Beddigan woke, blinking against the dim light filtering into the room from a slit underneath the door. His head was pounding. He found his hands tied behind his back, when he instinctively tried to raise a hand to what he was sure was a large, throbbing bump on the back of his head. Slowly, the whole ordeal on the boat with Aliott came drifting back. The daggers had been removed from the wounds in his shoulder and leg and had been bandaged while he had been knocked out. He felt the familiar roll of ocean, and realized he was again in the belly of a ship, somewhere at sea. I’ve had enough sea travel for a lifetime, he thought, turning his wrists against the rope that bound them, searching for a weakness. He struggled to get to his feet, his whole body aching from being slumped in the tiny, windowless room. His sword and dagger were both missing, along with his coin and crystals pouches. The room was bare except for a burlap sack of oranges, leaving him little to free himself with.
He heard heavy footfalls beyond the door and the murmuring of conversation. With a bark of chucking laughter, the door flew open and light streamed into the room. Beddigan blinked hard as his eyes adjusted, until Aliott’s face came into clear view. The badger was grinning at him in the most irksome manner.
“Well you’re awake then. Finally!” Aliott chuckled. A couple of other badgers that Beddigan couldn’t recall having ever seen, flanked his foe and chuckled along.
“Apologies for the inconvenience of a late sleep, though if memory serves, you had a hand in putting me out.” Beddigan said with a smirk. Aliott’s grin turned into a frown,
“Not just a hand, I put you out cold all myself. The great Beddigan T. Mouze, outwitted by a simple fisherman’s son.” His cohorts cheered and patted Aliott on the back. Beddigan waited for them to quiet,
“I highly doubt any of this was your idea, but children do like to play dress up, so go ahead, tell me more about how you bested me.” Aliott’s face twisted in anger and his hand shot out, clocking Beddigan in the face, adding to his already pounding headache. He slumped against the wall a moment, the room spinning. Hands gripped his arms hauling him out of the little room and through the innards of the ship, Aliott stalking ahead of them. They stopped at the foot of the stairs leading up to the ship’s deck.
“I’ll take him from here boys.” Aliott ordered as he turned to face Beddigan. The other men drifted back in to the ship. “Turn around.” He ordered Beddigan who turned slowly, so his back was to Aliott. He heard the telltale scrape of a dagger sliding from its sheath. A moment of fear, followed swiftly by the tug and scrape of the dagger against the bonds holding his wrist, and Beddigan breathed a sign of relief. Once his wrists were free, he rubbed them softly, his fur tinged a deep read where they had chafed him. He turned back to face Aliott.
“Why take me captive just to free me?” he questioned. Aliott tossed the bloody bonds aside and sheathed his dagger with a grin.
“You are not free. You will never be free again. But we hardly need an unarmed mouse in bonds, according to Captain Marlog anyways. I’d have left you trussed up at least a bit longer.” Beddigan’s frown deepened as Aliott lead him up the stairs and onto the busy ship’s deck. The ship bobbed and rolled in the waves and Beddigan could see only more sea on the horizon; not a speck of land in sight. As Aliott lead him towards the back of the ship, Beddigan surveyed the crew, looking for any familiar or pleasant faces for the escape he knew he would need to organize. Unfortunately, few met his eyes at all and those that did smiled cruelly.
Aliott drug Beddigan up a couple of stairs and tossed him roughly on to the deck,
“As you requested, Captain, the mouse.” Beddigan winced as two paws gripped his injured arm and yanked him to his feet. He stood before a tall, lean wolf, dressed in tan breeches, a long navy doublet, and a white collared shirt. Gleaming black boots and a broad black hat with a white feather completed the look. Pirates, Beddigan thought with a grimace. The wolf’s teeth gleamed as he looked over him,
“Not just a mouse, dear boy, a very famous mouse, indeed.” Beddigan held his expression carefully neutral. It was rare to see a wolf outside of Mormant that was not a part of the army. “Though from your meager possessions, you must keep your wealth locked up somewhere.” Beddigan didn’t answer. Aliott spoke,
“According to my sister he is pretty near the top adventurer. No family to speak of. Should have quite a pretty fortune built up somewheres.” Captain Marlog’s smile turned a bit sharper as he turned to Aliott,
“Do not presume to educate me, boy. I know more that you will ever know about Sir Beddigan.” Beddigan’s shoulders sunk down. He had hoped that Captain Marlog was only in it for his money, and didn’t know of his past. For all he knew they were sailing towards Mormant right now. His eyes lingered on a dagger hanging on Aliott’s belt.
