Eothren Gerothrik than dor Godhrik älkvadi dor Leunes Than Breastal Beredant!”
The loud calls of the guards drowned the creaking of the doors as King
Gerothrik XIV came out of the palace. Then another deafening roar answered the
guards as the huge crowd on the town square answered the guards:
“Äla Eothren Gerothrik!”
A faint shadow of a smile adorned his fair features when he faced his
people but a moment later it was back to the same old mask of stone. He raised
his right hand and greeted the crowd and then he turned to the left flanked by
“Äla Eothren Gerothrik!”
The calls followed him all the way to the carriage that would take him to
Port Stedden and the voices echoed in his mind long after the town square was
out of sight.
the while two men had stayed hidden in an alley just within sight of the town
square. Silently they had contemplated the scene until the carriage had
disappeared among the winding streets of the city.
“What does that gibberish mean anyway?” the youngest one of them
asked. He was a slender man in his late teens with freckles and clever blue eyes
hidden behind a brown fringe.
“Hail King Gerothrik, son of Godhrik, loved by the Son of the Lion,
Breastal the Brightest”, the other man replied dryly. He seemed to be a few
years older than the youngling and had dark eyes and jet-black hair.
“But why do they use the ancient speech?”
“High Tongue it is, Celi, remember that, or you´ll get your head
“Oh well, High Tongue, but why?”
“Would the people accept everything they heard if they understood
“No… of course not, Andres.”
The man who went by the name Andres nodded absentmindedly and fingered on
his pistol; it had three pipes and fired using the new flintlock mechanism. It
was one of his most prized possessions, or the most prized possession rather.
Andres wasn´t known for being an affectionate person, or to have emotions at
all. That´s why “the Wolf” as they called him was one of the most feared
pirates to sail the seas.
“Should we… you know… get on with it then?” Celi asked in a voice
that had lost all the confidence it had had moments ago. He tried to catch the
gaze of Andres who threw a dark and foreboding glance at him.
“Are you sure you can do it?”
“We have went through this about five times already!”
“But still you haven´t faced a pistol ready to fire or a naked blade
for that matter. You haven´t killed, Zidraxa the Younger”, Andres snarled.
“But my father is in there!”
“And you might get him killed.”
Celi swallowed his retort and turned away. “You expect I will be a
burden and nothing else, don´t you?”
“You have finally gotten the point, boy.”
“Hey! You are just five years older than me.”
“And I held the decapitated head of my father in my hands when I was a
child of six years.”
Celi cursed loudly and kicked at an empty barrel that rolled away.
“What do you want me to do, Andres? I am not my father. I am not Ranceschi
Zidraxa. I am not Captain Scarlet, Scourge of the Seas. But I am his damn son
and I won't stand here listening to your bloody insults!” He turned around
again and faced Andres with his sabre pointing at Andres´ heart.
A grim smile passed over Andres´ features. “That's the spirit, Celi. I
don't want to hear any more cracked voices or childish whines. Let's get it over
a fate for the renowned Captain Scarlet”, Ranceschi Zidraxa laughed bitterly.
“At least the king came here all the way from Port Stedden to sign our
death sentence”, his First Mate Feran smiled.
The two infamous pirates sat packed together like fish in a barrel in the
smallest cell imaginable. The only source of light (and fresh air for that
matter) was a narrow opening below the door. All the better though, thought
Ranceschi who couldn´t bear seeing their miserable defeat. He was far too proud
to rot away in a little cell, or to be hanged as he would tomorrow. No, Ranceshi
wanted to go out with a bang, and a huge one at that, at least taking the
Steodian king with him. But dying like this… it was wrong! Wrong! It
was what he had always feared. To be a nobody, an outcast, like he had been born
to. He was a half-blood, a bastard; the son of an Acchian wench and a Xamanišian
pirate, brought up among thieves and murderers in Port Stedden together with his
younger brother Lavvigi, not knowing the ancient cultures of any of his parents.
He had always admired the culture of Xamāniš though, dressed up in their
attire, venerated their gods, but not actually knowing anything about it, never
coming near its borders. He was a man without an identity, and that was what he
had always hated about himself.
“Do you really think Andres betrayed us?” Feran asked suddenly.
“I wouldn't put that above him. You have seen the look in his eyes as
he tears out the hearts of his enemies. He is cold-blooded and vile… that is
what I always respected about him. But still, to betray his captain, and
comrades. I didn´t expect him to do that.”
