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Old 01-09-2006, 12:00 PM   #1
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On the rising tide chapter 28 Alternate ending

**Disclaimer – Though inspired in part by people who exist in reality, this story is not meant to represent them in any literal way. No offense is meant to anyone who resembles in any way any of the characters in the story.

Chapter 28

Belfast had never looked more beautiful to their eyes as it did on this particular evening. Tonight, they weren’t after supplies or information; neither were they there to hand out the money and goods they had taken from the British to those who were in need. Tonight, they were coming home. Most of the men would go ashore at the docks, leaving them to sail back to the quay with a skeleton crew. It was safer for all involved if only a handful of people knew about their hiding place.

Edge and Larry had ferried the men ashore and were preparing to row the dinghies back to the ship for the final time and then make their way home. Larry had already cleared the dock and Edge was about to follow when he heard someone address him by his family name. Hardly anyone knew, and less people actually used, Edge’s given name.

“Mister Evans, hold there, please. I have an important message I need to get to Adam, would you please see that he gets it?” The man asked, kneeling to be eye to eye with him as he spoke. He wore a dark cloak and his features were hidden in shadow, but Edge immediately recognized the eyes in which the moonlight reflected menacingly.

“Sebastian. How did you…?” Edge started to ask how Sebastian had known to find him there and then, but Adam’s little brother thrust a sealed envelope out for him to take and told him that time was of the essence. Reluctantly, Edge took the letter and looked down at the wax seal, the Clayton family crest. When he looked up again, Sebastian had disappeared into the shadows.

“What took you so long?” Larry asked playfully once Edge was aboard the aingeal once more.

“A messenger caught me at the dock.” He explained, showing Larry the envelope and watching his friends face fall into a deep scowl.

“How did he find us?” Larry demanded, but Edge could only shake his head. He had no idea, but his gut told him this was a very bad surprise. The dinghies were secured on the deck and they hurried to find Adam changing into a handsome silk shirt and jacket. He smiled playfully at his friends, almost embarrassed at being caught dressing for his reunion with his wife.

“There’s a letter for you.” Larry told him seriously, holding the envelope out as if he could hardly stand to hold on to it. Adam frowned and accepted it, quickly breaking the seal and opening the letter. His face paled as he read, his jaw flexing as he gritted his teeth.

“We need to get back to Audley’s.” He said, his voice barely a whisper as he read the message again.

“What? What does it say?” Edge demanded, trying unsuccessfully to snatch the letter from Adam’s hand.

“They know I’m involved with this outfit, I’m a wanted man. Which means Fiona and Emily are in danger.” He told them. He knew they would do their best to get there for Fiona’s sake. If he told them that Sebastian also informed him that they knew about Bono and Edge’s involvement, their emotions might run high and cause them to make mistakes that could delay them. It wasn’t clear just how much they knew, but it was far more than was safe.

Besides that, he wanted to spare them the worry, for a while, at least. There was nothing more they could do at the moment than to try their very best to reach them as quickly as possible, and pray. Adam prayed hard to the God who had brought Fiona to him that he did not allow her to be taken away.

**************************************************************


“Where will we go?” Emily asked as Fiona and the others hurried to gather their most important belongings and flee. The fear and anxiety made her voice sound whiney to Fiona’s ears, but she bit her tongue to keep from saying something she would regret. She was too young, Fiona told herself, to understand the severity of the situation. At least, she hoped she was.

She glanced over her shoulder at the little girl, her golden hair shimmering in the lamplight, her blue eyes seeming far bigger than Fiona had ever noticed. She was scared and upset. She didn’t want to leave behind the life she had been granted while in this house. She had hardly any pleasant memories of life outside these walls.

“I’m not certain yet.” She admitted, kneeling to brush her sisters hair back from her angelic face. “But Carra knows some people whom she says can be trusted. They’ll help us to find somewhere safe.”

“How will Adam and Larry and the others know where to find us?” She worried, and Fiona smiled sadly. From her first day with them, Emily had made Adam work to earn her trust. He had earned it, in time, along with a great deal of brotherly affection. Larry, on the other hand, who had no technical ties to the girl, had been rewarded with her trust and admiration from the moment they met.

