WIP: A Nightingale’s Wing Chapter Three: Lag’s End

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: If you have not already done so, or just want to refresh your memory of the past, you can read chapters 0, 1, or 2 here. Otherwise, enjoy the next chapter!]

The captain, along with her newly appointed commander, descended the final stairwell that led to the front hall of the Golden Fortifillios. Sylver noticed that Jeipferahn kept glancing at the three stars on his shoulder, a sight which was a bit amusing considering he was wearing a boilerman’s work uniform, not an officer’s uniform.

Sylver tried to grin a little and said, “We’ll get you over to the officer’s commissary and let you purchase a couple of new uniforms more suitable to the rank. Honestly, you never spend anything, so you will have enough to be able to-“

“Actually, captain,” interrupted Jeip, “I haven’t a knock to my name. You can practically hear the devil dancing in my pockets.” The thought still humored him. With all the nonsense of the pirates of the Black Rats he had almost forgotten the grave situation at hand.

Before she could inquire as to why he was penniless, she caught sight of a local officer dragging a young boy by his upper arm towards the Offices of Law. By Sylver’s reckoning, he was probably a little thief that got caught. To Jeipferahn, though, it seemed he was someone far more important. Moving quickly, Jeip stepped into the path of the officer.

“Excuse me, officer,” inquired Jeip, “but I was curious. Might you enlighten me as to the reasoning that you have this fine, upstanding young man in your possession?”

“Upstanding? The boy’s a thief,” replied the officer, shaking him a bit to emphasize the point. “and a rather bad one at that. We caught him and a couple of others going from shop to shop, spending money out of a large purse.”

“May I ask how spending money out of a purse is a crime?”

The officer frowned at Jeip. “The boys had this huge purse. Absolutely packed with coin. Those boys claimed that a man just gave it to them. Liars and thieves are frowned on by the magistrate.” The young boy appeared to be frightened out of his wits.

Jeip smiled and lowered his face to the young boy’s level. “Do you remember who gave you that money, young man?”

The boy swallowed hard, and, looking up at the officer, answered, “It was him, officer. This is the man that gave us the purse.”

The officer glanced at the young man, then turned his attentions back to Jeip. “Now look here, sir, I understand that you might not want the boy in trouble, but lying to a capital officer is a crime in itself.”

Sylver stepped forward, asking, “Officer, I am the captain of her majesty’s H.M.S. Indefatigable, and you are speaking to my first officer. Are you, an officer of the city, accusing my commander in service of her majesty’s fleet, of being a liar?” It was less of a question than a threat.

“Captain,” Jeip said reassuringly, placing his hand in the air in a symbol of peace. “It’s all right. I can prove that I am telling the truth.” Straightening to face the officer, he continued, “Dearest officer, might you happen to have the purse in question upon your person?”

“I do.”

“Then,” Jeip replied, smiling like a cat in a fishing boat, “You would kindly look under the flap of the purse top and identify the initials of J.A. burned into the leather?”

The officer let go of the boy long enough to retrieve the purse from a bag at his side. Unwrapping the cording, he opened the top and peered under the leather.

“Yeah, right there it is. J.A., burned into the leather.” The officer had a rather incredulous look upon his face.

“Then, I would assume that the young man should have his property returned and be allowed to be on his way?” Jeip was already moving the boy away from the officer and reaching out for the pouch.

Having no other explanation, the officer returned the purse to Jeip’s outstretched hand, apologized, and walked away. Smiling, Jeip looked at the young man and returned the purse to his hands.

“There you go, Robert. Be wary of the queen’s men, for they will assume that all of your treasures will be from ill-gotten means. Those scallywags will do their right best to relieve you of your coin at every turn.” Patting the boy on the head, he said, “Go back to your crew. They will surely be lost without their captain.”

Smiling, the boy left quickly down the street. Following him with her eyes, she saw two other boys watching from around a corner. The boy that Jeipferahn just rescued rounded the corner and the three disappeared. Looking back to her commander, Sylver resumed their walk and asked, “Captain? The boy’s name was Robert, and you called him captain?”

“Yes, captain, I did.”

“Captain Robert?”

“Yes, captain. He claimed to be a pirate when we first met and he robbed me at stick-point.” Jeipferahn looked back over his shoulder to where the boy had ran. “Reminds me of someone. Can’t remember who for the life of me.”

