Chapter 2

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The sounds of death chased them as Jace was hurried toward the aft of the ship. The cries and pleas of the men who’d captured him the first time rang around him, their begging cut off abruptly with a wet squelch. His eyes were wide with terror as he struggled against the grip on his arms.

The sparkly man-Magnus as he’d been called-was a lot stronger than he looked. And the dark haired man was even stronger, a dagger brandished in his left hand as he rushed Jace along the rough hewn wooden deck. Magnus grabbed his hand roughly, smirking as he cut a gash on his palm. He slapped his own against Jace’s, their blood mingling as Jace scowled down at their joined hands.

When he finally looked up, Jace gasped at the sight before him. Instead of the crudely assembled ship he’d seen a moment ago, there was a masterpiece tied to its side.

The majestic ship was floating calmly alongside, it’s blood red sails billowing in the gentle breeze. The rails gleamed as if polished by starlight, the deck not showing a single scuff or gouge. It was pristine and perfect. And absolutely terrifying to the young prince.

He’d heard of this ship. The Institute. It never left prisoners alive, the stories all being told by witnesses from afar. No one had ever seen it’s Captain-and lived-but the crew’s ruthlessness spoke to its leadership. And now Jace was in their clutches.

He scanned the rails for a gangplank of some kind, his eyes going wide as he came up empty.  Seeing his panic, the dark haired man tugged him close, wrapping his arms firmly around his waist.

“Hold tight, princeling.”

With no hesitance whatsoever, he grabbed a rope dangling near their heads and tugged Jace along as he jumped. The golden haired boy shrieked in fear, the dark water swirling gently under them as they crossed the chasm between the two vessels. The blood pounded in his ears as their feet landed on the deck, his knees buckling and going weak. This time though, the other man left him to fall, immediately stepping toward Magnus.

Then the gleaming man took the other in his arms, pulling him in for a rather heated kiss as the dark haired woman swung across, giggling at their display.

Who were these people?!? Deviants and thieves, kidnappers and murderers-why did he ever think it wise to sneak away from the shelter of the castle?!

“Come on Alec. Let us give our report.” The woman smirked as she tugged her sibling away, Magnus groaning as his lips tried to follow his lover.

“That’s great Izzy. Can’t even let me celebrate for a moment!” He sobbed dramatically, peeking out from under his lashes a moment later as he fought the smirk trying to break free.

“Your celebrations tend to take hours. Morgenstern will tan your hide if you keep us away.”

Jace’s eyes widened. Morgenstern…he’d heard that name before-but where? He racked his brain as he sat slumped against the railing, the water churning gently behind him as the remaining crew returned to the ship and relinquished their hold on the decrepit one they’d sacked.

Minutes passed as the crew went on about their duties. Only Magnus remained near him, though he did pull out a small leather bound book and began scratching away with a spare piece of charcoal. Jace was numb-all feeling leached out of him until there was nothing but an empty shell left. He knew what happened to royals who were kidnapped-especially by pirates.

The blast wave reached him before the sound, throwing him flat onto his chest, his hands braced against the gleaming brown wood. The concussive explosion rocked the ship a moment later, the brilliant fireball shooting high into the early evening sky. The orange flames leaped into the air, falling into nothing before swan diving into the water below, suicidal in their ravenous quest for destruction.  Jace shot to his feet, spinning to watch the spectacle as he gripped the railing, his fingers digging hard into the wood as if he wanted to inflict pain.

“Quite a show, isn’t it?” The soft voice behind him was barely audible over the crackles and pops as mini explosions torpedoed pieces of debris into the night sky.

He spun quickly, his eyes squeezing shut as the world spun too quickly, disorienting him momentarily. When his equilibrium adjusted a moment later, his tawny eyes opened and looked for the bearer of that melodic voice.

He found a girl…a tiny girl at that. Her hair was as fiery as the ship burning a few miles away, her eyes sparkling like the emeralds that adorned his father’s crown. She leaned casually on the railing beside him, her bare arm nudging against the linen of his shirt. He took in her bare feet, tight trousers that stopped just above her calves and the linen shirt with no sleeves. Surely if she were part of the crew she’d be dressed properly like that other women, right?

“Are you their captive too? You’re much too-beautiful to stay trapped in this hellhole for long.”

His voice was low and measured, his eyes darting to where Magnus still sat, ignoring the two of them completely.

Her tinkling laugh drew the Asian man’s attention, though he only shook his head and went back to whatever he’d been doing. “That would make me, what? The ship’s wench?”

Jace’s eyes widened, his face draining of all color as he imagined being wrought upon this poor, beautiful young girl.

“Oh my god, you’re serious aren’t you?” She reared back, her hair cascading over her shoulders as she laughed. Tears squeezed out of her eyes as she doubled over, drawing the attention of the crew, as well as Alec and Izzy who had emerged a moment before. “Fear not, kind sir. They haven’t captured me and I’m not the ship’s wench.”

His brow furrowed as he turned, his arms crossing over his chest. He glared at the small girl as she bowed sarcastically, her loose top billowing precariously away from her chest.

“My name is Clary. Clary Morgenstern. But you may call me Captain.”

x . x . x . x . x

Upon his startling discovery, he’d been shuttled below deck as Clary barked out orders. He went without protest, Alec gripping his arm loosely as he directed him. Isabelle followed behind, tossing an apple into the air daintily before sinking her teeth into it, juice spurting over her chin. She grinned sarcastically, holding the fruit out to Jace in a mock offer to share.

They led him to the farthest room on the hallway. He was shoved unceremoniously through the door, tripping over a random shoe in the middle of the floor as he twisted to face the siblings.

