Gruel was about to leap into the water to make his escape.
But something stopped him.
It wasn’t guilt for leaving Pete behind. Nor was it the need to watch, and maybe even partake, in an actual pirate sword fight.
It was curiosity.
He wanted to know if Pete was telling the truth. Something in his gut told him the man was as slippery as a gaggle of eels covered in a bubble bath. He was willing to risk his life to find out. He crept back towards the treasure room slowly and quietly. He stop when the voices became audible.
“. . . you really think I’m that gullible. That me, the great Captain Bloodhound, would believe the filthy backwash comin outta ya filthy mouth.”
The sound of a fist colliding with flesh and bone was shortly followed by the sound of blood being spat on the ground. “What do you want me to tell you, a lie instead? I thought pirates valued honesty?”
“No, we value treasure.” The room erupted with cheers and laughter. “And we also value loyalty. We should be thanking you, but we ain’t on account of ya ugly, mutinous face, Thieving Pete.”
So that was his real name, well, half of it was.
The captain continued, “you were a good pair of hands aboard my ship. And mighty fine at cards too. We should have known with a name like yours loyalty ain’t one of ya strong suits.”
Pete smiled. Blood ran down his teeth and continued through to his chin.
“I got itchy fingers. I ain’t gonna say sorry.”
This time Gruel was sure he heard several teeth hit the ground. He was glad, but also felt sorry for him. It could have been his teeth lying in a pool of blood.
“What shall we do with the common thief? Shall we let him off with a stern warning?”
The whole room rumbled the word no.
“Shall we maroon him with a pistol loaded with a single bullet and a bottle of rum?”
Again, the rumbling no resounded.
“Or shall we bury him alive next to the empty treasure trove he intended to steal for us?”
The rumbling replied with a menacingly loud, “YES”.
“But don’t you want to know where the key has gone?”
The room fell silent. Then whispers and murmurs spread across the room.
“Don’t you play games with us, Pete. That’s just a forgotten legend.”
“No”, said Pete. “It’s true.”
The murmurs grew and grew. The pirates clearly liked keys more than gold and jewels and all the other treasure in that room. Pete spoke up, louder this time. “And I know it because I’ve seen em with me own eyes. Hanging around the neck of Henry Morgan himself.”
Gruel had heard enough of Pete’s stories to know when some embellishment was about to be added. And that was now.
“He was my captain and he glowed with the power of the sea. He was the last owner of one of em. That’s how we always managed to beat the odds; it certainly helps to have a sea monster on your side. That’s how we ransacked so many towns and sunk so many ships. And that’s why you need me, alive. You see, one of the skeleton keys was in this room.”
Captain Bloodhound had been drawn in by the tale. His eyes grew big with greed. He grabbed Pete by the neck and pinned him to the wall.
“Where is it? Tell me and I’ll let you live.”
“I can do better than that, my friend. I can lead you to it.”
The room rumbled with excitement. So much so that Gruel struggled to hear the next sentence. He stepped in closer for a better earshot.
“I’ll help you find the boy”.
>>>>> NEXT CHAPTER >>>>>