“Just Beddigan.” he said. The wolf barked out laughter,
“It speaks!” The laughter continued on and Beddigan started to formulate a hasty plan to get the dagger from Aliott. Captain Marlog interrupted his thoughts, “You mice always have to stick your noses in where they don’t belong. Though I don’t blame you for following that pretty little badger back to Marcine Bay.” Beddigan heard Alliot’s laughter cease.
“For someone who seems to know so much about me,” Beddigan said, directing his full attention at the Captain, “I am surprise you had your boy here unbind me. You should know I have no need of weapons.” Marlog chuckled at him.
“You definitely have the arrogance that precedes you, but you have no chance of escape.” Beddigan chuckled back,
“I have escaped far worse.” Captain Marlog nodded, his laughter fading,
“Aye, this you have. This we share. Though I have a feeling you underestimate me, Beddigan.” Beddigan dodged to the left, covering a grimace of pain and snatched the dagger from Aliott’s belt sheath, twisting the young badger around and holding the point of the dagger to his neck.
“Perhaps you are the one underestimating things, Captain.” with a swish of his doublet, Captain Marlog fished out a pouch and plucked a crystal from it. Beddigan’s eyes widened as he saw the crystal glint in the sunlight, the colour of hot blue flame. Mist formed and started to thicken the air round the ship. The boat rocked harder as the waves spun around them. With a roar and a font of sea water, a kraken split the surface, it’s tentacles reaching up high over the ships mast. The dagger Beddigan had been holding clattered to the ship’s deck, and Aliott quickly broke his hold, moving out of reach. Captain Marlog turned to look at Beddigan, with the kraken framed dramatically behind him, looking shadowy and dark in the growing mist.
“I think not, Beddigan. I think not.”
Bedigan sat in a plush chair, across a wide desk, littered with papers and maps, from Captain Marlog. His head was still spinning from the encounter with the kraken, a beast which he had never seen before, that was clearly controlled by the pirate. Another mysterious crystal, like the one Shianne had used to put William to sleep. Likely from the Ranier Islands, Beddigan thought. How are people getting there?, he wondered.
After a few scribbles on a map, Captain Marlog returned his pen to the fountain and looked across the desk at Beddigan, reclining back in his seat. They were alone in the Captain’s quarters, the rest of the crew out sailing the ship. He had overheard they were headed to a rendezvous point but had been too distracted to remember where.
“I know your fear, Beddigan. It is written all over your face.” Beddigan frowned in response,
“I haven’t had the best of experiences on the business end of an armed wolf.” he retorted. Marlog laughed,
“That isn’t the fear. You know you are worth more to me healthy than damaged or dead.” Beddigan looked at his wounds pointedly in response,
“So these stab wounds were necessary?” he questioned, voice laced with sarcasm. Marlog frowned,
“No, that Aliott is a bit of a wild card. A bit unhinged, really.” Beddigan sat in silence. “Irregardless, the fear is much larger than wounds. I know that fear. The fear of being gift-wrapped and sent to Strille, to face your tormenters. To lose your war.” Beddigan caught a curiously sad glint in the Captain’s eyes.
“What would you know of it, wolf? I know Mormant frowns upon defector’s but a wolf’s blood still runs pure, does it not?” The Captain pushed back from his desk, getting up to stretch and pace, peering out the windows.
“Let’s just say you and I have more in common than you think. I would be no more welcome than you in Strille.” Beddigan was shocked but retained his composure.
“So what have you been doing with these disappearing fishermen? This has been going on far too long for you to simply be searching to bait me?” The Captain plunked back into his chair, propping his legs up on the desk.
“There is money in selling ships to Mormant. And slaves. And with the kraken, it is fast and easy to moved the product across the Lorring Sea.” Beddigan nodded along,
“But I thought you said Mormant had no love for you any longer?” Captain Marlog smiled ferally,
“They know better than to mess with a kraken.” Beddigan couldn’t help but smile.
“Fair enough. So, what am I here for then? If you aren’t going to turn me in to Mormant, what purpose do I have for you?” Captain Marlog grinned, and then let the grin fade away.
