Before the Storm is a prequel novella written by Robert Thier in the Storm and Silence series, and chronologically takes place before the first book, Storm and Silence. The book was commissioned by the Radish Mobile App and hence, is available to read for free exclusively on the site. The first few chapters were initially uploaded on July 2016.
How did he amass his fortune?
What devious deeds lead to him becoming the man he is?
If you’ve always wanted to know the answers to these questions, now’s your chance! This is “Before the Storm”, the Prequel to “Storm and Silence”, giving an insight into Mr. Ambrose’s early years.
In Georgia, Mama Dumant was telling the other prostitutes and guests in her brothel that she was able to rent out the tiny, sweltering attic to a tenant– describing him as a tall, very handsome young man. The other prostitutes tried to approach the attic, but were stopped by two menacing hounds guarding the attic stairway. Mama Dumant shared that despite the tenant renting it due to the dirt-cheap rent, his status indicated otherwise when she noticed he had gold. The attic door opened and the aforementioned man– entirely clad in black– descended the stairway, commanding the dogs to heel before storming out of the brothel.
A minute later, Pearl entered the brothel, confused at the shocked patrons. Continuing her usual business of selling eggs to Mama Dumant, she explained the source of commotion, much to Pearl's unimpressed reaction. After exchanging more conversation, Pearl returned home to her small farm. While preparing for dinner, she heard a sound. Grabbing a cudgel, she went to investigate and spotted an intruder heading towards the shed. Upon entering it, she saw the stranger and told him to leave. He stalked towards her and pulled out a knife. A fight commenced, both trying to attack the other with their own respective weapons. Pearl ultimately gained the upper hand, barely managing to knock the stranger unconscious twice. About to tie him up, she noticed scars on his wrists that she immediately recognised were caused by chains. She dropped the rope and hurled cold water on him instead.
The stranger woke up and Pearl held out her hands, showing the same scars on her wrists. He hugged her and she stepped away, asking him questions only to find out he did not speak English. Nonetheless, he introduced himself as Jabari and thanked her when she went to bring him water and food. The following week, Pearl took care of him, bringing him necessities and nursing his wounds, and also teaching him English. When she asked him why he was still staying with her, he explained that he was looking for the people from his village were taken by slavers with him. Although he had managed to escape from the slavers' ship, he refused to leave alone, searching for them during nighttime. Pearl scolded him, warning of the risk involved and telling that she also would look for them. Jabari disapproved of the idea until she reassured him that nothing would happen to her.
The next morning, Pearl went to multiple plantations to search for Jabari's people, with unsuccessful results. Finally stopping at Pine Grove Plantation, she saw a young woman being whipped by an overseer. She also noticed the colourful marks on her cheeks, exactly identical to those of Jabari's. Scanning the fields from her hiding spot, she saw more slaves with similarly painted faces and realised they all were from Jabari's village. As she was about to leave, she saw the owner of the plantation, Arnold Kingsley, meeting with Mama Dumant's tenant, Mr Ambrose.
Pearl told Jabari her findings, only to find out that the young woman she saw earlier was his younger sister, Inira. After telling him that they would both free her and his people together, Jabari kissed her. Later that night, they went together to Pine Grove Plantation and found Jabari's people locked up in a hut. They tried to free them, only to find that they were bound in heavy chains that could only be unlocked by keys located in Kingsley's house. Upon hearing guards approaching, Pearl and Jabari were forced to abruptly leave, with Inira forcing Pearl to promise her that she would take care of Jabari if anything were to happen to herself.
Propositions and Partnerships
Back at the shed, Jabari realised the only plausible way to free his sister and people would be to find someone interested in exposing Kingsley. A few hours later, Pearl went to Mama Dumant's brothel and after successfully befriending Mr Ambrose's dogs, went to see Mr Ambrose himself. Initially, he was extremely displeased at her unwarranted arrival, but hesitated after she brought up Kingsley's illegal import of foreign slaves. She asked for his help to expose and convict Kingsley, stating that he would also be seen as a co-conspirator if he became Kingsley's business partner, convincing Mr Ambrose to join her's and Jabari's fight.
When he met up with them both, he explained the best way to ruin Kingsley would be to catch him red-handed during his next shipment of African slaves. He revealed that he already had two ships anchored along the coast nearby and would have them patrol the area to alert them when Kingley's men were arriving. Pearl also brought up that to expose Kingsley, his men would have to be taken alive as witnesses by the law. Mr Ambrose agreed, saying he would convince the local sheriff to join them. They all agreed to the plan. Pearl and Jabari then confessed their love for each other in front of Mr Ambrose and his men– much to Mr Ambrose's displeasure.
Three days later, in the dead of night, they all met up again and were joined by Sheriff O'Riley at the beach for the ambush of Kingley's men. When they spotted the camouflaged ship, Jabari snuck aboard with a bottle of acid to free the prisoned slaves from their chains to join in fighting against the slavers. The slavers started to disembark from the ship and Mr Ambrose commanded them to drop their weapons and to surrender. They rebelled and the battle began– with Pearl, Mr Ambrose, the Sheriff and their men shooting down the slavers. With the slavers retreating back to the ship, Pearl led the charge against them for Mr Ambrose and his men.
They reached the ship and saw the slavers being thrown overboard by Jabari and the newly freed slaves. Pearl joined in the fighting, but was shot in the shoulder and passed out. Regaining consciousness sometime later, Mr Ambrose informed her that they had won the battle, with the few remaining slavers left alive being taken hostage for questioning. The remaining trapped slaves on the ship had been freed and when the issue of where they would stay for the night was brought up, Pearl offered her place.