He could be as gruff with her as he was with the toughest of his crew and she would never bat an eye. She followed him around, asking questions which Fiona had feared would drive Larry mad. Surprisingly enough, he had answered her honestly and succinctly without much complaint. It was a strange friendship, to say the least. Perhaps, Fiona had come to realize in the months since the men had been away, it was because Larry treated her the same way he treated everyone else that Emily was so fond of him.

She had even admitted, on the night when they had last seen the men, to having a crush on the older man. Carra had laughed and wished her better luck than that with men, and Emily had quickly scolded her for what had been meant as playful words.

“Do not presume to tell me how best to love the father of my child, lass.” Carra had warned the little girl, her pride wounded. The two of them had been on tense terms ever since. It was rather amusing, at first, to see Carra butt heads with an eight year old girl who had a crush on Larry. Now, everyone had grown tired of their constant bickering and were eager for it to blow over.

“I don’t know, exactly, Emily.” Fiona told her sister, her own heart frozen with fear at the prospect of not seeing any of the men anytime soon. They were strong women, but running from such a powerful enemy with three small children would be hard. It would be nice to have the men with them; they were strong, smart and capable. They had gotten them this far, at least.

Emily bit her lip nervously and opted not to ask anymore questions which Fiona did not have the answer to, anyway. She took the small canvas bag into which Fiona had stuffed the items which Emily cherished the most and followed her sister down the hall to her own room. No matter what happened, she knew she did not want to be left alone.

*********************************************************

Colleen dressed in her riding habit and had gathered her things into a small trunk, when she remembered that she had left behind the mask which Bono had worn as Macphisto, the first night they had made love. It was a silly, sentimental thing, but she did not want to leave without it. The carriage had been brought around front and was waiting for them. She trusted the driver, but had tried not to draw too much attention from the other servants.

It was almost over, now. The very air had a feeling of finality. They had reached a sharp turning point in the proverbial road, and though she did not know what lay beyond the corner, she had great hope that it would be better than this.

She left the trunk waiting on the landing and doubled back to her room. She kept the mask hidden in her closet, where the servants were less likely to find it. She stood on tip-toe and shuffled through the hatboxes and sundries on the shelf with it. Finally her hand found it, the ceramic cool against her skin. She took it down from the shelf and looked at it, smiling at the memories it stirred.

“Going somewhere, my love?” She heard Garvin’s sharp voice ask, a shudder running through her body at the surprise. She spun to see him just inside her room, closing the heavy door behind himself. Nervously, she clutched the mask to her breast with both hands.

“Garvin!” She breathed, her mind racing nearly as fast as her heart.

“Why are you so surprised to see me? This is my home, after all.” He commented, his words dripping with bitterness. “My home, into which you have invited thieves and pirates. The very people whom I dedicate my life to seeing punished!” He continued, his face turning a mottled red, his ears so bright that they were nearly crimson.

“I – I don’t know what you’re -” She tried to deny his accusation, but he wasn’t listening.

“They must’ve been having a grand laugh at my ignorance, weren’t they?” He laughed bitterly, his eyes flashing with a passion she’d never known him to possess. “What is that you have there?” He wondered, his eyebrows drawing together as he snatched the mask out of her hands. She tried to hold on to it, but he was far stronger than she was.

She watched his face as recognition bloomed in his eyes. His right eye began to twitch slightly, and his lips were pursed so tight that they were just a thin, white line across his face.

“It was him?!” He muttered, his thumb running along the smooth porcelain horns on the mask. “It was HIM!” he raged, throwing the mask against the wall and smashing it to tiny pieces. Colleen cried out, frightened tears spilling over her lashes to stain her cheeks.

“It was not just Clayton whom you aided, then. You’re involved with them far more deeply than I ever imagined.” He mumbled, more to himself than to Colleen. He turned and stepped toward her, pinning her against the wall. “Bono was here! He was in my house!” He screamed, and Colleen swallowed hard over the lump of fear which had formed in her throat.

“He was in more than just your house.” She told him, her words defiant, though her voice trembled.

“Irish whore!” Garvin roared, striking her across the face with the back of his hand. Colleen’s head snapped to the side and her knees buckled from the force of it. She was struggling to rise when he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to her feet, then dragged her toward the bed.

