Ch. 17. Arranging the Spoils

Peino climbed the steps up to the castle and received Captain Lafitte’s strangely abrupt greeting, noticing particularly the way the eorman’s hand hovered at the ready for his weapon.

“My reputation must be getting quite a bit ahead of me, sir, if it puts you on your guard so.  I shall have to rein it in,” said the selkie, also guarded and hinting his subtle displeasure at the subtle rudeness, as he returned the bow.  “The Scion of Ereon is in your debt, Captain.”

Peino finished his bow and stood to his full height, looking Lafitte square in the eye.   He took minute stock of the amber-ish color of his eyes and the dark locks waving to his shoulders, the rugged, wind-hardened face adorned with little points of facial hair, the powerful physique under those odd clothes, the heavy, short, cleaver-like blade and the ornate crossbow pistols secured about his person.  Lafitte would have to be a bold man to master a flying craft such as the one hovering above them, and Peino knew that bold men could become dangerous men with hardly any effort at all.

As the selkie’s gaze ran down the length of the man before him, it at last fell on the bloody deck behind him and the body lying there.

“Oh,” said Peino, distracted by irritating disappointment, “is that the ship’s wizard you’ve killed?  Your pardon, sir, may I?”

Peino stepped around Lafitte and knelt on one knee by the fallen goblin.  His long, dark hands felt for signs of life.  He rolled the wizard over, and examined his eyes.

“Ah, not quite dead yet,” he said, “excellent.”  And his hands switched to searching the goblin’s many pockets and personal hiding spaces.  Paying no attention to Lafitte and Farseer for the moment, Peino produced an array of charms and amulets, small scrolls and encrusted bottles sealed with wax.  All these, the selkie cast aside.  He seemed to be looking for something.

Something he finally found in an inside pocket of the spriggan’s vest.  But as he held up the playing card, a scowl darkened his expression.  The card in his hand depicted two rather gory hearts bound tight with chains and was numbered with two pips in the shape of drops of blood.  The small rectangle of paper pulsed with a malicious energy that Peino recognized, just as he had recognized the Blood Larva that had attacked his ship.  But this was not a picture of that beast.

Standing, blood staining the knees of his white cotton britches, he said, “Has anyone touched this man since you laid him low, Captain Lafitte?”

“Captain Starhand!”  Tahain o’th’Farwind came running suddenly up the steps to the castle, his clothes wet to the waist and his feather hairy disheveled.  “The ship is taking water badly, sir.  The doom spears did a day’s job below water.  I doubt she’ll make it to port, but her holds are nearly full.”

Momentarily distracted from the card and the dead wizard, Peino nodded at the report.  Glancing quickly about, he noted the list of the galleon and her heaviness as the waves tried to roll her to and fro.  All about, the two crews of the Daughter and the Calinda were freely looting the spriggan galleon, stripping her of anything that might have any value or use at all, while the pirates themselves, arms bound with their own sashes for the most part, were being lined up along the rails.

“Right,” he said, “it seems we shan’t have this ship as our prize, Captain Lafitte, but there’s a deal of goods at least.  I can take the prisoners.  Plenty of room aboard the Daughter and not far to go.  We’ll make for the nearest port for repairs,” his eyes scanned the horizon in the direction of the Arian coast as he sifted through his memory, “We should be near Kledy, I believe.”

He turned to the rugged airship captain with a sly grin.  “What say you, sir?  Shall we go splits, or let the crew race for their gold?”

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