Pearl's mother was less than pleased to see the multitude of guests at her doorstep in the middle of the night but nonetheless, was hospitable enough to provide food and shelter for them for the time being. While gathered around a fire in the yard, Mr Ambrose informed Pearl and Jabari that later in the morning, they would get a warrant for Kingsley's arrest before going to Pine Grove. A few hours later after going to sleep, Pearl was unexpectedly awoken by loud voices. Jabari rushed into her room and informed her that one of the Sheriff's men was gone, taking a horse with him.
Realising that the man was a mole for Kingsley, Pearl urged Jabari to go after him. After waking up Mr Ambrose and his men, she went with them to go after the traitor. They caught up to the man, finding that Jabari had already overpowered and captured him. They all then returned back to Pearl's farm, with the traitor bound in tow, to catch up on sleep for the few remaining hours.
Freedom and Justice
In the morning, they made the trip to Pine Grove, with Mr Ambrose already having obtained the warrant. When they arrived, Mr Ambrose split up his men to arrest Kingley's workers and secure the perimeter. He, along with Jabari, Pearl, Karim and the Sheriff entered Kingsley's house. They went through the servants' quarters, clearing out the guards and the escorting the house slaves and then entered the family's quarters, informing Mrs Kingsley that she was under arrest. Finally arriving outside Kingsley's room, Jabari kicked the door open and Mr Ambrose informed Kinglsey that he would not be investing in his plantation, with Kingsley being handcuffed and carted off.
Afterwards, Pearl and Jabari headed over to the slave huts, where Inira and his people were locked up. Inira and Jabari hugged each other and after seeing that his sister was still in chains, Jabari obtained the key taken away from Kingsley and slid it into the lock. The chains fell off of Inira and Jabari went around to everyone else, freeing them from their bonds. They all celebrated from immense joy– shouting, cheering and crying at their new-found freedom. Jabari’s people lifted him into the air and hugged Pearl, thanking them for what they had done.
Later that day, as Pearl, Jabari and Mr Ambrose watched the prison cart drive away from the plantation, Pearl brought up to Mr Ambrose that although Kingsley had been arrested, he would still be able to afford the bail. Mr Ambrose denied this and informed her not to worry, confirming that he knew something that she did not refusing to elaborate any further. The rest of the afternoon, Pearl and Jabari tended to his people on the plantation, setting up a makeshift kitchen and infirmary in one of the huts.
They heard the Sheriff arguing with his men and the plantation's overseers. He said that the overseers had given him inconsistent accounts of how many of slaves were imported and hence, did not know which slaves should be set free. Mr Ambrose suggested to releasing only those with facial markings, delighting the Sheriff and angering Pearl and Jabari. However, a few hours later, the Sheriff gave Pearl and Jabari unexpected news. He then handed Jabari a signed declaration guaranteeing the freedom of him and his people. After he left, Pearl told Jabari that she was going to one of the shops in town and visiting Mr Ambrose afterwards.
Forevers and Farewells
Around half an hour later, Pearl confronted Mr Ambrose about what the Sheriff had told her and Jabari: all the slaves were freed since they had the same facial markings as Jabari's. She then brought up that when she visited the general store, the owner said that someone who resembled one of Mr Ambrose's men had bought the entire stock of paint in blue, white, yellow and blood-red colours the day before. She continued that when she herself had visited the plantation for the first time, very few of the slaves actually had the facial markings. Realising that Pearl discovered his scheme, Mr Ambrose asked her if she planned on making the knowledge public. She said no and that all she cared about was the slaves' freedom. She turned to leave, and Mr Ambrose told her that if anyone offered to buy her mother's farm, she should not sell under four times the amount that she bought it.
Pearl was confused about his words until the next morning when a man showed up and offered to buy the farm. The plans behind Mr Ambrose's advice was finally revealed in the local newspaper's headlines– a railway was arriving to Pearl's town and that the main route would run through Pine Grove Plantation. Pearl realised that Mr Ambrose had been plotting Kinglsey's downfall from the start, and that acquiring then selling the plantation was his main goal all along. However, Pearl found that she could not complain since all the slaves had been freed, and from his advice, she was able to buy a new house with fertile farmland.
Since Jabari's people were going to head back to Africa on Mr Ambrose's ship, Pearl believed that Jabari would be leaving with them. On the day of departure, she said goodbye to him and he told her that he would be staying with her. He brought out an iron ring made from the key that freed his people and proposed to her. She said yes and Jabari called a preacher forward to commence the wedding ceremony. Pearl had the preacher baptise Jabari as a Christian before continuing the ceremony in front of many people, including Mr Ambrose and his men, Jabari's people and Pearl's old family friends. Pearl accepted everyone’s congratulations afterwards, and when she saw Mr Ambrose, she asked him about his plans. He told her that he would briefly stop at Africa and then return back to England to settle accounts with an old acquaintance. To his surprise, she asked him if a lady would also be waiting for him. He vehemently denied it and she took his hand, telling him that she was sure he would find someone special one day. Withdrawing his hand, he bade her farewell and headed back towards his ship and England.
- Pearl Hayes
- Rikkard Ambrose
- Arnold Kingsley
- Sheriff O'Riley
- Viola Hayes
- Mama Dumant
- Barb and Wire