Honor Among Thieves
(Originally Titled "Beyond The Inn - Adventures on the High Seas")
by Captain Dorianne Valora Waverider & Captain Henri Tuvalier
The setting: The port at Krys, the nearest ocean port to Adventurers' Inn.
The thick tip of a cigar glowed red orange in the darkness, flared a moment, then dropped like a falling star to the ground, only to be crushed by the toe of a brown leather boot. Blowing the smoke out of the corner of her mouth, Captain Dorianne Valora Waverider stepped from the shadows into the dim light of Chall. Her grin flashed white in the darkness as she saw Captain Henri Tuvalier approaching, but it faltered a bit at his company. It wasn't that she had misgivings about the gypsy dancer, Elaryia, being in on her plan. What disturbed her was the Captain's foppish companion. She took a moment to look him over, one brow rising critically. Then with a shrug, she stepped forward into their path, followed by a second shape also stepping from the shadows. The shape formed features, a wall of dark muscle, oddly paired with kind and troubled eyes, but his protective manner toward the auburn-tressed Captain revealed his current occupation to be that of bodyguard.
"Henri. I been waitin' tae talk wit' ye." Her grin was back, wide and friendly. "I've a bit o' a business proposition." Hazel eyes slid from Henri to his two companions, then back, silently asking him whether or not they could be trusted. At his nod, she turned on her heel and led the way to a dockside tavern, the Iron Hammer.
Once they were seated, and a round of drinks ordered, Dorianne reached into her vest and tugged out a folded map. Carefully unfolding it on the table, she started to speak, then stopped as their drinks arrived. As the serving wench made her way back to the bar, the lady pirate started again, hands resting on the corners of the map closest to her. "I've a proposition for ye, Henri. An' fer yer friends, if'n they be int'rested. As ye know, me crew be made up of mostly women. They be excellent fighters, every one o' 'em, but fer what I've got planned, we'll be needin' a bit more muscle." She paused to take a swallow of her drink, licked her lips, then leaned forward again, lowering her voice as she drew her finger along the map. "The merchant route from Krys tae th' Bay o' Elementals passes by these islands, 'ere." Her finger touched on a small unnamed island on the map. "This island 'as a small cove what 'as but one entrance. If'n someone were tae lure a fat merchant ship intae this cove, then t'would be small work for a second ship tae lay in wait tae block th' entrance. Then what profits was made could be split equally 'tween th' ships, an' both could go their way, defeatin' any chance o' catchin' th' culprits." Her eyes shifted from Henri to his companions and back, as she waited for him to speak. Before he had a chance to, however, the gypsy's voice broke the silence.
"I have a good feeling about this, Henri", she said. "She can be trusted."
Dori grinned at the gypsy, then Henri. "Sae, Henri, be it a deal then?"
"Oui, Dorianne, we have ze deal."
As they moved to leave, Dorianne paid for the drinks of the group, and noticed that the sum was a bit more than she had accounted for. Her gaze swung back to the group, and she noticed that the foppish one, who she now knew as Ffllyward, was carrying a pair of bottles. She chuckled and ordered a full bottle of brandy for herself, then followed the rest of the group outside.
Once outside, Dorianne, turned to the hulking man behind her. "Evan.", she spoke, her voice low. The bodyguard bent and she slipped her arms around his neck, pulling him down for a kiss. Her hand stole from his neck into her vest as they kissed, while the others stood awkwardly. She withdrew a packet of papers from her vest, and slipped it into the waistband of his pants as the kiss ended. As the man straightened, she detached a small money pouch from her belt, and tucked it into his hand. "Use yer freedom well, Evan." She stepped back, and watched him go. Pushing her fingers through her hair, she hid a small, almost wistful smile as she turned back to her companions. "He were one o' three we took from a pleasure ship 'eadin' fer The Bitch's island.", she offered by way of explanation as they headed for the docks. "Th' other two we dropped off in Krys, but Evan stayed on tae...show 'ow grateful 'e were." She winked at Henri, flashing a grin. "He were very grateful."
