Flight

For the first time in ages, I was back in Ja’arit harbor.  One of my favorite ports, it was small, most traders didn’t bother stopping here, and it was well-protected.  Pa’adhe was tied to the dock, barely moving in the calm water.  The crew were ashore enjoying themselves and I was sitting relaxed against the rail.  The brazier on the dock behind me was casting strange shadows onto the deck and far rail.  Half asleep, I was idly identifying the shadows.  There’s old man Sheom.  That’s a three masted trader.  A sleeping dog.  A hand gripping the rail.  Two hands.

As soon as I realized those were real hands, not shadow-hands, I was fully awake.  I remained still, watching as a head slowly appeared over the rails between the hands.  The head came up just enough for the eyes to clear the rail and looked around.  Whoever it was must not have seen me in the shadow of the dockside rail with the brazier directly behind.  The mast partially hid me as well while giving me a fair view of the intruder’s location.  After a few heartbeats, the figure, all in black, quietly climbed over the rail and crouched, eyes carefully sweeping the deck. The wet, black clothes she wore couldn’t hide the fact the intruder was female.  Again, the person failed to see me and I remained still.  Quickly and quietly the figure rose, and hauled a rope, bringing a small bundle on board.  Gathering bundle and rope, she made her way to the nearest open hatche and dropped below.

I made my way stealthily to the hatch and looked in.  There was no sign of the intruder as I carefully moved around the hatch opening.  The only sign was a soft thud followed by a grunt.  That allowed me to place where she was, but whoever it was, was invisible in the darkness under the deck.  Quietly I backed off and moved to where I could both see inside the hatch to that general area and keep an eye on the entire ship.  I settled in to wait.

* * *

It was well after dawn when the crew came stumbling back to the ship.  As soon as I saw them on the dock, I waved for them to stop and went to meet them.  Quietly, I told them of the intruder and how I wanted to handle it.  Once everyone knew what they needed to do, we made our way to the ship as if nothing were different.  I went to my cabin and the crew began messing about on the ship, getting things ready for departure.  At no time was any hatch out of sight of at least one crew member.

In due time, Cook knocked on the cabin door and poked his head in.  “Supplies and goods arriving.”  At my nod he left and I soon went out on deck.  The men delivering the supplies and cargo passed them up to us and we sorted them out on the deck.  When everything was on board, the vendors left and we began storing the materials below-deck.  We made no attempt to locate the intruder, but we also kept an eye out.  By the time everything was stored away we had managed to thoroughly inspect every part of Pa’adhe but had not managed to locate the intruder.  I grimaced as I noticed Ferac glance in my direction then away.  It was bad enough the crew were wondering about my sanity, it was worse I was beginning to likewise wonder.

There were only two possible answers and I didn’t like either one.  Either some member of the crew was in on it or we had a very clever and potentially deadly intruder.  I refused to believe I was the problem.  I was about to order a stem to stern search when the tramp of the local militia on the dock drew my attention.

We were the last of three ships tied up at the dock.  I watched as the group stopped at each ship and a squad of men eventually went on board.  When they reached Pa’adhe I was already at the rail.

“Good day, Captain.”  I knew the lieutenant in charge of the group, having met him in town.  He was a good man, but military.

“Good day, Lieutenant.  How may I help you?”

“We’re searching for a runaway.  Has anyone other than you and your crew come on board?”

“A runaway?  I’m surprised the militia is involved.”

He stepped away from the group to stand next to the rail where I was.  Quietly, he said, “Apparently a runaway from someone high up and in a panic.  At least it’s good practice.”  He shrugged and continued in a normal voice.  “We need to search your ship.”

I shrugged.  “We just stowed away all supplies and cargo and didn’t find anyone else on board.  You’re welcome to search, Lieutenant, but please don’t damage either the supplies or cargo.”