“He’s a better man than you’ll ever even dream of being!” She told him, struggling to get away, her temper now in control, rather than her fear. She managed to land a fairly severe kick to the man’s shin and he released his grip on her for a moment. She tried to sprint for the door, but felt his hands on her waist, lifting her off the ground. She screamed in rage and frustration as he threw her onto the bed and pinned her down with his own body weight.

“Bloody Irish whore!” He spat as he wrestled for control, getting his hands around Colleens throat and squeezing tightly. She scratched at his hands, tried to pry them loose finger by finger, but could not. The pain was shadowed by the panic as her vision began to swim and run red, and the white spots started to form. She kicked and scratched and pushed but he would not budge.

Everything went black and she felt herself sinking away from the sound of Garvin’s ragged breathing, the smell of his sweat, the feeling of his hands against her throat. She thought of Bono and hoped he would know that she had loved him more than anyone else in her life.

****************************************************************

“What is taking so bloody long?” Carra demanded, barging into Colleen’s room without bothering to knock. It took a moment for her mind to understand what her eyes were seeing, but once it registered she was charging forward to tackle the man attacking her friend.

Carra and Garvin tumbled over one another and off the bed onto the hard floor, where they continued to scramble and struggle for the upper hand. Carra was grateful to be dressed in her own clothes, breeches and a simple shirt. She knew there was no way she would be able to defend herself in a dress, especially against someone who would exploit every weakness he saw.


Even as she was trying to plan her next move, Garvin managed to get the leverage to free his sword from it’s scabbard. She tried to roll clear but felt the sting of the cold metal as it sliced into the side of her abdomen. She felt the burn of her blood spilling and muttered a curse under her breath. She could almost hear Larry’s scolding voice, telling her had warned her so many times not to be so careless.

She forced herself to her feet, one arm clutching her wounded side protectively. She wasn’t done just yet. She swayed on her feet as she approached him, his back turned to her as he looked to see where Colleen had gone. As she bent to withdraw her dagger from her boot, he rushed to peer down over the other side, thinking perhaps she had fallen when the pirate woman had attacked. She was not there, either. He heard the hinges on the door squeak and looked up to see Colleen approaching, one of his pistols cocked and ready to fire.

“Surprised to see me?” Colleen asked, her voice a harsh whisper. Before he could even consider getting the gun out of her hands, though, he felt a sudden sharp pain in his side. His eyes were losing focus and he could not seem to draw a breath, he realized as he stumbled forward. He grabbed the bedpost for support and looked down to see the handle of a dagger protruding from his ribcage.

He cast a look back over his shoulder to see Carra standing, her white shirt nearly saturated in blood. He realized in the moment before the darkness overcame him completely that he had underestimated her.

“I should have finished you off.” He managed to mutter as he collapsed onto the floor, his corpse leaning against the bed as if he were simply sitting there to rest.

“It would take a better man than you.” She told him, though her knees were trembling and she could not find her center of balance. She had lost a lot of blood, and she was not entirely convinced he had not managed to kill her slowly.


“Carra!” Colleen cried out, one hand covering her mouth as she saw her friends injuries. She dropped the pistol onto a nearby chair and hurried to wrap a supportive arm around her waist. She wasn’t sure she would make it as far as the door, but somehow they managed to make it all the way out to the carriage.

The others had managed to lift Carra into the carriage when they heard the riders approaching. Colleen wished she had thought to bring the pistol with them, but knew there was no time to go back for it now. Within moments the riders were drawing their horses to a halt just a few yards away. Her heart leapt when the moonlight caught in Bono’s shiny black hair, and she climbed down from the carriage and rushed to greet him.

He swept her up into his embrace and kissed her on top of the head, murmuring his thanks to God that she was there and he was holding her. He felt her start to sob and looked down at her, frowning severely when he saw the redness and bruising on her face and throat. Then his eyes found the blood which had smeared onto Colleen when she helped Carra. The fear in his eyes cut through her sorrow.

“It’s not mine.” She told him softly, turning to see Adam and Fiona having a similar reunion. “It’s Carra’s.”

*************************************************************

“Where are they?” Larry demanded, pacing the deck as the others rushed around, preparing the ship. They knew they had to be both smart and swift as they fled. A battle, with the women and children aboard, was not an option. “They’re taking too long. Something went wrong!”

