27th day of Julius, 1668 AV
Cheers and cat-calls echo across the docks of Kanuba as Black Jacques is led down the gangplank in chains. As a small group of Castillian soldiers push through the crowd to take custody of the pirate captain, an over-ripe tomato sails out of the throng to splatter across his tattered and bloody uniform. The Montaigne sailor stops on the plank, snarling at the crowd before half turning back to his vessel and speaking loudly.
“Maledicam haec navis omnes qui navigant!”
He punctuates his words by spitting on the ship’s hull before being shoved roughly down the gangplank and into the arms of the waiting officials. The crowd murmurs in confusion while the few onlookers who understand Numan repeat the phrase’s meaning.
The soldiers lead the pirate off and the crowd disperses, leaving Captain Romero at the base of the plank looking up to the captured ship.
“Well, that’s going to make recruiting extra crew a lot more complicated.”
Romero stands at the head of the table, leaning on his fists and looking across the small gathering.
“It was going to be hard enough to recruit an experienced captain willing to command a captured pirate vessel in this port. It’s now going to be impossible as word of Black Jacques’ curse gets around. We’re going to be hard pressed to even find enough desperate sailors to fill out a proper crew, at this rate.”
He looks to George, fixing the marine with a hard stare. "You’re the closest we have to a commander here, Captain, and Jacques did surrender to you. The Marquessa will have final say when we return to Castille, but as far as I’m concerned the vessel should be yours for the time being. Having the extra cargo capacity and men would be welcome, but we’ll need to spend the entire bounty just to get supplies and bribe enough crew to join us. And we’d likely be even less successful trying to unload the ship, although I suppose the Governor of Kanuba might offer a pittance to take it off our hands. The bastard certainly got his revenge.
“If you’re going to sail her, I’d recommend renaming the ship. La Rose Noir is a much hated name, and it’s now linked to a pirate’s curse. I’ll leave the lot of you to decide on the matter.”
The captain stands upright again, smoothing the front of his faded uniform.
“We should need at least three or four days to gather what we require for the voyage to Colombo. I suspect that several of you have personal matters to deal with while we’re here, but be careful. This port might have the trappings of Castillian rule, but we’re a long way from the courts of Toledo…”
As they leave the meeting, Francisco pulls George aside for a word. “I believe that in the event that a ship is cursed,” he says, “the accepted procedure is for the captain to circle the deck three times widdershins, saying a prayer at each compass point. And it’s probably more effective if people see him do it.”