A TC:BGV -- Art of Subtlety / Headaches / Farewell
Beckett, Norn Male
Zoula, Norn Female
Indrii, Asura Female
Fel, Sylvari Male
Adair, Sylvari Male
Selphius, Asura Male
Cybele, Norn Female
Part I -- The Art of Subtlety…
A knock came on the heavy oak door, giving Indrii a start. She quickly but carefully closed her register of informants who have been paid this month, “Enter.” Adair smoothly opened the usually creaky door with little more than a scant whisper, “I’ve bought them as you asked Commodore.” Indrii nodded and Adair fully entered the room with Fel and Zoula in his wake. “You are dismissed Adair, but stay close, I’ll have need of you later.” A flash in Adair’s usually flat orange eyes betrayed something…but what? Annoyance, anger, anticipation? Whatever it was it was gone in with the moment. “As you wish Commodore,” Adair said with a sweeping bow and smirk, stepping out of the room as he closed the heavy door.
Beckett was in a room downstairs oiling his mail armor. He hadn’t heard or seen the thief enter the room, nor did he notice the thief cross the open room and somehow appear leaning over the big Norn’s shoulder. “Isn’t there anyway you can have that laundered Beckett? Why does armor always stink?” “You! How many times how I told you not to sneak up on me, one of these days you may end up hurt, “Beckett said with heavy breaths and he began to force calm over himself again. “Apologies friend, but I am quite sure I will remain unharmed. Besides, I find a certain amusement in it.” Beckett grinned and clapped Adair on the shoulder with a huge mitt. Adair gave a wince at that, “Yet I somehow always forget to step back when you go to welcome me.” “So what brings you down to the smelly armory anyway, Adair?” Adair signed, “Waiting on Indrii, what else?”
Zoula looked around the room appraisingly while Fel sat noisily in a chair in front of Indrii’s desk, the chair groaning under the weight of his massive plate armor. Zoula swept to a seat near Fel, his robes swirling about him, “Why have you asked us here?” Indrii’s ears flicked, “I have received intelligence that I have decided you need to know.” One of Zoula’s eyebrows rose slightly but she let Indrii continue. “One of the common folk who has come by some information of value on a supply train has been kidnapped. We must liberate this person to further our cause.” Fel raised a hand before Indrii could continue, “What information, exactly?” Indrii’s mouth puckered for a moment and then she continued, “Information on an orb location and its defenses.” Fel’s eyes flared with a bloodlust that he quickly checked. Zoula’s eyes narrowed skeptically. Indrii spent the next hour laying out the details for Fel and Zoula, each asking pointed questions on the prisoner’s defenses, location, identity, description, condition, and so on.
Beckett’s lavender eyes danced with joy as Fel entered the room looking like something things were about to get interesting. Adair rolled his dead orange eyes at Beckett who did not even come close to taking note in his excitement. “Blacken your armor my friend, nothing shines and nothing sings on this one,” Fel said with menace in his voice. Zoula swept in behind him, “I realize subtly is usually beyond your limited grasp Beckett but try to play this one our way.” Beckett looked thrououghly deflated, which made Adair smirk. “What are you smirking at, Thief?” Fel asked Adair with an emphasis on the title as if to put Adair in his place, “you’ll be running point on this. Indrii’s orders.” Adair straightened from his place leaning casually against a wall as if about to protest but was cut short by Beckett, “How many men will we have at our disposal Fel?” Fel thought for a moment, “Take eight, plus yourselves. Bring a mix of skill sets in case you run into trouble. Target will be a convoy escorting a VIP. They have a heavy escort and it’s been decided it will be best to waylay them when they stop for the night at an inn.” Beckett began to protest seeing an opportunity for a blood bath in open country, Zoula, however; saw the wheels turning in Beckett’s head and brought him up short. “No Beckett, you will not set any ambushes on the road. You will be seen and they are heavily guarding this VIP. It will be best, we have decided, to take the prisoner under cover of darkness. Adair will formulate the plan’s details with the man power you are allocated.”
As evening fell the ten began to take their positions as delegated by Adair.
Fel and Zoula sat in a dark room across the street overlooking the operation.
Beckett sat in the tavern below the inn swapping stories of glorious battle over a few horns of ale with two other warriors, though they had been strictly warned not to overdo it.