Sylver crossed her arms across her chest. “So, he’s Captain Robert, a pirate, the one that robbed you earlier today?”

“Of course, captain. He was the captain of the Black Rats.” Jeip watched as his captain simply stared. “It’s really a long story, captain.”

Thinking on the incident with the boy and the officer, a sudden realization caused Sylver to stop dead in her tracks. “Jeipferahn, you never go ashore, never buy anything, never send others for items when they are on shore leave. Where in the eastern winds has your money gone?”

“Well, to be completely honest, captain, I wasn’t expecting to give it to a bunch of kids today. All of it.” Jeip shifted a bit where he stood, adding “However, I also wasn’t expecting to need to buy a wardrobe’s worth of new uniforms today.”

“That was everything?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Although she was obviously frustrated, Sylver really felt horrible about the situation. She had figured the commodores would reject his presentation and recommendation as well as postpone the appointment for another day. The last thing she expected was for the queen to make the appointment personally. She knew Jeipferahn loved working in the boiler room, and she summarized being in a position like this would probably make him very uncomfortable.

“I’ll buy you one dress uniform and one ship uniform,” she said, making a mental note to stop at the armory as well to get him one of their accursed swords. “You can get the rest the next time you have shore leave and money at the same time.” Sylver once again continued walking. “A long story, you say?” she asked with a bit of a grin on her face.

“Very, very long, captain.”

Looking about her, Sylver replied, “One that will have to be saved for another day, commander. We need to get your things and get back to the ship. The admiral said that our supplies would be expedited and that we needed to leave as soon as possible.” As they moved through the street towards the armory and commissary, she continued, “Once we are in the air, I need to have a meeting with the senior staff, so I’ll need you to gather them at that time.”

“I don’t suppose, captain, that you might be able to enlighten me on the definition of having a chronicler on board the ship, could you,” Jeip asked.

Sylver sighed. She hated the idea when it was proposed by the admiral but having the queen in attendance for the meeting made arguing more difficult. “A chronicler is an individual that takes up room on my ship and consumes resources meant for my crew. As far as duties go, all they do is write, in painful detail, about what I do.”

“So”, replied Jeipferahn, “they’re like a historian.”

“More like a snitch,” she replied with an edge to her voice. As they reached the armory, Sylver suddenly stopped as if remembering something important. Looking back to Jeip once more she asked, “Jeip, you came barreling into that meeting with a writ in your hand, dragging in that young secretary around your waist, and you implied the necessity of me having that information quickly as it was a matter of life and death for my crew, and yet you haven’t mentioned it since. What was in that report?”

“Well, captain,” replied Jeip, with a little guilt in his voice. “The circumstances which transpired within the Golden Fortifillios, specifically within the Commodore’s Council, changed both the situation and urgency of that very report. You see, captain, the note was from the dock master, relaying he would no longer accept just any sea-leg in the faded blues to take possession of the inventory for the ship.”

Sylver raised her eyebrows. “And?”

“He said, captain, you’d need to send your first officer for the job this time.”

******

As the Black Mast hobbled into the pirate’s haven of Lag’s End, Boxyr Andrews stared at the slum town that was to be their destination from the windows of the great cabin . He had been here countless times before, and yet he never liked it any more than the first time he set foot on her lands. He disliked the smell, the throngs of destitute people clamoring about the inns and pubs trying to be the next pipe polisher aboard a ship that would carry them away from this place, and just about every other part of it Robert seemed to love so dearly. Not to mention he had a few bad memories associated with this place.

“Andrews!”

Boxyr turned and headed back out to the main deck where his captain was calling for him. Approaching from behind, he knew better than to instigate the conversation until Robert could see him plainly. Otherwise, he would be accused of talking behind his back, which in the strictest sense of the meaning would be completely true. He could hear Tillman below, calling out to the boiler workers to start venting the furnaces in preparation for docking. He was convinced if the captain gave Tillman enough time and a few more resources, he might be able to give the Indefatigable a run for her money.

“Andrews, I have a confession to make to you, right now.” Captain Robert turned and faced him, a guilty smile on his face.

“Yes, sir?” Boxyr was already worried on this course of speech and his mannerisms. Of course, he was almost always in a perpetual state of anxiety when in the speaking presence of his captain because one never knew just what was going to come from his captain next.

