A girl is born into a patriarchal world and seeks nothing more than the love of her father. This one mission in her life leads her into a world she wouldn't have dared have nightmares about.
Oria glanced out across the ocean; in the distance was the small but steadily growing port of Port Royal. Her fingers fidgeted at the bottom of the corset style top, it was ornately decorated, a cream and gold design with long flowing skirts. Her feet were encased in dainty little shoes with golden clasps and her hair had been curled into perfect ringlets and piled under a small bonnet.
She glanced back to where the Admiral and his wife were stood at the prow discussing various things. Oria had allowed herself to be dolled up to stop any suspicion; she had kept her scar hidden by donning a thin under dress before Angelica had turned around. She felt sick to her stomach acting so girly, blushing when she passed any crew man and pretending to hide behind Angelicas' skirts bashfully, she had used every single ounce of her mothers' teachings on womanly ways to keep her true identity hidden and it had worked.
No one had a clue that truly all she wanted was to get hold of a cutlass and have a good fight, scramble up rigging, tear her trousers and get bruises to show her exploits. After several minutes of discussion the ship was eventually docked, Angelica strolled up to her with a grin.
"Are you ready to go and find your aunt?" Oria clasped her hands together and gave her best winning smile while retching inside.
"Oh yes please, I would like that very much!" Angelica laughed and took the small girls hand in her own missing the sarcastic roll of her eyes as she allowed herself to be dragged down the steps. Once they were on the dock they were joined by the Admiral.
"Where does your aunt live child?" Oria placed a finger to her chin and gave a childish 'umm' before pointing towards the richer section of the town where the houses weren't made of loose planks and spare smashed bricks.
"She lives in the third house on the right overlooking the bay, but she's not home at the moment. There is a maid that is awaiting me and my families' arrival." She gave a dramatic sob at the pretend loss and wiped away a crocodile tear.
"Oh you poor darling, we'll take you there straight away. We won't be able to stay long, we're just getting supplies, will you be alright with the maid?" Oria nodded dramatically and put on a brave face.
"Yes, I think I can cope." Angelica swooped down and hugged her so tightly Oria was sure she would burst or suffocate.
"Such a brave little girl." They followed the Admiral to the house; he rapped smartly on the front door and was quickly answered by a maid whose eyes widened at the sight of Oria. Oria spoke quickly.
"My transport was attacked; I don't know where my parents are... I am Oria Smith. Your mistress is my aunt. May I come in?" Her eyes met the maids and she quickly latched on to the story.
"Oh Miss Smith! We were all so worried about you! Your aunt heard the news and is hurrying back with all haste, how can I ever thank you Admiral and Mrs Bay." The Admiral tipped his hat.
"It was nothing; the poor girl was so distraught when we found her. As long as she is safe and sound that is enough payment for us, she was a pleasure to have aboard. Now, I am so sorry but we must leave we are due to leave port within the hour." The maid nodded and ushered Oria inside the house quickly and shut the door after the pair had left the garden path, Angelica waving daintily over her husbands arm. Oria waved back before swearing under her breath and letting the fake smile drop once the door had shut.
"Oria what the hell happened to you?" Oria snatched the hat off her head and tossed it down onto the side table before tugging all the pins from her hair and letting it fall loose about her frame.
"I got captured; some pirate who claimed he was my mamas' fiancÃ© and that papa stole her from him. I'm sorry Cordell, I didn't know where else to go." Cordell folded her arms.
"Just as well I was wearing something respectable or you would have been in serious trouble. I doubt the fool even knew this was a whore house." Oria grinned.
"Got any spare clothes for a poor abandoned pirate lass?" Cordell grinned and led her upstairs to her room, several of the other rooms were locked and loud groans and whimpers echoed out with several tasteful screamed words for whores.
The luxuriously made up room greeted the pair with the yap of small fluffy dog, Oria glanced about the luxuriously draped crimson and ebony silken room. The large double bed with matching cushions and duvets, Oria jumped on it as she always did when Zechariahs visited the whore for the day every month or so. Cordell grinned at her as she fished into the back of her wardrobe and pulled out the spare trousers and shirt Oria had accidentally left behind last time.
"I've got enough money to buy you some new boots as well if you want?" Oria bounced down onto the side of the bed and nodded with a grin.
"Has Zechariahs been around yet? Are they looking for me?" Cordell avoided her gaze.
"He came last week; he said you'd been lost at sea..." Oria tugged the shirt and britches on quickly the second she had managed to get herself out of the tight fitting gown.
