When the three ladies sat at the bar, Cutlas finally spoke after having a few in silence.
Overkill gave a deep sigh. He then explained the experience that the woman had gone through to restore her marriage and trust of her husband. Cutlas was not amused and muttered some choice expletives to describe the priestess. Her anger was almost physical as tears began to form.
Why are you mad, Cutlas? What did losing the Redbeard do to you?
First Mate Meep interjected before the female orc could jump across the table and cut the throat of the dwarf.
“A year in a Bizantium slave birthing pit, raped daily until pregnant so her babies could be sold as stock; she lost many of her pups.”
Overkill recalled his own slavery and though short, absolutely horrible. For a moment was afraid of talking. Meep spoke up to break the looming silence.
“We have been through hell ever since Christine betrayed us. It took that year of time to escape, reclaim the Redbeard and make a new life as sailing mercs; buccaneers to the next level. The ship you wouldn’t recognize, the crew is new but they work hard. Oh and captain, they are all Orcs. Well almost.”
Overkill raised an eyebrow.
“The crew and captain”, nudging Colenda, “have had to repurpose our mission so that Bizantium stopped looking for us. When the country went through their civil war Captain and I and a few select that had been released by Mini went looking for the captured and on one particular day I found her.
Cutlas began to cry like a little girl only to take occasion to drink her pint. She would mutter between sobs about ‘the bitch’ only to grab her drink and attempt to drown her sorrow.
“How did you get here?” Overkill was getting curious about the whole story.
Colinda spoke, “Like my First Mate said we are mercenaries, we repainted the ship, got a new crew from the riots of Timiro and occasional purchases from the Eastern Territories and Wolfen Empire. We’ve had a slave human named Shanks that pretends to be a buyer and purchases orcs for our crew. He has been loyal to us as we were to you and the Redbeard.”
“How do you keep your secret of who owns whom?”
“Cap, my human and I speak seven languages.”
Overkill was impressed and tested her.
“Do you understand me?” Overkill spoke in Northern.
“Cap please” she replied with a sarcastic tone in Eastern.
“How about now”, Overkill said in Gobbley.
“Cap you speak Orc?” The Orc captain was now impressed. She returned to speaking Northern. They both were now smiling. She came back then in Southern and then Western when the dwarf looked confused. Finally in Elven she said, “You aren’t as proficient as I am, are ya, cap.”
Overkill laughed and bought another round.
“I have to say that Mini gave us a lot of leeway when the civil war broke out and the Navy was ordered to stand down against the Shark Tooth….”
Overkill interjected by almost spitting his drink. “The what now…?”
’’I knew that got your attention. We renamed the ship. To Bizantium shipping records we are a fishing ship owned by Shanks. The Lords of the region are pissed because they could not figure out who he was; where family he came from and why the king was protecting him. When Mini lost his role as king we left for smother water. We never approached your home island on the ‘count of Christine. After the war we headed west to the Empire of Sin.”
“You went around the Land of the Damned ?”
Overkill raised an eyebrow again and then his glass. “Either your crazy or brave or both. So that’s how you got to the inland sea. Why are you here at the games? Did you hear I was going to be here?”
Captain Colanda paused drinking. She stared and studied the sailors face and began shaking her head slowly. “You are so full of yourself dwarf.” All the girls stared at him with blankly before they all began laughing; even Cutlas with her tear tracks cracked a smile.
“So whats your cargo?”
“Captain, a lady never tells and a gentleman never asks.”
Overkill laughed recalling that this was code for a lot of illegal contraband being exchanged.
“Make a good sale?”
“Uh… yea”, they all smiled.
They had a few more drinks before Overkill asked his real stinger. He was not sure that the Shark Tooth would ever help Bizantium, especially because of what they went through.
“Would you ever return to Bizantium.” Overkill had bought over two gallons of liquor in the last few hours so he knew that the question could be answered with a positive note. “You would help me and the Gods of Light”… He paused and winced realizing that the priestess of Sinza was the traitor. All the old gang will be there and there is a Bizantium pardon waiting for you. HoneySuckle will be excited to see you. Meep’s face lit up even more then she did before. ’’Honey will be there!” She jumped off her seat and began hugging the dwarf and swinging him around in a circle and was screaming, “Yes” over and over. Some of the patrons were confused as to whether or not she was attacking or accepting a proposal. When she put him down and began speaking of how the old gang being back together would be awesome, the patrons went back to their drinks.
Overkill, when the dizziness settled, went to Cutlas. He took her hands in his and told his own story of a lost girl of his own. When he finished they both were crying. Finally took a deep breath to compose himself and he said, “forgive the priestess and stand tall. You will find true happiness in Bizantium.” He didn’t know why he was making this promise. He only hoped that the gods would help him keep his word. She smiled and kissed him on his forehead. “I hope your right, Captain.”
Picture from Joon Choi.