"Extra! Extra! The Midnight Rider strikes again!" The shrill voices of the paperboys rang throughout the town. Captain Arthur Kirkland growled as he slammed his mug onto the counter of the bar, narrowing his emerald eyes in distaste. He was no longer in the spotlight as the most feared felon in the British Empire. A thief known as the 'Midnight Rider' had been raiding both pirate treasure and noble treasure alike.
No one saw their face because the Rider wears a black mask across their eyes that was elegant enough to be used in a masquerade and they wore a black hooded cloak that covered them from head to toe. They moved within the cover of shadows, using clever tactics to take the treasure within a blink in of an eye. The thing that infuriated police and amused the citizens in a way was the way that the Rider taunted the police by giving chase but it would always end up getting away on a horse.
One would think that it would be easy to catch the thief because it was rumoured that they rode on a black stallion on their way out. Black horses were fairly rare unless it had something to do with death but not one of the horses around the towns was stolen and no new travellers had black horses. The people who had actually seen the horse had believed for it to be a ghost because they swore its eyes were glowing red and its body had an eerie glow.
The officials got so desperate in capturing the Rider, dead or alive, they went as far as even asking the PIRATES for help. If pirates brought the Rider back, they would be completely pardoned and have complete international community for the rest of their days.
It had been several months since they issued that warrant, and since then the Rider had been lying low. Too low, too quietly. As if they were dead. No one knew for sure if they were dead and the suspense was too intense and when the Rider was mentioned, it practically sent panic everywhere. It made Arthur look like a hero compared to the Rider's rumours. And he was disgusted by it.
He vowed to catch the rider, once and for all and he would finish it off himself. Arthur was sick of the Rider getting treasure he had his eye on, sick of the Rider always being one step ahead of everyone else and it was practically putting Arthur out of business. He didn't care for the reward or immunity, he just wanted to get the Rider. And now he had a lead. The Rider couldn't be far away.
"Cheer up, Capt'n." Arthur's fairly new cabin boy Declan smiled as he took a sip of his drink. His (h/c) ponytail slid off his shoulder and onto his back. "You'll catch 'im soon. After all, good things come to those who wait." Declan's pet rat, Finny, squeaked in agreement on Declan's shoulder.
"I wouldn't classify the Rider as a 'good thing' so it won't be coming no matter how long I wait. Besides, if I stick around for too long I'm going to have some officials on my tail."
"Oh, sorry Capt'n. I forgot about that. I don't know where my head is today. Well anyway, que sera sera." Declan said with a smile and a shrug directed at Arthur and he couldn't help but laugh a bit.
Even though Declan was the newest member of the crew and was only around for about 8 months, Arthur had given him his full trust which was really hard to accomplish. There was something about that boy that was welcoming, calming and trustworthy. Arthur never regretted his decision to take the boy under his wing.
Declan had two sisters, had being the key word, and they were his only family. His youngest succumbed to an illness because he couldn't pay for a certain operation despite generous donations from someone that had kept her alive for quite some time. Days before Declan joined Arthur's crew, his older sister ____________________ was stricken by a horse that got spooked and her injuries were too great for doctors to do anything about it and she had passed away.
Arthur went over the details in his mind again of what the Rider stole. This last heist was much different than their last ones. It was some sort of jewel that was moderate in value while the others were worth thousands. But he knew exactly what that jewel was for. There was said to be a very powerful flower that could cure any illness or injury. The place where he was going supposedly had the flower and it was the perfect place to meet the Rider face to face.
Within a few days, Arthur and his crew arrived at the island where his target treasure was. He kept his eyes on constant alert for the Rider, ready to fight him.
"Capt'n, are you sure that you want to go through with this?" Declan asked Arthur before he disembarked for shore. "You can get the treasure and go."
"It's not business anymore lad, it's personal. And I don't like my pride being brutalized." Arthur fought his way through the island and every shadow that moved, he had to admit, made him jump. After a while, he spotted a black hooded figure that went up to a stone door and placed a jewel in the door. Arthur ordered his crew to head back as the ship as he followed the hooded figure.
He kept a safe distance from the figure in the shadows, and he got a glimpse of its face confirming it was the Rider. He wanted to attack as soon as possible but his instincts told him to be patient and wait until it was trapped. Arthur followed it until there was a circular room with a glowing blue flower in the center. It's beauty was captivating and calming, it caught Arthur's attention right away. He snapped himself out of it and focused back on the Rider. However, the hooded figure had not taken notice of Arthur or the flower.
"Is it here?" Arthur heard a feminine voice that sounded faintly familiar. He heard some squeaking then the voice cried out in joy.
I can end of all of this." The Rider said.
"Don't go stealing my lines now, mate." Arthur sneered as he raised his sword to the Rider's neck. The Rider stopped in fear and slowly turned to Arthur. "I admit, I admire you Rider. However, you have annoyed me greatly, Rider. Always stealing my glory and outshining me."
"That was not my intention. Not at all." The Rider said calmly as it faced Arthur. "I'm merely trying to survive. I don't wish to fight you."