He nodded, waving five men over.  Turning to them, he said, “Search the ship, but be civil about it.”  One of the men saluted and led the other four on board.  As they searched, the crew assisted, helping them search, moving stuff out of the way and back as necessary.  By the time the search ended, the tide had already changed and I was anxious to get under way.

The lieutenant received the squad’s report then thanked me for co-operating.  I was irritated that we’d not found anyone in two apparently thorough searches, but I also wanted to get under way.   I called for Xinu to get us away and headed for the steering oar.  Before I could get there, the lieutenant called out, “I’m sorry, Captain, but you can’t leave.”

I turned to look at him.  “What?  You searched.  Why can’t we leave?”

“Until we find the runaway or know where she is, no ship is being allowed to leave the harbor.”  He pointed at the mouth of the small bay.

I turned to look and saw a heavy chain now draped across the narrow opening leading to sea.  Turning back, I noticed Xinu looking my way, waiting.  I shook my head, and turning back to the lieutenant, I asked, “How long might that be?  We’ve got perishables, having just loaded to sail.”

“I apologize, Captain, but my orders don’t include any time frame.  Just ‘until we find her’.”

I nodded sourly.  I wasn’t happy but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  As he left, leaving a guard where the dock met land, I asked Cook about the supplies.

“I got enough over, as usual, for half again the voyage.  So, if we start in on them today as if sailing, we can stay five days in port and still make the voyage.  After that, we’ll have to resupply.”

“Do it.  Tell Xinu no shore leave while we’re stuck in port.”

Cook nodded and left, passing word to Xinu.  I went and leaned against the stem post.  As Xinu began giving Ferac, Cook, and Avari things to do around the ship, I began racking my brains trying to figure out where the intruder, probably this ‘she’ the lieutenant mentioned, could possibly be hiding.

* * *

Two days later I had a pretty good idea not only where she was hiding but also who was helping her.  I’d also been to a meeting with the other captains as we tried to figure out how to get out of port.  Having kept in touch with the lieutenant, I knew that until the missing person was found there was no way we would be allowed to leave.  The town was guarded by both militia and wards: no-one was being allowed into or out of Ja’arit by either land or water.  The only thing missing from the picture right now was that no-one seemed to know who the missing female was or why she was being sought.

I was sitting outside one of the inns, a mug of mead to hand, when the lieutenant went by.  I hailed him, asking if he was still on duty.

“Ah, Captain!  No, I just got off duty.”

“Join me for a mug?”

“That I can do!”

“One of those days?”  I waved at the barmaid to bring the lieutenant a mug.  After she brought it along with a plate of cold cuts, we sat chatting for a while.  Finally, I asked, “How goes the search?”

“It’s frustrating.  She seems to have disappeared off the face of the world.”

“Couldn’t she have left already?”

“No.”  He took a drink from his mug and I waved for refills.  “There was a ward set around Ja’arit a few moons back.  If she’d tried to leave we’d have known immediately.”

“Any idea where she might be?”

“We figure either the port or warehouses, but to be honest we have no idea.  We’ve searched everywhere.”

“Have you considered unloading all the ships and searching that way?”

He looked at me thoughtfully.  “Do you know something?”

“Not really.  But if there’s no-one on any of the ships after that, couldn’t you let them leave?”

“Well, I could suggest it, but I doubt anyone’s going to be let out before she’s found.  They’re not going to take any chances.”

“They?” I asked

The lieutenant gestured upwards.  “Whoever’s driving this.”

“I hope they find her soon.  What’s going to happen when she’s found?”

“No idea.  You’ll probably finally be allowed to leave and we’ll get back to normal.  I feel sorry for anyone hiding her.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.  Whoever’s been hiding her this long is likely to be thrown in a dungeon and the key thrown away.  They want her and rumor is it’ll go bad for Ja’arit if she’s not found.”

We chatted for a while longer before we each took our leave.

