Daniel Williams

Arwen Blackgrace: Part Three

In Arwen Blackgrace, Stories, Writing on 25/07/2013 at 18:00

And now- the belated part three of Arwen Blackgrace, apologies for the delay. Beatrice Seastone is now on the run after murdering a man who twice unsuccessfully tried to kidnap her. Lost and alone, she is no closer to the truth of Giles Corrigan’s murder or the truth of her birth..

Arwen Blackgrace

Part Three

The sun was beginning to rise.

I sat on a stone wall in the harbour. I’d spent the most of the night walking nowhere.

I’d killed a man.

A man who was trying to take me away.

‘I got a man who wants you,’ he’d said.

I felt sick to my stomach.

I’d spent most of the night hiding in alleys and walking with my head down so nobody could see.

Ships were anchored in the harbour. I imagined sneaking on board, sailing away and never looking back. What was in Seastone for me?

My life could have been so very different. If I had known my parents, if they had kept me, if I hadn’t been born on Seastone, if, if, if…

A young man sat down next to me. I hadn’t noticed him approach. He was wearing a red waistcoat and had black curly hair. He smiled at me.

I stood up and walked away. I walked along the harbour and sat down on a part of the wall much further away.

As I sat down, I saw out of the corner of my eye the young man get up and walk my way. When me caught up with me he once again sat by my side.

I got up. So did he.

‘What do you want?’ I snapped at him.

‘Hello,’ he said. In the early morning light I could see his pale face was full of freckles and he was grinning. ‘My name’s Devon. What’s yours?’

‘Go away.’

‘Go away?’ He said following me, ‘Do your mates call you ‘go’ or ‘away’?’

I turned to face him, ‘Go away or I’ll cut your balls off.’ I went to reach for the letter opener but it was gone.

The letter opener was in Devon’s hand. He held it up to me.

‘Give that back.’ I reached to snatch it but he held it away.

‘Allow me to introduce myself properly,’ he said, and held his arms out. ‘I am Devon- thief, vagabond and gentleman rogue, at your service.’

‘Give that back.’ I snatched at the letter opener again.

He took a step back. ‘Look, Miss. Go Away,’ he said, ‘I’ll give you it back, I just have to get you somewhere first.’

My heart sunk. They’d found me already. There was really was nowhere I could go.

He said, ‘I’m working for this lady, works for a church or something.’

‘A lady?’

‘A nice, god-fearing, lady. Heard about your landlord and wants to offer you a job.’

I said, ‘And why should you believe you?’

‘You shouldn’t,’ he said. He stuck his hands in his pockets. ‘Didn’t you hear the bit about thief, vagabond and gentleman rogue?’

The young man shook his head and sighed. ‘Look, some rich lady said find this barmaid for me, and I said, “I could find you a dozen”, she said, “no, I want this one, so I can offer her a job in Pentia”, and I said, “well is she pretty”? And she said, “shut up and have these coins”.’

I said, ‘What job?’

He shrugged. ‘I dunno. Something about Pentia.’

Pentia was a country in the south. A warm sunny place, I’d heard.

Devon said, ‘She’s a nice lady. No funny stuff.’

I looked about.

‘I’ll go with you,’ I said, ‘ only if you give me my knife.’

‘I’d hardly call it a knife, Go Away.’

I held my hand out. He smirked and handed the letter opener back. I held it close to me. There was still blood on it. There was still blood on me.

Devon jumped up onto the harbour wall and started walking along. ‘Come along, Go Away.’

I muttered something under my breath and followed alongside him.

After a while he go bored of walking on the wall and jumped down to walk beside me.

‘Cheer up,’ he said.

I scowled at him.

He turned left and we went from the harbour and towards the town.

‘I bet you don’t even know who’s been seen about recently? Go on, guess.’

I didn’t reply because I had no interest in pursuing his conversation.

He said, ‘Byron Blackgrace.’

‘Where?’ I said.

‘Just his ship,’ Devon said. ‘Heard some of the sailors talking about it. The Black Prince spotted about.’

I said to Devon, ‘Is he heading here?’

‘Byron Blackgrace?’ He laughed, ‘Not likely. What’d a Blackgrace want with this crappy little island?’

I looked across at the young man walking beside me and said, ‘How old are you?’

‘Seventeen,’ he said without looking at me.

I raised my eyebrows.

‘All right- sixteen,’ he said.

‘Oh.’

He started to chew the nail of his thumb and then said, ‘All right, fifteen, but I’m so close to being sixteen that I practically am sixteen. Besides,’ he said skipping around a pile of muck in the street, ‘I look older and I’m very mature.’

At the top of the street was a hotel called The Hollow Crown. It was a tall wide building. It catered for rich travellers rather than ordinary sailors.

We went inside. An older woman, the proprietor, I think, looked across at us, and Devon gave her a wave. He dashed up the stairs, taking two at a time.

The Hollow Crown was a much cleaner place than The Hope and Anchor. I hadn’t been inside such a large place, except for the Seastone orphanage.

Devon stopped at a door with a number on it. He waited for me to catch up and then knocked on the door.

‘Enter,’ said a lady’s voice from within.

