Beddigan set down the last of the supply bags he and William had been carting to the ship from the small east coast village of Kinson, on the mountainous centre island of Sinnerah. Clottie was already below deck, still resting from her healing. They had stayed three days in the small village, two days longer than any of them had felt comfortable doing, but Clottie had needed the rest to recover from the Blood Bat bites, as well as they had needed to get word to, and then wait for their ride back to Katheyra.
He didn’t know if it was fate or luck, but a few of the local fisherman knew of Captain Linley upon his asking and were able to get the captain a message from him. He had been most relieved to get the return message from the peculiar little Badger, stating that the captain would make his way to pick them up immediately. Since it would be a couple of days before Linley would arrive, Beddigan had agreed to the lot of them getting rooms at the single Inn in the village to wait and rest up.
The respite had done them all well. Even Ragnon was beginning to heal and gain some strength back. Well rested, well-fed, and eager to return to Katheyra, Beddigan smiled to his compatriots who were lounging against the ship’s railing.
“That’s the last of it. I’ll run tell Linley and then we can be off!” he said happily, seeing his eagerness to leave echoed on William, Shianne, and Ragnon’s faces. He wound his way across the deck, up to the rear of the Fillsner’s Muse where Linley stood upon his usual crate, looking out at the water over the ship’s massive wheel.
“Ah, Beddigan. All loaded up then?” the little Badger asked with a large grin. Beddigan nodded and smiled,
“Yes, captain. All set to go.” Captain Linley nodded and started to bark orders to the crew, and soon the sails were unfurled and filling with wind as the boat pushed away from the doc and out to onto the Lorring Sea. Once he had set a course, Linley gave Beddigan a funny look.
“Would you gather your crew, Beddigan? We’ve something to discuss.” Beddigan frowned, and felt his gut twist. He had thanked the Captain and paid him handsomely for the return of him and his companions to Katheyra. He knew better of asking what was up, though, knowing he wouldn’t get an answer until they had all assembled. Nodding brusquely, he headed back towards the bow of the ship where William, Shianne, and Ragnon waited, out of the way of the bustling crew. Beckoning to get their attention he spoke,
“The captain would like to see us all together. I’ll go grab Clottie if you lot want to make your way to the stern of the ship.” They all frowned. William spoke,
“What does he want?” Beddigan shrugged, trying to keep the concern off of his face,
“I haven’t a clue, old friend.” And with that he slipped below decks to retrieve Clottie, leaving the three of them to exchange concerned and puzzled glances.
The door to Clottie’s room creaked as he pushed it in. He was surprised to see his sister sitting on the edge of the bed instead of laying in it. She turned and offered him a weak smile, gesturing at a worn metal bucket placed at her feet.
“Sea travel doesn’t agree with me.” She muttered. Beddigan couldn’t help but chuckle.
“It runs in the family then, I guess.” He offered his sister his hand and she stood. He braced an arm around her shoulders to keep her steady. “Are you feeling alright enough to come up onto the deck? The captain would like a word with us.” He asked, glancing up and down her body and noting, happily, that most of the bites had closed up and were healing nicely. Clottie nodded and he escorted her from the room, up the stairs, and out onto the deck.
It took a moment for her to get her footing with the rocking sway of the ship, but before long his sister was wearing a small smile.
“I love the smell of the sea.” She murmured as they approached the back of the ship and the assembled group of their companions. Captain Linely beamed at them as they arrived.
“Ahh, that’s all of you then. Well done, Beddigan, well done!” the little Badger cackled. Beddigan nodded to the captain and took up a space next to William, leaning back against the ship railing. The Badger was clasping his paws together tightly and beaming at them from under his enormous captain’s hat. “I have wonderful news for you all! We will be taking a slight detour on our way to San Vincent’s Port.” Beddigan frowned,
“What sort of detour? You didn’t say anything about a detour.” He said cautiously, feeling the group collectively tense. He hadn’t let the captain in on all of the details with their present condition of being both wanted and hunted by two country’s armies. The little Badger beamed,
“A most special, momentous endeavor. A trip of a lifetime! And you’re all lucky to be joining my crew for it.” William grumbled in response,
“Joining your crew?” the Bear asked. Shianne made a frustrated sound and snarled,
“We don’t have time for any of your silly little adventures!” Beddigan stepped forward and turned to stand at Captain Linley’s side, to face the rest of them.