“No, that would be me, wouldn't it?” Feran chuckled in his usual
unsettling voice. And Ranceschi couldn´t but agree. Feran who had once been a
Steodian admiral and betrayed his brother was the only one that he had feared,
and never truly trusted. And here we are sitting like brothers, waiting for
our doom. How did this happen? Those kind of questions was what had plagued
Ranceschi in the endless hours of waiting for his execution. How had he, the
young and proud half-blood seeking an identity, ended up among cold-blooded
murderers and traitors? The thought that he was one, as well as his men, hadn't
really got hold of his mind though… yet.
“At least I hope they paid him well, we'd be worth our weight in gold,
no?” Feran said.
“Or maybe we weren't useful to him anymore. We owed him a lot…”
Feran sighed deeply. “I just hope my brother won't be there tomorrow.
To see his confident smirk as I stand there before the gallows…”
“Of course the swine will be there to witness the execution of the men
he have hunted for over five years. If only I could have taken him with me…”
Feran nodded in the dark and leaned back against the wall.
Arbed couldn't help but pity those pirates. He had heard so much about them,
lost a brother to their plundering, but seeing them like this; broken and
wounded, holed up in tiny little cells. And their gazes, the shattered pride
looking upon him each time he opened one of their doors to give them food. He
tried to tell himself that they deserved it; but no one deserved to rot away in
the stench of their own sweat, blood and excrement like that.
But now it was time again, sunset was approaching and they needed their
supper, their last supper. Two guards were flanking him as he walked through the
dark and dank corridor, in the deepest caves below Fort Erestan.
“Does that even deserve to be called food?” he asked loudly as he
stopped in front of the first door and started fumbling with his keys. The
soldier who held the tray with the bowls was silent as the grave. Bah, simple
brutes, he thought to himself. He found the right key and opened the lock.
“Give me two of those bowls”, he mumbled absentmindedly.
“I don't think so.”
There was a vicious snarl, the crashing of broken pottery and the sound
of metal tearing through flesh. But no one could hear the death screams of poor
Arbed as the flame of his life went out in the caverns below Fort Erestan.
city of Aterielli was the largest in Acchia except the capital itself. While
being famous for its size and beauty, most often it was renowned as being a
haven of thieves, prostitutes and pirates. The inhabitants were used to it, most
of them even enjoyed a drunken brawl every now and then. But some nights were
different, some nights were worse, and as the inhabitants saw the black and
white sails of the Inquisitor against the sunset they knew that this would
become such a night. Captain Rochar had arrived.
“The Red Shark as usual, Cap’n?” a swarthy sailor in his late 20s
asked as he put out the gangplank.
“Of course, Arkon”, the Captain replied dryly. Captain Ean Rocharson
was tall and imposing, with weather-beaten features and a red beard. He had lost
both an eye and a leg but the wooden clanking, and the fiery gaze of his
remaining eye made him seem more menacing rather than frail. Slowly and with a
loud clank for every step he walked ashore followed by his First Mate Šaryad;
an elderly man with foreign features and dark eyes, and his Quartermaster
Hurricane; who had never revealed any other name; he was dressed up in elegant
attire and had jet-black hair and weren't it for the sickly pallor of his skin
he would have been very beautiful. A wickedly smiling woman and five other men
followed the three ashore.
“No one seems to be here to welcome us”, Šaryad said in his strange
accent as he surveyed the empty harbour. He chuckled loudly and scratched a scab
on his chin.
“And you are surprised?” Ean smirked. “I am content as long as they
have rum at the Red Shark.
atta, rei cazzianat?” a young and attractive barmaid asked as they entered the
“Cut that Acchian crap, wench”, Ean snarled. He grabbed her wrist and
pulled her towards him. “Rum. For all of us. Nine”, he hissed.
“Eight”, Hurricane added. Ean glanced at him and shrugged his
shoulders. Then he pushed her away violently and continued striding into the
tavern. It was quite large with about a dozen tables but the blazing fire seemed
to suck out all air of the room.
“Get the damn out of here ye bloody landlubbers! Captain Rochar has
come”, Arkon shouted from behind Ean and as one the guests stood up and left,
careful not to get too close to any of the pirates. The innkeeper sighed deeply
and shrugged his head.