"Well I do. I have a title to maintain. Although I do have one question: Why would you want to go after this one flower? After all of this trouble you caused?"
"I don't want to live in the shadows anymore." The Rider said simply as they drew their sword.
"You really are a mysterious character." The Rider made the first move, attacking Arthur with an amateur strike that he easily counter-attacked and fought the Rider with ease. Arthur was on edge, this was far too easy, especially with a skilled thief. Their moves were too quick and they left too many openings making it a venerable target. As the fight dragged on, Arthur realized that the Rider couldn't actually fight. And its moves were frightening familiar and Arthur did not want to cause any serious damages until his fears were put to rest.
Arthur disarmed the Rider and the Rider tripped on a branch making it fall backwards. Arthur pinned the Rider on its back and made sure the Rider couldn't move.
"Now. Let's see what's under the mask." Arthur reached for the Rider's mask and as he was peeling it off, he noticed something was wrong with the Rider's eyes. Despite that the Rider was squirming and terrified, he could see that its eyes were clouded and nearly grey. He realized the Rider was blind. Perhaps that was the reason the Rider had stopped stealing.
Once Arthur took off the mask, he backed off in horror. He realized it was Declan. He couldn't understand how or why Declan would do this. He did have a soft spot for his cabin boy, or
Cabin girl as it was now clearly evident that Declan was actually a girl. Arthur was unsure of what to do, he didn't want his reputation to be ruined nor did he want to strike at Declan let alone kill him.
Please, I can explain." Declan's voice was quavering. "And
I would appreciate if you would call me __________________. That's my real name."
Wasn't ___________________ the name of his sister that was stricken by the horse? Just thinking about it made Arthur's head spin.
"Very well. Go on ahead." Arthur sighed.
"Remember when I told you my younger sister had an illness? That part was true. We were on our own and no matter what I did, I couldn't make enough money to completely keep up with her medications."
"So you became the thief known as the Midnight Rider."
"Yes. Unfortunately, I couldn't save her so I had to move on. I was
I am giving up my alternate identity since there's no need for me to steal anymore. Then I had my accident and lost my sight."
"And you need the flower to restore your sight."
" Arthur ran his hand through his hair and groaned. "Why the bloody hell didn't you say anything?!"
"Would you have taken me in if you found out I was the Rider?"
" Arthur shifted his eyes to the side and coughed. "Regardless, you have gained my trust over these past few months and I'm willing to help yo- Look out!!" A figure emerged from the shadows and snuck up from behind __________________ and covered her mouth.
"Thank you, Captain Kirkland for leading us to the Shadow Rider." Arthur's cook and a few of his men had followed Arthur to the cavern. Arthur mentally slapped himself because he should have been more alert. "We'll fetch a nice profit from you, you little trouble maker. I knew there was something odd about you, Declan." The cook hissed.
__________________ squirmed in his grip but she lacked physical strength despite careful training that Arthur has taught her. The cook had a firm grip on __________________'s hair and pulled her head up which made her cry out in pain.
"Let go of her! That is an order!" Arthur growled.
"Sorry, we're working on our own now. There's a reward for you as well but since we respect you to a degree, we're going to let you go."
Arthur had a thin bitter smile on his face that steadily grew. He laughed darkly and it sent shivers up everyone's spines.
"You are, without a doubt, the worst pirates I have ever heard of." Arthur said as he drew his sword. Finny crawled out of _________________'s hood and bit the cook on his hand, allowing ___________________ to move out of harm's way as Arthur moved towards his now ex-crew mates. While she moved away, she came across the flower and stored it safely in her pocket.
"If you respected me to any degree, you wouldn't have mutinied against me." ____________________ thought it was a good thing that she was blind at the moment because Arthur's voice was frightening and the sound of blades clashing between Arthur and the others was so eerie, it made her freeze out of fear. "If you were going to be compassionate, you better show mercy to everyone in the situation or no one."
More clashes of metal echoed throughout the cavern. The crew members were no match for Arthur as he was the best at dueling. They couldn't keep up with his clever and spontaneous tactics and were knocked out one by one.
"And you made one huge mistake: you went against me, Captain Arthur Kirkland." He grinned devilishly at the fallen men. The cook was still conscious but unable to get up. Arthur stepped on the cook's hand to get his attention. "The punishment for mutiny is death. But since I respect you to a degree," Arthur said mockingly, "I will give you a chance to survive. You follow us, and I won't hesitate to shoot you."
Arthur took _________________'s hand and led her down the path towards the mouth of the waterway where his ship was waiting.
"Thank you, Captain Kirkland." __________________ said. "From the bottom of my heart, I truly am grateful that you saved my life despite what I did to you."
Arthur suddenly kissed _________________ before she could continue. It shocked ________________ but she secretly longed for him the time that she spent aboard his ship. She couldn't see his face but his heart was as clear as the sun. And she wanted nothing more than to be with him, male or female. Blind or the sharpest sights in the world.
"I'm more than willing to forgive you and let you stay on my crew on the condition you can look me in my eyes and let me see your heart." Arthur took out the flower from ________________'s pocket and placed it in her hand and held onto it with her.