* * *

By the fourth day, I gave in.  Xinu was having trouble finding the crew make-work on top of make-work, I’d still not seen the intruder since she came aboard, and Cook was getting concerned about supplies.  Calling Xinu to me, I bade him give the crew shore leave with the condition they be back aboard by sunrise at the latest.  I gave Cook funds and sent him to replenish supplies as needed, ordering him to take care of that before going on leave.

Most frustrating, though, was that I’d not yet decided what to do.  The irritating part was I’d waited too long to deliver up the intruder.  I knew which crewman was not going to be with us after this voyage, but I didn’t have enough information to turn them over.  Besides, I needed to come up with a way to do so that wouldn’t implicate Pa’adhe and her crew.  I needed to resolve this, and resolve it fast.

Once Cook got back to the ship with his supplies, I helped him stow away what he’d bought.  As we went back and forth between ship and shore, an idea began to form.  There just might be a way to handle this.

We were standing by the cart, Cook preparing to gather up the various sacks and take the cart back to the merchant he’d borrowed it from.  As we’d been unloading the cart, I’d been giving him instructions and he was ready to play his part.  Just as we were about to go back onboard and gather up the sacks I muttered a quiet curse.  The lieutenant had just come around the corner of a warehouse and was leading a squad of Guard towards the pier.

It wasn’t until they were half-way to us that I realized they were escorting Avari.   The main body of the Guard stopped thirty paces away while two of them followed the lieutenant, Avari between them.

When the lieutenant stopped a few paces away, I nodded and said, “Lieutenant.”

“Captain.”  He nodded in return.  Stepping aside, he gestured at Avari, asking “Is this man your crew?”

When I nodded, he continued, “I thought I recognized him.  I had two choices:  throw him in the dungeon or throw him on your mercy.  The charges are fighting in a public place.  He’s drunk, there were damages to the ale-house, but no-one was seriously hurt.  No-one can remember who started it, so as no charges are being pressed by the barkeep, I’m willing to forget it, provided you discipline him.”

“Trust me, Lieutenant.  He’s going to wish you’d thrown him in the dungeon.”

“Very well.  He is not to be allowed into town for two days.”

“If that.  Cook, get Avari on board.”  I watched as Cook escorted Avari on board, pushing him to the forepeak where the crew’s quarters were.  Turning back to the lieutenant I said, “Thank you for this courtesy, Lieutenant.  I do apologize for his behavior.  How much were the damages?”

After working out the damages I handed the lieutenant a small pouch.  “There’s enough to cover the damages, and enough extra for a round for you and the squad by way of thanks for this courtesy.”

“I’ll deliver it to the barkeep and to the men when they’re off.”  He hesitated briefly, then said, “I took your suggestion to unload the ships to the Commandant.  He said it may come to that, but they’re going to be organizing a search with some mages soon first. So, unless we find her before then it’s going to be at least three more days plus however long that search takes.”

I nodded my thanks.  “That reminds me, do I need permission to beach my ship to clean the hull?”

“No, you can do that, you just can’t leave port.”

“I think I’ll do that tomorrow.  Can I beach over there?”  I pointed to a hard beach a thousand paces away or so.

“That’s Cipma’s beach.  You’ll have to check with him, he lives in that house there.  Tell him I said it was alright.”

“Thanks, I’ll do that.”

With a nod, the lieutenant left.  I watched as he led the Guard away on their rounds then turned to see Cook standing by the rail.

With a shake of my head, I said, “Let’s just get these sacks on the cart and the cart back.”  Cook nodded and I went aboard to help him gather them up.

Once Xinu returned from town, I filled him in on the situation so that he could take care of Avari’s punishment for his behavior.  At the same time, I bade him keep an eye out for our uninvited guest and updated him on her general whereabouts.  Now there were three of us watching for her.