Adair sat in a dark corner with another hooded figure, both seeming to have melded into the shadow in which they stood. It appears the two were speaking but in actuality they were watching, theirs was a rehearsed skit to put those in the general populace at ease.
Three robed figures sat by the fire sipping tea and having an intellectual discussion on arcane secrets.
Two men garbed as hunters sat eating mutton and drinking ale together, their well worn leathers covered in dust from a hard day’s travel.
Adair, his attention on everything, allowed himself a brief moment to admire the dusty leather clad men…imagining their lean muscular bodies and scruffy beards. He also took note of how the voluptuous barmaid paid them special attention – brushing against them as she walked by or bent just a little lower to give them ample view down her loose white blouse. After the mission Adair would have to see which of the three would be his prize for a job well done…he smirked thinking, why not all three?
The ten were in place.
A rough looking sort of a scarred face came down from the upstairs inn, approaching the barkeep to give an order for himself and those he traveled with. Adair and the other hooded figure seemingly vanished, their disappearance noted only by the others in their band. In the kitchen orders were being shouted and meals prepared. Adair and his shadowy companion gave coin to the palm of the serving boy and whispered instructions. With a shaking hand the boy accepted the coin. Adair gave him a pat on the back and sent him on his way.
Several minutes later the boy returned sweating. “There are in four rooms at the end of the hall across from each other…..I mean two on each side, across from each other. Twenty of them, sir, I think. Most of them are sitting around sharpening weapons, a couple reading books, one man just sitting on a chest looking scared.” Adair gently ran his hand through the boy’s straw colored hair, “You did well. Go get yourself a drink kid. We will take up their drinks to them.”
Adair and his companion left the kitchens and made their way through the common room to the stairs. The first to rise were the two huntsmen, both casually walked up the stairs behind Adair and the other thief as if turning in for the evening. In the space of a few minutes the rest of the group slowly filtered up the stairs, leaving only one warrior and one robed figure behind, both now sitting at a table very near the bottom of the staircase.
From across the street Fel and Zoula waited, their eyes fitting between the front door of the inn and the alley running along the left of the structure. “Shoudn’t be too much…” Fel began to say but was suddenly shocked into silence as the top corner of the building exploded outward in a ball of fire and splintered wood. “Subtly isn’t their strong point,” the two muttered almost in sync. “We’d better get over out there,” Zoula said flatly, Fel already turning and marching toward the exit.
A few seconds later the ten came barreling out of the alley with what looked like a corpse carried between Beckett and another of the band. Fel approached the limp figure lifting his head to reveal a neat red smile across the man’s throat. Zoula looked disgusted, “Let’s get out of here, quickly.”
The entered Indrii’s room without so much as a knock, though the noise they made approaching the room were warning enough. Fel and Zoula stormed into the room, a fury whirling about the two. Andrii entered next, slipping off to lean on a wall, seemingly unperturbed as he took up an innocuous position. Beckett followed dragging the body of the man they were to rescue, kicking the door shut behind him as he dropped the corpse on the floor. Indrii stood, firmly planting her tiny hands on the desk top, “What is the meaning of this!” she demanded, gesturing toward the unsightly corpse deposited in her office. Zoula spoke first, “We had rather hoped you’d tell us.”
Indrii glanced at Adair who gave an imperceptible nod, “Why is my informant dead gentlemen?” she asked in a stately detached voice. “We assume he was assassinated. Just who the assassin was is yet unclear,” Zoula said, trying to suppress her anger.
“Beckett, front and center!” Fel barked. Beckett strode to Fel and Zoula, snapping a salute, “Sir!” “Just what the hell happened out there that you felt the need to abandon stealth and blow up a half civilian building?”
“Well, Sir, it was like this. Everything was going according to plan as Adair lay out. We infiltrated the building, they got the intel on the rooms and men above, and we snuck up there leaving two men as rear guard. We bust into the room where the man was supposed to have been, only he wasn’t there like the kid said he was. But we’d been given away at that point so we had to fight the men in the room. One of the elementalists saw an opportunity before the rest of us rushed in to sort of end things quickly so we could move onto searching the other room. That was the explosion. The rest of us divided between the other rooms and got to work. By the time the fighting was over we found the informant dead, throat slit, Sir. Don’t know who had done it, he was not in the room I had been clearing, Sir.”
