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The Seahawk: Chapter Two

April 20, 2011

 

The Seahawk:

Chapter Two

 

          “Captain Marlowe! So very good to see you. Please do come in and make yourself at home,” a cheery, older woman exclaimed as the two companions entered the inn. “And who is this?”

          “Always a pleasure, Eliza. This is my first mate, Hermia,” December replied, returning Eliza’s warm smile.

          “Oh, Hermia, it’s so good to meet you. I’ve long thought Captain Marlowe has needed a second hand to keep her out of trouble.”

          Hermia, still somewhat disgruntled by the situation, curtly nodded at Eliza. “It’s a difficult task, but I suppose someone has to do it,” she said and rolled her eyes.

          “So it is. Ha, ha! Can I show you ladies to the bar?”

          “Actually,” December cut in, “we’re here to see a guest of yours. Room Seven, I believe?”

          Eliza froze on the spot and bit her lower lip, her double chins trembling as she nodded. “Shall I…shall I show you the way?” she asked with a shiver.

          “We know you’re a busy woman, Eliza. No worries. We’ll show ourselves up. Well, First Mate? Shall we?”

          “Aye, Captain.” Hermia grumbled.

          Eliza stepped aside to let them down the hallway to the stairwell, and the two began the climb up to the second floor, the wood creaking with each step they took.

          The curtains had all been drawn on the second floor, and all eight of the doors had been tightly shut. December’s hand moved instinctively to the hilt of her sword, and Hermia fidgeted with her hair as they approached Room Seven.

          “Remember, no murdering anyone,” December whispered.

          Hermia took a deep breath and tossed her braid back over her shoulder. “I know. Let’s just make this quick, ok?”

          The door swung open before December could raise her hand to knock, and they were greeted by a man no taller than four feet. He wore a scarf tied over his eyes and full-length wool robes. He seemed to gaze at the two of them through the scarf, and he cocked his head to the side.

          “You will leave your weapons with me, Captain. You, too, Prophetess. There will be no bloodshed today.” His voice was hoarse, as though he had not used it in a long time.

          December and Hermia unclipped their swords from their belts and handed them to the tiny man.

          “All of them, gentlewomen.”

          They both sighed as December produced two daggers from her boots and one from the back of her belt, and Hermia removed her breast dagger and another one from inside her sleeve.

          “Very good. She is waiting for you. Follow me.” He placed their blades on a table by the door and led them into a side room. Hermia glanced uneasily back at their weapons one last time before the second door closed behind them.

          The man approached a woman sitting in the far corner and whispered something to her before he excused himself and hurried from the chamber.

          “Prophetess, is this any way to greet a superior? You should know there’s no reason to arm yourself so when you come visit me.”

          December’s jaw dropped as Hermia knelt upon the floor and lowered her head in submission. “I’m sorry, Great One, if my companion and I offended you, but we were only armed because it’s part of our station in life. Please, I beg your forgiveness.” She shot December a meaningful look, and the captain fell to her knees as well.

          “You both may rise. You are forgiven this time, but don’t make this mistake again. Captain Marlowe, we have business to attend to, I believe?”

          December quickly stood back up, and Hermia followed, though she still kept her head bowed.

          “You want something I have, do you not?”

          “Yes, Ma’am,” December replied. “I surely do.”

          “What price are you willing to pay?”

           “I have a map for you. Call it an even trade. My map will lead you to a handsome sum of gold and treasure my First Mate and I buried ourselves, and yours, well, you know where it leads, and I want to go there.”

          “Ha! This is hardly an even trade. I offer you the power of the Divine, and you offer me material goods?”

          “December, what are you two talking about?” Hermia hissed.

          “Prophetess, you should already know. I suppose if you’d stayed within the temple, you would. But you gave up that privilege when you left, didn’t you?”

          “I suppose that’s true, though I still See when I need to.”

          “Prophetess, we are discussing the Gate of the Gods and the route you must follow to get there.”

          Hermia’s eyes widened.

          “I am tickled by your interest in these matters, Captain Marlowe. I will accept your map in exchange for my own. Should you find the Gate, though I doubt you will, please send my best to the Divine.”

          “Ah, good lady, you must remember who you’re talking to. I am Captain December Marlowe, and I am one of the best navigators you’ll meet. And, as you have already pointed out, I’ve got a Prophetess of the High Order helping me along. I will, indeed, bid the Divine good day on your behalf,” December chuckled as she handed the woman the map she’d brought along and tucked the new parchment into her tunic.

          “Well, then, I do wish you luck. You will need it. Go now. We are done here.”

          Suddenly the tiny man was back in the room patiently waiting by the open door.

“Ladies,” he croaked, “come this way, please.”

          The two of them followed him out into the small entrance area of the suite and rearmed themselves before they stepped back into the hallway.

          Once they were outside, Hermia scowled at her captain. “I’m so angry with you right now,” she grumbled.

          December removed the map from her pocket and grinned. “Come on, Hermia! It’s gonna be fun. We’re both filthy rich, we’ve got treasure hidden on almost all of the islands farther than the eye can see. We don’t need material things anymore. We need adventure!”

          “Or maybe retirement.”

          “How about this: if we find the Gate, we’ll retire in heaven. If we don’t find the Gate, we’ll retire anyway, and I’ll personally ensure you’re pampered for the rest of your days.”

          “I only want to be served by naked men,” Hermia smirked.

          “Deal,” December giggled and skipped off toward the Seahawk.

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