THE CURSE part 10
LEGEND OF ANN BOUNTY
by Anita Louise
Ann Bounty web page can be found at: http://www.cybertrails.com/~bounty
She had been walking the beach, her head full of many thoughts.
They had pillaged a fat merchant ship, the day before and it was time she and the crew laid low for a spell. This island, seemed a logical place. They had been there before and were well known.
The blanket of night had fallen but the beautiful moon that was hanging low lit up the island with its natural beauty. The only sound was the soft overtures of the water making its way on shore then ebbing.
She had left the tavern. It was a boisterous night and she just did not feel like joining the melee. Whenever a night started like this, there inevitably would be fights. Any other time, Ann Bounty would have looked forward to this. Just not this night.
Ann gazed toward the vastness of the ocean. Stopping in her tracks when she heard the words, "Be ye that heathen, Ann Bounty!?" Her right hand immediately flew to her side, but all she grasped was air. "Damn," Ann muttered.
Before she could move, she felt the steel tip pressed against her back. "Move a muscle and I'll run ye through."
Tensing up, Ann said, "I don't know who you are, but I have harmed no one. I am a guest here as well as my crew. Who are you and why do you not want to see the sunrise tomorrow?"
"Answer my question, are ye Ann Bounty?"
Taking a deep breath, Ann replied, "If that is who you are looking for, then you have found her. Now tell me, what do you want and why do you have that confounded thing poking me in the back?"
"I have a sword at your back, ye are defenseless and yet ye act as if I were. Surely ye must be daft."
Ann growled, "If you are wanting to kill me, then do it! Because your confounded words are soon going to do me in." There was no sound from behind and she could not feel the pressure against her back anymore. She waited a second, then with the speed of lightning she whirled, only to be greeted by a fleeing figure running up the beach. Smiling, she debated whether to chase the person or not and finally decided against it. Chuckling to herself, Ann weighed the possibility it might have been a crew member having been put up to this or some, green mate that was being used by the others. More than likely they wanted to see just whether Ann Bounty would let the man live. Probably had taken bets on this. She had grown accustomed to their little games.
Placing her right hand on her hip, she whispered, "You have been taught better, no matter where you are, never go out unarmed." Whoever that had been was scared off, whether by her or someone else she didn't know. She only knew she would remember a weapon next time she decided to take a walk alone. Turning she began to stride towards the lights of the village. Her mood had been broken and what she wanted at that time was a good drink, a hot bath and bed.
When the statuesque woman stepped into the room, many stopped what they were doing and turned their attention toward her. Smiling, Ann began to step toward the counter. Suddenly realizing the place was not as noisy as it had been she stopped, turned and gazed around the room. A low haze of smoke was filtering about the area, men and women still matched to one another were now paying more attention to her. Placing both hands on her hips she queried, "Cat got your tongues? Do I have something on my face? What in Hades is the matter with you?"
"Might be me."
The man's voice came from her left and she quickly turned her attention in this direction. Straining her eyes trying to see who had made the sounds. The room was dimly lit and the light from the few torches that were placed along the walls, made it almost impossible to see who was in the darkened corner. Quickly realizing she did not have a weapon, Ann's eyes roamed the room searching for Saxton. The man was sitting at a table three feet from where she was standing, and it took him but a second to toss a cutlass toward the woman, "Annee, you may need this." Without batting an eye she grasped the weapon in midair, nodding an appreciate thank you, she was now facing the darkened corner of the room. "Step out! I don't talk to shadows."
The man stepped into the light, his eyes piercing as he stared at her. "Captain Blackird, I think we have something in common."
With a look of disgust, she said, "You and I have nothing in common. They let all sorts of rif raft come on land here, don't they?"
He stepped to the counter, placed his left arm on it and said, "A goblet of port and whatever Miss Bounty wants."
Stepping toward the man, Ann replied, "Miss Bounty wants nothing to do with you. So you drink alone. I have better things to do."
Taking a sip of his drink, he said, "Come now, the great Ann Bounty can't stop and have a sociable drink. We really need to talk."
Ann noticed the people in the room had began to move as far away from them as they could. There was not a sound in the room. She could feel the hair on the back of her neck bristle and a feeling she hated to have, was consuming her body. She stood, legs spread, emerald eyes blazing a look of defiance on her face as she said, "What do you want with me?"
He leaned against the counter, oblivious to her stance, "Seems your hold is full of ill gotten treasures."
