Journal Entry: August Eighth

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Naturally there had to be one more adventure before reaching port. I was visiting with Captain Lot--we were discussing my desire to be back on land, and possibilities at the villa--when one of the interchangeable sailors knocked at the door. “You’d better come see this, Captain.”
Up on deck, Quintin handed over the spyglass. He explained, “She’s been with us all day, and has just turned to intercept. Can’t see her flags, but the wind’s in her favor, so she’ll be upon us soon enough. Should we prepare the cannons?”
Lot peered through the spyglass. “She’s hardly La Luna Negra, boys. Far too light in the water to interest us. I say we hold until she comes alongside.”
It was half an hour at least until she was close enough to Lot to see the markings. He made a noise. “Feh, it’s the Isabella, headed by that so-called Diego the Crow. Remember them, lads?” He turned to explain to me. “I gave them a hand six months ago. Their captain’s a decent sailor, but a lousy leader and a scheming scoundrel. I think he may be getting too big for his britches. Best if you stay away from that lot; they’re hardly genteel.” He waved me off to the other side. I tucked a scarf close around my head and waited as the Isabella sailed closer.
“Ahoy there, White Star. Where’s that captain of yours?” came the shout. It was a young man, scruffy like all the rest, but wearing a long black coat that flapped in the wind. Producing an effect like his namesake, I suppose.
“Here, Diego, if you had wits enough to see him. You look as scurvy as a two-week red shirt on his first voyage. What do you want?” Our captain called back.
“I’ve a business proposition for you. Good profit in it, too, if you’ll let me come over to discuss it.”
“Profit, eh?” Lot made a motion behind his back; Quintin crossed his arms. “Come over and we’ll talk, but I’ll have none of your bilge rats on my deck.”
Two of Diego’s sailors extended grapnels across to pull the ships together. Diego came across with one of his sailors (brawn to Diego’s brain, I suppose). They started talking with the captain and Quintin, their voices too low for me to hear. As the Star’s crew went about their tasks on deck, I snuck closer, hiding partially behind the mast, straining to listen in on the conversation.
“...You turn a fine phrase, Diego, but I don’t see the profit in it for me.” Lot said.
Diego laughed. “I only said ‘profit’, Lot. I didn’t say whose it would be. You’re low in the water with the usual ill-gotten gain. Besides, you’ve got much more on board this ship than meets the eye.”
I gasped as two arms grabbed me roughly from behind and lifted me up off my feet. Before our crew had a chance to react, there I was, locked under one blackguard’s arm with a knife at my throat, while Diego pulled the cutlass from his belt and stalked over to me, one eye still on Lot and Quintin. To them, “Move, and Juan slits her throat. I’ve got my ship’s cannons trained on you, and they’ll fire on my order.” To me, “Now what’s a fair thing like you doing in a place like this, hmm?” He pulled the veil off my head, then grabbed my chin in his hand and brought his face close to mine; his breath stunk of onions. “Light hair; pale hands, pink tipped. You’d fetch a fine price in the market. There’s always rich men looking for an exotic beauty as a mistress, or maybe some shah will add you to his harem.” He let me go suddenly and spun as if he detected someone sneaking up on him. “Now what do you say about our little proposal, captain?” Then as if to help prove his captain’s point, Juan brandished his knife towards them.
That opening was good enough for me. I lifted one foot and brought it down, hard, hearing a satisfying crunch, as I slammed my elbow back into his stomach. That served to loosen his grip on me so that I could duck under his knife arm. As I went by, I grabbed the handle protruding from a scabbard at his belt and drew. That gave him enough time to turn on me, ready to thrust his dagger home, but his bulk made him slow. His sword, though cheap and rather ugly, had a very well-honed edge, as evidenced by the way it cut nicely through flesh and bone when I brought it whipping down at his wrist. I looked up just in time to see Diego’s incredulous expression at me, as both Lot and Quintin pressed in from behind to hold him immobile. All around me I saw the flash of steel as blades appeared out of nowhere to end up in each crewman’s hand. (Funny that--when you’re wearing hardly more than a pair of breeches, where do you keep your sword?) I stepped forward to sweeten the deal, placing my point right in Diego’s face.
“One word,” I said sweetly, “and you’re shark bait.”
Suddenly the air was filled with cheering. No, not from our crew, but from the Isabella. “Skewer him!” Someone cried. “Plank him like a colegiala traviesa!”
“You mutinous wharf rats!” Diego spat. “I’ll teach you to turn on me!”
I didn’t think so.
As it turned out, Diego was not well-favored by his crew due to his always taking a lion’s share of the loot, and his trafficking in slaves. Most of the sailors wanted to get away from piracy and go back to fishing. They were just waiting for a good opportunity to mutiny. Knowing that their was a fair bounty on Diego’s head, they saw him thoroughly trussed in irons and thrown into the brig before they sailed off. Juan they bundled off as well, still covered in blood, though I threw a bandage around his wrist. He’ll probably die unless they had a surgeon on their ship, but it’s out of my hands.
Once we’d seen the stern of the Isabella, Lot turned to me. “May wonders never cease. Where’d you learn to use a sword?”
“I have four brothers, all educated as befits a nobleman. I used to sneak off and watch their lessons, then play by myself with one of the wooden practice swords.” Indeed, how many hours had I cut at bushes and shadows, pretending that I could be just as good as my brothers someday? Of course, ladies never learn how to use a blade.
“I think this lady should learn how to use a blade.” Lot declared. “Mina, remind me to introduce you to our weapons master.”