honorat: (Jack Sparrow Confesses by Honorat)
[personal profile] honorat
By Honorat
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Well, excuse me if I haven't resigned myself to not owning POTC just yet.

Summary: More of the epic of the blacksmith and the pirate. Jack meet Donkey. Donkey meet Jack. Complaints about the treatment of animals in this episode may be directed to Captain Jack Sparrow, the Black Pearl, the Caribbean or possibly anywhere else in the world. More movie novelization and missing scenes.

Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] geek_mama_2, for the wonderful beta work; I’ll buy you a hat—a really big one. And thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rennie1265 for suggestions as well.

Links to previous chapters:
Prologue: To Miss An Appointment
Ch. 1: Pirate Attack

* * * * *

If he was going to capture that pirate, Lieutenant Gillette knew he would have to act swiftly. Delegating Murtogg and Mulroy to carry orders, he arranged for blockades on the roads and paths out of town. Then the lieutenant set patrols for the waterfront—the man had said he’d come to commandeer a ship. Finally, he organized units, each composed of eight men, to search the town.

“You will find Jack Sparrow,” he informed the men, “if you have to enter every single building in Port Royal.”

Returning from the docks, Mr. Murtogg trotted up to him carrying a bundle of fabric. “Here’s his coat—that Jack Sparrow’s.” He offered the item to the lieutenant. “Will you be wanting dogs, sir?”

That might not be a bad idea. If Sparrow had managed to make it out of the town before the ways had been cut off, dogs might be their only chance of tracking him down.

“See to it,” he ordered.

“Yes, sir.” Murtogg dashed off with Sparrow’s coat to conscript a pair of hunting dogs.

All necessary action seemed to be in motion. Lieutenant Gillette headed to report to Commodore Norrington.

* * * * *

In general, Captain Jack Sparrow liked to do his escaping in the middle of crowds of people. Not only did they make it easier for him to blend in, but they made wonderful obstacles for his pursuers. In a panic, a good crowd could chain a herd of marines like an anchor to windward. However, today he’d just as soon the whole of Port Royal were home with the cholera. There were only so many shadows in which a man could skulk when it was the middle of the day. And these bloody over-sized bracelets he happened to be wearing made him stand out like a fox in a henhouse.

He could have been out of this pestilential town and well on his way to distant ports by now if he hadn’t had to move so circumspectly, if he hadn’t had to backtrack so many times, if sharp vulgar eyes hadn’t kept spying the chains he was so carefully keeping silent, if loud treacherous voices hadn’t kept bellowing, “’Ey! ‘E’s over ‘ere!” And then he would have to turn and run, to slam into impossibly small spaces, to drag his own weight by sheer force of determination over walls he’d never imagined he could climb. To hide inside doorways until frantic householders drove him out with shrieks and broom handles. To dodge thrown refuse until he’d made it to an undisturbed street again. And then to do it all over again until the despair was almost monotonous.

Watching, always watching until he thought his eyes would burst into flames, for the first hint of red coats or blue with gold braid. Whose bright idea had it been, anyway, for him to come to the headquarters of the British Fleet in the Caribbean to commandeer a ship? He’d swear there were more soldiers here than citizens. Everywhere he tried to turn, there they’d be, quick-marching along in their little double columns, rifles at the ready, bayonets aimed, calling reports and orders back and forth, their blood-red uniforms a symbol of their intentions.

He’d slipped the entire contents of the harbourmaster’s purse to a couple of local ne’er-do-well’s in exchange for a disturbance started at one end of town while he ran for the other, but that had only bought him a little time—a little space to catch his breath, to reorient himself, to try to come up with a new plan. He needed to lose these shackles, and he needed to lose them now.

A shout rang out, followed by the clatter of military boots, and Jack cursed his luck to the deepest circle of hell. Sprinting up the street, he dodged under an archway and found himself in a quiet square with only a couple of women packing up the last of what looked like vegetables they’d brought to market. Halting before he caught their attention, he drew back into the shadows of the arch. But he could hear the marines approaching from several directions, and he knew he had only moments to choose a course of action. He drew his sword, just in case he chose the wrong one.

