We set sail for Bloodcove, with a view to ransoming Marracone to his father, but happened upon an abandoned whaling ship, sitting heavy in the water. I was nervous; fear of haunted ghost ships scare me, but what lurked there was equally terrible. Sahuagin! The sea devils attacked us in numbers, aided by a shark, in the hold of the listing vessel. I used my magic in battle, and Avery risked his life to save me from one of the beasts. He is a good man, and near paid a price for helping me. Black Match battled their mutant leader in the briny darkness. I’d never been in a fight so bloody and fierce. It was truly scary to face death in a salty hold, from fish men, who are known to rape human girls before eating them. I actually wanted to cry when we prevailed, from the shock of battle, but I held it together. The wound in my side hurt so badly!
One strange thing; the mutant sahuagin had an amulet of deep platinum, with jade colour that matched my eyes and a strange magic that stirred as I touched it.
Two nights passed. I slept with Avery and flirted with Sandara, albeit with limited progress before arriving in the slave port of Bloodcove, built among the roots of what must be the God of all mangrove trees, rising slim idly from the iron rich waters of the Mwangi river, and slick with the moral detritus of centuries of slavery, depravity and piracy. It was Alicia’s kind of town! Drink, fun, sex and partying.
The Governor was a somewhat disheveled backwater colonial, who dismissed us with nary a word about reward, and our day got worse when a fire breathing wyvern attacked us at the docks. Welcome to Bloodcove!
The battle was horrific: both Avery and Black Head were scalded by its breath, and temporarily blinded, leaving Tuatara and myself to battle the beast with spell and spear. In the end we triumphed, slaying the wyvern, but not before poor Avery and Black Match nearly died from the beast’s poison sting.
Still, the scary battle saw us gain a good relationship with the Aspis consortium, whose agent was also on the dock when the creature, maddened by the scarlet ague it transpired, had attacked. She did us a good deal on our plunder, despite Black Beard having shouted threats to her in false assumption that she had summoned the monster. He is a mighty warrior as long as intelligence isn’t an issue.
Finally, we were able to party in the Witchlight Inn. Avery and I had discussed and agreed that our relationship was an open one, and that we didn’t own each other. I drew many admiring glances from pirates as I danced, but I was in softer mood after such traumatic battles, and wanted soft arms around me, not muscular ones. Sandara was so pretty, but only seemed interested in alcohol; oh well, she’d had her chance, and I wasn’t going to weep if she didn’t want to play……
The girls and women working the inn were all of a type, save for one. She was about my age, maybe a year or two younger, auburn haired and pretty, but her face was marked by three scars, made by blade. I offered her a drink. She accepted. “My name is Alicia.”
“I’m Maksana,” she replied. Her eyes were blue, and intense, meeting my green. She sipped her drink nervously, “I….I need to work” she murmured, beginning to rise.
“I know” I took her hand and led her from the common room, ignoring the stares and whispered comments, walking hand in hand to the stairs.
“why me?” she asked in the bedroom, “I’m not pretty”, she touched the scars.
“You’re beautiful”, I answered, my own fingers gently tracing the same scars, “who?”
“A Chelaxian Lord. I displeased him. He had me whipped, then cut my face, then left me here as he sailed on to Sargava.” Tears were in her eyes.
I kissed her.
I kissed her again.
“Only if you want to…..” I whispered. She answered by her fingers unbuttoning my blouse.
Hours later, I awoke with the light. Maksana lay beside me. I traced my fingers softly across her naked body. She woke and smiled at me. I lost myself in that smile and in the memories of the night before. “I want to stay here all day”, I murmured, “making love to you”
This time her answer was her left arm sliding around my neck to pull me down to her kiss.
Something weird was happening to the Witch of Tidewater Rock. I was going all soft for a scarred and abused girl in a smugglers inn. Soon the Last Laugh would be repaired and supplied. Avery, Tuatura, Black Death and the rest would want to sail.
Far, far beneath in the abysmal deep, something stirred. Something vast awakened. Sandara, flame haired priestess of Besmara, felt a faint disturbance as she prayed for her prayers, but put it down to too much wine. Tuatura shivered slightly as he feasted on his chicken breakfast. Avery could not explain why he felt a twinge of unease as he left the inn to search out cannons to buy. Alicia cried out in passion as Maksana’s tongue did its work, and clung to her young lover with a fierceness born of more than just sex. Black Leg didn’t notice; he was in the outhouse having a shit.