“Boxyr… may I call you Boxyr?” he asked, feigning curiosity, “Of course I can. I’m the captain. Now, Boxyr, the very first time that I brought you here, I bought you a ‘game pullet’ at the local vaulting school and you ended up with flapdragon! You were laid up for almost a week after. Do you remember?”

Looking down, trying to hide his real feelings about that particular memory of a week’s worth of pain, shame, and humiliation, he simply adjusted his spectacles and answered, “Vividly, sir.”

“Excellent!”, exclaimed Robert, walking quickly to him and patting him on the shoulder, “That means that you will be able to pick that little harlot out of a lineup if she is still here, right?”

Boxyr felt a chill go over him. Part of his mind was remembering the week of suffering at the apothecaries for a night of pleasure, and the other part was considering Robert’s words and their possible meanings. The last thing he wanted was a repeat of what happened all those years ago.

“Oh, I’m sure you would,” he continued, waving a dismissive hand and walking away, not waiting for an answer. “You see, the three reasons that I came here were because thirdly, I need a new roper to replace the one that went overboard earlier. Secondly, the booze is cheap. And firstly,  Tillman insists we need parts to keep the Black Mast above the horizon.” Robert walked to the side railing and watched as the city features became more detailed as they approached. “You see, Boxyr, even when you suffer a defeat as Nightingale gave us- and it was, indeed, a defeat- one needs to go home, lick wounds, heal hearts, and prepare for the next time we see them, so that when we do, we will make their bow plow the mountainside.”

Boxyr walked to the railing beside Robert, and said, “Sir, if I may say so, I feel if we want to ever give Nightingale the satisfaction of seeing us anywhere besides at her aft, we may want to give Tillman a little more-“

“Andrews,” Robert interrupted, “do you remember that time a while back that I corrected your math when you were reviewing our finances?”

Boxyr thought hard; he could not remember the event he spoke of, but there was always the possibility that the conversation happened in Robert’s head as it is sometimes prone to do.  Confirming without remembering was too risky, but silence was not an option.

“Oh, stop straining yourself, Andrews, it never happened.” The captain smiled broadly and turned to face him once more. “That’s because I am aware of my limitations and realize the inherent weaknesses which I possess as a human being. I understand I do not have the capacity to calculate large values because that part of my education never occurred. Now boilers, and the capabilities of men? Those things I understand. I know the limitations of the equipment I have to work with, as well as the limitations of the people working those machines.”

Boxer thought he clearly understood what his captain was telling him. His educated guess at Tillman’s skills were not truly educated, just hunches. He was wading into water out of his depth, and his captain was politely keeping him from drowning.

“I see, sir. Thank you.”

The captain’s face suddenly turned from understanding to amusement. “‘Thank you’?”, he echoed, suddenly turning more dark and serious, as his voice dropped to a whisper, “You want to thank me? Oh, Andrews, if you really want to thank me, do not assume to know my position better than I understand it ever again.”

As Robert turned to leave, Boxyr watched him make his way to the ship’s wheel and relieve the second navigator, Deidrich, of his responsibilities of landing the ship. Deidrich made his way towards Boxyr, his long braid nearly touching the deck as he walked.

Oh, dear god, he’s coming over here, he thought.

It wasn’t that Deidrich was a horrible conversationalist; his knowledge was broad and diverse enough to fuel a great conversation. At least, it would be, if you could understand a thing that came out of his mouth. He was a recent foreigner from the great western lands, a fact which made his vocabulary small and his accent thick.

“Box-ear” he said as he approached, “Vy vee at vest poht, no at nohth poht veh uddah ships go, suh?”

******

Gerald Sinclair sat at his table, staring at the unfurled schematics before him. Shifting a little on the small wooden stool, he kept looking over the culmination of over twenty year’s worth of research, investigation, and work. As he moved from page to page, he continued to check, re-check, and sometimes triple-check his notes and calculations.

The amply-lit work area would remind a stranger of the results of a storm; papers here and there, bottles, both empty, used, and untouched, littered the tabletops. Across the room, a burner continued to work diligently distilling a liquid from a large glass beaker. The steam moved through the curled lines into a smaller container, the slow drip catching the water vapor as the refined vapor made its way to the condenser, filling a tiny glass vial one slow drip at a time.