Chuckling to herself, she replied, "And something like this, you would have no knowledge of doing, would you? The sea's are full of your ill begotten deeds. What is aboard, The Bounty is none of your business."
He had just downed his drink and had now turned to face the woman. "I have a proposition for you, you will listen, because you are a woman, and somewhere you are thinking, he is so sure of himself, I will just let him hang himself. Am I not right?"
Her eyes had never veered from the man as she scoffed, "Hanging is too good for the likes of you. Just having you in this room, is polluting the air we all breath. Now, if you have a point, I would like to hear it, if not, I am going to bed."
He was standing straight now, his height and stance was boding, "Bed? Surely you are not thinking of finding the woman that has recently caught your eye waiting for you, there?"
Ann was beginning to get tired of the man and his rambling's, she brought the cutlass to her lips, placing a kiss upon the blade, then she said, "Enough of your blabbering, if it is a fight you are after, I am tired, irritable and I would soon as not run you through, en garde!"
His lips curled wickedly as he watched the woman take her stance. The cutlass in her hand seemed to be a snake as it moved about, taunting waiting for him to make a move. He raised his right hand, "You are not much of a talker, Ann Bounty, I guess a person has to defeat you in battle to get your attention."
The swishing sounds cut through the air as the cutlass in her hand began to move. "Your mistake, you interfered with my evening." she was amazed at the man, for he still had not drawn his cutlass. "If you think I will just walk away, you are mistaken, it is either drop to your knees and apologize, then crawl out of here like the rat you are, or fight. Which is it to be?"
The man's eyes darted toward the doorway as he said, "Where is your right hand, Mary Ready?"
Seeming perplexed at the man's words she said, "Talk will not get you out of this."
"No, but maybe your friend's life will."
A sick feeling grasped her as she asked, "What has Mary got to do with this? She is in Thrace."
He motioned toward the door, Ann swallowed several times before she said, "If you are trying to sidetrack me, this is the oldest trick in the book. She took two quick steps forward, the blade in her hand severing the man's belt, allowing his weapon to fall to the floor. Blackird, stared down at his trousers, they had fallen to his ankles. A few snickers were heard in the room as he sneered, "Have you had your fun? If you will allow me..."
Carefully she stepped toward the man, placing the tip of the blade against his throat, "Allow you? You come in here, seeming to want a fight and now you stand and ask if I will allow you to cover yourself? Better, I save this world anymore of your unsightly form, and run you through here and now."
He smiled, "A brave woman you are Ann Bounty, I never lifted a finger to fight you and you have accosted me in front of all these good people, all I did was ask you to have a drink with me."
"Won't work, these good people all know who you are, and most would applaud, if I ended your scurvy life."
His eyes were glaring into hers as he said, "True, but if you end mine, I will surely have to have your friend join me."
A gruff voice growled from the doorway, "If you wish to see your friend Mary Ready alive again, you will step back!"
Placing her left hand on the man's throat, Ann squeezed, "You move and I will squeeze the life from you." Turning her head, she stared toward the doorway. The amazement was apparent, when she saw Calico Jack walking into the light. He glanced toward Blackird and said, "Your friend may have gone to Thrace but if you ever wish to see her again you will step back. She is my prisoner and if you harm him, I will see to it she follows suit."
Ann scowled toward the man, never releasing her hold, "It will take more than talk to convince me of this. Mary would never let herself be caught by the likes of you."
Two large men stood in the doorway, they handed the man something and stepped back. Calico began to step toward Ann, "If you don't believe my words, maybe you will believe this." He tossed something toward her and as it hit the floor, Ann's eyes could see it was the amulet she had seen Mary wear. Turning her attention to Blackird, she glared, "What are you doing? Let her go, the woman has nothing to do with this!"
He coughed, "She does, either, you drop your weapon, step back, or I will have her killed, and as the blood runs from your lover's body, it will be your doing."
Biting at her lower lip, Ann cursed, "Damn you, Blackird!" She stepped back, dropped the cutlass. "Let her go."
Saxton and the crew members were standing, they had also drawn their weapons, Ann looked at the man and said, "No, I don't want anyone to be hurt over this, sit back down. There will be another time."
Blackird had belted his trousers once more and stepped up to the woman, "All I wanted to do was talk to you civilized like but seems you need to be taught a few lessons."
Scowling at the man Sea said, "Many have tried and none have succeeded. Why are you here and why are you doing this?"
He beckoned to his men. Sea's fists were clinched, every fiber of her body was speaking to her. Two men roughly grasped her arms.
"Harm Mary, and I will kill you!" She spat at them with the venom of a snake.