“Who had cleared the room where the informant had been found?” Zoula asked, already knowing the answer. “Adair and his man, ma’am,” Beckett said clinically. Zoula turned to Adair, his face still placid, and then to Indrii. The unspoken accusation hung in the room like a brightly colored piñata waiting for someone to take a whack at it.
“Next time leave us out of your schemes. I don’t know what you’re up to Indrii and I don’t care to know, but I don’t like putting our people at risk for reasons unknown to me.” Fel grunted his agreement, “You are a brilliant commodore Indrii, but you sometimes I question your judgment when weighing lives against whatever tactical gain you might seek.” Fel gave a curt nod of his head to Beckett and the two left the room with Zoula.
“Did you secure the assets?” Indrii asked Adair after the door closed. Adair nodded from his place at the far wall. Pushing himself forward he glided to a chair in front of Indrii’s desk. “They tavern boy is keeping it safe for the time being, hidden away for us no doubt. When the others have cooled down some I’ll go collect it. Those daggers had better be in the trunk that fool was sitting on.” Indrii smiled, “By all accounts they will be. The rest of the contents will end up delivered intact, yes?” it was more a command than a question. Adair looked almost bored as he scoffed, “Oh, of course they will.”
“Beckett, I realize you aren’t the best person for this job but I trust you,” Fel said with some amount of exhaustion in his voice. “I need you to follow Adair and find out what they are up to.” Beckett looked almost hurt but then broke into a broad smile, “Come now brother, all I have to do is go back to the tavern and drink to good fortune. Adair will no doubt go back there to collect whatever it was he was actually after. We can be sure it wasn’t that corpse we hauled back here. Which reminds me, how long before Indrii stops obsessing over her schemes to realize there is still a dead body in her office?” Fel barked a laugh, “You aren’t just a walking fallace in armor after all.” Beckett gave Fel a wry grin, “Don’t let anyone else know. I have a reputation to maintain. And besides, I think Adair enjoys it more that way.” Fel raised a eyebrow and Beckett broke into hearty laughter at his commander’s sudden discomfort.
Part 2 -- WTF is in the Chest….now renamed to “Headaches”
Indrii walked into her office, her face buried in a note book as she opened the door and strode in absently. Stopping dead in her tracks she looked up, her eyes widening in horror and a shrill cry loosing from her tiny mouth. Selphius stood atop her desk, his one arm raised to the ceiling and the other cradling his dangling flesh puppet. Selphius broke off his incantation and looked mischievously at Indrii, “Good morning Indrii!” He unceremoniously dropped his flesh wurm on the desk and hopped off to greet his fellow commodore, his arms outstretched to embrace her.
Indrii held out a hand, “Please put some pants on before greeting me. And wash your hands.”
Selphius wiped his hands on his smock, which it should be noted barely covered his belly button, and gave a shrug. A moment later Zoula burst into the room, “There you are!” Selphius squeaked and gave a wave of his hand, his flesh wurm flared in green fire on Indrii’s desk quickly leaving the entire room in a black oily cloud. As the cloud disapated a few seconds later Indrii and Zoula were left coughing.
“I take it he escaped again?”
“Obviously,” Zoula said with some trace irritation. “I’ll have to invest in new restraints.”
A steam of words which are to crude even as far as pirates are concerned came forth from Indrii’s mouth as she took in the black soot that covered her papers across her desk.
Beckett sat a heavy oak table in the tavern on the other end of town wearing a travel cloak. He died his white hair black and altered the braids of his beard. He could not hide his lavender eyes so he kept his back to the door. He had made fast friends with a pair of leather faced sailors that smelled of salt and piss. The three sat chatting about various female conquests they have had, though in truth Beckett kept a close eye on a dish with a dirty mirror surface with vantage of the front door for his quarry.
Fel sat on the roof of the building next to the tavern peering into the alley below, watching the back door intently. He asked himself how he always got stuck outside in the chill air while his subordinate Beckett somehow ended up drinking and whoring as part of some cover, which was to say do what he does every night and somehow call it his mission cover. Fel had dark thoughts of sending Beckett off on some garbage scowl as their military escort. That thought alone kept him warm on this chill night.
Beckett’s eye caught the blurry reflection of Adair walking in the front door. The thief scanned the tavern with his customary calculating eye and must have found it satisfactory. He made his way to the stairs and walked up. A moment later the kitchen boy dropped his rag with which he was soaking up beer from the bar counter and followed Adair up to the inn part of the building.
