Skayport has been noisy these past few weeks; and every week before that. It will probably continue to be incredibly noisy and delirious for eternity- or until it is found out and raided by one- or all- of the empirical fleets. Crow-Eye Jack knows this place well. He's spent long nights here, in his youth as a pirate, and now as a hardened outlaw with no crew. The Magpie rests calmly upon the water at the port, as the heavy-cloaked figure stands there. He's been standing there for hours, holding his own, personal memorial service for those that served him so well.
"It might be time to let it go," he murmurs to himself, and tips the bottle of rum sideways, spilling its contents into the water completely, watching the brown liquid sludge onto the dark waters below. There's always more of that where it came from. "Take care o' them, Davey. They're good men." And then, tossing the bottle into the water, he turns around and wanders back towards the inn he's staying at- one of the nearest to the docks.
Crow-Eye Jack is not the only man at the inn without a crew. However, for good or for ill, while she's lost some men to the sea as well, it was only through the forces of nature that Viv Greenbird finds herself drinking alone at her own table, on her fourth ale and holding strong. Her sharp green eyes do not look overly friendly, and her lips are not smiling, but she is in a much better mood than she was earlier. I had little attachment to most of them, Viv assures herself. I can find more, and the ones I loved best are alive and free. She couldn't have wished them any better. She chugs the last of this ale, and tucks her scarlet hair, hacked short, behind her ears, thinking.
The doors swing open with a start as Jack makes his way back into the inn, his hands wrapping around his long, musky hair and pulling it back over his ears and behind his head, letting it drop again in its thick, vine-like spread. "Tinie!" he says, heading to a table, his eyes catching the innkeeper/barman's watch and finger summoning him. "Get me some rum- the boys've had their fill, an' now it's my turn." He drops on the chair and smiles at the man, who simply stares back with pity in his eyes.
"Right," Tinie says, and shakes his head, ducking under the bar to get the order.
Hm. Four ales is hardly enough. Maybe a fifth. But no, the man who just came in asked for rum, that'd be better. Viv counts her money carefully, discreetly, and determines that she has enough. She has never been out of work for more than a fortnight, and she may be a ne'er-do-well pirate but she has a keen sense of finances. The gold within her purse is enviable, though she'd never show it to anyone except Zenith. "Thirsty, Zenith?" she asks the bright green parrot perched on her shoulder.
The parrot says, "Up yers," which Viv takes as a yes, so she goes to the bar and lays down a few coppers. "And a rum for me, innkeep," she requests, her voice rough and low, belying features that, while starting to age, are still pretty in a wild, untamed way.
Jack snorts at the parrot's response. Pip can't talk, but if he did, he'd probably be much like that. Maybe a bit more subtle, though. He taps his fingers on the table as he waits. He's Crow-Eye, he's been providing for Tinie's very welfare for years by spending most of his booty in this dump every time he comes to Skayport. "Hurry up, Tinie, I'm bloody parched," he says, tossing his pipe on the table and beginning to cut some tobacco to decent sized lumps so that it'll burn best.
Tinie, for his part, sighs and nods. "Ye, ye, 's comin', Jack- keep yer knickers on," he says, sliding a bottle of rum to the lady and sweeping her coins away, even as he carries another bottle around the counter towards Jack's table.
Jack? Viv can't help but raise an eyebrow, since no less than an hour ago she was remembering those words: "Keep a weather eye out for Crow-Eye Jack." But she's well aware that there might be twelve hundred Jacks in this port, not to mention millions across the seven seas, and besides which, she doesn't know if she is supposed to greet this chappy or stay away. Nevertheless, curiosity and the ale have the better of her, so when she takes her rum, she sits down at a table closer to this fellow.
Her efforts at espionage fail, of course, as she whispers confidingly to Zenith, "Hm, think that's Crow-Eye Jack?" and the bird instantly, too well-trained, repeats in a squawk, "Crow-Eye Jack! Cheaky devil." Viv rolls her eyes and starts on her rum, hoping this other Jack didn't notice.
Jacks' own eyebrow raises now, sudden and sharp. A single eye shifts, and is followed an instant later by the other- a trick he's been able to perform since he was a small boy- towards the table where the woman sat down. Had that parrot just spoken his name? Yes, yes it had.
For his part, Tinie, just rolls his eyes and goes back behind the bar after taking Jack's money, hoping this doesn't turn into a fight- and thus ruin his recently renovated bar. It'd cost a lot of money to get all those tables and chairs fixed since the last 'party.'
Jack stands slowly, taking his bottle and swaggering his way towards the table. It's a short three steps that he takes, and his bottle hits the table sharply, as he spins a chair around and straddles it, leaning on its back and looking straight at the parrot, barely a few inches away from it. "Now what makes ye call m'tha', ye overgrown canary?"
"My parrot's a loudmouth cunt, I don't know where he picks up his language," says Viv bluntly, hardly intimidated but privately embarrassed, and also somewhat intrigued by this man's manner. She takes another swig of rum.
"A mystery f'r th'ages, no doubt," he says, taking his own swig of his bottle and tapping his finger on the table for a few moments, and then finally looking at the woman, instead of the bird. "Ne'erth'less, it said m'name. How's it know m'name, lass?"