* * *

By mid-morning the next day I’d met with Cipma and gotten permission to beach Pa’adhe on his beach.  After a little haggling, Cipma and his sons agreed to help draw Pa’adhe up on the sand after we’d unloaded her of most of her cargo.  With blocks attached to logs buried in the sand plus the use of four of Cipma’s cousin’s oxen, by early afternoon we had Pa’adhe on the hard and laying over, held above the sand by the log rollers we’d used.  Even out of the water she was sweetly curved.  I took a few moments to admire her lines before ordering the crew get a cold lunch and inviting Cipma and his sons to join us in the light meal.  As soon as lunch was over I set the crew to work cleaning her bottom of sea growth while I went into town to find some tar and copper powder to re-coat her hull bottom.

By evening we’d cleaned her port side and set up to roll her to clean the other side.  The tar and copper were to be delivered tomorrow afternoon.  With nothing much else to do, I had Xinu set watch over our cargo and allowed everyone except Avari a little time in town.

The next morning we rolled Pa’adhe and cleaned her steerboard side.  Happily, the tar and copper were delivered just before we finished a late lunch.  While the crew made brooms and wooden scrapers, I melted the tar in a large bucket provided by Cipma and once it was fully molten began mixing in the copper powder.  When Xinu stopped by to let me know they were ready to start applying the tar mixture, I called the crew over.  I described how we were going to apply the tar mix to the hull then spread it thin, almost completely removing it.  The key, I told them, was to make sure it was smoothly applied and covered every part of her hull below the waterline.  Once everyone understood, we began the smelly, sticky job of re-coating Pa’adhe’s bottom.  We had to finish that job by torchlight, by which time everyone was exhausted and barely awake long enough for a late dinner.

The sun had already risen when Cipma and his sons brought the oxen back.  Putting Pa’adhe back in her element was easier than taking her out of it and by noon we were tying her back up at the pier.

Throughout it all, except for the trip to town to arrange for the tar and copper powder, I’d been keeping an eye out for our intruder.  I’d hoped that she’d left the ship while we had her on the hard, but I’d not seen any indication of that.  A quick check with Xinu and Cook let me know they’d not seen her either, so far as they knew.  Some people had come by during the process, but they had no idea if she might have been one of them.  With everything taken care of and Avari standing watch, I let the crew go ashore and settled in to watch for any sign of her still being on board.

* * *

Three days later I again sent Cook to replenish supplies, preferring to keep them topped off rather than using them up and trying to resupply when we were finally let go.  I was luckier than two of the other captains locked in harbor:  they had perishable cargo while my only perishables were our supplies.  One was in a foul mood, he was beginning to lose his cargo and the other was getting there.  Both were desperate to get under way and word was that the local government was not going to pay for any losses due to being stuck in harbor.

Worse, I had gotten a glimpse of our intruder below deck, just enough to know she was still there.  I knew I could find her easily enough if I went looking, but I wasn’t ready for that yet.  I had not been able to determine what to do with the crewman one way or another but the crewman’s behavior had changed slightly.  I wasn’t ready to deal with him so I had no idea what the change in behavior meant.

I was leaning idly against the sternpost, seriously thinking of accosting him and resolving the situation come what may, when two runners appeared at the pier.  One went directly to the shore-most ship and the other came running up to Pa’adhe.  Barely pausing to catch his breath, he asked for the captain.  When I got to the rail, he announced, “The lieutenant wishes to inform you that the runaway has been caught and that as soon as she is verified you will be allowed to leave port.”

I asked if he knew how long that might take.  When he shook his head, I asked him to thank the lieutenant for the message and dismissed him.  His message delivered, he headed at a run back toward land.  As I watched the runner disappear around a building I heard a thunk and turned to see the cause of the sound.

Ferac was standing by the mast, nursing his right hand.  Seeing me looking at him, he held up his hand, showing scraped knuckles, and bent back to his work.  I watched him for a bit longer then went into my cabin to think.

* * *

The knock on the door interrupted my thoughts.   I called “Enter!”

Cook stuck his head in.  “They’re lowering the chain now, sir.”