Beckett stood and announced to his new friends that he would slip the bar maid some coin and retire upstairs, he wished them fair seas and made his way up. Beckett caught sight of the boy just as he was closing the door to a room. He quietly made his way to the side of the door and listened through the keyhole.
“Beautiful boy, the chest is safe is it not?” Adair asked in a melodic voice.
“Yes sir, it sits in the closet just as you commanded. The key to the door here in my pocket.” The boy patted his pocket with a smile.
Adair grinned and slid gracefully behind the boy, his hands moving down the boy’s chest slowly. The boy’s stomach trembled and he gasped as Adair’s lithe fingers reached his britches and gingerly untied them. Adair slipped his hands inside the boy’s pants, the boy moaning just a little which drew a smile of satisfaction from Adair. Adair’s pointer and middle finger were in the boy’s hidden pocket and in a flash he was looking at the key. The boy was left standing there, his blood pounding in his ears, as Adair turned and moved to the closet. Beckett could hear the closet door open and the chest’s lid thunk open. Some papers rustled and the lid slammed shut again.
Adair stood marveling at the twin daggers that lie under the papers and scrolls Indrii wanted returned to her. They were master works, he had never seen their equal. The lust and excitement welling in him as he tucked the weapons into his belt was absolutely palpable. He turned his fiery orange eyes on the boy who stood like a deer in a hunter’s aim.
About an hour later Beckett thought he might throw up the beer he had drank after listening to the past hour of activity. He stood straight and moved to the side of the door as he heard Adair strapping his weapon’s belt back on and pick up the chest with a small scrape of the floor boards. The boy he could hear was snoring soundly. Good, one less things to deal with.
Adair balanced the chest in one arm and opened the door with his free hand, then his world went black.
As the door creaked open Beckett’s meaty fist came around catching Adair square in the face. Adair, and the chest, dropped like a cracked mast. Beckett checked his friend’s pulse and opened each eyelid, “You’ll be fine, I’ll buy you a round or two to help with the headache in a bit my friend.” He gathered up the chest and made his way to the back door. He put his hood up on his heavy travel worn cloak and stepped into the darkness sloshing through puddles and stepping on discarded trash.
Fel sat atop the alley cursing Beckett for drinking too much and letting Adair get away. He thought the usual quiet thief was being uncharacteristically loud but saw the heavy chest in his arms and chalked it up to that. Fel perched himself waiting. As the cloaked figure made his way below him Fel dropped, landing feet first on the figure’s shoulder blades.
The figure crumbled, the chest crashing to the ground and rolling a few feet. Both Fel and Beckett lie on the ground moaning and soaking up alley water. Fel roll onto his back and began to push himself up, his vision slowing coming back into clarity when he spotted a small figure down at the mouth of the alley. His world went back.
When he came to Fel could not tell if his blackout was from his fall or perhaps an oily mist that engulfed him, but that must have been his imagination. He pushed himself onto his elbows and looked next to him at the still unconscious form of Beckett. Shaking his head Fel grabbed Beckett and slapped him solidly across the face. Beckett gasped, “Wha…..You owe me a drink.” Beckett groaned and they both put palms to their foreheads as if that would keep their skull from splitting apart from the inside out.
When he came to Adair rolled onto his side and dry heaved, his vision slowly coming back into focus. He looked to the bed, to the boy sleeping still with a smile on his face. The thief groaned and got to his feet. He checked his weapons; everything was still there…newly added prized jeweled daggers included. He looked around, the chest was gone. He stumbled down the stairs into the tavern and saw Fel and Beckett ordering a drink at a nearby table with their faces planted firmly in their hands. He sat with them, held up one finger to the bar maid and took up the same pose.
Selphius sat back aboard Zoula’s ship in Zoula’s own cabin thinking it is probably the last place Zoula would look for him. His legs were crossed and his collections of flesh puppets were hovering about all anxious to see what was in the chest. Selphius directed one to open locked chest. With its tentacles the minion grabbed hold of the chest and tore open the lid. The small necromancer wrung his fingers together in childlike glee and began rummaging through the chest’s contents, discarding some things and clutching some items to his chest lovingly before putting them in a neat pile beside him.
