Ch. 20. The Sinking Reputation

Peino had been trying and failing to place Captain Lafitte’s distinctive and pronounced accent, which seemed to warp the cadence and emphasis of the lilting syllables of the Common Speech, the Elvish patois that, over millennia, had become at least a second language just about everywhere in the world.

Peino, of course, had grown up speaking Etalin, the language of the Children of Lyr, the elves of the sea.  Etalin had its own tricks and rhythms, which gave its speakers a distinctive accent as well, but as an Elvish dialect, it was similar enough to Common that the habit among many selkies of slipping unconsciously between the two had little effect beyond branding them by their origins.

Lafitte seemed to have the same habit, but for the life of him, Peino could not guess what other tongue he was using.  Such strange sounds — “d’ami,” “messieurs,” “compagnon.”  Peino wished he was wearing a Dragon’s Tongue so he could know what they meant.  He had a feeling they might be rude, if Lafitte’s expression and body language was any reflection.

That was another mystery about the man.  Where could he have been raised where he could take such an attitude upon a first meeting and yet still stand here alive with both eyes and both ears attached?  Even the Red Caps of the Five Swords Lands would not tolerate such casual disdain.

However, Peino had meant it when he said that the Scion of Ereon was indebted to Lafitte for his help.  It was a small debt which could be settled with as little as a few rounds of ale and the pay of a skillful whore in a decent pleasure house, but it was not settled yet.  So Peino merely turned from this man of ill manners and doubtful honesty (the selkie suspected that one or two of the wizard’s charms had indeed been lifted before he’d laid hands on the goblin, and that one of those may very well have been the trick to call the Blood Larva) – turned to see fire burning in the eyes of his offended first mate.

Any possible exchanges that may have occurred were cut off, though, by the courteous leave-taking of Ionas Farseer, which Peino returned in kind.

“Fair seas and a following wind, Mr. Farseer,” Peino said, giving the traditional formal farewell of their common tribe along with a repetition of the traditional bow of their class.  He then turned abruptly to Tahain and gestured towards the unconscious wizard lying on the deck.

“That one as well, Mr. Farwind, if you would.  For the rest, see to it as you will.”

“Aye, sir,” the first mate answered and proceeded to grab the spriggan by the collar of his coat, by which he would drag him away.

“It has been a great pleasure to meet you, Captain Lafitte.  I shall return to my ship.  Fair voyage, sir.”  Peino executed yet another bow, this one with a more theatrical flourish of hands, and left the castle abruptly.

The crew of the Marsh King’s Daughter did not need to be told how or when to pull salvage from a wreck.  He had no doubt his people would do well for themselves, and perhaps for him, too, when the inventories were taken.  The spriggan prisoners were climbing quietly enough up the boarding ladders to the Daughter.  Those ladders now were at a significant incline, forcing a proper climb, as the galleon was so low in the water that the waves were already beginning to swamp her decks, leaving the Daughter riding quite a bit higher.  Peino judged it would be mere minutes before his crew abandoned the galleon and cut the grappling lines to let her slide to her grave.

He quickly climbed up a ladder himself and stepped onto the deck of his own ship amid the racket of loot being tossed on board and prisoners being marched and mustered in lines by their victors.  He took a moment to locate the nameplate of the galleon, nearly submerged — Reputation.

Heh, thought Peino Starhand, a shame to lose such humor.

He repaired to the castle deck of the Daughter, where he found Lariud Moonwood seated on a gunwale, having his burns tended to by his wife, the wizard Nyora Watersinger.  Their captain waved them to be at ease and carry on.  He stood at the fore-rail and watched the goods and captives being loaded and interim repairs being made to the Daughter.  And he cast more than a few glances at the activity of Lafitte’s crew and bizarre airship as well.  Like most people, Peino thought it mad folly to float about in such an unwieldy thing, so unlike the swift elemental ship Cairn Hawk, which even his noble brother, the Lord Magus Jeneyeru Nightwise, hardly ever flew anywhere anyway.  Really, who would – aside from that Lafitte individual and his crew of … well, whatever they were.

Soon they would be under way, with a brief moment to allow the spriggan captain to watch and mourn the death of his ship.  That much kindness he would warrant, before being forced below to spend the rest of the voyage in chains until such time as he could be handed over to the Arian authorities for trial.

“Course, Captain?” asked Lariud Moonwood.

“Kledy, Mr. Moonwood,” Peino replied.

The navigator nodded and opened the book he carried on him all the time, unfolding the charts within to find their location off the southwestern tip of the Hammer of Arelaan and plot the course.

“Mistress Watersinger,” Peino added, “when we are under way, I will require your assistance.”

“Sir?” the wizard questioned, but reading the cast of Starhand’s shoulders, she altered her tone to a nodding, “Sir.”

The Prince of the Grand Navigators was on a mission to deliver a diplomatic chest from a High Queen to a High King. That had to take precedence once repairs were done.  But still… Two chained hearts weighed heavily in Peino’s britches pocket, and somewhere — his eyes trailed again towards La Danse Calinda — the riddle of the Blood Larva also weighed as heavy upon someone.  Of that he was as sure as he could be without actually knowing.  He was determined not to leave that state of ignorance intact longer than necessary.

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