“One of us will be guarding you at all times. If you need something, just knock and we’ll attend to you.” Alec bowed slightly as Izzy retreated the way she’d come. “Are you alright, or do you need something now?”

Jace’s eyebrows came down hard over his amber eyes. “Am I alright? Honestly? I’m about as far from alright as you can possibly be!”

The pirate rolled his eyes good naturedly. “You should be singing Clary’s praises right about now. We could’ve killed you instead of bringing you over. We could be locking you in the brig. But she’s got a…certain sense of honor about her.” His eyes roamed over Jace’s body, making him feel more than a little exposed. “Plus you’re pretty. That doesn’t exactly hurt your case.”

Magnus stuck his head in through the open doorway, smirking as he heard the last bit of conversation. “Don’t go scaring the poor boy now, lover. I’m quite sure our brand of hedonism isn’t his cup of tea. Speaking of, would you like some tea? You look like you’re about to fall over.”

Jace’s eyes flicked from one man to the other, his brain absolutely unwilling to accept any more of this idiocy. He caught sight of wide azure eyes as he sank to his knees, slipping blissfully into the darkness of oblivion.

x . x . x . x . x

Jace shifted, stretching out on the luxurious sheets as the sun streamed in through his window. He stretched, arching his back like a cat as he threw his head back onto his pillows.

Wait. He had more than one pillow. Did he knock them down in the middle of the night?

His eyes cracked open, taking in the unfamiliar room. His body shot off the bed, nearly colliding with the small presence asleep in the chair next to him.

They squawked loudly, arms flapping about as the chair tipped back. The person-a girl-hit the ground hard, a slight ‘Ooof!’ escaping her perfectly pink lips.

Jace looked around wildly, ignoring the girl sprawled out before him.  He crossed to the door as the girl righted herself, sitting heavily on the chair once again. He yanked with all his strength, wincing when it nearly jerked his arm out of the socket.

“Are you quite done?”

The melodious voice broke through his panic and he swiftly turned, raking his eyes over the girl. Clary. That’s right-the Captain. His back flattened against the wooden wall, his eyes bouncing from one object to another. Clary sighed, standing slowly and approaching him cautiously. Her arms were outstretched, trying to calm him as if he were a wild animal.

“Hey. Calm down. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Need to piss?” She cocked her head as she stood a few feet away from him, her hands migrating to her hips. Her tiny foot tapped against the floor, the soft ‘fwap, fwap’ doing nothing but making him more anxious.

“I-I need…I need to go home! You can’t-I can’t-fuck!”

His hands gripped his hair as he sank to his knees, roughly noting the ache already present. She sighed again, dropping down the floor and crossing her legs in front of her. He panted and she waited.

He didn’t know how long it took, but she sat there calmly the entire time. Her quiet steady presence began to affect him, his mind slowly calming to manageable degrees as his breathing steadied. The black spots that had so gloriously danced in front of his eyes beat a hasty retreat, waiting for his next mental breakdown.

He licked his lips, noticing how they were dry and cracked. He’d never had cracked lips before. There was always someone to rub oil wherever he needed it-usually Kaelie as she tried to seduce him. He rolled his eyes at the thought. There was one aspect of this kidnapping he wasn’t too broken up about.

He blinked rapidly as a pewter tankard was shoved unceremoniously under his nose. “You’re dehydrated. Drink. It’ll help.”

Obeying instantly, though he questioned his sanity for it, Jace drained the cup. He licked his lips slightly, casting his eyes around to see if there was more. Clary let out a tinkling laugh as she held up a pitcher, tipping it graciously to fill his cup again. Three times they repeated this dance before he was sated, his stomach sloshing lazily as the ship tilted in the surf.

“Why are you doing this?” His voice was so small and weak. He hated himself in that moment, more than he hated his father even. His amber eyes drifted up, settling on the small girl still stretched out on the floor before him.

She pursed her lips, cocking her head to the side as she looked him over. “Why am I doing what?”

“Why did you-kidnap me? Ransack that other ship?” He gulped as his eyes squeezed shut involuntarily, memories assaulting his mind. “Murder those other men?”

Her eyebrow rose sardonically. “Are you upset that we murdered them? I know what they had planned for you.”

Well, that didn’t sound like fun. “You still-killed them.”

“Actually, my men killed them. I stayed on my ship.” She lithely jumped to her feet, crossing the room to peek out the porthole above the bed. “Come on, it’s time for dinner.”

She jumped off the bed, stumbling slightly as the ship pitched harder to the left. She rolled her eyes good naturedly as she mumbled under her breath, kneeling before an old chest at the end of the bed. She lifted the lid, nearly toppling inside as she reached for something. She pulled out a wad of fabric, holding it up and eyeing him.

“This should be alright. Your clothes are filthy.” She tossed what looked to be a finely made shirt and trousers at him, giggling at the blank look painted on his face. “Come on, change. The crew won’t wait and I’m starving.”

Unceremoniously, she pulled her loose linen shirt off as she strolled to the wardrobe on the other side of the room. Jace’s face flushed a brilliant ruby as he jerked his eyes toward the floor.

“Oh, you’re shy. That’s sweet.” He choked as another wad of fabric landed in his lap. He fingered it gently, reveling in the warmth it still carried-the trousers she’d been wearing. He squeezed his eyes closed, his breathing coming in harsh pants as he fought the images running through his mind.

Try as he might, he’d still caught glimpses of her body and now those were running on a loop through his head. A sharp clicking noise startled him enough to open his eyes, grateful that she’d at least clothed herself.

“Come on. Get dressed. Magnus and Alec will bring you up.”

And without a backward glanced, she strode out of the cabin, fiery red hair trailing behind her.

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