Part Three – Fare thee well townfolk
The commodores all sat on a raised dais in the town hall they appropriated from the town council. Talking among themselves they waited for the last few summoned Bloodvale to arrive. The hall was not overly large; it was just a small town after all that sat just outside the walls of the keep where the all kept offices they commandeered for their stay and of course their ships in the harbor of the keep. The town hall, however, was quaint, made of light woods with unadorned tables and benches.
Beckett and Two Copper were the last to arrive. Zoula stood to call the meeting to order, “I’m glad you pulled yourself from some Sally’s bed to join us gentlemen.” Two Copper displayed his customary grimace while Beckett only smiled apologetically. Commodore Fel merely shook his head at his friend’s obvious guilt. Beckett and Two Copper took seats near Adair and Cybele, their recent battle still holding a lingering bond between the otherwise independent pirate soldiers.
Indrii, who sat on a book on her chair to bring her above table level, banged the butt of a knife on the table to call the meeting to order. “We are making a tactical withdrawal, people.”
Zoula continued, “Across the harbor they need assistance protecting that which we all worked so hard to obtain. We shall leave this place to its own fate, by which I mean the fate we have chosen.” A grin that promised fire and death came to Zoula’s face and hell danced in her eyes.
There were mutters of disapproval among the gathered when Fel suddenly stood in his gleaming armor, which Adair noted was very form fitting and tres chic as far as armor goes. Slamming a metal fist on the table Fel spoke in a commanding voice, “You will of course be permitted to pillage and plunder the town before we withdraw. You have eight hours to ready your gear and take whatever booty you can find, both the valuable kind and more carnal. Normal weight restrictions apply as we will be boarding the ships soon and don’t wish to over burden them.”
The muttering was quickly replaced with grins. Indrii gave a cold smile, “Commodores will of course take their usual percentage during the boarding process, so look wisely my friends, and you know how fond I am of valuable scrolls over silver spoons. Also, once boarding is complete we will have several small detachments setting fire to this miserable blight on fair Tyria. They proved to be treacherous fools who double crossed us once; we will not leave them alive in our wake to do so again. I will be leaving over land with my attendants and head back to our head quarters to oversee some changes while the other commodores reinforce the garrison.”
An orange glow lighted the lower portion of the sky above the wall of the keep as the town burned behind it. Billowing black smoke like ghostly black fingers stretched upward further and further clawing at heavens. Selphius sat on the bridge of Zoula’s carving a scary face into a watermellon. Zoula looked down at him with undisguised disgust, “What is that thing around your neck?”
“It’s my friend’s intestines,” Selphius replied cheerfully, “I made a necklace out of them. Isn’t it pretty?”
Zoula raised a questioning brow, “Your friend?”
“Yes, Bernadette,” Selphius said with a smile. “Lovely girl. She’s standing right behind you.”
Zoula looked around seeing no girl in proximity, “I see,” she said patronizingly.
Selphius held up the watermelon to Zoula, “You like it? Just needs a candle. Or maybe an ethereal ball of light! Those are less prone to being blown out by wind and water, you know. We’ll be at sea, lots of wind and water around to blow out candles. I’m going to put it on the prow!”
Zoula sighed, “It’s positively frightening. Why not just use a pumpkin?”
“Pumpkin patch got trampled, but I found this in a street market just sitting there in a wood crate. Someone killed the produce stand’s owner so I got it for free! I suppose I would have gotten it for free anyway, but someone robbed me of the argument with the grocer and eventual murder. Very rude you know. But at least they left the watermelon for me.”
Adair sat atop his horse a league outside the burning town with an uncustomary wistful expression on his face. He felt the first ties of friendship forming and he was not entirely comfortable with them. He wrestled with his charmingly cold independent nature for the first time since he could remember. He banished the emotional thought quickly with visions of Beckett in his tight purple shorts sitting next to Cybele in her undergarments both oiling their armor after that bloody battle in the woods surrounded by dozens of other finely made warriors doing the same.
Fel stood on the forecastle of his ship waiting for the last of the fire teams to show up…and Beckett who was still missing. Two Copper came running up the plank with a sack stuffed that Fel thought must have weighted close to two hundred pounds.
“Commodore, sir, the town is a blaze and I believe there to be no survivrs. We even took down a few buildings for practice.”
“Very well Captain, have you seen Beckett by chance?”
“Last I saw him sir he was trying to roll ale barrels out of the tavern just before we blew it up.”
“You know the deal, dump the Commodore’s cut and report to your duty stations and check your weapons and ammo.”
“Sir, I took no plunder.”
