and gave in.

"Fine", she said and walked back to the cell. "But you have to stay quiet and do as I say." The man nodded eagerly and quickly got on his feet.

"Yes, Miss. The keys are over there." He pointed towards a hook on the opposite wall, where a large metal ring full of keys gleamed in the light from the few oil lamps that lit up the small cell and stairs up to main deck. Trying to be as quiet as possible, Nora grabbed the keys and tried them one after one until the cell door clicked and the lock opened. Not waiting for the solider to follow, Nora made her way to the stairs, trying to see if anyone was up there. Soon she could feel the mans presence behind her and she turned around to hush him once more.

"Thank you, Miss, again." The man whispered, his brown eyes kind and full of gratitude. Nora only nodded and put her index finger over her lips.

"We need to stay quiet if we want to get out of here alive."

"Of course, Miss. But I do believe I should lead the way. I am a soldier in the kings service after all." Nora gave him an irritated look and rolled her eyes. She was tremendously tired of all the men trying to tell her what to do and that believed that just because she was a woman, she was incapable of handling things on her own.

"Seeing as it did not end well the last time you tried to take on the crew, I do believe that I should lead the way. I also have a waster knowledge of the ship it self and am more likely to get us out of here undetected." Leaving the soldier with a surprised look on his face, she started to climb the stairs, hoping that luck was on her side and that no one was nearby. Fortunately, not a single pirate was in sight as Nora took her first steps out on main deck. Crouched behind two barrels, she searched the deck. From what she could see, only three pirates had been left behind. All of them belonged to the part of the crew that Nora detested with all her being. The pirates was sitting lazily on a few other barrels by the stairs to the rodder, their backs against Nora and the soldier.

"If we can get to the rear, the water will be deep enough to jump and then swim to land", Nora whispered and turned to face the soldier who nodded in a agreement.

"Very well, Miss. But we should swim towards the rocks and not the bay. That way we'll have a greater chance at not being detected."

"Alright then." With a determined nod Nora stared to move across deck, praying to what ever god that might exist that they would not get caught. And by some miracle, they reached the rear without as much a glance from the pirates. Unfortunate for James to have men with such bad work ethics.  But they were pirates after all, so what could you really expect? Not staying to find out how ever, Nora quickly climbed the rail, feeling her heart race in her chest, almost threatening to break her ribcage.

"Are you ready, Miss?" The soldier asked, his brown eyes looking directly into hers.

"Never been more ready in my life." And with those words, Nora took a deep breath and let go of the rail, falling feet first into the dark blue water.

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