Idorsus Cragfin sat at the edge of the cliff, feet dangling, watching the pirate fleet that was docked below. The night before, the pirates had set the old Royal Harbor ablaze, distracting the Javan guard long enough for them to take the Low Berths, then the cliffs, then the entire island.
Now the pirates were busy up in the city executing the Javan Council, so the fleet was left with only a token guard.
The ship Idorsus was going to steal was a fast one. The Winged Whale sat high on the sea at the edge of the fleet, and only four pirates paced her deck. He and his crew would soon deliver them a message. The Whale was to be his, and other passengers were unwanted.
“Good thing all those council members are getting the axe,” Idorsus said, grinning at his luck.
Kovin Drake, his first mate, frowned. “Those are good people dying up there,” he said.
“Which means there are less bad people down here,”Idorsus said. It amazed and troubled him that Kovin was so skilled at finding something to complain about.
“Remind me again why I’m going to be doing the talking.”
“Because, Kovin, if a pirate was having an excellent time looting, then was sent back to guard a ship, he’d look grumpy. And I’ve never seen anybody look quite as grumpy as you.”
“Besides,” said Genne Porter, approaching with her hands wrapped around the hilts of her daggers, “The rest of us are going to swim around and climb over the side, and you can’t swim.”
Kovin scowled. “When were you planning on telling me this, Idorsus?”
“I wasn’t. You get worried if you know the whole plan.” Idorsus scowled at Genne, then decided to forgive her lapse. Maybe something good would come of Kovin knowing. Genne was a smart girl.
Idorsus patted Kovin on the head and started down the switchback stairs carved into the cliff, calling back over his shoulder, “Grab Durgum and get to distractin’.”
With Genne and the twins following, Idorsus stepped into the surf. He had shed his boots, but was a strong enough swimmer that he kept his other equipment. His broadsword, sealed against the water in its scabbard, was only a slight inconvenience.
The water was calm, and Idorsus made his way to the Whale easily. He pressed himself against the hull, joining the barnacles in clutching at the wet wood. As Genne and the twins arrived, Idorsus thought the barnacles must be glad for the company.
“…here to fetch you,” Kovin’s voice drifted from the deck. “Grimson sent us.” The name was one Genne had heard two pirates saying.
“Grimson can send a hundred men; I’m not leaving until Vardon says to.”
So Grimson wasn’t in charge of these men. Unfortunate, but the mistake distracted the other pirates on board. Idorsus heard three more sets of boots stomp across the deck towards Kovin.
“Now,” Idorsus whispered, and one of the twins tossed a small grappling hook over the side of the ship. One by one, Idorsus, Genne, and the twins hauled their sodden selves up the rope and dropped quietly to the deck.
“I understand that you have your orders,” Kovin was saying, “but so do I. Grimson isn’t going to be happy if I don’t return with you.”
“I might be able to help you there,” the pirate said. From where he crouched on the quarterdeck, Idorsus could now see the pirates. The one speaking was the largest of the lot, but they were all fairly scrawny and filthy. “Vardon wrote down his orders. I’ll give them to you, and you can show Grimson.” The pirate started to turn. “I left them up on the quarterdeck.”
Worry was visibly taking over Kovin. If the pirate turned, he would see Genne and the twins sneaking up on him, blades bare. Idorsus drew his broadsword as a precaution, but gave Kovin a moment to say something.
“Don’t walk away from me while we’re speaking,” Kovin said. He looked furious; Idorsus knew it was because he had been forced into the speaking role, but the pirates thankfully took it to be directed at them.
“What did you just say?” The pirate turned back to Kovin and drew his cutlass. He and his three friends looked surprised by the sudden change in emotion.
“I said,” Kovin replied, calming as he saw Genne and the twins move into range, “Don’t walk away from me, filth.”
The pirate leaped forward, sword raised high, but collapsed to the deck with Genne’s knife buried to the hilt in his back. The other three pirates dropped just as quickly, two to thrusts of the twins’ blade and the last one to Genne’s second dagger.
“That was close,” Kovin said, stepping over the corpses.
“Just close enough,” Idorsus said, grinning as he approached. “You sure kept it exciting.” He thumped Kovin’s chest in appreciation and began to give orders. “Durgum and Genne, cut the ties then get to the oars. The twins and I will join you. Kovin, take the wheel.”
The mate nodded solemnly and took his place on the quarterdeck. “Let’s be quick about it,” he said. “We aren’t out of this quite yet.”
“I know.” Idorsus grinned. The fun was just beginning.
This is Part 3.