Gerald never saw her quietly slip into the room. Resting her hands on his shoulders, she said, “You’re going to be just fine. You’ve put everything into this, and I am so proud of what you have accomplished.”

Gerald turned to his wife and smiled a tired smile. “I understand, I get nervous over the silliest of reasons. I know that it works; I tested it myself last month.” Glancing to the corner, he smiled at his creation covered with tarp. Just a few weeks ago, he had hauled the device miles away from his town in a cart and set up his final experiment in the foothills of the mountains. He lit and started the small boiler for the device, made the correct calculations, and then aimed for the sky.

Within an hour, it was raining in the Great Therean Desert.

******

The Black Mast had been tied into port for over an hour. Tillman had taken one of the ropers, Gresh, and left the ship in search of parts and a few more crew hands desperate enough to sign up for this ship. Boxyr had been watching, with more than a little curiosity, at the scene which had been unfolding for the past few minutes. Captain Robert seemed to be trying to teach or explain something, and things didn’t seem to be going quite as smoothly as Robert had been planning.

“Okay, Deidrich, let’s go over this one last time.” Robert was very impatient. “Weird?”

“Flee,” replied Deidrich.

“No, that’s wrong- Wait. Did you say fly?”

“Yoi, Cap’n.”

“Good!” exclaimed Robert. “Now, hat?”

“Aim, Cap’n.”

“Yes! Now, finally, shimmer….” Robert held his breath.

“Feer, Cap’n.”

“You mean ‘fire’?”

“Yoi, Cap’n. Feer.”

“Excellent!” Robert exclaimed excitedly. “Deidrich, good sir, you have the ship in my absence.” Pausing for a moment, he leaned in closer to Deidrich and whispered, “Oh, and since you are in command while I am gone, make sure to flog the devil’s partner out of any dull-swift that’s been annoying you before I get back. You may never get this opportunity again.”

After placing his spyglass in Deidrich’s possession, Robert turned and headed toward Boxyr and motioned that he should follow him. Boxyr fell in step with his captain; he was still trying to figure out the new code words as they left the ship.

The end of the ramp brought back many thoughts and memories, all of which were reasons why Boxyr hated Lag’s End. He watched the children eyeing them from the shadows, trying to learn where they were keeping their purses. Rumor even had it the little bastards in town would come through crowded areas like a swarm, saying one of them would open the backside of a man’s leg and have him robbed blind before he hit the ground.

Surveying his surroundings, he noticed the buildings were all of older designs and in dire need of repairs. Boxyr had worn his worst pair of boots today, as he remembered everyone here dumped their pots and cauldrons wherever which caused the streets to smell of ash, piss, rotten food and body odor.

As they made their way through town to the north side, he wondered, just as Deidrich did, why they landed at the western ports and not the northern ports if this were the destination.

“Andrews!”, Robert yelled. Boxyr had fallen a few steps behind, so he caught up quickly. Robert turned to him and smiled. “Andrews, your mission is vital. You remember the cute young whore that taught you to tame the flapdragon?” He placed his hands on both of Boxyr’s shoulders and leaned in close to whisper. “I want you to go to every vaulting school, punch-house, and house of civil reception you can find. When there, you will question every pudding-bellied abbess, as well as every hopper-arsed dasher, and you search until you find that girl from your special night. Then, I want you to buy her services for a week and then take her back to the ship.”

“Captain, I am honored you would think of me from time to time,” said Boxyr nervously, looking for a way out of this predicament, “and I understand you are always looking out for the best interests of your crewmen, but a week would be extravagant, and I really don’t-“

“Calm down, glass-eyes.” said Robert with a grin and a pat on the shoulder. “She’s not for you.” Boxyr stood in stunned silence as he let him go and retrieved a purse from his person. He placed it in Boxyr’s hand, saying, “Take this and do whatever you must to get her back to the ship as fast as you can. Stow her in my room for the time being.” Robert began to leave, then stopped quickly and whispered one last thing to Boxyr before heading into the Pig & Wiggle Saloon.

“And Andrews, remember to get her back quickly. If you hear cannons, you’ll be too late.”

******

Robert mused that in the typical communities of the world, you will always find banks. Their primary purpose was to serve to hold, store and protect the money of the people; however, within the underground community, there were three different banks with different methods, currencies, and needs.