“Larry, you couldn’t be both places at once and we didn’t have time to wait for you. You are needed here, to help prepare the ship and to plot out our course of retreat. Trust Bono, Adam and the others to collect the women and children. You trust these men with your own life every day.” Edge reasoned with his friend.

“I’m not worried about my own life.” Larry told him seriously. “I’m worried about my family.”

“Come along, let’s be ready to leave as soon as they return.” Edge urged his friend, his own mind burdened with the same concerns. It was only a few moments later when Paul interrupted them as they studied maps which Larry had memorized long ago.

“They’re back.” He said, his face pale. Larry and Edge both moved for the door, but Paul blocked the way. “Larry… it’s Carra…” he said, his voice breaking. Edge looked to see his friend stiffen at the words, his teeth clenching, and fists forming. He already knew the news must be bad, and he would not accept it until he saw whatever it was with his own two eyes. He pushed past Paul before the man had a chance to finish, and Edge hurried to keep up.

Larry hurried above deck and immediately saw Bono approaching, Carra in his arms.

“Carra!” He called out, grabbing her out of his friends arms so forcefully that he nearly knocked Bono to the ground in the process. When Carra opened her eyes he cried out again, this time in thanks, kissing her on the forehead.

“What happened?” He asked, his eyes searching hers.

“It’s nothing. A scratch.” She joked, smiling weakly as he carried her to his bed and lifted her shirt to examine her injury.

“Who did this to you?” He demanded as he covered the wound with clean linens.

“Audley.” She managed to tell him, her voice weak. He did not like how pale her skin was, or how tired she seemed to feel. She saw the color rise in his cheeks, the familiar set of his jaw.

“I’ll kill the bastard.” He muttered, and she smiled at him.

“You underestimate me.” She told him. “That was his mistake as well.”

Larry stared down at her for a moment, his mind processing her words, and then he laughed in relief. Hers was a spirit which a man like Audley would never break. He kissed her gently and told her he loved her.

“There’s no time for that.” She told him, We need to get the others to safety.”

Larry nodded in agreement and turned to see Emily standing in the doorway waiting for him to see her. She held a bundle of cloth in her arms, which she stepped forward to offer him.

“Her name is Morrigan, after the queen of the fairies.” She told him, and Larry looked down in awe at the tiny baby sleeping soundly through this chaos. With trembling hands he reached out and took her, amazed at how little she weighed, how small she felt in his arm. He cradled her against his chest in one arm, pulling back the blankets to better see her face.

Feeling the chill, she blinked her eyes and looked up at him, studying his face with great interest.

“She’s heard a great deal about you.” Carra told him, holding out her arms for her baby. Larry settled her gently in her mothers arms and kissed his daughter softly on the forehead.

“She’s as beautiful as the sunrise.” He said, and Carra chuckled.

“You’ve been spending too much time with Bono. She teased, and Larry chuckled.

“Let’s get her somewhere safe.” Paul said as he joined them, glad to see his daughter and granddaughter were safe.

“Larry?” Carra called as they hurried to go back to work. He turned back to look at her, his silver eyes still shining with relief.

“I love you.” She told him.

“I know.” He replied with a smirk.

They had barely arrived on deck when Larry saw the ship appear out of the darkness. They had extinguished every light and navigated blindly so that no one would see them coming. Now that they were close enough to block the aingeal from leaving the quay, the ship looked like a ghost or a shadow. A giant emptiness on the horizon, waiting to swallow them whole.

“We’re about to be boarded.” Larry told Paul, who looked up in shock, struggling to see what Larry was looking at.

“Bollocks!” Paul exclaimed, “Ready arms!” He shouted to the men, who scrambled to understand the order as they heard the call from a dinghy at the waterline.

“Surrender your arms! There is no escape!” The man called. Larry looked to his left and right and saw the men who stood shoulder to shoulder with him, ready to fight. Bono, Edge and Adam on his left. Paul on his right.

“Should we ready the canons?” Gavin called from his position across the deck.

“No.” Larry replied, his voice as firm and commanding as ever. “We’re going to surrender.”

“What?” Bono asked, shock written clearly across his face.

“I will not forfeit the lives of your wives and children. We cannot win a battle, our supplies are dwindling and we are short crewed.” He explained. He moved to the port side and called out to the soldiers waiting below that they would not fight. He stood and watched as they were boarded, ready to accept what he saw as his trade for the lives of the innocent.