Devon held the door open for me. I nervously stepped inside. The room was twice as big as mine at the Hope and Anchor had been. In the corner was a large bed with a chest at its foot. On the other side were a table and chairs. And standing next to a window was a lady in a dress the colour of a dark red wine. She was older than me by many years but her face was very striking. She had long dark hair. Covering her neck was a delicate red scarf.

‘Here she is,’ Devon said, ‘Miss. Go Away.’

‘Thank you,’ the lady said. She smiled at me, ‘Please’. She motioned to the table. I slowly walked towards it and sat down. Devon stood nearby.

‘Help yourself,’ the lady said, indicating the jug of wine on the table.

Devon took a glass and filled it to the brim. I didn’t take any.

‘Who are you?’ I said leaning forward. ‘What do you want with me?’

She smiled kindly. ‘My name is Lydia Pryce.’ She walked towards the table. ‘Before I was…married, I was Lydia Seastone.’

She pulled out a chair and then sat down at the table.

‘I was born here,’ she said. ‘I’d lived in the orphanage for fourteen years before I…sailed away. I now live in Pentia. I run an orphanage.’

Devon’s arm came close to my face as he reached for the wine jug.

Lydia continued, ‘It’s a very different orphanage to Seastone. We care for the children, not just while they are with us, but afterwards. Being an orphan can…limit your choices.’ She smiled. But it was not a happy smile.

I said, ‘Why me?’

‘I heard about what happened to you. What happened to…Giles Corrigan.’ Her fingers drummed on the table then they were still. ‘With the death of…that man, I was worried your choices would be limited. I searched for you, until this…young man offered his services to find you.’

Devon raised his glass to me.

‘Beatrice,’ Lydia said. ‘I very much want you to come and work for me. You can leave all this behind you. You’ll never have to see Seastone again, not if you don’t wish to.’

All times I had dreamed that I was on one of the ships leaving Seastone and sailing away…here was my chance. Lydia told me that she had booked passage on the ship, I wouldn’t have to worry about money. All that she asked is that I work at the orphanage she ran.

‘To be born a Seastone is to be limited,’ she said. ‘But with my children in Pentia, we strive to open the world for them, not close it. And who better to help than orphans…like us.’

The red scarf started to slip from around her neck and she quickly pulled it up. Underneath I could a glimpse of something. It looked like a birthmark, but I couldn’t be sure.

Devon said, ‘Sounds great. Can I come?’

Leaving Seastone had been all I had dreamed about for so long. Even if I worked in an orphanage for a year or more, I would still be away from Seastone. I would in Pentia. I’d heard that Pentia was much warmer and sunnier than this island.

But if I went would I ever find out about what happened to Giles? He’d taken me from the orphanage, given me a job, a place to live…and maybe a past. If I left now would I ever find out the truth about whether or not I was Arwen Blackgrace?

Lydia looked at me expectantly. Slowly, I nodded my head. She broke out in a grin.

‘Oh, wonderful, wonderful,’ she said. ‘The boat sails this evening so we can-’

‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘there’s some things of mine I’d like to get first. Clothes, keepsakes.’

Lydia’s smile dropped. ‘Well…Devon can get them, just tell him-’

‘I’d rather get them myself.’ I pushed the chair back and stood up. ‘He wouldn’t know what he was looking for.’

Lydia stood up as well. ‘I can get you new clothes, you needn’t worry about them.’

‘Don’t worry,’ I said to her with all the sincerity I could muster. ‘I will be back. I want to leave this place.’

Lydia paused and said in a small voice, ‘If you are…confident…’

‘Yes. I just want to get these things. Devon can go with me.’

Devon put the wine jug on the table. He said, ‘I’ll just add this job onto the bill.’

We left the room and Lydia seemed to cling to the doorframe. ‘How long will you be?’

‘Half a day,’ I offered.

‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Oh. Well…’

‘Until later,’ I said.

‘Yes. Yes, later, of course.’

Devon and I went down the staircase of The Hollow Crown and onto the street.

‘So…’ Devon said. ‘Are we going back or did you arrange this so we could run away together?’

I shook my head. ‘No. I’m going back. I’ll take that ship. But there’s something I need to know first. Devon?’

‘Yes?’

‘I’ve got until this evening to find out everything I can about the Blackgraces.’

‘Right.’

‘I can pay you.’

He leaned against the wall of the inn. ‘And here’s me thinking you wanted me for my company.’

‘Do you know who in Seastone knows the most about the Blackgraces and…what happened to the daughter?’

He looked over at me. He looked completely puzzled. ‘I didn’t want to say this, but you know you’re wanted by the Governor’s men? For murder. Widow Pryce was paying me extra to find you before they did.’

Seastone was beginning awaken. There were more people in the streets.

‘Then I just have to stay out of their way before the ship to Pentia this evening,’ I said. ‘But I can’t go without find out about Arwen Blackgrace. I have to, Devon.’

‘I know a man.’

He jumped up and said. ‘We best get a move on then.’ He darted up the street suddenly. ‘Come along, Go Away,’ he called.

I followed him.

******

Part Four: 29/7/13

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