Kasa Brace, The Crimson Pirate

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Chapter 28


The admiral thought to take all the glory for himself. He wished to be the man that finally takes down the Deadeyes. Kasa didn’t give two shits about glory. This was personal. None of the crew approached her as they flew; they simply worked around as she stood in the center of the main deck and stared angrily to the north. After about an hour, Kleine appeared beside her.

“Captain.”

“What is it,” Kasa spat, venom in her voice.

“You're doing it again.”

“What?”

“Flying angry,” Kleine said, in a calm, patient voice.

Kasa blinked and looked at her first mate.

Kleine returned the look impassively.

Kasa smiled. “You're right, I am. Des, take the wheel.”

“Aye, Captain,” the young shifter said.

“What’s the plan, Captain?” Kleine asked.

“We find that second ship. She was of elven make, most likely stolen from Forgotten Fade.”

“So Turianas, then?”

“Yes. We need to gather some information. If we can track down that ship, we can get another lodestone. Or we can use the ship as a decoy.”

“Turianas it is.”

Several hours later they made port in the elven city less than a hundred miles from the Bals Mountains, the vast mountain range that separated the Faded Forest from Filderes. The city was fair in size and home to around 50,000 people. The buildings were tall with curved, wedge-like roofs that reminded Kasa of orange slices. The structures were constructed of wood and painted in bright greens, reds, and yellows. As they drew near to the port, Kasa activated the ship's cloaking spell through her bond. The entire vessel shimmered in the dimming light of the day and after a few moments the Devil’s Reaper appeared to be a simple Hawk’s Landing-made trade vessel. Nifty gift from the lords of Hawk’s Landing.

Kasa relinquished control to Des for the landing of the ship and pulling into port. She ventured to the bow of the ship and surveyed the other vessels docked in the port. She had hoped that she might happen upon the ship she was looking for, though she knew the chances were slim. To her surprise, the fates were on her side. She recognized the blue ship from their air battle nearly two days before. Kasa smiled; the Hawk’s may have taken the lodestone and her initial plan, but they did not have her wits or cunning.

Kasa returned to the ship's stern and reviewed the maps pinned down on a small, bolted-down table and waited. Des brought Devil’s Reaper in smoothly and the large vessel’s reentry was barely perceptible to all but Kasa. Kleine and Elie appeared at Kasa’s sides.

“Kleine, send out crew with orders not to get to so sloshed that they won’t be able to perform at a moment's notice.

“Aye, Captain.”

“Elie, I want you and Kritis to gather some information. You see that ship over yonder?” Kasa pointed at the blue ship on the other side of the dock some 300 yards away. “I need you to find out who the captain is and where they are entertaining themselves tonight.”

“And where do you wish us to bring this information?” Elie asked.

“Madre’s Sweets. It's a tavern just south of here. Can’t miss it, just follow the smell of fresh bread. It's the only tavern ever to have a bakery.”

“I know the one.”

“Good. I’ll see you there in about two hours.”

Elie nodded and darted off to grab Kritis. Kasa returned to her chambers and gathered her hat, coat, and three weapons. She instructed Kleine to watch over Devil’s Reaper and departed the vessel. She ventured through the torch- and glowstone-lit streets to Madre’s. As she walked, she attempted to puzzle out what she would do. The act of simply acquiring a lodestone would not be sufficient. She had to assume that Winston, or at least those under his command, knew every ship that entered the cove. Even Reaper’s cloaking spell would not aid them in fooling a town full of pirates that it belonged there.

There was the possibility of scouting out the place, locating the sky entrance on foot and making preparations. If they found a good spot to hide Devil’s Reaper, she and the others could do a ground assault at the same time the Hawks would arrive. That was an idea, go with her original plan, just without the coordination with the Hawk’s navy. The question then would be to either wait for Winston to retreat or enter the cove and lay waste to the town below.

Kasa turned a corner and sensed the danger immediately. Docks were the same no matter the country. Kasa took a short step back as the man in tattered, dirty clothing attempted to stab her. She thrust a foot forward, knocking the man’s overcommitted stab away from her. She surged forward and seized the man by the neck and planted her belt knife against the man’s kidney.

“Do you make a habit out of stabbing people in the street?”

“I...I…” the attacker stammered.

This was not the first time since the events that took place in Hawk’s Landing that someone had try to kill her, though she had not expected someone from so far north to attempt it. That lingering problem back in the city she was born in would have to be taken care of. Just not now, not when Winston still breathed.

“Who hired you?”

“No one, I swear, no one,” he lied.

Kasa knew he was lying and forced a bit of her will upon him. The man relaxed, only wincing a little as the blade of Kasa’s belt knife cut into his tight, sun-tanned skin.

“Mistress,” he cooed.

“That’s better. Who hired you?”

“It was a man in fancy dress; he spoke with a southern accent.”

“What were his instructions?”

“If I ever saw a she-devil with your markings, I was to kill ‘em and then make contact for my reward. You smell so nice, mistress.”

“Thank you, my pet. I will let you live, but if I see you again I will end you.”

Kasa let the man go. He ran down the alley fearfully. Kasa withdrew Blood Biter and trained it on the man. She had only second to decide whether the man got to live.

“One problem at a time,” she said as she fired the poisoned bolt down the darkened alley. There was a faint cry followed by a thud. Kasa resumed her walk to Madre’s. The City Watch would be around soon and she didn’t want to be within bow shot of the incident. A few minutes later she entered what could be considered the cleanest tavern in all of the Cradle. Mardre ran her tavern like it was her home. Everyone was a guest and was expected to act accordingly; if they didn’t, her twin titan bouncers, Remis and Rymis, showed a violator the back door violently. Kasa took a seat at one of the tables facing the door and ordered a raspberry ale and a slice of Madre's apple pie while she waited to hear back from Kritis and Elie.

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