The second bank was for money like you would expect, but the first and third were different. The first bank was for information. However, much like a market, you could buy, sell, and trade secrets for coin. The third (and smallest) bank was for people, literally. Having no interest in people or money at the time, Robert made his way through the doors of the Pig & Wiggle Saloon.

Already the air was full of smoke, the smell of sweat and the noise of quite a collection of musicians making a grand racket in the corner. Women were dancing and flaunting themselves on the stage for coin, and the bar at the rear of the room was filled end-to-end with pirates, smugglers and raiders from every corner of the world. As he entered and began his trek to the bar, the people slowly stopped talking, the girls stopped dancing, and even the musicians stopped making their noises. Only a little confused, he reached the bar as men parted to make him a place.

“Barkeep! I’ll be needing a sip from one of your more rarely used stocks,” he called loudly in the still, near-silent room. Very slowly, a large, burly ginger with a heavy mustache approached the bar across from Robert and, never losing eye contact with him, reached behind and retrieved a glass from the back counter. Taking an older-looking bottle from beneath the bar, he sat both before Robert, then proceeded to fill the glass with the dark amber whiskey. Taking a sip from the glass, Robert smiled.

“You know,” said Robert, swirling the liquid in the cup, “this place used to be a lot livelier as I remember it.” He looked around at the worried faces. Looking back to the bartender, he asked, “I don’t suppose you might know why that is, would you, friend?”

“Well, captain, it might have something to do with the matter of having been exiled and outcast the last time you were here.” The strong, confident voice emanated from behind him, so Robert turned to face his new conversationalist.

“Haven’t you ever heard that I hate people talking behind my back, cur?” Robert spat through his gritted teeth. People began clearing from the center of the floor area as the man in the long tail jacket removed his cutlass from his belt.

“By orders from the head of the First Covenant Bank, you were exiled upon pain of death to never return, and in so doing, you-“

BOOM!

The draw and shot happened so quickly, it took a moment for those in the pub to realize that during that man’s speech, Robert had drawn his flintlock and shot him dead.

Turning and sitting his glass back upon the bar, he took the time to reload before anyone else might arrive. Looking up at the bartender, he shrugged, “The best speeches are only beautiful when grown with certainty, not overconfidence. That’s why he just died.” As he replaced his flintlock in his jacket, he suddenly looked very curious. “Wait, that cur just said I had been exiled from one of the most beautiful places in the world. Is that true?”

“Y-Yes, Captain Robert, that’s true,” muttered the barkeep, still in a bit of shock.

Taking another sip of the drink, Robert seemed hard at thought. “When did that happen?” Stopping and straightening his posture, his eyes gleamed with knowledge. “Oh, wait, I think I’m starting to remember, now.”

Robert turned up the glass and emptied its content. Turning away from the bar, he flung the glass as hard as he could at the head of the downed man, resulting in the explosion of glass, their shards skipping across the hard wooden floors.

“Get up off the floor, machine, and stop pretending to be human,” Robert yelled, “No one here buys it. Besides, I have things to discuss with your owners.”

The figure on the floor shifted a bit, then stood upright, startling most of those remaining in the pub. Brushing a bit of glass off of its jacket, it made its way to Robert.

“Why should they even consider seeing you,” asked the very human-looking automaton.

“The answer’s simple,” Robert said with a wink and a smile. “There’s over five hundred tonnes of gunpowder hidden all around Lag’s End, and I can tell them how to stop most of it from being lit.”

******

He had always hated that damned box. Not small enough to be considered cramped, nor large enough to be comfortable. Robert had been through this particular exercise more than once. You request to be seen, and they bring the box. You get in, then they haul you around the town for a while to assist with your disorientation so when you arrive in their offices, you won’t have the foggiest clue where you were or how you got there.

That was part of the trick, he thought to himself. They take a different route every time, shuffling you through streets and alleyways like you’re just another piece of junk being carried about town. Considering that he had been exiled, though, getting into one of their mysterious boxes had been a bit of a risk. It will be worth it, he thought, if they could afford him the information on the whereabouts and next destination of the Indefatigable. He had a score to settle with the little whelp. Yes, her captain was to learn a very important lesson.