The man reached out, his right hand brushing the side of Ann's face, "You are in no position to do anything. I want you to know this gives me great satisfaction." Before he finished the last word, his left fist struck her mid section with such force it knocked the air from her body. Ann Dropped to her knees, as he struck once more with a solid blow to her chin, this sent the woman toppling backwards. She laid still for a few moments, blood spurting from her lip. Saxton had cried out, "No! The woman has done nothing to you!"
Shaking her head, Ann tried to understand what was happening. Blackird stood over her, his cutlass out, enjoying the sense of power it gave him as he began to trail the blade along her body. "I promised the woman not to harm you, or should I say kill you, I never said I would not leave you with something to remember me by." He stepped back, "Pick her up," he pointed to a round wooden table, "there," she was roughly placed on her stomach, her arms stretched out, and held in place. Blackird, drew his knife, "I really want to kill you, but another time."
"Kill me, let all these people see what a coward you really are."
He laughed, "You are helpless, ready to be beat and still you talk as if you are in control." It didn't take him long to cut through the material of her blouse. Enjoying the moment as he ran his hands along her spine. His fingers brushing the remains of the blouse to her side.
Feeling revulsion at the man's touch, Ann glared, "Get your filthy hands off me, you pig!"
He grabbed a handful of her hair, raising her head at the same time lowering his, "I want you to know, that my men have taken your ship, what you had, is now mine. And before I whip you, I also want you to know the position you are in, was the doing of your friend, Mary Ready, I paid her well for her treachery." Releasing his hold on her hair, he laughed.
Ann tried to understand the man's words through the cobwebs in her head, Focusing her eyes she cursed, "Mare...wouldn't...You're lying..." At this time a crackling snap echoed the room as the black whip in the man's hand found its way onto the woman's back. The last thing Ann Bounty remembered was their sadistic laughter.."
Shaking her head, Asterea headed up top, she was weary, and needed to talk to Silver. Once she was on deck, it didn't take long to spy the tall man. He was talking with of the crew. Pursing her lips, she began to stride toward him. Once nearing, she bellowed, "Need to talk to you. Now!"
He glanced up, then turned to the men gave them final orders before turning his full attention toward her. "Don't you think that was a bit foolish of you...Talking to me like that in front of my men?"
Her eyes seemed to burn into the man as she replied, "I'll talk to you any way I wish. It is your fault we are in this mess."
Squaring his shoulders he walked past the woman, "The blame is two fold. Besides there was no harm done, we got to the two before anything happened."
Throwing back her head, Asterea chided, "A little late don't you think...Seems they were quite friendly."
He had walked toward the bulwark, leaned on a wooden rail as he replied, "Friendly, is one thing but that was certainly nipped in the bud. They never got together, Ann knows nothing and the other..."
Stepping up to the man, Asterea said, "The other...if not for Xena, she would have had her comeuppance."
He looked away," That warrior woman turns up at the damnedest times. I had no idea she was in Alexandria. We both know she doesn't go far without that meddlesome blonde tagging after her."
"Meddlesome in many ways. It is hard enough keeping the woman away from Gina and now, Gabrielle is in the midst as well as Xena. I wonder just who else has found their way here?"
He glanced toward his men, watching them for a few moments before answering, "I have set sail, we are two days out to sea, there is no way, Ann Bounty will run into them."
"Oh we have done that. It seems you put a little too much on that dart. The woman has been in and out of consciousness since we brought her aboard. How much longer is this going to take place? I know you have no love for Ann Bounty but..."
He interrupted, "No but, I would not have done anything to the woman, nothing she could not see coming. I have no need to tangle with you."
For the first time, Asterea looked at Silver with concern on her face, "About Gina, I know you wanted to bring her along. I am sorry for your loss."
Kicking at a wooden barrel he growled, "Save your pity for someone that may not know you as well as I. As far as Ann Bounty, she will be coming around soon enough. Most only take a nap but since the woman already had a problem, it seems to be taking longer. Now you tell me, just how are you going to handle that red headed hellion once she is fully conscious?"
Asterea heaved a sigh, "I don't know, but when the time comes, I will think of something."
Throwing up his hands as he walked away, "Glad it is your problem and not mine."
Watching Silver stride off, she knew he was right, at that moment she had no idea what she was going to tell the woman, if, Ann ever regained consciousness. Asterea had no idea what had happened in Ann Bounty's past but it was evident, from the nightmares she was having, someone named Mare was involved in some way. She had been tending to the red head since they brought her aboard the ship. Sitting beside Ann, she tried to comfort her during those tumultuous moments. All she could do was talk softly, try to ease the woman's pain and hold her down. For a woman not used to prayer, she found herself asking anyone that would listen, to allow Ann Bounty to have some peace.