"What about mama and papa are they still searching for me, I know it's been about a fortnight but..." She noticed the look on Cordell's face and her own jovial expression faded, "They never even tried to find me did they." Cordell met her eyes sincerely and she sighed.
"Oh love, they mean well but they are pirates. Girls are of no use to Hellion, you know that. They don't mean any harm by it but you are expendable in their eyes." Oria sank onto the bed, a deep cold chill settled into her heart and mind, they hadn't tried to find her, hadn't even bothered. It hurt that not even her mother had tried, Cordell sat next to her, "Oh Oria, they'll be thrilled to see you again." She shook her head.
"No... they won't, I'll just be another complication. Another girl to sell off to some male." Cordell sighed and wrapped an arm about the girls' slumped shoulders.
"Then you can stay with me till they come back again, should be in about a month or so. You can decide what to do then. You can either stay here with me or go with them and prove to them that you're worth keeping." She grinned as Oria brightened up.
"I could show them that I can be worthwhile, that just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I can't earn my keep!" Cordell smiled gently.
"That's the spirit pet; you show them that you are worthy to stay aboard." Oria hugged her warmly her past worries forgotten, "Now go down to the kitchens and get something to eat, I think either Jill or Gretel is down there they'll get you something. I've got a punter so give me an hour or so and I'll join you and we'll go and get you a cutlass and some boots already pet." Oria nodded and slipped from the bed running with the enthusiasm of a child out of the room and down the stairs to the kitchen. Cordell shook her head despairingly and went down to the foyer where her next client was waiting patiently, or not so patiently as it appeared when she reached him with his pants around his ankles.
Nearly two months of watching the horizon and finally the Tigress was heading into port under false colours her name plate hidden beneath another proclaiming her as the merchant vessel Mermaid. Oria had always loved that because it was so true, beautiful to look at but get too caught up in her spell and she'd drag you beneath the waves, just like the mermaid would with distracted sailors.
Oria wriggled on her seat at the docks in excitement as the ship slowly made berth and the docking plank dropped. She had quickly forgotten that they had not searched for her, it causing too much pain and confusion on her young mind to tolerate focusing on. Zechariahs was the first off and spotted her immediately, his eyes widened disbelievingly.
"Oria?" She grinned wildly and ran at him.
"Zechariahs!" He laughed boldly as she flew into his arms and knocked him from his feet, he laughed and hugged her close.
"Hey squirt, we missed you on the ship. No fun without you! Where you been?" She grinned and scrambled off him as Cordell helped him to his feet.
"Learning the tricks of the trade." Cordell laughed, he grinned up at her and kissed her passionately his hands creeping not too subtly towards her backside and giving it a firm squeeze.
"Ah, been waiting for that. Now let's get down to business, got one day's leave before we set sail again." Heavy boot falls echoed down the plank and blood red eyes met Oria's.
"Oria?" The tone wasn't the friendliest, it was the tone someone adopted when they saw their arch nemesis and couldn't do any harm to them, and the glint in his eyes wasn't pleased.
The two lovers parted and watched the exchanged looks; neither noticed the shift in the girl as she remembered the pain of betrayal, it longer wanted to be ignored. Like a dragon it burst into life clawing at her sanity and slamming daggers through her heart. Oria watched her father slowly, the man who had abandoned her, left her for dead and he didn't even seem pleased that she had survived, pleased that she had appeared at all. He saw himself as better off with her out of the way, dead and forgotten at the bottom of the ocean.
The same cold chill infected her heart but not her mind, she knew what she had to do and if that was the only way to achieve what she wanted then so be it, the daggers stopped piercing her and the dragon began to purr with satisfaction. Her face broke into a wide beaming smile.
"Papa! Mama!" She ran into her mothers' arms and wrapped her arms around her, tears from Marci dripped onto her head as the woman cried hysterically at having lost and found a daughter.
"Oh Oria, we all thought you were dead." She hugged her mother tightly but she felt nothing, for all the warmth emanating from the desperate woman's hug it didn't melt the ice that had solidified about her youngest daughters' heart. Cordell saw the ice in her eyes and knew the once lively young girl had been lost and replaced with an ice cold beast of war.
Hellion seemed to have realised this too as he watched the girl meet his gaze without fear or awe as she once had but with nothing, he knew behind that shield something far more dangerous had been born. Betrayal of the harshest kind had frozen any semblance to humanity from the girl's features and they both knew he would have to watch his back, the war of the De Monara's had been declared and only one would survive.