By EM Malachi
“Do you think Young Budo is dead?”
Lord Dalgrin looked down his nose at the balding man wearing only worn breeches who had asked the question. The gentleman pirate normally wouldn’t waste his time speaking to such riffraff, but these were interesting times. He reached into a silk coin purse bearing the heraldry of his disgraced house and pulled out a few gold coins. He bought another round of drinks for those at the Pirate’s Plunder and handed an ale to Mole, who was still waiting on an answer. “Does it really matter? If Budo’s alive, he won’t be soon enough. A gathering has been called. The Guild will choose the new lord of this freehold.”
Mole raised his mug, “To better days then! Has your lordship considered putting his name into the pot?”
Dalgrin sipped his whiskey, “Yes, I will put my name forward.”
“You have my support. I still owe you for saving my sloop from the HMS Dauntless. If your broadside hadn’t hit their mast, I’d never have escaped.”
Dalgrin had forgotten Mole was present when he’d scuttled the Dauntless to settle an old rivalry. He smiled graciously. “I appreciate that, but I thought you would stand behind that friend of yours?”
Mole shook his head. “Blacktooth wants no part of this. He says too much blood in the water attracts the wrong sort of company.”
Dalgrin nodded and thought for a moment. “Do you know who else wishes to lead Buccaneer’s Den? Who has the most support?”
“Minor smugglers and thieves — Scirlock, Daem, and the like. Someone claiming to be the son of Edrick Gravs is demanding votes. I wouldn’t choose most of them to be ship’s powder monkey, but right now, Glenno’s a good bet.”
“What sort of leader would the master of the bathhouse make for the Guild?”
“We all like him. I don’t think he’s serious though. He’s just waiting for someone to meet his price, if you know what I mean.” Mole rubbed his thumb across his stubby fingers a few times.
“That is good to know. I should perhaps have a bath then and speak with the earl of soapsuds.”
“Your lordship. Every thief, smuggler, and bilge rat in the world is coming. There’s an opportunity to buy favor, if you have the gold to spare.”
“A gentleman does not buy friends, but your point is taken.” Dalgrin slid his coin purse down the bar to Mole. “Why don’t you find some like-minded individuals to parley with on this matter?”
Mole grabbed the silk bag with his grubby fingers and gave a small bow. The balding man drained the last gulp from his flagon before scurrying off. Dalgrin finished his whiskey in silence.
Dalgrin headed back to the ship he owned and captained: the Golden Kraken. Bribing Glenno would take more than drinking money, so Dalgrin would need gold from his captain’s chest. Walking down the docks, he noticed the deck of his ship appeared almost empty, save for a man with a parrot on his shoulder. The man handed something to the bird and whistled. The parrot flew toward Dalgrin and dropped what it was carrying. The shadow iron doubloon landed at Dalgrin’s feet.
Drawing his sword, Dalgrin ran the rest of the way up the gangplank to confront this threat. He saw a man wearing a blood-red skullcap and missing the eye Dalgrin’s sword had taken. “Hook? I left you for dead!”
“You were always too honorable to actually kill your rivals. I will show you how this should end.”
“This isn’t the first black spot I’ve received. I learned to duel from the finest trainers in Jhelom.” Dalgrin charged Hook, the first slash of his cutlass coming within an inch of the other man’s face.
Hook grinned as he parried the blow. “I never could beat you in a fair fight. Fortunately, I’m a scoundrel and a cheat.”
Dalgrin felt the cold of the paralysis spell before he saw the mage step out of invisibility. His sword hand stopped responding to his will. Helpless, he watched as Hook stepped up to him.
“Did you really think you would be master of the Den? The pompous lord turned pirate? You are more hated than I am.” Hook plunged a long kryss into Dalgrin’s chest and twisted. Dalgrin slumped to the deck.
The mage, Rankin, knocked on the hatch down to the hold. A group of orcs swarmed from below. They were all covered in blood.
Hook kicked the corpse to confirm Dalgrin was dead. He motioned to the orcs. “Bring me the chest from the captain’s quarters. Then you can begin dumping the bodies, starting with this one.”
A couple of orcs brought out a large captain’s chest and followed behind Hook and Rankin as they walked down the gangplank. The mage asked, “What now?”
Hook smiled. “Let’s go visit the bathhouse. Glenno is going to find he doesn’t wish to run after all.”