“Are you the captain of this ship?” A commanding voice asked, approaching from behind.

“Aye.” Larry replied, turning to look the man in the eye. There was something familiar about him immediately, though Larry could not quite understand what it was. Perhaps it was the air of graceful dignity about him, or the set of his jaw, but he felt as if he knew the man though he had never lain eyes on him before.

“You’re much younger than I expected.” The man said, looking Larry up and down appraisingly. “Though, I suppose I might’ve recognized your actions as springing from the sort of passion and enthusiasm only a young man feels.” The soldiers stood waiting for his order, eyeing the pirates suspiciously.

“I’m looking for someone whom it has been reported is affiliated with you and the crew of your ship.” The man continued, and in the second before he said it, Larry knew who the man was to whom he spoke.

“Adam.” He said, and the man smiled.

“My son.” He agreed. Larry nodded to Bono and the others and then escorted the commodore to his son.

“Adam.” The man addressed his son brusquely as Adam stared at his father in shock, his emotions conflicted. He felt the way he had when he was a small boy and had been caught doing something he’d been warned not to.

“Father.” He managed to say.

“I’ve heard a great many stories about what you have been doing these past months.” The man said, smiling softly. “It would almost appear as if you had found something you believed in.”

“I have.” Adam agreed.

“Was it worth it? Is this all worth dying for? Hanging from the gallows as an example?”

“It is.” Adam replied curtly, looking his father directly in the eye without flinching. Much to his surprise, his father smiled. He turned to Bono, Edge, Larry and Paul and looked at each of them.

“You have managed in a few short months to do what I have tried to do since I became a father. You brought the nobility out in my son.” He told them, turning back to Adam. “I do not agree with your methods, and I do not entirely understand why this is where you found your calling. I know one thing, however. I am proud of you.”

Adam’s lips parted as he stared at his father in disbelief. Had he heard correctly? Perhaps he was already dying, and this was a hallucination.

“You…”

“I am proud of you, Adam.” He reaffirmed his statement, and Adam felt his lip quiver as he was nearly overcome with emotion.

“I gave up hope of that years ago.” He said, trying to sound light.

“You took a stand for something you believed in, Adam. That was all I’ve ever really asked of you.”

Adam could argue that point, but chose not to. He didn’t want to ruin the moment.

“You will not lose your life for this, though I will lose my son.” He informed them. “I cannot grant you pardon, but I can buy you time.”

“You aren’t going to arrest us?” Edge asked.

“The American colonies are fighting a very similar fight to the one you have waged. They fight to build a country where men are free. You have probably heard that they are losing miserably.” The commodore informed them, addressing them as if they were his own soldiers. “But that is not entirely true. I suspect that they will soon have won their war and will need a few men like you to help build their New World.”

“You’re letting us leave?”

“It won’t be an easy journey, and there is still a chance you will be caught and punished. But I will not be the one to punish you.” He told them, turning back to look Adam in the eye once more. “Good luck to you all.” He told them before turning and ordering his men to return to their own ship.

Once the British vessel was underway, Larry began ordering the men around so that they could get underway. They would still have to risk stopping for supplies, but somehow they could all feel that the danger had passed. They were free, and they were going to build new lives and a whole New World.


~A slightly more optimistic ending
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Old 01-09-2006, 05:19 PM   #2
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I know happier endings are always ideal, but I think I like your first ending better. It made me more emotional.


But with either ending, I loved the story the same!
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Old 01-11-2006, 05:53 PM   #3
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Yea, OPTIMISM!!!
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Old 01-12-2006, 11:43 AM   #4
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Yaaay love the story, love both endings, love all your writing.

I have a question now. Do you take commissions? I have an idea for a story that I think only you could pull off, and it would be so cool if you actually wrote it
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Old 01-12-2006, 01:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Elsie
Yaaay love the story, love both endings, love all your writing.

I have a question now. Do you take commissions? I have an idea for a story that I think only you could pull off, and it would be so cool if you actually wrote it
I'm always open to suggestion You can share your idea with me, and I'll tell you if I think it's something I'd be interested in. You can post it here or e-mail me if you want to. LWpic@yahoo.com






Thanks to all of you guys for the wonderful comments and support!
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Old 01-15-2006, 07:34 PM   #6
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