Walk towards the light on your right; maybe your would-be rescuer is waiting for you there.

You move cautiously toward the light. The underground passage opens into an irregular cave. In the center, a candle stands on a simple wooden trestle table. An empty stool sits on one side of the table. The stool across the table from it is occupied. You assume that the large, heavily-bearded man there is your rescuer.

"Sit." The word is almost growled, and is plainly more order than request. When you hesitate, the man gestures at the stool and says again, "Sit. C'mon, don't be all day about it."

You decide that you might as well see what this man wants. If he went to all this trouble to get you out of having your neck stretched on the gallows, he must want something from you pretty badly. You might even have the opportunity to get something for yourself out of this. People who want something badly enough are usually people who are blind to anything but the object of their obsessions. You cross to the stool and sit.

"Wonderin' why ye were saved, I wager. Well, here's th' long and short o' it. The guv'nor o' this here port, he wants ye to do summat. If ye do it, ye'll be pardoned. If ye don't, well, killed while tryin' to 'escape' or a hangin', it's all th' same to him."

"And what is it he wants?" You try to put into your voice confidence you don't really feel. From the look on the face of the governor's man, you don't think you succeeded.

"Ye've heard o' John Rackham? Captain o' the Fortune? Aye, I see ye have. He's a plague on these waters, and no mistake. Th' scuttlebutt says he's got a hidden achorage. The guv'nor's ships have never found more than a rumor o' it. And that's where ye come in. Yer goin' t' get yerself aboard his ship, be one o' his crew. And as soon as ye've got th' compass bearin's for Rackham's cove, ye'll report those bearin's to th' guv'nors men right quick. But know that if ye get captured again, th' guv'nor will deny all knowledge o' ye, and the hangin' will be for real this time."

"And what happens when my crew reports me captured? If you know about me, then you know my ship was part of Rackham's fleet."

The grin that splits the man's beard is wolfish. "Aye, and so they'd have done, did yer old ship not lie at th' bottom o' th' sea." He growls a laugh at your surprised reaction to this news. "Aye, they was caught at sea th' day after we got ye. Yer ship was sunk, all hands lost. Ye did hear that dead men tell no tales, aye? Well, their storyin' days are done."

You sit back, keeping your face as blank as you can as you consider your options.

The End

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