1786 the West Indies
"Well, Mates, the jury is in agreement," cried First Mate Walter Crenna. "We find the Captain guilty. What the punishment, then, as it's you he's wronged, lads?"
Darien Keane, Captain of the Widowmaker for at least a few more moments, glared impartially at his mutinous crew. His bloody First Mate, for fuck's sake, putting him on trial, when he and Walter both knew who had sold off the best of the crew's cut at the last port of call.
The sun beat down on Darien's head as the men clamored for his untimely end, his hat long lost in his struggles to free himself. He fought the grimace that tried to form when Walter tugged his bound hands, so long tied behind him that his arms screamed in agony with every movement.
"Quiet!" Walter shouted, and an uneasy silence fell. "Whipping and to the fishes, then?"
"Whipping, aye," piped up the bosun, George, who had ever been loyal to Darien. "But we'll set him out somewhere he's got a chance. You've given us no proof, Walter. None."
Darien smiled a little at his only champion since this whole mess had begun, nodding his head. George had let the men shout him down several times, but this time he seemed intent on holding fast.
"I'll shoot any man who tries to put him on the plank," George said, and he was a good enough shot with the black powder pistol he held in his hand that the men backed away from him. "Yer all stupid and blind, you are. Captain's been good to us, he has. You'll regret it."
Good man, that George. The men subsided somewhat, murmuring amongst themselves until Walter began again.
"I still intend to exercise my arm against his back!" Walter shouted. "Who's with me?"
Darien sighed. Right bastard. He tilted his head up to watch the sky, the sun dazzling his eyes. It made it easier, for when Walter pulled his head back down the faces of the men faded into a spotty blur, and Darien could not see their bloodlust. The rough cuff to the back of his skull cleared that right out as his eyes watered, however, and lost all of his good work.
"Well, Captain," Walter said, spitting the last word. "Have any last thing to say for yourself?"
"Only that I have been your friend and kept you from the hangman's noose countless times. You think that by being rid of me your guilt will go unnoticed, but you are not smart enough to survive without me, Walter. You shall pay for this somehow, in this life or the next."
He said it slowly, as distinctly as possible with his lip split the way it was, and loud. The sound of truth rang in his voice, and a ripple went through the crew just before the whip cut through the air and landed on his back.
The first blow surprised a cry out of him, feeling like a line of liquid fire bisecting one shoulder blade. After the first, Darien held it in. Damn the man for not even untying his arms, as each blow cut into the skin there as well, and would make it that much more difficult to heal. It would make it more difficult to function, as well, wherever they chose to put him off.
By the end all Darien heard was the roaring in his ears, and the jeers of the men who held him up. He lost count of the lashes at twenty, and had only the vaguest thought that the most he'd ever administered at one time had been five.
Perhaps he should have been a sterner man.
The buzzing in his head finally proved loud enough to drown everything else out, and the last thing Darien saw as his eyes rolled back in his head was the obscenely cheerful blue sky.