Frantically he scanned the ring of buildings. Several of them were within sight of the women; one of them had a promising looking staircase up the outside of it, but he’d never make it there unobserved. Right beside his archway, however, was a niche with a bronze sculpture of a blacksmith in it. With a flicker of movement, Jack squeezed his slender form into the thin space behind the statue. He was counting on no one imagining that space was there. It suited his perverse sense of humour to slip his sword into the brazen smith’s open grip on the anvil—give the man something to be striking with that upraised hammer.

He was barely in time. One of the women turned, basket over her arm, and came towards the arch. Then a door across the square opened, and a man walked purposefully straight at Jack’s hiding place. The pirate tensed. Had this man been watching out a window? But no. The man simply plodded his way through a flock of hens to the large double doors beside the niche. He pounded on the door; however, when no answer was forthcoming he started back across the square. Jack made a note that those doors likely concealed an empty room. And if the sign above told truth, that room would contain all the tools necessary for him to rid himself of his unwanted jewelry. If he could just have the moment of time he needed!

At that instant, a company of marines burst into the square, startling its inhabitants. The women glanced up from their produce and froze. A man wringing out a cloth on a doorstep looked up for a moment, then dismissed the intrusion and kept at his task. The first set of marines was met from the other direction by the group that had been chasing Jack, coming through the arch right by his hiding place. Jack ceased to breathe.

“Search upstairs!” one of the officers ordered, and Jack had a moment to be grateful he had been unable to explore that route. “Step lively men!”

The two groups split up and began combing the surrounding environs. None of them noticed the possible hiding place provided by the statue. There were advantages to being smaller than a marine, Jack thought smugly. They weren’t evident when one was being yanked around by marines, but those benefits became extremely obvious when one was taking cover from marines. Men tended to search only those spaces in which they themselves would fit.

He winced as a marine jammed his bayonet into a barrel. Not being any too careful about the condition of their quarry, these men. If they found him, he’d be lucky if they’d leave enough of him to hang.

As the search party fanned away from his hiding place, Jack slowly drew his sword with a whisper of steel back through the bronze hand. Cautiously he peered around the statue’s arm. No one was looking his way. Never taking his eyes off his pursuers on the far side of the square, Jack slithered out from his hiding space. Like a piece of shadow, cut loose from the stone walls, he glided down the steps. If any one had turned, they could have seen him. But the citizens were returning to their everyday business, ignoring the jogging marines in their midst and paying no attention to nefarious pirates.

He was going to make good his escape. Jack glanced up once, confirming his impression of the symbols on the sign above the door: a pair of tongs, a hammer, and an anvil; the neatly lettered name: J. Brown. Yes. He had found the smithy. Swiftly, the pirate reached for the rough wooden door. It opened with a hollow creak, and he ducked inside.

The transition from daylight to the dim interior blinded Jack for a moment. He froze just inside the doors, letting his eyes adjust, straining his remaining senses for any hint of threat. He was not alone in the room. Somewhere a large animal was breathing; he could hear the rustle of its feet as well as smell its acrid odor and the sweet hay scent of its feed. But overall the smithy was redolent of metal and fire and dust. Gradually the light creeping between the slats of the walls and the dim glow of the fire in the central forge illuminated the place for him.

The smithy was larger than it had seemed from the outside, extending back into several open rooms partitioned by great, smoke-blackened posts and beams. He could see no one in the building. Good. Jack re-sheathed his sword. Automatically, he catalogued all the exits: the one he had entered, two windows, but they were barred, and another door on the far side. He was standing, he realized, on the large stone platform of a loading dock that wrapped around one side of the room. A flat cart butted up against the platform and acting as a ramp was the nearest means down to the floor, its single set of wheels blocked to keep it from rolling.