Asterea watched as Ann Bounty made her way to the, Crows Nest. The woman had regained her strength and was every bit the fighter she had been.
Silver stood, hands on his hips, his eyes watching the woman. When Ann reached the top, she waved down to them. Asterea waved back and at the same time she felt Silver grasp her right arm, "You know, telling her that you found her missing and became worried is one thing, but telling her you found her being accosted by Caesar's men..."
Turning to face the man, Asterea scowled, "She believes me and when she asks about the woman, Gina, I simply tell her that she is with Xena."
He laughed, "You know one day Asterea, all your little lies are going to backfire on you. What are you going to do when the woman runs into Caesar, he will not keep your little secret. From all I have seen, he only wishes to destroy his daughter."
She smiled, "I will handle that when it happens. For now all I have to do is keep Ann away from anyone that might know her."
He gazed up at Ann Bounty and said, "She is as flamboyant as she ever was. And keeping her away from anyone that might know her is an impossible task. The woman has sailed many a sea, fought many battles. She is well known and there is not one person that does not know of the legendary Ann Bounty. The minute she finds out you have been lying to her, she will run you through."
Shrugging her shoulders, Asterea replied, "I will make sure when this happens, I have Ann Bounty where I want her. And all she will see when she looks at me is love."
Ann could hear the loud laughter of Silver as he turned and walked away from the woman she now called, Ann Bounty. She wondered, how Ann put up with the man, all he had was good looks and seemed so full of himself she felt one day he might just burst.
Asterea called up to Ann, "When you get through up there, come to the cabin, we need to talk."
Nodding, Ann yelled back, "I will."
Before long, Ann was shimming back down., as her feet landed solidly on the deck, she was aware someone was approaching. Quickly turning, her cutlass in her right hand she taunted, "Come any closer and you will regret it."
Silver was standing, staring at the woman, his hair glistening in the sun, the man's eyes seemed to pierce right through her. Ann found herself mesmerized by the man for a moment. "Oh, it's you, what do you want? I have things to do."
A half crooked smile edged across his lips as he answered, "I just wanted to talk, tell me, the great Asterea doesn't even have time for conversation?"
Holstering the cutlass, she leaned against the mast, arms folded across her chest as she said, "You really have something intelligent to say? I am not in the mood for babble."
He smiled, flexed his muscles and leaned next to Ann, "You really don't like me do you?"
She gazed at him, "Is there something I am supposed to like?"
He stared toward the helm, "You know, Ann Bounty has set her eyes on you."
Stepping away from the man and turning to face him, Ann grinned, "Do you really think you are telling me something I do not know? I've known how she feels from the first time she gazed at me. Now, if that is all you have to say, I have an appointment to meet Ann in the cabin, so if you will excuse me." She started to walk away as he called after her, "Don't say I didn't warn you, the woman will get what she wants, then toss you aside."
Laughing, Ann said, "Yeah, and whose to say it will not be me that will be doing the tossing."
He shook his head as he watched the woman disappear. He felt many things. Vowing to hate Ann Bounty, he had found himself being drawn into the woman's web. He chuckled to himself as he thought out loud, "Asterea thinks she is drawing Ann in and if she does, she may be sorry..." Walking toward the helm he smiled, looked up toward the beautiful sky and called out, "Gods! This is going to be some trip! "
Asterea had been pacing the cabin. She was not too sure of what she was going to say to Ann Bounty. Each day was getting harder, being so close to the woman, she found it hard not to reach out and tell her how she felt. The only thing keeping her back was the fear that Ann would turn away. She didn't want to see this happen. They would be arriving in port soon and once again she would have to watch the woman, make sure no one ruined the plans she had set in motion.
As the door opened, she turned to see Ann walk into the area.
Ann smiled as she entered, closed the door and walked toward the wooden desk. Removing the belt that holstered her cutlass, she hung it on the wall, turned, sat down on the wooden chair and said, "Well, here I am, what seems to be the emergency?"
Gazing toward the woman, Asterea felt a lump growing in her throat...Ann Bounty was more beautiful than ever, and the woman had captured Asterea's heart long ago. She was brought out of her thoughts by Ann, "Have you lost your tongue?"
"Wha..." realizing, she had been staring at the woman, Asterea said, "no, I was just thinking."
