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Rated: ASR · Draft · Fantasy · #2296813
An expert from my WIP fantasy novel featuring some pirates getting their comeuppance...
Esther knotted her hands firmly together, refusing to give up. “We must stop the pirate lord escaping.”

Arian paced along the dusky shadow of the harbour wall, rubbing his chin in an agitated motion. “But how? He’s virtually infallible — I mean, his crew never leave his ship. We’ll never take it without much bloodshed.”

Esther pictured the drunken cavorting of the pirates as they celebrated the capture of her ship with relish. It was time to turn the tables. “The pirates do have one weakness. They drink like fish. They speak of it as their curse. Once they’re in the tavern and have swallowed a few barrels worth of rum between them they’ll be putty in our hands.”

Sebashtan’s eyes glinted, betokening another of his hare-brained plans. “A few barrels of rum with a sleeping draught mixed in. It’ll be my gift to them, to celebrate your wedding to the pirate lord’s daughter.” He winked at Rini. “All to be invited. Drink to be sent aboard so any they set to mind the ship won’t be left out.”

Rini exaggerated his soured expression, making laugher tremble on Esther’s lips. “Married to that vapid cow — over my dead body.”

“I’m sure she’d find that very agreeable,” Sebashtan teased.

Rini’s laughter faded into a serious expression. “Actually, Bash, that’s a great idea. We’ll wait until the pirates are drunk, then up their ship’s anchor. Not much chance of them escaping then. They’ll be in the dungeons before they know it.”

As twilight deepened, Esther tiptoed after Rini, enjoying the freedom of movement that came from again donning the striped trousers she had worn as part of her cabin boy disguise. Rini shuffled before her, darkly cloaked, his hunched shoulders exaggerated so he looked like a beggar.

A wedge of light spilled from the tavern, the only brightly lit building along the deserted harbour. Shouts and echoes of coarse song bayed out with the menace of a pack of hunt dogs on the trail. Esther quickened her steps to keep in Rini’s shadow, grateful for his comforting presence.

Rini motioned her to join him. Crouched behind a rotund planter containing an olive tree that was placed beside the door, Esther gripped the chill pebbledash wall of the building, inching her head up until she could peep through the open window. What was usually a neat place lay in disarray — tables overturned and bottles smashed or leaking on the floor. The stench of assortment of unwashed pirates and their sulphurous tobacco made bile rise in Esther’s throat.

Her ears were jostled by hideous, screeching fiddle playing and guffaws.

Lording over the scene was Sebashtan. “Another round on me,” he called.

The quartermaster staggered to his feet. “I’m ‘fraid… Couldn’t possibly… Need to make all ready t’ sail t…” Slumping backwards with the grace of a beached whale, the man tumbled into an easy chair. A snore erupted from his lips, joining the yawns and futile attempts of the pirates to claw at the furniture to keep upright as the sleeping draught took effect.

Rini rubbed his hands with a grin. “All’s ready."

Esther’s bare feet slapped a gleeful rhythm over the cobbled harbour as she ran to the signalling point, letting off the flare that would signal to Rini’s brothers to unanchor the ship. What a picture the pirate lord’s face would be when he tried to flee only to find his ship vanished!

Sat beside Rini on the harbour wall, Esther revelled in the brush of the fresh breeze of evening, the sea salt tang bearing a spirit of adventure. The pirate galleon glided over the waves with the silence of an albatross in flight, heading towards the ocean and oblivion. Above the laughter of the breakers she caught the clunk of oars and crunch of footsteps on the shingle as the brothers returned from their mission, hauling their coracle ashore.

Rini patted her arm, nodding in the direction of the town with grin. A small army of king’s men appeared, moving surprisingly stealthily in their armour as they encircled the tavern, poised to take the pirates prisoner.

Rini unstopped a flask, pouring Esther a measure of what must be geranium tea. The sweet fragrance of the steam tickled her nostrils as she took a sip. “To sobriety and success.”

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