The animal he’d heard proved to be a small gray donkey, down in a circular pit, harnessed to one of a crossed set of bars that turned a large set of gears, probably machinery to run the bellows. It paid no attention to the pirate. Jack reflected that the indifference was mutual. He’d never had much to do with the lesser equines, hadn’t even been near a horse in years. But the creature’s movements would mask any noise he happened to make, so he was willing to tolerate its presence.

Overall, his impression of the smithy was one of order and discipline. Along one wall, cart wheels waited for their metal banding to be repaired. Scythes and plowshares and other farm equipment marched along another wall. One post was festooned with large and complicated padlocks. Racks on several other columns held swords. And Jack could see other esoteric objects neatly stored further back. Apparently Master J. Brown was an industrious and competent smith. He was also a well-equipped smith, Jack noted with satisfaction. The circles of the gears overhead were hung with a variety of hammers, each with its own arcane purpose. More tools were arranged about the forge. And in front of it sat a large, squat anvil. Perfect. He was, if he did say so himself, a genius.

Jack sauntered down the ramp and over to the workbench that surrounded the forge. On the wall beside the forge he noticed several iron mask-like objects hanging—instruments of punishment for people whose tongues wagged too freely about the wrong topics. The pirate gave an involuntary shudder. God, he hated civilization. He had to get out of these irons. He had to get out of this town.

Removing his hat from his still-wet head, he perched it on a smaller anvil on the tabletop and considered the array of equipment in front of him. A narrow-headed hammer caught his eye. That might about do the trick. He liberated it from its hook on the edge of the bench.

The success of his plan had almost led Jack to relax. Then, just as he was contemplating the best approach for demolishing his chains—Thunk! A noise from a dark corner of the smithy slammed him back to full alert. Jack whirled around, his ratted locks swinging, the strings of beads clinking. Someone was in this room! Someone he hadn’t noticed. Dark eyes darting, the pirate peered into the gloomy recesses seeking the source of that sound.

It was immediately obvious why he hadn’t spied the man at first. Tucked in behind a workbench in a dark corner, the short, rotund blacksmith sprawled loosely on a barrel, his head lolling on the stand for a large rotary grinding stone, one foot propped up on a smaller keg. Warily, the pirate crouched and crept towards the man, hammer still raised in one hand, his other hand dangling the links of his chain silently apart. If the man was sleeping, Jack didn’t want to wake him until he was in a position to put the smith right back to sleep, with his hammer.

The sight of a round glass bottle with a long neck rolling on the floor below the smith provided another possible interpretation for his unconsciousness. Perhaps the man was in a drunken stupor. The sound of the bottle hitting the earth might have been what had startled him. Jack eyed the bottle wistfully. Empty. Leaning over the smith, the pirate scrutinized the florid, fuzzily-bearded face and red-veined nose. That was assuredly the face of a jug-bitten man. Soft snorting sounds exploded in little puffs from the man’s mouth. Poising the hammer where a quick rap would instantly render the man oblivious, Jack reached out with two fingers to tap the smith on his leather-aproned chest. The man shifted his head slightly, grunted and resumed snoring.

Definitely capsized, Jack judged. He wondered just how much alcohol the smith had consumed, and whether it had been enough. Perhaps he should knock the man on the head just as an insurance measure. But such extreme methods were probably not necessary. He began to turn away. Then he stopped. No, it was best to be sure.

Spinning back towards the somnolent smith, Jack yelled right in his face, “Whoa!”

Silence. And then the snoring resumed. Very well. He’d spare the smith more of a headache than the man had already assured himself. Looked like it would take an earthquake to disturb that sot. He wondered how such an egregious drunkard managed this obviously well-run shop. Well, it was none of his concern. He had chains to break. Abandoning his caution, Jack returned to the anvil.

