Help from a Pirate?
Chaer raced down the last long hill, only pulling up when the traffic on the road became too heavy for such equine antics. He weaved his horse through the city streets, gaining a new appreciation for their clean, seaside smell as he remembered Montfort. He also appreciated the fact that he was no longer a novelty in Tyndar, so he merited little more than a few noticing glances and some hurried welcomes from shopkeepers and others that he knew.
When he reached the large harborside complex, he dismounted and tied his horse at a fishmonger's shop. He ran to the end of one of the long docks and, with no pause, dove into the welcoming sea. How wonderful to finally be back in that clean, beautiful embrace! He eeled through the water, propelling himself with powerful kicks of his back legs, moving in the mysterious, wondeful way of dolphins. It wasn't long before he reached the ship he'd pointed out to Sammel, which was apparently making its last tack to an anchorage.
He swam around, looking for its captain, before finally spotting him at the stern. With a powerful move, he porposed out of the water, crashing back down with a loud splash. When he popped his head out of the water again, the captain and several of the crew were staring in his direction.
"Ship-ship ahoy!" He yelled and waved his arm in greeting.
The ship's captain stepped up to the rail and returned the wave. He was a barrel- chested, powerfully-built man of about forty. A mane of black hair, just beginning to go grey, flowed down to his shoulders. He wore a pointed beard, neatly trimmed. A gold hoop gleamed in his ear, and a gold ring flashed on the smallest finger of his right hand. He smiled, his teeth very white in his swarthy face. "Holla, little friend," he called out in accented Common.
Chaer spotted a rope dangling from one of the rails of the ship. With a prodigious leap, he caught the end of it and used it to scale the side--a rather breath-taking manouver. As he reached the top, the willing hands of Captain Alvezo helped him over the rail and onto the deck.
"You come in good-right time, I hope-pray," Chaer said, panting a little from the climb. He quickly sketeched out the news--the attack on the human fishing village, the attack on his own people, the continued presence of the pirates.
"You can-will help us?" he finished, appeal plain in his voice and face. The Delphines were a straightforward race, not given to hiding their feelings or intentions. Chaer had learned something of the art of subterfuge from his interactions with humans, but now was certainly not the time for it. "We'll pay if you need it, Sammel--or someone--will."
Unnoticed by Chaer, Alvezo had been thinking hard during his story. He did not respond right away to Chaer's appeal for help; instead he asked, "Little friend, did you see the pirate captain? Has anyone heard his name or described him to you?"
"I not see--haven't been there. Channi not know which of many ugly, hairy men is captain," Chaer said with a half-teasing, half-pained look at Alvezo. "But ships are four-masters, carry 70 men, fly flag of lightning striking anvil. Have you heard of these?"
At the mention of the lightning flag, Alvezo's eyes gleamed. "I have heard of those ships indeed. I will certainly come. Where do we meet, and when?"
"At Tyndar home for dinner," Chaer replied. "Should be few hours from now. You be there, yes? Could use your words-insight if you know of them."
Promising to attend the dinner that evening, Alvezo helped Chaer off the ship. He then gave his first mate detailed instructions concerning the delivery of several bolts of fine brocade to an exclusive and discreet tailor in town. Afterward, he retired to his cabin and poured himself a goblet of wine (part of a shipment destined for an exclusive and discreet wine merchant in the next port). He leaned back in his chair, resting his booted heels on the tabletop.
The lightning flag. It had been a long time. Such a pity to have to involve his friends, but the opportunity was too good ....
Toward evening, Alvezo dressed in black knee-length trousers and a wine-colored tunic trimmed with gold. He washed his face at a basin in the corner of his cabin, wetting and curling the ends of his moustache. Around his waist he fastened a long, narrow sword in a tooled leather scabbard. After a little reflection, he also tucked a short dagger into the top of one of his soft, black leather boots. Then he set out to meet the others for dinner.
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