“You have a sack stuffed on your back Two Copper, I’m not blind.”
Two Copper grinned, “You don’t want none of this, sir.”
Fel gave him a hard grin, “Dump it out solider, that’s an order.”
“Uhhh, sir, I’d rather not…we still need to sail on this here ship and if I go dumping this ship will need sumping.” Two Copper grinned.
Fel’s eyes widened, “How droll. No plunder indeed, make sure you stow that stuff carefully, I don’t want you fools blowing us to high hell.”
Right about then Beckett came around the gate leading to the piers. The absurdity of the sight made Fel laugh despite his anger at Beckett’s tardiness. Beckett was rolling a barrel of ale as Two Copper had sad, but he also had two strapped to his back, one to his chest, and several glass bottles of what looked to be moonshine and wine handing from leather straps all over his body.
Gasping and grunting Beckett made his way up the gang plank, “Sorry, sir, I know I’m late. But I come bearing gifts to toast the god’s to entreat them to ease our passage across the sea!”
Some of the crew helped him roll the ale the last few feet and pulled the plank up behind him while others began throwing off lines.
Fel shook his head, neither laughing at his friend’s gesture with the good nature he felt, nor scolding him as was his duty as Commodore.
“Stow your plunder Beckett and bring me a mug as soon as you’re settled in.”
Days later Beckett was swinging peacefully in his hammock, dreaming of fair maids with sheer gowns bringing him salted meats and ale by the flagon. He was in a small room he shared with a few of the crew aboard ship when the door opened and light spilled in. “Wake up!” Cybele yelled through a brilliant smile. Beckett tried to spring to his feet but forgot he was in a hammock, and being so rudely awakened ended up flipping and falling flat on his face. Cybele laughed, she seemed to get a kick out of this torturous routine.
“Honestly woman, are you going to do that every day?” Beckett asked rubbing his nose.
“It passes the time.”
“Was there something in particular you wanted?”
“It’s just passed noon,” Cybele said, her green eyes full of childish mischief.
“And that’s all.” The Norn Guardian of average height whirled, her tear and lilac robe whirling with her as she scampered off. Beckett marveled that a Norn was even capable of scampering, he had never seen it, even Norn children don’t seem to scamper but more stomp around while at play.
Muttering Beckett got to his feet as Cybele walked away laughing to herself. The pale Norn splashed some water on his face from a near by basin. Sighing he turned around and yelled. Bernadette, the dead and disemboweled tavern keeper’s daughter was standing behind him, looking somehow alive and in one piece wearing absolutely nothing, her red curls draped over her shoulders and over her full breasts, stopping just above covering her fully. A stream of incoherent words came from Beckett’s mouth and he starred wide eyed.
“Oh do get a hold of yourself my love.”
“That little imp of an Asura is holding my in thrall.”
“Are you real?”
“No, of course not, don’t be silly. You can pass your hand right through me, but please don’t…it feels weird.”
“Are you alright, my love?”
Beckett blinked again, “I think so. I’d ask the same but…”
“Very funny. At any rate Selphius suggested I come visit you.”
“Why would he do that? And uh, why are you naked? Can you put some cloths on? This is a little weird.”
“Oh very well, but I thought you liked me like this,” she said with a wry smile. She closed her eyes and a moment later clothes materialized on her ghostly form.
“I do, it’s just that….you’re dead. And that somehow seems wrong to picture you like that.”
“You’ll have to get used to it, at least until Selphius releases me. But to business. I came here to apologize for betraying you, I didn’t want to you see. My father and I were threatened by the town council who was taking money from those men who wanted out of the way.”
Suddenly the ghost’s eyes went opal white and her voice changed, “Do you like my new friend Beckett?”
“Of course Selphius! My new friend felt really bad about what she had done, so I let her apologize to you. Doesn’t she look wonderful naked? And I wanted to thank you for that wonderful party in the woods! That was fantastical Beckett, all those human fleshbags for my babies to play with.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. I was rather glad you showed up when you did.”
“Come in,” Fel said after taking another mouth full of a deep red wine procured by Beckett.
The door opened and both Fel and Cybele looked at a somehow even paler Beckett standing in the ornate door shaking and lathered in sweat.