“What be that good for, Ean?” he asked in a thick Acchian accent.
“Tonight those could have drinked much.”
“Well, I guess that means we have to drink the more then”, Ean
“So hope I. And hands off girls mine!”
Ean nodded absentmindedly as he sat down at one of the tables. On the
other side sat the only person who had not went out as they entered. He had long
black hair and a wooden leg, just as Ean. He sipped calmly on his glass of wine
as the others sat down around him.
“Diggha atta, Iriel. Any
news in Aterielli?”
“There are always news in Aterielli”, Iriel replied with an enigmatic
“Of course… so what do you have to tell?”
“The news yes”, Iriel smirked. “I bet you will like this; The Wyrm
has been intercepted.”
“What?” Ean nearly flipped over the table. The barmaid who had
carefully approached with their rum quickly took a few steps back. “When? How?”
“Now, calm down a little”, Iriel smiled. “She was taken about two
weeks ago. A certain Commodore Dreagan (a young upstart from what I´ve heard)
caught them off guard as they were boarding an Acchian cog somewhere south of
“And what happened to Captain Scarlet?”
“He was taken alive, along with most of his comrades according to my
sources. They are probably rotting away in New Erestan right now, if they
haven't been hanged already.”
“And the Wyrm?”
“Maybe they will make a Steodian schooner of her, I don’t know.”
Ean sighed deeply. “Not a fitting end for Captain Scarlet.”
“What would have been a better fate then?”
“The edge of my cutlass for example.”
“If you would have gotten there before me that is”, Šaryad grunted.
“Oh, I always thought ´blood was thicker than water` as they say”,
“True that is”, Šaryad glanced at the hook that replaced his left
hand, “both for affection, and hatred.”
Iriel chuckled and took a sip of his wine. “I bet none of you two would
have matched his fencing skills anyway.”
“You´d better watch your tongue, landlubber”, Ean replied with a
“Landlubber? It´s just been… oh well, three years.”
“Yes, don't you miss life at sea?”
“Nah…” he knocked on his wooden leg, “with this I feel better
“Bah, you´re just lazy. I have one as well.”
“Yes, indeed. But you are obsessed.”
door to the cell slowly opened with a loud creaking. Ranceschi sighed deeply and
glanced at Feran who shrugged his shoulders with a smirk adorning his face.
“Probably the last time we have to eat that worthless food”,
“Why not die hungry instead?”
“Indeed…” Ranceschi laughed bitterly and stood up as the door
“We don't want no bloody food”, he shouted in the face of the soldier
“Stop that shouting”, the soldier retorted in a spine-chilling hiss.
“Or do you want the guards to hear?”
“The…” At that moment Ranceschi saw that the guard’s hand was
covered in blood. He stepped back and nearly fell over Feran who lazily looked
up. Then he saw the dead body of a lieutenant lying in its own blood just
outside the door. “What?”
“Explanations later, you are free, be content with that”, the man
said. Then he took off his hat and let a long mane of dark red hair fall down on
his shoulders. “My name is Gwyddaen. Well met, Captain.”
Ranceschi just stared stupidly at the stranger called Gwyddaen for a
moment. Then he nodded and strode out of the cell. “Come on, Feran, time to
Feran chuckled loudly and shrugged his head as he stood up. “Now that
was unexpected… thanks I guess.”
Gwyddaen just shrugged his head and handed a cutlass to Ranceschi and a
pistol to Feran. Meanwhile another man was opening the other doors and within a
minute seven others had come out. All of them were battered and bruised but
nothing too serious by the looks of it. Ranceschi quickly embraced his brother
Lavvigi and then he turned to Gwyddaen:
“And what now?”
“I know of a secret passage out of here”, Gwyddaen said. Then he
looked at Ranceschi’s bare chest. “You can take that unfortunate fellow’s
coat”, he said with a glance at the dead lieutenant.
Rancheschi stood silent for a moment and remembered how Commodore Dreagan
had humiliated him in front of his men. “I won’t take no damn Steodian filth”,
he hissed between gritted teeth. Gwyddaen just shrugged his shoulders.
“Let’s go then. I´ll take the lead, Aerydd, guard our rear.”
At that moment the shot of a gun, the shattering of broken glass and the
cry of a dying man was heard. Then the door to the corridor burst open and
Andres and Celi came stumbling in.
“You!” Feran growled as he raised his pistol.