“Originally I just needed you out of the way, as to keep this endeavor going. Then, when Aliott brought you in and let me know your name, I was planning to let you off with your life in exchange for the vast majority of your fortune. But now, dear Beddigan, I have grown quite fond of you. I suggest we make a deal.” Beddigan frowned,
“A deal? What sort of deal?” Captain Marlog sprung up from his chair and moved around the desk, resting his hands upon Beddigan’s shoulders.
“I let you go, with all the belonging your came aboard with, and you don’t tell a soul about this ship, her captain, or the crystal he carries. And should we cross paths again, you owe me a favour.” Beddigan stared across the desk, feeling the wolf’s paws on his shoulders, thinking over the words Marlog had just said.
“An enticing offer, Captain Marlog, but I do have one condition.” Marlog lifted his paws from Beddigan’s shoulders and walked around the desk again.
“Speak it then.” Beddigan stood,
“You leave Marcine Bay alone and trouble the fishermen from there no more.” Captain Marlog frowned a moment, stroking his chin while he though over Beddigan’s counter offer. He stretched his paw across the desk with a flash of his teeth in a grin,
“Deal.” Beddigan reached across and shook, ignoring the pain in his wrists. Captain Marlog lead him out of his quarters and back on to the sunny deck of the ship, calling out,
“Alliot! Here boy, now.” Alliot came loping towards them.
“Aye Captain, shall I bind and toss the mouse back in his hole?” he questioned with a sneering look at Beddigan. Morlag shook his head,
“Fetch his gear and ready one of the smaller boats. Beddigan will be leaving us.” Aliott gaped at his Captain,
“Leave us? You’re just letting him go?” he yelped. Marlog reached forward, grabbing a handful of the badgers tunic and hauling him up close.
“Was that you just questioning my orders, welp?” Aliott shook his head wildly,
“No, sorry Sir. I misspoke!” he begged. The Captain tossed him down on to the deck, snarling,
“Do as I say.” Aliott scrambled to his feet.
“This way Sir Beddigan.” he sneered. Beddigan followed the young badger as he disappeared below decks. He hadn’t time to let his eyes adjust before he reached the bottom of the stairs, but caught the flash of silver as a sword swung towards his face. He quickly ducked and rolled out of the way, the sword sinking into the wooden handrail of the stairs. Aliott snarled and threw a dagger, while trying to yank the sword free of the hand rails grip. Beddigan dodged that as well just as Aliott wrenched his sword loose. Beddigan was backed into a corner and the young badger was stalking closer.
“The Captain is a fool to let you go. He will thank me for this.” Just before Aliott could swing his sword at Beddigan, his eyes grew wide and his body stiffened. He fell forward, the sword clattering to the ground, and Beddigan saw Marlog standing just behind him. Blood darkened the badger’s tunic where the hilt of a long dagger still jutted out.
“Foolish boy.” The Captain muttered before turning away. Two other badger’s drug the body away and another retrieved his belongings. Beddigan sighed as he strapped his sword and pouches back on, his fingers digging into the coin pouch absentmindedly.
That evening, after a long row on a small boat, Beddigan finally reached the boardwalk of Marcine Bay. It was nearly dark and just a single lantern blew in the wind as he tied the little boat up and started the grueling climb to the village above. Once up top he walked slowly, exhausted from the journey, towards the Inn. The door burst open and Ashryn flew through the night towards him.
“Beddigan! You’re Alive!” It occurred to him that he had no idea how long he had been gone. Ashryn flung her arms around him. People were trailing out of the Inn to cluster around them. Ashryn drew back, her eyes brimming with tears,
“What of Aliott?” Beddigan placed a hand on her shoulder,
“I’m sorry Ashryn. He was lost in the battle. But he fought valiantly. You should be very proud.” His gut tightened at such a lie but there was no harm in it. Ashryn nodded, tears trickling down her cheeks. Beddigan puller her into his arms again and let he sob a moment before gently pushing her into the open arms of an older sow. Addressing the crowd now, he spoke,
“After much battle we were able to drive the great serpent off. Your waters are safe once again. No more of your people shall go missing.” The crowd swept him and Ashryn out of the windy night air into the warm Inn. Your secrets safe with me Marlog, he thought as he sat and started to spin the tale for the townspeople.
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