Opening the door next to the window with extreme care, Merlin felt a light breeze escape the small crack. The door led to a second level, which then in turn led to a stairs that went down to the deck. Sheridan was right at the bottom of the stairs, meters away from Merlin.
The young warlock could see a trapdoor at the top of the stairs. If he could slip through there then he would be hidden under the staircase where he could throw the piece of paper bearing the Black Spot at Sheridan.
He opened the door a tiny bit further and slunk out. Now on the other side and in the open air, Merlin felt somewhat venerable, so he shut the door quietly, and keeping a wary eye on Sheridan, flicked the trapdoor’s catch away and opened it. Hoping it would not creak, he pushed it up and was relieved when it did not. He did not want to be seen by the many sailors who were on the deck, alerted by the cries of man overboard, so he slithered his body through the door.
He dropped to the floor with a thud. Sheridan turned around and Merlin scrabbled further into the shadows to escape his sharp eyes. After a few moments in which the young warlock was absolutely certain that the hated man could see him, Sheridan turned back to face the crowd by the side of the ship.
Sending a silent thank you to the sky, Merlin crawled closer towards him, pulling the scrunched up paper from his pocket. Sheridan’s hand flew to the back of his neck as the scroll hit him and fell to the floor. He looked around, and, seeing it, picked it up and looked at it closely before unfurling it until it was flat and spread out between his hands.
Merlin grinned broadly as Sheridan started shaking, his eyes widening as he saw the dreaded mark. The man swallowed and cast his gaze around, in search of the origins of the mysterious paper. When he saw no one, however, he reverted his eyes back to the Black Spot. Then he did something Merlin never thought he’d see in his entire life, or anyone else’s for that matter.
With a crash, he fell to the floor, out cold. Toms, who had been in the crows-nest as regimented, caught sight of him and stood, gaping for a moment before quickly grabbing hold of the rigging and sliding down to peer curiously at the unconscious man. The crowd also noticed and hurried over to gawp in wonder. One of them detected the scroll of paper and picked it up. The man’s eyes widened as he saw what was on it and leapt back, throwing it to the ground where it innocently lay, showing the rest of Sheridan’s ‘inner circle’ the mark it was bearing…
Merlin watched with glee as every one of them began muttering prayers and even held their arms up as crosses to protect themselves from the homemade curse. Everything was going splendidly!
A thumping of footsteps announced the arrival of Brun and his men. The Captain strode over, two burly sailors right behind him, backing him up. Merlin deemed it safe to come out from his hiding place how, and received several gasps and looks of loathing from the ‘inner circle’ of whom were being tied up by the faithful men in the crew. He just smiled smugly at them and folded his arms as Sheridan was hauled to his feet. An especially bright sailor who had a bucket handy, sloshed the cold water over the unconscious man, and Sheridan woke up with a start. The first person he saw was Merlin, and the young warlock could not help but raise an aloof eyebrow at the sight of his utterly outraged expression.
“Sheridan,” Brun began, stepping forward, “for traitorous crimes against me, the captain of this ship, I hereby sentence you and your men to be thrown overboard where you will hopefully sink to Davy Jones’s Locker, never to be smelt again.”
Several people looked confused by this last remark, but pulled the snarling Sheridan and his men to the edge of the ship nevertheless. Just before he was hurled over the side, Sheridan cast Merlin a look of deepest hatred. He did not know how Merlin had escaped, nor did he know how he had found out about the mutiny, but one thing he was quite certain of, and that was how he would get his sweet, sweet revenge. His thoughts were quite evident in his eyes, and Merlin should have been frightened, had he known what the future held, but his sprits were too high to be dampened and he just smirked as Sheridan was thrown over the side of the ship, quickly followed by his men.
While the faithful remainders of the crew returned to their work, looking quite pleased with themselves, the young warlock stood, hands on the guardrail, watching the man who had made his stay on the ship a living nightmare, drift out of his life. No more pain or humiliation. No more hatred and loneliness. At last, he was free of him.
Maybe now, Brun would take him to a dock where he could somehow find his way back to Camelot…back to his friends…back to those who cared about him…back to Arthur.
Walking up to the captain, Merlin cleared his throat. Brun turned around and peered at him from behind his spectacles.
“I was wondering,” Merlin began, “now that Sheridan is gone, you could take me to a dock so I can go home. You know I don’t belong here.”
“Well, we’re going to make port in a few days,” Brun said. “We’re going to Stormwake docks, it’s near the mountains of Berwyn. It’s where I’m heading for. I can drop you off there.”
“Berwyn?” Merlin inquired, curious, though unable to stop a grin from growing onto his face as the realization that he would soon be back on land and one step closer to Camelot dawned on him.
Brun looked rather edgy upon hearing his question, and avoided looking him in the eye.
“Err…it’s nowhere special…” he mumbled as a reply. “Anyway, there are more important matters to discus. Rather recently I find myself with an awful lot of paperwork and so have little time to clean up after myself. How do you fancy a promotion to my cabin boy?” Merlin opened his mouth, but Brun went on before he could speak, “Oh, good! You can start immediately! First I want you to alphabetically organize all the books in my study, and then you can do the same to all the papers that are…sort of…around…somewhere. After that, you can come and see me and I’ll give you something more to do, yes?”
Merlin nodded. He couldn’t do much else.
“You know,” the Captain continued. Merlin stared at him in horror as he realised he was about to launch into one of his tales again. “I had this cabin boy once, a long time ago it was, actually. He was pretty dreadful; let me tell you! On his first day, he managed to spill rum all over my desk, drop my entire collection of miniature pig warriors over the side of the ship, accidentally murder a parrot and…well…I’m not telling you last one…but he was terrible. Anyway, after I discovered his uses, of which there weren’t many, I sent him to work for a cousin of mine. I really couldn’t put up with him anymore and I’ve always wanted to get my own back on my cousin for stealing my favourite eye patch. Anyway, a few days after that, I was sent word that my cousin – wait, where are you going?”
Merlin, who had tried to creep off, groaned inwardly, and dismally made his way back to the Captain.
“So, as I was saying, a few days after that, I was sent word that my cousin had been disfigured by a cutlass his cabin boy had dropped. So, unless you want to end up chopping peoples feet off,” Brun pointed a finger at Merlin like a pistol and waggled it warningly, “I suggest you do a good job of those papers. Now, off you go! I want them done now!”Trying to recover from this newest ramble, Merlin dazedly made his way back to Brun’s cabin, which the Captain was designating.