Beckett walked into the Commodore’s Cabin at the rear of the ship. The room was spacious compared to his cramped shared quarters. There was a large desk directly across the room from the door, behind it a large stained glass window that spanned the width of the ship. Lanterns hung at intervals in the cabin to provide light. Off to the left of the room was Fel’s bed, Beckett noted that he could fit at least three tavern wenches on it in addition to himself comfortably. On the right Beckett noted the table was covered in maps, manifests, and little figurines. All of the furniture was bolted to the floor to avoid undesirable shifting of objects during rough seas lest one’s own bed become their crushing doom.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Cybele said with a hint of concern in her chide.
Beckett looked at her, “Bernadette. Selphius.” He gave a shudder then walked to the table and picked up the bottle of wine and began to drain it. He let out a long sigh looking at the ceiling. “The little lunatic made a minion of the dead tavern keeper’s daughter and sent her to me.” He proceeded to tell them the conversation, glossing over the part where she was naked. Cybele stifled laughter and to her credit kept a cool face as Fel patted him on the shoulder and handed him a fresh bottle.
“He actually spoke through her?” Fel asked with a shiver. “Listen, if you need something to keep your mind occupied I could really use some help with troop deployments once we get to the keep. The floor plans are on the table over there; feel free to rummage through and start finding places to barrack the ground troops. Sailors can stay aboard ship or pay for rooms in brothels like they usually do, I don’t care. More importantly I want a space for training grounds, and weekly troop reviews. And for the love of the gods show them how to properly care for their armor. After this voyage I don’t want the salt water turning all the armor into rust. You know how expensive it is to replace armor for the entire battalion? Especially the engineers, I think their swords would blow away in a cloud of rust if a strong breeze hit them. And try and find them some proper armor, those half burned scraps of leather and cloth they wear are embarrassing.”
“They’re going to love you,” Beckett mumbled off handedly.
Fel squinted, “What was that?”
“I’ll see to it Commodore, these lazy asses will be back into crack order in no time.” Beckett wondered if it would even be worth trying to get the engineers to fall in line. Chances were he wouldn't be able to find them until it was time to blow something up. He smiled absently, “You ever realize, sir, how the engineers always just seem to materialize from thin air when it’s time to blow something up, but no matter how hard you try they can’t be found otherwise?”
Cybele chimed in, draining the last of her wine, “Tell them they can use the training grounds to test explosives or something. They should take the bait.”
Fel looked at her in horror, “Do you want to get us all killed?”
Another knock on the door made the three paused and turn as Fel beckoned the arrival in.
“Adair, what are you doing here? You were headed back to Bloodgale HQ with Indrii overland when we left port a couple days ago.”
“She sent me to spy on you,” Adair said with a small dry heave as he pulled off his disguise. “Did you leave any wine for me? I could use a glass.”
Fel laughed, “You make an excellent spy, you know, knocking on my door, declaring yourself and pulling off your disguise.”
“Yea, well, it’s been a rough day.”
Beckett poured him a mug, “No glasses, sorry buddy, we aren’t that classy.”
“I suppose I’ll have to lower myself to drink in your company since a drink is what I seek,” Adair said mock pomp.
Cybele raised a pinky and sipped her stein full of wine, “My dear man, whatever gave you the idea we were not civilized.”
They all shared a laugh but it was Fel who reopened the subject, “How the hell did you get here anyway?”
“Don’t ask Commodore, it was not a pleasant trip. Something to do with elemental magic and water, air, whatever and well I feel sick. I think I have half the ocean in my belly and a fish or two still swimming around. I will need something for Indrii though, if you would not mind accommodating me, otherwise I’ll be forced to actually spy and that will simply ruin my vacation. I think she’s still put out about some chest she lost.” Adair fingered the hilts of his new daggers absently.
Cybele looked at Adair questioningly, Beckett grinned and Fel rubbed his chin, “Yea, you can help Beckett with troop deployments. It’s inconsequential but it should be enough to tell her we passed the journey half drunk talking about war stories and battle plans that she will be privy to already. Why is she spying on me anyway?”
“It’s nothing against you personally Commodore, she’s just got this quirk where she has to know everything that’s going on. Even behind closed doors and even if it doesn’t affect her. I think she’s a bit of a voyeur to tell you the truth,” Adair pondered that for a minute, filing that away. “She has someone on everyone’s ship, I requested this one. I figured I could use a little vacation from all the tiresome skulking.”
“I rather enjoy skulking,” Beckett said off handedly, “is it too late to change professions?”