(For the previous chapters, visit the Lady of the Sea‘s main page)
Azov’s pirates had been sailing all night when their captain rounded them up to reveal the news as the sun came up. The big sea bear cleared his throat and tried his best to look cool and collected.
“As you know,” he began, “we have received urgent orders from Her Majesty the Queen for a very specific task. The task, in itself, is fairly simple, but I confess I have been reluctant to share with you the full details… Not so much because of the what, but the where.”
The crew members looked at one another with a furrowed brow. Even Sirsir, the dog, stood in position, listening intently.
“At the Queen’s request, we are to find and bring back a noblem…a parcel of great value, that has long been lost. In order to do so, we must sail South. To the Gleti Islands.”
Everyone on deck went silent as a corpse trapped in a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean. There was a short gust of wind and then, as expected, there was uproar.
“Captain, that is madness!”
“You know we can’t go to the Gleti Islands without crossing the Devil’s Passage!”
“No-one has ever crossed the Devil’s Passage and lived to tell what horrors lie there, but they will surely devour us all!”
Azov waited for the protests to wane but their cries of outrage went on to even frighten the sirens on the nearest coast, so he took a different approach:
The entire sea around them went quiet.
“I understand your concern, gentlemen.” (A soft snigger was heard at the back, at the sound of the word ‘gentlemen’, but Captain Azov continued.) “I know, probably better than most, how dangerous a job this will be and I don’t pretend to feel at ease about it, nor to have taken this decision lightly. But please believe me when I say I would not be asking this of you if it were not a job of the outmost importance.”
The crew remained speechless until a soft cry came from the back.
“What was that? Speak up, man,” said Azov.
Some of the pirates shuffled in their place to let a shabby, wooden-armed pirate go through.
“With yer respect, Captain,” he said, with a light bow, “will there be coin? If we succeed in this… erm… courageous mission, will we receive proper recognition from Her Majesty the Queen?”
Azov smiled slightly underneath his beard.
“My dear fellows… When we succeed in this mission, you will see more coin than you have ever seen in your seafaring lives.”