That this was going to be a complicated process became immediately evident. To minimize the discomfort, Jack used the fabric of his sleeves to pad the chafing irons. Then he had to stoop down awkwardly to draw the chain taut over the anvil. This position, while necessary, made it nearly impossible to strike the links with the hammer effectively. Biting the corner of his lip, Jack concentrated on hitting his bindings, but the angle defeated him. Every time he raised the hammer, the chain moved. When he brought it down, trying to trap the links between the edge of the anvil and the face of the hammer, the chain moved.

This was not working well at all. The pirate’s face twisted in frustration as the hammer rang on the anvil. Once in a while he’d actually land a blow on the chains, but while the silver chinks showed through the blackened iron, he couldn’t aim at a single spot often enough to weaken the shackles. At this rate, he’d be here till doomsday trying to shed these bloody bracelets. Jack didn’t have till doomsday.

In futile rage at the recalcitrance of inanimate matter, he flung his arms in the air and yanked on the distorted chains. Bringing his wrists together first, he snapped them apart over and over, wincing as pain shot up his arms. The chains held. Gritting his teeth in bloody-minded determination, Jack fought with his shackles in silence, as though sheer force of will alone would dissolve the iron. But it was obvious he’d break his wrists before he broke those chains.

As the fury drained out of him, Jack slowed his frantic struggles. Time for a new strategy. His eyes lifted to the huge gears resting immobile near the ceiling. The heavy intermeshing teeth rotated the shafts that ran the machinery of the shop. When the gears were in motion, they would crawl along each other with crushing force. Traveling down the central shaft of the main gear, his gaze fell upon the donkey that was its motivating force.

The animal stood with the patient endurance of its kind, its head hanging sleepily, ignoring the frenzy of the strange human that had invaded its domain. If he could get that donkey moving, the gears would turn. Jack considered that interesting possibility. Of course the creature did not look interested in moving, but Jack imagined he could encourage it to change what passed for its mind. He just needed to do it without becoming acquainted with either the stem that bit or the stern that kicked.

Turning to the forge, he noted that several objects were heating in its flames, as though the smith had immediate plans to return to work. Calculatingly, Jack lifted a long, thin metal bar out of the coals. Its crooked end radiated red in the dim smithy. The pirate contemplated the simmering iron for a moment. Then his eyes shifted deviously towards the donkey. Well, mule, I hate to be inconveniencing you, but . . .

Unaware that danger was approaching, the donkey remained placid in its stone circle. Then it was too late. There was a sharp sizzle and the smell of burning hair and flesh. The donkey threw up its head with an anguished bray and leapt ahead, all its instincts telling it to flee. The gear shaft groaned into motion, and the entire forge sprang to noisy, clanking life.

The pirate contemplated the piece of flaming donkey hide now attached to the metal rod, turning in his hand. That had worked well. He didn’t imagine that donkey would be stopping any time soon. He'd have run if he could have, when they'd done the same to him. Jack swished the makeshift branding iron towards the floor, putting out the fire. He sauntered back to the forge and replaced the bar. Behind him the panicked donkey continued to race around its circle, dragging the entire gear apparatus along with it. Perfect.

Jack approached the junction of the great wooden central gear and the smaller metal one that ran the shaft to the forge. As the wheel circled ponderously, he stretched his arms up and threw the loop of chain over one of the huge wooden teeth. Following along with the motion of the gear, his shoulders straining, he watched with bated breath as the two sets of teeth ground together over the iron links. The sharp edges pulverized the chains just as he had hoped. His hands fell away, no longer inhibited by being bound together. True, he still had the irons on, and the chains still dangled. But now he was free to move, free to fight and climb if he had to. Jack surveyed his handiwork with satisfaction.

Suddenly, above the grinding of the machines and the huffing of the mule, Jack heard a sound that brought his head up sharply. Slowly, the latch on the double doors by the loading dock was lifting. Someone was coming. Jack decided Lady Fortune really hated him today.

Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 1

Date: 2005-10-11 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rennie1265.livejournal.com
This is turning out so well, just love Jack and his ego trying to make their escape, the scene with Mr. Brown and of course, the poor suffering donkey. That "bit of flaming donkey hide..."