Robert’s thoughts were interrupted by an unceremonious drop and a sudden tilt. As the side of the box gave way, he tumbled out onto the floor in the regents’ large meeting room in the First Covenant Bank’s office. As he slowly picked himself up off the floor, he noticed the two very large men standing close to him on either side. Behind him was a large window filled with opaque glass; too foggy to see through, translucent enough to let in the light. Facing forward, he saw the men that he needed to speak with.

Robert bowed slightly with a grand flourish, hat in hand. “Greetings, Regents Aldeman, Langeer, and Javmair! I sincerely appreciate the time taken out of your hectic-“

“Enough with your polite nonsense”, grumbled Aldeman, seemingly irritated by Robert’s presence alone. “You came to talk, so talk. While you’re at it, you can try to convince the three of us of the blatant lie concerning tonnes of gunpowder stashed around Lag’s End.”

“Gentlemen”, said Robert with a bit of dramatic flair, “when we cease with the niceties and civility in our conversations, why, we cease being gentlemen. At that point…” Robert picked up the chair that had been placed for him to sit in and, giving no one time to act, hurled it through the glass window. He turned back to face the three regents.

“…you might as well throw ALL civility out the window!” His outstretched arms were seized suddenly and violently by the two men at either of his sides.

Regent Langeer stood and pointed to the shattered window. “You do realize that by this one act alone you have sealed your fate?” The guards had already subdued Robert by this point and were dragging him to the front of the room.

“Oh, really?” asked Robert with a bit of a grin, “And, pray, tell me why that is?”

“Once anyone discovers where this office is located, they have to die.” The regent removed his flintlock from his belt. “And any captain worth his salt could simply glance out that window and know exactly where they were.”

“Brilliant, Langeer, absolutely brilliant. You, of course, are so brilliant that you already knew that I knew this. So, with you knowing that I knew and still doing what I did, what does that tell you?” Robert was still smiling, eyebrows raised in contemplation of the coming answer.

“It tells me that you have truly went mad.”

Robert dropped his head in disappointment. “No, that’s not it. That’s not it at all.” He paused and waited for a second guess. When none came, he explained, “What it means is that I knew I wasn’t leaving this room alive either way. I just wanted to know a couple of things before I died.”

Regent Javmair, silent up until this point, asked, “So, Captain Robert of the Black Mast, what do you want to know in exchange for the information on the explosives?”

Turning with a slight bow (much as he could offer being held by a couple of two-armed masts), he replied, “Javmair, I simply wish to know the current location and destination of a simple ship. It has something that I dearly want, and would like to take it over their cold, dead bodies.” Gesticulating was difficult in the grasp of two men. “Let go of me, you dullard scoundrels!” Robert wrenched himself attempting to free himself from their grips. With a slight wave of Javmair’s hand, the two men released their grips on Robert and stepped away, just not too far away.

“You are on a fool’s errand, boy,” chuckled Javmair, “for I have heard that you seek the H.M.S. Indefatigable.”

Robert’s demeanor changed at hearing the name once again, as if his fires were being lit once more. “Yes, that’s the one. It has something that I want.”

“You will not find what you seek on that ship.”

“Oh, really? And why won’t I?”

“You’re chasing the ghost of a man you will never find again.” Javmair sat back in his chair. “He died, Robert. Let him die.”

Robert stood a moment, his eyes lowered in quiet contemplation before he slowly, cautiously approached the table. Finally, with as gentle a voice as he could muster, he raised his eyes to meet Javmair’s and asked, “Could you please just tell me where she is and where she is going? If I am to die here, I might at least know that. I mean, she was practically like a sister to me.”

Javmair smiled a bit and shook his head, saying, “You’ll not stop until you learn the true taste of a Nightingale defeat, will you?” Sighing heavily, he sat back in his chair and finally said, “She’s currently heading out of this empire, into the Therean lands, Southern Therea to be specific, the town of Vennonton to be exact.”

Robert visibly relaxed. “So, even now, she is out of my reach.” He turned and paced about the room for a bit, then asked, “One last favor before the end? Write upon one of your papers what you just said and write for my crew to avenge my death for me.”

Javmair placed quill to paper and began to write. “I hardly see how you can get this to them, as you’ll never be leaving this tower again.” Finishing up the paper, he handed it to Robert. “You want to read it over?”