Ann stood up, loosened her blouse, and walked toward the port hole, "Hot in here, need some air."
Biting her lower lip, Asterea watched the woman, and when she walked toward the port hole, finally said, "It's not that hot in here. You wouldn't be trying to tantalize me now would you?"
Turning, Sea gazed at the woman, her emerald green eyes, sparkling. "Why would you think such a thing? Have I given you reason..."
Clearing her throat, Asterea walked toward the desk, picked up a bottle, took a long drink and said, "No, muttering under her breath, "if only."
Ann walked up to the woman, she could see the beads of sweat on her forehead. Reaching out she took the bottle from Asterea's hand and said, "Come, sit down with me, tell me what is on your mind?"
Smiling to herself, Ann walked toward the bed, sit and gazed up at the woman, "Well, aren't you going to sit down, tell me what it is that has you so upset? What is it you wanted to talk to me about?"
Sitting, Asterea took a deep breath as she said, "I wanted to tell you we will be arriving in port tomorrow."
Laying back on the bed, Sea grinned, "That all, I thought you had something important you wanted to tell me."
Turning to stare at the woman, stretched out on the bed, Asterea, said, "I...I...do you know you have a way about you that gets a person all confused? "
Sitting up, Ann reached out grasped, the woman's right hand in hers and said, "Sorry, but what you see is all there is, I can't change my appearance, and Gods know I never wish to attempt that again."
Laughing, Asterea said, "But you were so cute."
"Yeah if itching and scratching and moving can be called cute. Tell me Ann Bounty, I have heard tales of your deeds and it seems taking a person to your bed is one you are very good at...I haven't seen you bed anyone since we have been together, is there a reason?"
Asterea was flustered as she stammered, "Good...bed...." Jumping to her feet she said, "What is it with you? Gods, you come in here and...and get me all..."
Tossing her red hair and letting it fall upon her shoulders, Ann replied, "Well, I have heard tales of, Asterea and you tell me I am this woman. I was merely trying to act as I thought you wanted."
Huffing and puffing, Asterea marched across the room, turning she began to pace the area. Finally stopping she said, "This will not work. I can't do this."
Ann was standing as she said, "I take it you do not favor me, is it something I have done?"
Biting at her lower lip, Asterea whispered, "Gods have mercy on me..."
Sea grinned, "What's that you? You are talking to yourself now?"
Staring at the woman, Asterea replied, " I can see it in your eyes, you are merely toying with me. I think it is best you stay in your own cabin."
Grinning, Ann replied, "In case you forget, it is you that asked me to meet you here."
The two stared at one another for a few minutes before both broke out in laughter. Asterea pointed to the bottle and said, "How about we have a drink, and I will fill you in on the dos and don't while we are at port."
"Sounds good to me." Ann watched the woman pour two goblets, taking one she said, "I saw Silver before I came down here, he told me you were wanting to bed me."
Asterea had just started to take a drink and upon hearing this she almost choked on it. "What! That...that...don't believe everything he says. There is no woman this man would not want to call his. So be wary around him."
"Oh I have Captain Silver's number. Tell me, why are the two of you friends, he has nothing to offer."
"He has power a good ship and crew, besides, the man does what I tell him."
Taking a drink, Ann counseled, "You ask me to be wary, I tell you, be wary of this man. He is like a cobra...never know when he will strike."
Chapter Fifty One
Silver was standing aft, his mind contemplating the two women that were now the talk among his crew. It was all he could do to keep his men in control. Many had gripes against Ann Bounty and wanted to confront her. Asterea had a reputation and his men were befuddled at the woman's complete turnabout. Silver had to admit he too was confused. Asterea almost killed Ann Bounty once and now she was molly coddling her. The Asterea he knew now was a lot different but he also felt that under that kinder tone still lurked the evil many were forgetting. He was leaning against the railing when he saw Asterea come onto the deck. She waved, then began walking toward him.
As she approached he asked, "Aren't you afraid to leave your friend? Someone might talk to her."
Scowling at the man, she replied, "I'm not worried about that, because if any of your crew ruins this for me, they will pay the price."
I think your time is running out. There is no way you will be able to control things once we get on shore. Even if you sent word ahead, it is impossible to control everyone all the time. And on top of all this, you have Ann Bounty to contend with. I have seen the way she acts, the way she moves. Seems to me the woman only is happy when there is a battle."
Smiling, she said, "Nothing wrong with a good battle. Gets a person's blood flowing."
