Secretly watch the cloaked figure until they leave; then follow.

You give every evidence of being completely absorbed in your pint and an exchange of saucy innuendos with the bartender while keeping the shadowy figure in the periphery of your vision. The 'tender is a sharp-tongued wench, accustomed to dealing with the Jack Tars who frequent the Sleepin' Pearl. With your attention divided, she easily bests you in the verbal duel and leaves you sputtering into your pint before she moves on to draw a drink for someone further down the bar.

The cloaked stranger stands and leaves the dark corner, heading for the door. You carefully note the figure turn left out of the door, heading in the direction of the docks. Leaving immediately would alert the stranger that you are following, so you give it a little time. The last swallows of your pint fill your brief wait as you let the mysterious figure put a buffer of space between you.

When you step outside the Sleepin' Pearl, the risen moon has painted the street in stark silvers and blacks. For a moment you think that you waited too long before leaving the pub, and you curse yourself for not moving sooner. But then the sea breeze freshens, belling out the stranger's cloak. The movement catches your eye, and you spot your quarry moving along the more heavily-shadowed side of the street. You cross to the same side and set off in pursuit.

You walk casually, not making any effort to slink from darkness to darkness. If the cloaked figure looks back, all that they'll see is another sailor heading back to his ship after a few drinks. It's a common enough sight along the streets heading down to the harbor.

Ahead, your quarry makes a sudden turn into an alleyway. You know that the narrow alleys this near the waterfront are an interconnected maze where the mysterious figure could easily disappear. You hurry your pace in an effort to catch up.

At the mouth of the narrow alleyway you pause. Moonlight doesn't reach far here, and your quarry is already hidden by the clotted darkness.

Damn, damn, and damn! You curse your luck as you throw caution to the wind and head into the narrow space between buildings, hoping that you can somehow pick up the trail again. Refuse deposited in the alley combines with the deep darkness to make footing treacherous. You stumble and send something clattering ahead of you, announcing your presence more effectively than a shout.

The element of surprise still exists. Unfortunately for you, someone else now has it to use. You first discover this when some of the "refuse" you passed rises behind you, accompanied by the ringing of steel leaving its sheath. You whirl around and find the point of a cutlass aimed at your throat.

"Thought you had an easy target, did you?" The words are spoken softly, but the tone is no less menacing for that. The voice is cultured... and somehow familiar. "A quick slice of the knife in an alley, and then a full purse to take?"

"No... No! I wasn't..." you stumble over your words. You've got no weapons. They were taken from you when you were captured, and the governor's man didn't see fit to provide you with any. Your only way out of this is talk, and your tongue is in rebellion.

"Oh, I'd expect nothing less than denials from a blaggard." The man's voice tugs at your memory. If you could only figure out why it's familiar, you could turn it to your advantage and get yourself out of this situation. "But here's where your thieving days end." As the man draws the cutlass back in preparation to thrust it home in your throat, a beam of pale moonlight clears the roof of the building and gleams on a large ring. You know that ring. It's the clue you needed to place the voice. Rackham's right hand, Black Bowen, captain of the Vengeance.

"Cap'n Bowen!"

Bowen pauses at your exclamation, though the point of the cutlass remains steadily on target. "So you think you know me, then? And who might you be, sneak thief?"

"Tredegar. Evan Tredegar, of the Venture."

"I don't remember a Tredegar, or an Evan for that matter." Bowen's left hand shoots out and grabs a fistful of your shirt. "But I never forget a man's face, so we'll just see about this." With that, Black Bowen drags you out of the alley and into the moon-bright street. He studies your face for a long moment and then slowly lowers his blade. "Aye, I remember you now. What was your position on the Venture?"

"Powder monkey, Cap'n."

"Gunner's assistant, eh? Well, it just so happens that the Venture is the business that brought me to this blasted port. But this is not the place to talk."

"Where-" you begin, but Bowen cuts you off.

"The Vengeance, of course. She's hidden in a cove up the coast. The jollyboat's in the harbor." The captain turns back down the alley, and you follow. This is a step closer to the Fortune. While you're on your way to the Vengeance, you work out what to tell Bowen.

The End

5 comments about this story Feed