When in a profession where it's rare to have tits hanging from one's chest, best hold one's cards close to them. Viv smiles cryptically. "Could be you're some famous old seadog and Zenith here heard chins wagging about ye on the docks."
"Could be," he says, scratching his chin. "But then how'ed he know 's me? 's not like I got m'picture plastered on th'walls o' the docks." At least, he hopes not. Every time someone's drawn or painted him, they've managed to get his bad side.
"Could be coincidence. Could be he's a magic parrot. Aren't you, you clever little shit." She turns to the bird and pokes her finger out at him, letting Zenith latch on with his beak in a vague sort of attack. Well, let this man wonder. "So you're Crow-Eye Jack. I'm Viv." And Viv holds out the hand that isn't attached to her parrot, doubting he'll have heard of her any more than she should have known of him, but it'd do her currently deflated pride a favor to be known as the woman who captained the Bloodstar.
Jack raises his brow again, and takes her hand briefly. "Viv... Viv..." he taps his chin for a moment, and then smirks. "Righ', Viv. Quickshanks' ma- hm, lass." He's heard of her from Quickshanks' crew, mostly. From what he's heard, they didn't part on the best terms. "Didn't ye 'ave yer own ship at some point?" He can't remember its name.
What was he about to say there? Viv is torn between hardening furiously at the implication behind Jack's recollection and beaming thankfully at his question. She opts for the latter, as the rum is putting her in fine spirits. "Why that I did, I'm fair shocked you'd know about it. But Bloodstar's gathering barnacles now. Truth being told, I'm not sure I should rightfully be here now. Most of me crew's gone, and I'm not sure how ten of us lived on a forsaken rock for a whole week."
Jack shrugs at her comment, leaning back and taking a pull of his rum, even as he reaches over to grab his pipe, now filled with tobacco, and putting it on the table. "Better'n my fate. The Magpie's fine, but m'whole crew's swimmin' th'Locker," he mutters, lighting the pipe with a few puffs. "Courtesy o' your friend, Kelly."
"No privateer's a friend of mine," darts the response from Viv's lips, a kneejerk reaction. Her eyes narrow and she eyes the tobacco with jealousy, then she catches what Jack actually said. "That bloody whoreson, he gullied your entire crew?"
"Close enough," he says. "Led us straigh' into an ambush, he did. Two navy Kerning ships were waitin' f'r us... By th'time I reached port, th'last of m'crew was overboard, floatin' like the dead." He sighs, puffing the pipe again, and finally offering it to her. "I'll keelhaul th'bloody traitor if I ever run into'im 'gain, I can assure ye tha' much."
While Viv has thought of plenty of things to do to Quickshanks, surprisingly enough, keelhauling isn't one of them. I don't know what I would do if he were really dead, she realizes. Gratefully she takes the pipe and has a few puffs before handing it back and saying, "I s'pose it'd be doing the seas a favor." Blood warmed by the rum, Viv drinks more and lets it warm further, feeling herself growing just the slightest bit tipsy, and she grins, saying before she can think otherwise, "Well, Crow-Eye Jack, I like the look of ye. And you've got a ship, which I haven't. What might you say to a business agreement?"
"If, that is, you're the kind to enter into those with womenfolk," she adds wryly.
Jack takes his pipe back as he himself as a long gulp of his rum, tasting it on his lips before letting it run warm down his throat. "Pffft- lass, if yer able an' got a sharp eye, I don't care what's on yer chest or in yer pants," he states plainly. "... insofar as sailing's concerned, 'course," he adds back, with as much a wry smile as she gave him. "Business sounds like it'd b'interestin'. Ye still got some o' yer crew, or d'we 'ave t'build fr'm scratch, First Mate Viv?" First Mate. Not co-captain. No self-respectin' pirate would share his command on his own damn ship, with neither woman nor man.
The cheeky remark doesn't slip by Viv unnoticed, but she doesn't find it as oily as she's heard it from other men, so she lets it slide. "I know two or three who most likely haven't left port yet, and I know where I might find 'em. They'd serve under me again if they knew there weren't a sunken ship involved. I'm afraid that's all I can offer aside from the gold I've got to hire more," she admits. "And of course, I've been First Mate Viv Greenbird near half a dozen times now, I wouldn't mind the title again."
"Excellent, then," he says, tilting his head back. "Hear tha', Tinie? I got me a first mate again!" The snort that comes from the innkeep shows just how much he cares. "Ah," Jack says, turning back to Viv. "He's jus' pissed- 'm his only regular 'round'ere an' when I leave he loses business." Another snort- this one a bit louder. Jack grins. "Welcome to the crew o' the Magpie, first mate Viv. I'd like t'get out o' this place 'fore it gets t'me, so round up yer men quick as possible- an I'll see 'bout gettin' us some potentials for recruitin'. No better place for tha' than Skayport, after all."
Viv smiles, and raises the last of her rum in a silent toast as Zenith shouts, "Up yers!" again. Apologetically, Viv explains with a wink, "Means he likes the look of you too."