“Now hold on just a moment. Linley rushed here to rescue us in our time of need. I’m sure we can find it in ourselves to help him out on whatever this journey is.” The little Badger thumped Beddigan’s back and cackled,
“That’s the spirit, mate! I mean how often can you say you’ve went to the Ranier Islands?” Beddigan felt a rush of dread wash over him as the captain prattled on. “Well, I mean for the crew and you and William, I guess we can say twice, but the rest of this lot! So lucky, bless them.” William’s roar cut off the captain’s cackling.
“You wish to go back there? After we barely escaped with our lives the last time? I was captured, for Annalose and Ardra’s sake!” Ragnon interjected,
“I can’t be going any place where we could be captured. I can’t go back to Mormant.” The Wolf said, wringing his hands nervously. Shianne was unnervingly quiet, Beddigan noted, as was his sister. Turning to the captain he spoke,
“Captain, why are you headed back? It isn’t safe. We aren’t prepared for such an expedition. Ragnon and I are still quite injured from our time in prison, and Clottie has barely begun to heal.” Captain Linley’s eyes sparkled. “And how are you going to breach the mists again?” Beddigan continued, “The crystal went down with the last Fillsner’s Muse, did it not?” The Badger grinned and tugged a golden rope attached to the base of the ship’s giant wheel, with a triumphant flourish.
“We recovered it, of course. Already got her mounted up and ready. I’ll tells you, this rope is worth its weight in gems.”
Beddigan was surprised that the captain had recovered the crystal. He had been sure that it was lost in the fight with the lynx sorcerers. “And as for why we are going back,” the captain continued, “As if you need a good reason.” He chortled. “You should know this, Beddigan!” the little Badger chastised him. “We must rescue the Dragon-born. You promised the elder that you would, or have you forgotten so quickly?” Beddigan winced as all of his companion’s eyes turned to him.
“I uh, I did say that. Though I didn’t intend to do that right now. Or to bring them all along unwillingly.” He said, gesturing at his friends. Shianne pushed forward from the railing and crossed the deck until she was right in front of Captain Linley.
“You may want to rescue these… Dragon-born, and maybe the Mouse does too, but I didn’t sign on for any of this.” She threatened, claws curled into hard fists. William stepped forward as well.
“We are in no position to assist you on this mission. I insist that you take us to San Vincent’s Port first.” Linley waved a hand dismissively and Beddigan groaned inwardly as the murderous look in Shianne’s eyes.
“Oh no, no, definitely not. We must go now. We’ve only a small window to get them out.” Beddigan started to speak, to implore the captain to listen to William and drop his companions off in relative safety first, but the little Badger cut him off before he could even get a sentence out. “It’s already been decided. We’ll be there just shy of nightfall.” William sputtered and Ragnon groaned. Shianne stalked away without another word. Clottie stepped forward,
“If they need rescue, then we must help.” She said softly. William and Ragnon turned to look at her, along with Beddigan and Linley. “I will do all I can to assist.” She continued. Beddigan smiled and stepped towards his sister, gripping her arm in a gesture of support.
“Thank you, sister. I have given my word and I shall keep it. We will be at your side, Captain.” He said turning to face the Badger once more. William grumbled.
“If you ask this of me Beddigan, I shall lend myself to this cause as well.” Beddigan eyed his friend for a moment and bobbed his head in acknowledgement.
“Excellent, excellent!” Linley said as he hopped off his crate and waddled away, muttering to himself. Ragnon eyed them all,
“I’m not sure I’ve a rescue mission in me, gang.” He said apologetically, before slinking away towards the door to the rooms below deck. William gave Beddigan a hard look, and abled away after Ragnon. Clottie looked up at him.
“This is going to be dangerous, isn’t it?” She asked him. Beddigan felt all traces of happiness drain from his face as he nodded grimly,
To be continued…
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