Kerth's leather boots kicked against the rotting wooden steps that led to the cabin-master's quarters.
"Rilgern! Fix this, you lazy lout! We're not navy, we're pirates, so keep the decks. I see one more spot of aer-rot and I'll keel haul you and your crew." Kerth narrowed his eyes at the rotund carpenter before turning about and clasping the railing of the starboard with rough fingers. Rough, yet slender, just as the rest of him. Elegance splayed across the heart of a murderer -- ruggedly handsome yet distasteful; at least that's what the bar maids across the eastern coast-line told him. Not that he cared for the opinion of others.
The dull thud of wooden mallets echoed across the deck as Rilgern and his men worked to remove the aer-rotten boards; several men swung against the bow as they covered Silver Kraken with a fresh layer of tar. The rest of the crew looked after the mundane, regular chores...except for a select few who had been assigned a special errand in the town.
Kerth raised his eyes towards the setting sun, its rays dancing heathenishly across the silent ocean. All around him the sights and smells of civilization assaulted the senses. The docks were busy at this time of evening; several private yachts had slid into harbour in the last few hours, their heavy set owners wagging fingers at crewmen and tottering off the docks like giant pincushions.
They disgusted him, the pompous, arrogant blighters, just like most of humanity. Kerth spat into the water as he envisioned what a week of swabbing decks would do to their diamond-studded skin. His upper lip twitched involuntarily as he ran his hand through his sweaty hair. One more day at this harbour and he would put another bullet hole in his cabin wall.
He turned and found himself glaring at a woman, twirling her sharp-shooter as she sauntered across the deck. Everything about her, from her toned muscles to her the scar running wickedly from eye to chin, spoke danger. Familiar danger. Kerth casually slipped a finger around the trigger of his side-arm.
"That is Captain to you, Vellina." Kerth stepped away from the railing and ran his tongue against his rugged lips, grimacing as though he had tasted poison. "Since when do vixen of the southern seas come back from the dead."
"Likewise, old friend. I'm hardly a vixen and I have earned the title of captain." She sneered.
"What did you do? Murder some kindly shipmaster and enslaved his brainless crew. You are no captain." Kerth shook his head and met her halfway. Rilgern peeked at the unfolding scene underneath his elbow. The echo of hammers dwindled to a few mismatched, unfocused thuds.
Vellina tilted her head and managed a smile, "Oh, but I didn't." A crest of gold near her left shoulder glinted in the evening's dying rays.
"Ah, the navy." Kerth spat the words, "It is only fitting that the blind lead the blind. Since when did the pig sitting on England's throne give titles and honour to pirates."
"Since I saved his royal bone-cage in the Battle of Gilmoore." Vellina paused, "Oh but of course, you haven't heard. Too busy scouring the seven seas for fat merchant ships filled with cowards that are only too willing to hand over their purses and cargo."
"Anything is better than leading those cowards to battle." Kerth raised an eyebrow and tucked a thumb under his leather belt, "But why are you really here, vixen."
Vellina's chest rose and fell as she threw a glance sideways towards Rilgern and his men. The sound of wooden mallets filled the air.
"I only wanted to see how the old crew was holding up. Still treating everyone like galley slaves I take it. They must love you."
"Get off my ship." Kerth stepped forward, and Vellina mimicked him.
"I shall." The navy captain grinned. She circled Kerth before stopping near his side, then she leaned in and whispered, "I can help you find him. He knows you are here, but without me you search in vain."
Vellina twirled her gun and nudged its tip against Kerth's chin, "I nearly forgot you were such a dastardly frustrating brute."
"If you don't leave now I will remove your kidneys with my bare hands." He gritted his teeth and his finger tightened against the trigger.
"Of course, such a gentleman." She turned and walked away, calling over her shoulder, "You know where to find me."
As Vellina unboarded the ship, Kerth heard a faint clicking from the masts -- the satisfying sound of safety-locks being reapplied to guns.
That is all, folks. Have a glorious Wednesday!
Oh yes, and some random facts and fiction for you, in case you haven't gotten your dose yet (you can decide which is fact and which is fiction):
- I don't own a pirate ship, nor am I a pirate
- This little author is currently bundled up in a blanket on a couch near the fireplace FREEZING ... I should probably put socks on, eh.
- Cats and dogs originally came from two different universes and they're here to conquer the human race.
Signed with a regular pen,