"Yeah, and after the battle, what then?"
Reaching out, Asterea patted him on the left cheek, "I'll leave that to your imagination..." turned and walked away.
Silver shook his head and followed the woman. "If it is in anyone's imagination it is yours."
Whirling to face the man, her eyes narrowed as she retaliated, "What is your problem? The cargo hold is full, your crew is still intact, a few worse for wear. The journey has been a good one and soon we will be in port, everyone can rest up. Eat drink..."
He cut her off, "and die."
Disgust shown on the woman's face, "no, be merry. Would you get off the doom and gloom thing..."
He reached out grasping Asterea's left forearm, "Someone has to get you to see reason. The woman you keep as a friend, will get her memory back and when she does she will remember how cruel you were to her and others."
Jerking from his grip, her eyes burning a hole into his, she said, "She will remember other things also."
Laughing as he tossed his head back he added, "What? That you were stupid enough to step in and take a whipping that was meant for her? One good turn does not take care of all the wrong you have done."
Asterea was pacing back and forth, it was apparent his words were causing her anguish. "She saved my life after that, I have not forgotten and neither has she."
Shaking his head Silver bellowed, "Can't you see? Your own words, 'neither has she," the woman will not forget what you have done. And now you are taking her to the island where all this happened. Calico is in hiding, still others are there. If Ann Bounty gets her memory back in this place, she will kill you, mark my words."
The woman stared for a few moments before a crooked smile edged her lips, "Then no one had better make the mistake of telling her." With those words, she walked away."
He called after her, "Where is she?"
Asterea's words trailed back, "None of your concern."
The two women had been pondering over a map laying on the desk, Asterea finally sat back in her chair and asked, "How are you?"
Seeming surprised at the woman's words, Ann replied, "You can see me, what are you talking about? I look the same."
"It's not your looks, it's your restless nights. I hear you banging around in your cabin. Are you still having the nightmares?"
"I guess I am keeping you awake, sorry."
The woman's eyes twinkled as she answered, "Oh, you keep me awake but it has nothing to do with that."
Beginning to pace the room, Ann said, "If it is not that, then what? You have been so good to me, I do not wish to cause you any unrest."
Standing, Asterea smiled, "Woman, just being you, gives many unrest and I know I am not the only one."
Ann's back was to Asterea, "The dreams keep coming, I see myself with people who seem to know me, people I do not remember. And I see myself being called Ann Bounty."
Asterea stepped in front of Ann, "I don't understand you, we have been taking more ships than ever, the hold is full and we are on our way to Crete. The crew will have time to rest up. we can take time to relax. I have watched you and you seem to thrive on the battle. There is more to life than killing and destroying."
Tongue in cheek, Ann gazed at the woman, "Are you telling me that you have grown tired of battle? Treasure is not important to you anymore?"
It's not that, I am worried about you. Each day you become harder, and the only time I see joy in your eyes is when there is a kill."
Ann smirked, "What is there to be joyous over, Time has past and I am still no closer to getting my memory back. You tell me, my name is Asterea, yet my dreams tell me differently."
"Perhaps you are dreaming things I have already told you. Things that have happened to me." Starting toward the door, Ann replied, "You can tell me many things, but what I feel in my heart is something that is there. The woman Gina, who you seem not to want to talk about, she knew me and she knew me as Ann Bounty. I think it is time you told me the truth."
The woman's eyes never left Ann as she paced the quarter, "All right, if it will make you any happier, I shall have everyone call you Ann Bounty." Her words brought Ann to a stop as she turned and stared at Asterea. "Is that the truth? Am I really Ann Bounty?"
Standing and walking toward the cabin door, Asterea, replied, "I am trying to make you happy, you are not yourself, so feel free to call yourself Ann Bounty." Before she made it to the door, Ann was standing in front of her. "Oh no, you don't just walk out of here like that. I have stood beside you in every battle, taken your side in every argument. Can't you see this is tearing me up inside? I need to know who I am, I need to know about my life, Gods, I have to have a life other than this."
Asterea turned and walked toward the bed. Taking a moment before she sat and said, "Are you telling me that I am nothing, that being with me makes you want more in life?"
"It's not that, but sometimes I ache so deeply like something eating at my insides. It is as if my body is trying to tell me something."
"From the sound of it, maybe you have gotten into some bad food."
Ann's face held a determined look about it as she snapped, "I know the difference. I feel my body wants me to go home, find this woman Gina. I must talk to her find out what she knows."
I never wanted to tell you this but if you think it will help get your memory, then come sit down with me."