I nodded.  “I’ll be out.  Tell Xinu to get Pa’adhe ready to sail.”

Cook closed the door.  So, they found their runaway.  Who the hell do we have on board?  I stretched, then rose from the chest I’d been sitting on.  I’d made my decision how I was going to handle the stowaway and the crewman.  Faintly through the door I heard the various ships getting ready to leave the harbor.  I was in no rush, but I wanted out of there just as much as the others.  I knew the others would be racing to leave with their perishable cargoes so I had to leave right now or I’d have to wait and let them clear harbor first.  I headed out on deck.

As I came out of the cabin, Xinu came up to me.  “Captain, we only need to loose lines and drop sail and we’re good to go.”

I gave a quick look, judging the other ships preparedness.  “Cast off!”

We were well under way before any of the other ships were even shaking out their sails.  I was well pleased with the crew, and the speed with which Pa’adhe gathered way.  We were soon passing by the cliffs guarding the entrance.  I set a course for Vascri then watched the crew settle into the routine of sailing Pa’adhe.  Satisfied everything was under control I settled in to enjoy the sailing for a while, happy to be out of port and on the open sea once more.

* * *

Sunrise the second day out I called the crew together by the mast.  I noticed that Xinu and Cook had positioned themselves right where I’d have wanted if I could have placed them, one by each of the other two crewmen.  Standing at the steering oar, I gave the order to close the forward hatch and lash it down.  Xinu and Ferac hurried off to take care of that.  I waited until they completed that task and returned to stand by the others.

“We have a problem.  Back in Ja’arit, everything was locked down due to a runaway.  I know we all know that, but were you also aware that if the runaway had been found on Pa’adhe none of us would be here?  Pa’adhe would have been seized and we would all have been cast into the deepest dungeon to be found in Ja’arit and the key thrown away.”

I paused to let that sink in before continuing.  “Luckily for us they found the runaway when they did.  For two people on this ship, that worked out well.  So, what’s the problem?  Simply this:  one of you risked all of us.”

Again, I paused to give the sailor a chance.  When he failed to take it, I continued grimly, “One of you has been helping a stowaway aboard Pa’adhe.  I will not tolerate that abuse of trust.  If she, yes she, had been found aboard while in harbor, we’d all have been seized.  You, Ferac, are going to be paying for both your passages.”

Ferac started, but before he could do anything, Cook grasped him by the shoulder.  When he looked to see who had hold of him, Cook simply shook his head.  Ferac relaxed and just stood there dejectedly.  Looking over the little group before me, I smiled grimly.

“I should just toss you both overboard right now for the broken trust and the risk you put us all in, but I’m not going to do that.  No, I’m going to see to it that once we get to port you are both thrown off.  You are never going to sail aboard any ship again if I have anything to say about it.

“So, who is she?

“Right now, all I know is what she is.  We have a Wilding aboard, one which appears to have the ability to hide herself from view.  Unfortunately for her, her talent doesn’t work on me.  I am in no mood for further games.  In a bit I will fetch her out of the hold whether she will or no.  Or she can come out willingly.”

I gave her several heartbeats to come out on her own.  When that failed to happen, I looked at Ferac and said, “So be it.”

I waved Xinu over to take the steering oar then jumped into the hold and made my way aft.  Reaching the sternpost under the deck, I turned and surveyed the hold.  Not immediately seeing her, I began searching as I moved forward.  It didn’t take me long to find her hiding against the hull between two large leather-covered baskets.

Apparently she believed herself still hidden as she made no move to acknowledge my presence.  Impatient with the whole thing, I said angrily, “You have one more chance.  Come willingly or be dragged out.”  When she made no move to comply, I reached in and grabbed her by the arm, dragging her out of her hiding place.