After some weeks of travel, both ships arrived at the unnamed island. A hiding place was chosen for Henri's ship and then Dorianne's ship made for the merchant route. The decision was made for the gypsy to accompany Dorianne's crew as part of the "bait" to lure the unsuspecting merchant ship to its doom. After a few days of waiting, the cry came from the crow's nest. "Sail off the port bow!" Dorianne snapped open her spyglass, and studied the vessel. It was riding low in the water, and flying a Guild Merchant flag.
The crew readied itself, weapons carefully hidden, other assets calculatingly exposed. Dorianne grinned at Elaryia. "Ready, lass?" The gypsy grinned back, and as the ship approached, she started dancing. Some of the crew clapped their hands and watched, but most turned their attention to the approaching Merchant ship. They waved, and blew kisses, and otherwise attracted the attention of the sailors on board the Merchant vessel. As it grew yet closer, Dorianne raised her hand, then lowered it, and the sails dropped. With a resonating whump, the sails caught the wind, and the smaller ship leaped ahead. Watching their prey through her spyglass, Dorianne could see the hesitation of the Captain, and the insistence of the crew. Then they began to follow. Guided by careful maneuvering, the Sea Witch kept just ahead of the Merchant. The two ships glided into the cove, and as soon as the Merchant ship was in place, one of the Sea Witch's crew blew an ear shattering blast on a conch shell.
Henri's ship, the Star of Lustria, appeared as if by magic, blocking the entrance to the cove, and effectively trapping the larger Merchant ship. The two pirate vessels closed in on the Merchant before the unprepared vessel could ready its few canon to fire. The Star of Lustria reached her first, and pirates swarmed over the railings as the sides of the ships came together.
The light of Juniper flashed off slashing blades as the crew of the Merchant clashed with Henri's men. In the few moments before the side of the Sea Witch locked sides with the Merchant, Dorianne could see that her partner's crew were fine fighters indeed. Among the chaos, she caught sight of the brightly colored clothing of Ffllyward, and her eyebrows rose. The fop could fight after all...in fact, he was cutting a bloody swath through the hapless Merchant's crewmen with a ferocity that surprised and unnerved her. But then the ship was within reach, and battle lust sang in her own blood as she leaped onto the ship, followed by her crew.
With a twist of her blade, she disarmed her first opponent, and barely managed to raise her blade in time to parry a slash from a second attacker. She ran him through, but the first had retrieved his sword, and she found herself in an awkward position, her blade stuck in one man, as the other attacked. Twisting, she used the body of the slain one as a shield, and then sent both figures to the deck as she braced her foot against the dead man's chest and forced her weapon free.
Henri was faring much better, though he faced not two, but three opponents with a flashing rapier and a cocky grin. He disarmed the first with an easy parry, then the second as he cut the drawstring of his pants, and the man's breeches dropped to his knees. As the foolish man bent to retrieve his pants, Henri delivered him a kick in the head that sent him sprawling, never missing a step as his blade clashed with the third opponent's. Slipping his blade through a careless parry, he thrust his blade through his opponent's chest. Before he could free his blade, a body brushed his arm, then dropped to the deck, a dagger in its neck. Glancing back, he saw Elaryia grin and wave, and took a second to return the grin before sliding his blade free. Within a disappointingly short amount of time, the crew of the Merchant ship was defeated, and those who chose to surrender instead of fight were rounded up and bound.
Later that evening, the crews of the Star of Lustria and the Sea Witch celebrated with abandon. The Merchant ship had offered a massive haul of gold and silver, plus rare spices, and rich fabrics, and several casks of the choicest rum and brandy. Gwendolyn, the Sea Witch's cook, after doing her best to heal those that survived the fight, cooked up a feast fit for a king, making full use of the resources of the island, and of the conquered ship. Henri and Elaryia quit drinking earlier in the evening, as did most of the crew, pairing off in groups of two or three and moving into the darker corners of the ships. Dorianne and Ffllyward continued drinking until late in the evening, neither one willing to stop before the other. Thus it was that Dorianne woke with a splitting headache in the morning. Still, she managed to gather up her sleepy and (mostly) sated crew and, with her half of the booty, she sailed away, just as Henri's crew was stirring. She grinned as she saw the trio come together on the deck, gypsy, fop, and pirate, and waved her good-byes. It would be interesting seeing them when she again made her way to Adventurers' Inn.