Ann smiled as she made her way toward the bed. Sitting, she said, "I want the truth, all of it."
Sighing, Asterea mumbled, "The truth, who really knows the truth. I have told you the truth, yet you assume something else. So all I can do is change identities with you."
Emerald green's stared at the woman, Ann Bounty was trying to look into her soul as she queried, "I have had dreams, and they are too real not be true, the people in them, the places."
Asterea lay back on the bed, staring up at the woman. "I have dreams, and not all of them really happened. Yet you wish to believe a dream over my word, the word of the men onboard. Silver's word, as well as many we have met on our travels."
"You can tell me it was a dream but you cannot explain how the woman, Gina knew me as Ann Bounty and why she seemed to think the two of us were more than friends."
For a few moments there was no sound in the room. Finally Asterea said, "I wanted to spare you this but...The woman Gina was working with Caesar. What she said to you, was a ploy, she was to keep you occupied until his forces arrived. It was you they wanted and if I had not come along, you would more than likely be dead."
Ann bit at her lower lip, it was evident she was thinking about what Asterea said. "You lay there, relaxed, not even breaking a sweat, I have to believe what you are saying," She brought her hands to her head, "it's the dreams, the blasted dreams. I think I am losing my mind."
Asterea sat up, she gazed at the woman before she said, "You are not losing your mind. I picked up some medicinal herbs at our last stop. If you allow me, I will fix you some tea. This will ease your torment and eventually the dreams will subside."
Ann stood, she walked toward the desk, "Herbs, cannot control my feelings, I have an ache within, an ache that leaves me feeling empty...."
Asterea watched the woman, it was evident, Ann Bounty was about to crack. Following her toward the desk, she said, "I think you have been so wrapped up in battle, you forget the one thing that always gives you solice."
Turning to gaze at the woman, Ann asked, "Yeah, like what?"
Smiling, Asterea replied, "It is time you threw back. We will be arriving in port tomorrow."
"Threw back? Are you trying to tell me I need to rest?" Ann Picked up a bottle of port, poured some into a goblet and took a drink.
"Can you remember the last time you sit back, joined in pleasurable drinking and..."
Cutting in Ann scowled, "Stop right there! I know where you are going. What is it with you? If a person doesn't act or do things the way you think they should.." she poured Asterea a drink and handed the woman a goblet, "it is always sex with you."
Asterea took a swallow of her drink and said, "It is a good way to unwind. Take your mind off other things."
Laughing, Ann walked toward the bed and sat. Her emerald green's sparkled toward Asterea, "Are you really as good as you say? I have never heard so many stories. There has to be more to life than carousing, and drinking."
Smiling, Asterea walked toward the woman, standing she stared down and said, "What do you think you are missing in life? We have traveled to many places, met many people, taken many ships, fought against the best. Surely you are not begrudging me for want of a warm body next to mine."
Shaking her head, Ann replied, "I never know whether to take you seriously or not. As far as a warm body, I have-not known you to be alone many nights. And for your other question...I really don't know...I just feel as if I am missing something. Tell me, family? Do I have family and where are they?"
Asterea walked toward the cabin door, she said, "You are trying to sidetrack me...I am talking about sex and you are asking about family. I have things to do topside." She opened the door and left the room.
Chapter Fifty Two
They had been in port for several moons. Everyone very happy to feel land under their feet once more. Silver was taking this time to have the ship checked over from top to stern. He wanted to be sure it was ready to make the voyage back to Alexandria. Asterera's ship had arrived days before them and he knew the woman would not need him any longer. The island had changed some but it was still the, pirate stronghold it always was. They had been fortunate, not many ships were there when they arrived. So there was no need for Asterea to patrol Ann Bounty as she had.
Asterea had taken up residence in one of the island bungalows.
Ann preferred to get away and seek living quarters in a shack near the beach.
She had been walking the beach, stopping to gaze at the spectacular beauty, as light left the multicolored sky. Drawing her arms to her chest, a slow sigh escaped her lips. It had been a beautiful day, from the warmth of the sun, flowers blooming, birds singing. Islands always had such mystique about them.
Even as night seemed to reach out and settle on the land, it's sweeping hand changing everything. Ann's body was alive with wondrous sensations of joy. A soft breeze caressed her face as if loving hands had reached out and touched her with their love. Reaching up to brush strands of hair off her face, became a losing battle for they would have nothing of it, each strand seemed to dance about as if enjoying the sweeping strings of the breeze. A chill traveled Ann's body and she found it odd, because it was not a cold chill, it was warm, though Ann Bounty found herself shivering from the effect.