When she stood and turned to face me, the look of disbelief on her face was almost comical.  Apparently she’d never encountered someone on whom her talent didn’t work.  I saw she was younger than I thought and surprisingly beautiful.  Idly I wondered if that was yet another manifestation of her Wilding talent.  She looked at me defiantly, saying nothing.  I gestured to the hatch, “Get on deck before I throw you there.”  Sullenly, she made her way to the hatch and climbed out.  I was on deck immediately behind her to ensure she didn’t try anything.  I pushed her to stand by Ferac.  She took four steps in his direction then turned to glare at me.

“Who are you and why are you here?”

She said nothing, and then I noticed the puzzled looks on the face of all the crew but Ferac.  So, that’s how you think it’s going to play out?  Angrily, I said, “Turn your Wilding talent off or I will do it for you.  And if that doesn’t work, I’ll toss you over the side and they won’t know any different.”

When the crew’s confused looks didn’t change, I took one step forward and the crew started as she suddenly became visible to them.

“That was wise.  Now let’s try this again.  Who are you and why are you here?”

We glared at each other, the silence stretching.  She finally said, “I am Mo’erla.  I would not wed who my parents promised me to.”

I looked at Ferac.  “And you?  What do you have to say?”

Ferac looked at me, no fear in his eyes or demeanor.  “She is my sister.”

“It is not enough.  You put all of our lives on the line and the ship in danger!  If you had come to me first, perhaps.  But that way…no!”  I shook my head.  “You,” I pointed at Mo’erla, “will work with Cook, doing meals and other such tasks as he sees fit.”  Jabbing my finger at Ferac, I said, “You will continue as before but you are not getting paid.  If either of you fails to comply fully, I will bind you and throw you in the hold for the rest of the voyage.”  I glared at both of them.  “Get to work!”

* * *

I let things go at that until the next day when I had Cook bring Mo’erla to my cabin.  As they stood there, Cook patiently and Mo’erla defiantly, I weighed my options.  Finally, I simply asked Cook if she was working to his satisfaction.  When he nodded agreement, I dismissed him.  For a while longer I simply looked at Mo’erla as she glared back at me.  As the silence stretched, I could see unease or doubt beginning to creep into her.  Abruptly, I spoke.

“The laws of the sea gave me the right to throw found stowaways over the side.  You, I can throw overboard whenever I wish.  Ferac, your so-called brother…”

She interrupted me there.  “He IS my brother.  By blood.”

“Whatever.  I don’t care.”  I paused to let that sink in before continuing.  “Ferac, I can’t just toss overboard as he’s a hired crew member.  But those same laws give me the right to have him beat to death for what he’s done.  Think carefully, now.  I am going to give you one chance to explain.  After that, we’ll see.  You’ve not lied to me yet, so don’t start now.”  I paused to glare at her.  “What in the name of the Nine Tails are you doing here?”

She stared at me then dropped her gaze to the deck.  When she looked up at me again her bravado was no longer there.  She was still defiant, but apparently it had finally sunk into her mind just how little control she had over the situation.  Twice she started to speak but didn’t.  As her mouth opened for the third time, I quietly said, “Careful now, and the truth.”

She nodded and began talking.  The more she spoke, the easier it was for her to keep going.  Clearly, she had kept this quiet for a long time.

“I am Ma’a Mo’erla En-Senap, sister to Sar Ferac En-Senap, daughter to Sar and Ma’a En-Senap l’Ja’arit.”

Here she paused to see if I understood all that.  So, daughter of a lord of Ja’arit.  What have I gotten into now?  I let none of that show and merely nodded that I understood.

“Some time ago, Ferac had a falling out with our father and left.  We have had no word of him for almost two years.  In that time, I came of age to wed.  A young man whom I had known for years and I had grown to love each other.  The difficulty is that my father considered him below our station and thus unworthy and would never allow us to wed.  All this I learned from my mother.  What I did not know, and only learned but a moon ago, is that my father had arranged for me to wed a certain count.  That count is as old as my father and his previous wives have mysteriously died without leaving him a heir.  My father says the match is simply to advance our family standing.  I cannot and will not wed that old man, I would sooner die.

