[For the previous chapters, check the Lady of the Sea‘s main page]
All the ship’s crew was up and gathered around the rear. They were chattering and pointing excitedly, as if they couldn’t believe their eyes.
Azov walked towards them, looking very annoyed. This was no attack, or else they would all be in their posts and battle cries would be echoing into the horizon.
“Captain! Captain!”, cried a young pirate, running towards him.
“What is it man? What is all the fuss about?”
“A ship, sir! With the royal flag! Coming our way.”
Azov, the Captain Pirate, froze for a split second. A royal ship in their direction? Why on earth for? Could the Queen be aboard? Surely not. Her Royal Highness wouldn’t come herself, she always sends representatives, get a hold of yourself man and start breathing properly. You are the mighty Azov, feared and respected in the seven seas. A leader. A bear. You do not go weak in the knees for a pale monarch.
He walked towards the rear and there it was. It was a small galliot, so there would certainly be no monarchs aboard. But the white flag was up, so Azov ordered that the ship would change direction to meet the strangers.
Both ships closed in on each other and a very tall, thin man cried,
“We come in peace! Her Royal Majesty the Queen wishes to send a message to Captain Azov! Requesting permission to come aboard.”
Azov’s pirates put out the wooden boards to connect both ships. A young man came out, notoriously nervous, and walked on to the other ship. The crossing went well, but he tripped on his last step to the pirate’s ship, and fell flat on his face with a noise that sounded louder than he did. To his surprise, a couple of pirates helped him up.
Azov was growing impatient.
“What is it boy? Speak up.”
“A message from Her Royal Majesty the Queen for Captain Azov, sir.”
“Yes, we know that already. Go on with it boy.”
“It is sealed, sir,” he said, stretching out a letter. “The Queen ordered that only you were to read it, sir.”
Azov took the letter off the boy’s trembling hands and broke the seal. He felt a little ashamed to notice that his heart warmed a little in seeing his Queen’s handwriting once more. But then he noticed there wasn’t much handwriting to admire.
It is time.
It was all she wrote. “It is time”, undersigned HRM Isola.
All the pirates had now gathered around their captain, in silent suspense. And at that moment, they all saw the same thing: Azov’s face turning more grim than they had ever seen it.