Robert smiled at the old man. “You know I can’t read, old friend. But I trust you.” Thinking for a moment, he finally removed his hat and began rolling up the paper and forcing it into the hat seam. “I am well known here, and I have many friends. Or, at least, people that want to make money from me. Therefore, all I have to do is get my hat to someone outside. They’ll easily recognize who it belonged to, get it back to my ship in hopes of a grand reward, and my crew will do the rest.” Looking at the broken window, he looked back to Javmair for permission.

Javmair waved a hand weakly towards the window and smiled. “You might as well throw the hat out of the window since you will be following it shortly.”

Robert looked only a moment then threw out his hat as hard and as far as he could. He watched as it tumbled in the breeze. Turning back to Javmair, he said, “Thank you, old friend. Now, I’ll take it that you would like to know where there’s tonnes of gunpowder hidden all over Lag’s End and all the way around it?”

Javmair smiled broadly as the other two regents attentively listened. “I think I already know” he said with a chuckle. “Let me guess: It’s hidden in all of the ships in all of the docks.”

“I take it you’ve heard that one before,” replied Robert, laughing hard.

“It looks like the other two have not,” laughed Javmair. The other regents were not as impressed. Robert and Javmair laughed another minute or so until the room fell quiet once more.

“To be honest, Robert, I’m going to miss you, but you know that business and pleasure should always be kept separate,” said Javmair, with another slight motion to the guards.

Robert stepped back as the two large guards drew their cutlasses and began forcing him towards the open, broken window. It didn’t take a genius to see where this was going.

“Regents, Javmair, one final request,” called Robert, careful to avoid the cutlass tips of the guard’s swords, “If I might buy everyone at the pub a drink before I die, that would be the most appropriate sendoff of all!”

Javmair smiled, “Then cast your coins to the winds, Robert, and then follow them on your way down!”

Robert wasted no time running to the window. Taking his purse from his side, he dug deep and pulled out all the coin he could reach and began sprinkling it from his hands. The coins glistened in the sunlight as they fell from his fingers.

“Shimmer, shimmer, shimmer…”

They all heard the thunder just before the shot struck the building, taking out the walls on either side of Robert and killing the two large guards instantly. Turning, he removed his flintlock and shot Langeer. He managed to strike the head, and his death was instantaneous. He could see Aldeman’s hand sticking out from under a pile of stone rubble. Walking to the rear of the room and squatting down, he found Regent Javmair hiding beneath the table.

Robert grabbed him by the collar with both hands and dragged him out from under the table. “Javmair! Friend! I am so relieved to know that you were unharmed!” He began dragging Javmair to the other end of the room, pulling him closer and closer to the edge of where once a window was.

“I think it’s time to go, old friend. You remember, something something business and pleasure? Of course, you do,” said Robert as he pushed Javmair over the edge. As his scream began, Robert grabbed his shirt and hauled him back.

“Just kidding! See? Pleasure before business.”

Javmair almost breathed a sigh of relief until he saw the Black Mast approaching quickly. As the ship leveled off with the window edge, Robert dragged him aboard.

“Hard to port and make for the south like it’s where your lover’s waiting for you!” Robert screamed as he dragged Javmair to a couple of the deck men. “Put him below. No stocks or chains; he’s a friend.” Looking confused, the men began taking him below as the ship made its exit.

Robert started searching and immediately found who he was looking for.

“Andrews!”

Boxyr turned and immediately made his way to his captain. “Yes, sir?”

“I take it you found the little doe that will be keeping our guest entertained?” Robert was all smiles as usual.

“Yes, sir, I found her, but there might be a bit of a problem.” Boxyr had been dreading this since his return.

“And what is the problem, Andrews?”

Suddenly, the doors to Robert’s cabin swung open. Out from his door stumbled a very young, very drunk, and very pregnant woman. She was yelling something slurred about the movement of the ship when suddenly she threw up, where she stood, on the deck.

Boxyr watched as Robert’s eyes slowly squinted and his head tilted curiously to the side. Before he could speak, however, Robert seemed to have things figured out.

“Looks like she got fat.”

About Burt Kilgore

Burt Kilgore is an amateur writer, dispatcher, filmmaker, husband, father, and grandfather. You can find most of his work here, but he hopes that you will be able to pick up one of his stories in the future at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Audible.Com.

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