“When by chance I met Ferac in the marketplace, I was surprised.  We had always been close, yet even so he did not recognize me for I had still the body of a child when he left.  But I knew him immediately.  We were soon caught up on what each had done over the past year and when I told him of my situation, he resolved to confront our father.  Happily I was able to dissuade him for that would have been his certain death.  We soon came up with the plan of spiriting me onto your ship and so away from Ja’arit.  When we reached the next port, he would leave your employ and we would make our way somehow.  Eventually, my love would be able to join us and I could wed whom I loved.”

She paused to look at me quizzically before continuing, “Yet somehow you saw me come on board.  Ferac knew my talent and thought in that lay my safety.  It was simply happenstance that another attempted to flee at the same time and thus locked down Ja’arit.  Eventually you set sail and the rest you know.  But how is it my talent doesn’t work on you?”

I shrugged.  “Some talents have no effect on me.  When you hid, I saw a faint shimmer around you but you never disappeared from my sight.”

I went to the door and called for Xinu.  When he came, I sent him to bring me Ferac.  Turning to face Mo’erla again, I said, “That’s still no justification for Ferac endangering my crew and Pa’adhe.”  As Ferac entered followed by Xinu, I ordered her to return to Cook and see what work he had for her.

As she passed Ferac she started to say something, but before she could, I said, “Out!”  I watched as Xinu herded her out before either Ferac or Mo’erla could say anything.  Looking at Ferac, I said “Your sister told me a tale.  Tell me yours.  And tell me why I should believe it.”

The tale Ferac told was basically the same as his sister’s, starting with how they met in the marketplace and ending when I fetched her out of the hold.  He made no effort to justify his actions other than a brief mention of “when my sister told me her story I resolved to help her.”

When he finished, I said, “Nothing you have said justifies putting your crewmates and Pa’adhe in danger as you did.  Nothing.”  Ferac made no answer and I continued.  “You two have put me in a difficult position.  Fortunately for you I am who I am and not some other captains I can think of.  Would you have done this under any other captain?”

Ferac nodded slightly.  I nodded in return.  “I have no choice.  You will never sail with anyone again if I have my way.  You know the Law of the Sea so you may understand my mercy even if your sister does not.  Return to your work.”

* * *

It was another day and a half before we came in sight of Vascri.  Before entering port, I gave Cook certain instructions then sent him to oversee Ferac and Mo’erla packing their bags so at least they would have enough to tide them over a couple days.  As soon as the packing was done I had both Mo’erla and Ferac bound so they could not jump ship.  I intended to ensure they bore the results of what they did, but I also had another goal in mind:  I needed to clear our names.

It did not take long to get into port and be assigned a berth.  As soon as we were tied up and the sails taken care of, I took stock of how busy the pier was.  As it was suitably busy,  I jumped over the side and walked to the middle of the pier.  At my gesture, Ferac and Mo’erla’s bags were tossed onto the pier and  Xinu, Cook, and Avari brought Ferac and Mo’erla to stand before me.  A few people walking by stopped to watch, others continued on their business.  I saw several sailors and at least one captain watching from their ships as well.  Good!  Word will spread.  Drawing my knife, I slashed their bindings, freeing them.

Speaking loud enough to be heard some distance down the pier, I said, “Ferac, you will never sail again if I have any say.  I won’t tolerate putting the entire ship in danger!”  I glared at both of them.  “Get!”

When Ferac started to say something, I interrupted him.  “Get!  Before I give you worse!”

Mo’erla opened her mouth to say something but Ferac took her arm.  When she looked at him, he shook his head and started to pull her away.  She looked at me briefly, then turned to go.

I watched them for a few heartbeats.  Glancing at the rest of my crew, I nodded at Pa’adhe.  “Let’s finish and get ready to unload.”

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