It was the first time she felt good about the person she had become. Ann was wrapped in many thoughts when she heard the words, "Ann! It is you isn't it?"
Turning, her right hand reaching for her cutlass, she strained her eyes looking for the person who had spoken to her. "Do I know you, stand out, I do not talk to shadows."
The woman's voice was soft, "I am not your enemy. Gods, is it really you?"
Ann had been moving cautiously in a circle, her eyes straining to see who had spoken the words. "I don't play games, so I suggest you make your presence known."
There was a slight rustle as the form of a woman stepped from behind a tree. Ann squinted her eyes, wishing there was more moonlight, from what she could tell, the woman was of average height. She wore the dress of a pirate, and the cutlass hanging from her hip was ominous.
"Step out! If you are here to do me no harm, I will not harm you."
The woman replied, "First, you must answer my question?"
It was plain to see that Ann was becoming annoyed, "What blamed question are you talking about?"
"Are you really Ann?"
Standing with her hands on her hips, Ann grumbled, "You might know the answer to that better than me. Blasted, whoever you are, I am confused enough these days, show yourself fully, before I come over there and see for myself."
The woman tossed her head as her long blond hair grasped the air and did a dance of its own.. A feeling was engulfing Ann Bounty as she watched mesmerized at the woman's actions.
"I am the confused one now, you look like Ann, you talk like Ann, but you seem different. Why would I know you better than you? It is you that is in your own skin, are you funning me?"
Ann's voice bellowed, "Enough! I am not in the funning mood. So whoever you are, if you have business with me then come forward, face me like a...a...come foreward."
The woman stepped out onto the beach, the moon's rays catching her in them. A gasp was all that emitted from Ann as she watched the woman walking toward her. Golden hair, a figure even Aphrodite would be envious of. The woman stopped within inches of Ann, her blue green eyes twinkling toward the woman, a beautiful smile crossed her face. "I thought I would never find you again."
Ann stared, she felt something for this stranger, and it was tearing her up inside. "I, I don't know you."
The woman's eyes had been surveying the length of Ann's form, it seemed she was trying to reach into her soul. "Stop that!" I am not some woman put here for your perusal."
"Sorry, if I was staring, it...I...it...I was beginning to think I would never see you again. I had almost given up hope."
For some reason, Ann felt comfortable talking to this stranger as she said, "About your question, I don't know who I am. Some say I am the woman, Asterea, some say I am Ann Bounty, do you really know me?"
"Does the name Gabrielle mean anything to you?"
Shaking her head Ann replied, "I have heard of a woman called Gabrielle of Potidaea. She and Xena are fellow travelers. I only know what I have been told." Without thinking, the woman reached out and grasped Ann's right hand, gently holding it, she said, "I know you, you know me, we are two but we are one."
Pulling away from the woman, Ann replied, "If this is another one of Asterea's jokes, I do not find it funny, go be away with you, and tell her I did not fall for it."
"This is no joke, I have come a long way, I felt all hope being drained from my body and then I saw you. Please do not turn away from me."
Ann bit at her lower lip as she said, "I may have known you, but I have lost my memory. So do not expect some sort of reunion."
The woman stepped up to Ann, reached out and placed her left hand on the woman's shoulder at the same time feeling the woman's muscles tense under her touch. "You may have lost your memory and I want to hear all about it, but you will never get me out of your life, our fate was signed long ago. If you will allow me to accompany you to your quarters, I will be happy to just be in your presence for now."
The two women gazed into one another's eyes, becoming lost in one them. They stood like this for what seemed an eternity before Sea muttered, "I don't know what it is, but I feel something with you and I need to know what it is. Yes, you can come to.."
Asterea's voice was bellowing, "Ann, I have brought a bottle of port!"
She reached out and grasped the woman's shoulders, her fingers digging into soft skin, "You have to get out of here, if she finds you, there will be trouble."
"No, I will not lose you again."
"You will not this I swear, I will find you, tell me, your name?"
The woman smiled, reached up and caressed Ann's face with her right hand, "Gabe, though you may know me better as Star." she whispered and disappeared into the foliage.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the fans that have taken Ann and her freinds into their hearts. I apologize for not getting any new chapters posted to, The Curse. I have been quite ill for 11 weeks and at this time just getting back on my feet.
Ann has her own website, it is up and working and can be found at,
The Curse, continued in Chapter Fifty Three....
alt fic index <> homepage