Can't wait to see how the duel in the rafters comes out. Your descriptions are very, very good but that's to be expected considering how you do portraits. Looking forward very eagerly to the next installment.

Date: 2005-10-11 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
"Jack and his ego" Ha! They really are almost two separate people. Yes, I had to feel sorry for the donkey in this, although Jack seems thoroughly callous.

I am looking forward to writing the characters in the duel scene, but the action is going to overload my circuits. To capture the excitement without bogging it down in words--urgh! Nevertheless, it must be done. The muse will not be denied.

Thanks so much for the earlier read-through, and this feedback. You see I took your suggestion about "stem" and "stern". Thank you for the great idea.

Date: 2005-10-11 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rennie1265.livejournal.com
Glad you liked it, it's something I remember from grooming bad tempered ponies way back when. The action scenes coming up should keep you challenged but you will certainly do it (yes, I really do not want my source of good novelization to stop so this is totally self-centred). :-)

Date: 2005-10-15 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thekestrel.livejournal.com
You've caught Jack quite nicely. Lady Fortune - does she really hate him? Or is she miffed at him, and this is her way of slapping his face? LOL. You did his internal aguments and thoughts, in a very reviling manor. Keep it up. And yes I too, am waiting with baited breath, for the BIG sword duel.

Date: 2005-10-15 02:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I can just see Jack saying, "I'm not sure I deserve this!" Oh Madame Fortuna will be slapping Jack's face a lot, but she eventually forgives him in the end. I'm so glad you find this revealing. It's a challenge to write a part of the movie in which there is almost no dialogue--only sights and sounds and actions to go by. The sword duel will be a challenge alright. I'm looking forward to having it done! Thank you for the lovely comments.

Date: 2005-12-01 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hendercats.livejournal.com
Loved the whole dart-here, scurry-there, run-and-hide, stop-and-pant preyness of Jack's movements until he finds the smithy - extremely well done!

On the wall beside the forge he noticed several iron mask-like objects hanging
Oh dear! Are they really there, or just a flower from the fertile soil of your imagination? Truly enjoyed seeing the blacksmith's shop through your eyes. And bravo for pointing out Jack's true understanding of what he'd done to the donkey:
He'd have run if he could have, when they'd done the same to him.

Date: 2005-12-01 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Jack is certainly prey. That's a pretty brutal death he's escaping from. I'm glad I managed to capture the sense of that run and dodge feel in words. This chapter was a challenge because there is practically no dialogue. All description. Talk about panting!

Those mask-thingies are really there, along with what looks suspiciously like an executioner's axe. I keep seeing these faces behind Jack, and I looked carefully at them in a frame by frame mode. Yup! Whatever they are, they reminded me of Renaissance "you gossiped too much" torture devices. So, my imagination is not as fertile as all that!

Jack did seem pretty callous in this scene. In a world where such things were routinely done to humans, doing them to animals would scarcely have registered.

Thank you so much for commenting. I love your description of my description! :D

Date: 2006-09-07 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myystic.livejournal.com
I never really thought about it before, but Brown's smithy would most likely be quite far from the docks where Jack's escape began. Thus Jack would have to cross the town shackled in broad daylight with a legion of marines hot on his trail. Of course, I find that you've thought about all the little things I never bothered with, and novelized them succinctly.

Then there is of course your treatment of the stuff that actually happened on screen. Top form again, here. Jack is perfect throughout.

Date: 2006-09-16 12:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
When Jack shows up at the smithy, he's gone from being a half-drowned rat to nearly dry, and yet his skin is wet--ergo, it's been some time since the docks and he's been running. And I have an obessession with connecting the dots in PotC :D

This scene was a challenge because there was practically no dialogue, so I had to try to capture the character and the mood of it with description. I'm so glad you found Jack in character in this.

Thank you so very much for more muse-spoiling comments.


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