by William Roberts
Lealand flung open the door of the Blue Tarkan Alehouse and drew in a
deep, satisfied breath. He flipped a gold coin that clattered onto the
makeshift stage to the right of the doorway at the feet of a trio of
minstrels. All three looked up and nodded thanks as they continued to
tune their well-worn lutes in the dimly lit corner.
“Is this stop truly necessary, Mr. Johnson? There are much more
suitable establishments in town for Lady Kinston than this.” The well
dressed man glanced around the room in disgusted horror. He produced a
lace trimmed handkerchief from his sleeve and covered his nose.
“It isn’t so bad Mr. Renegar. It is very, quaint. Like a stable for
sailors if you will.” Lady Kinston half smiled at the two men.
“Our little side trek to this establishment is of the utmost
importance, Mr. Renegar. I have personal business to attend to with a
few of these fine lads, and you’ll do good to mind your own while we
“Then please make it quick before the foul odor of this retched place
overtakes me,” Mr. Renegar coughed.
“Sing me a shanty boys,” Lealand demanded. “Aye Captain Johnson, aye.
Would there be any particular songs that you’d prefer Sir? Or perhaps
one that your lovely mistress would like to hear,” the older of the
three minstrels asked as he gawked at the beautiful young woman behind
“Something with a lass and love sounds good to my ears right about
“Aye Captain, I know just the song.” The dirty faced young man turned
and spoke to his associates.
“Away oh, hey oh, way oh way,” the trio sang in unison.
The Alehouse went silent. Sailor, dockman and ale maid alike stood and
faced the stage in solemn unity. “Away oh, hey oh, way oh way,” the
patrons harmonized as one. A steady slow paced canter shook the
building as each onlooker stomped a foot to keep time with the song.
“Away oh, hey oh, way oh way...,” the minstrels repeated then
continued, “I met a lass as white as snow.”
“Way...oh...way…” The chorus harmonized again.
“With curly locks as black as coal…”
“She stole my heart and took my soul…”
“Her father dearest sent her off…”
Lealand turned to the young woman behind him as the song continued.
“What do you think, Arya? Wouldn’t you say that this is much more
enjoyable than that cold and lifeless manor house that your father put
us up in?”
“I suppose dear husband. But why do they stare at us with such hungry
“Most of these men are from my old crew. I know them well. I would be
willing to wager that most of them are staring at you dear.” Lealand
leered at the young girl with a smirk. “Most have never seen a gilded
lady such as you up close before. I am sure that they would love to see
you in a much closer, and more personal fashion. I also have no doubt
that a few of the others are most likely thinking the same sort of
thoughts about our good chaperone Mr. Renegar.”
“I beg your pardon, Mr. Johnson? Please explain to me again why you
have brought us to such a dreadful place? Lord Kinston would not
approve of his daughter, wedded or not, to be in an establishment such
“You’ll be shutting your flabbering mouth at this moment, sir!” Lealand
stepped to Mr. Renegar and stood nose to nose. “I have many reasons
why, Mr. Renegar. Many reasons that have nothing in the slightest to do
with money, power, or propriety, sir. But instead my reasons have
everything to do with living life as a free man, not as a powdered and
pampered puppet. My first and most important reason Mr. Renegar, is
that I missed my home. Of all the places that I have traveled and seen
throughout this world; this putrid, untamed tavern is the closest thing
to a home as I have ever had.”
Lealand stretched out his right arm and pulled back his sleeve. He
pointed his fist toward a man seated at the table just around the
corner from the three singers. With a loud twunk, the man clutched at
three iron darts that protruded from his chest. Blood frothed from his
mouth as he attempted to scream. He gurgled a gasp then slumped forward
onto the table.
“Oh my Gods, Lealand. What have you done?” Lady Arya stared at the
“Second Mr. Renegar,” Lealand growled, his tone heavy with furious
disdain. “I greatly tire of you and your forced ways. I am a gentleman
by no means, but I am a capable man in command of his faculties and I
have no need of a chaperone. Nor do I have the need of an informant to
carry messages to my wife’s father for the slightest of infractions to
your twisted code! Regardless of how rich and prosperous the life of a
gentleman may be, I can bear it no longer. I am what I am, and I can no
longer pretend to be something that I am not.”
Lealand sauntered over to the table and sighed. He looked back to Mr.
Renegar and Lady Arya with sad, tearful eyes. “I told this dirty
braggart time and time again, that this was my seat. The poor bastard
just wasn’t too bright, I suppose.” He leaned the dead man back, and
pulled the three iron darts from his chest. “No matter now. The dead
are dead, the life has been bled,” Lealand implored without remorse,
then laughed. He shoved the dead man from his chosen chair, and took a
“ALE,” Lealand shouted at a passing barmaid then looked back to Mr.
Renegar with a scowl. “Now the way I see it, Mr. Renegar, you are a man
of no worth. You and your type neither benefit the common good, nor
assist me personally in any way.” A look of grave concern replaced the
expression of annoyance on Mr. Renegar’s face. “I will admit though, a
man such as yourself can be a valuable ally if you wish to play
politics. I have no doubt that you have been invaluable to Lord Kinston
during your tenure. Though I doubt he’d know that you had swayed the
current goings on. Or that you did what you did in order to favor
yourself with extra lands and gold at his expense.” Lealand chuckled
with a toothy grin.
“Now see here, Mr. Johnson. I will have you know that I have faithfully
served Lord Kinston with due diligence for decades. I am a valued
“And a cuckold, Mr. Renegar. A bloody cuckold,” Lealand shouted. “Come
Arya, we are leaving,” Renegar clutched Arya by the wrist.
“I think not Sir,” Lealand growled. “You’ll unhand her or I’ll set the
mist queens loose on you. They would love to get their hands on a dandy
such as yourself.” Lealand grinned wide.
“You wouldn’t,” Renegar protested.
“Oh I would, sir. I would. Now here is the conundrum. I have worked
hard my entire life. I worked my way up from a blue jack and deck hand
to a ship of my own. I have traveled, and seen a good part of this
little corner of the world. I have bartered, bought, sold, and traded
my way to a fairly good life at sea. Then when Lord Kinston offered me
and my crew a license against the Nords, I was ecstatic. I thought I’d
finally have my chance at lands and a title, and so I did Mr. Renegar.
I earned Lord Kinston’s respect so well that he offered me his
daughter's hand in marriage.”
“Will you get to the point already Mr. Johnson,” Renegar demanded with
an irritated huff.
“I no longer have a wish to play politics Mr. Renegar. I have no more
need of court life or the constant bowing and boredom that comes with a
title. I especially have no more need for the amount of ass kissing
that is required to keep everyone’s egos in check. That being said, I
am sure that you will trot off to Lord Kinston and tell him that I
endangered the life of his lovely daughter or some such thing. And to
tell you the truth, I don’t much care, though I do have a thought or
two on how to handle the matter.”
“Here ya go Captain,” the barmaid interrupted.
“Bless you lass, bless you.” Lealand took the overly full mug from the
full-breasted barmaid and drank deeply of the dark liquid. He wiped the
froth from his mustache with a happy belch and wide smile. “Thank the
lords of land and sea. This is a blessed drink if I have ever had one.
How I have longed for an ale over those dry, watered down wines of
court. Here you go lass, for the ale and your troubles.” Lealand handed
the barmaid four gold coins.
“This is too much Captain. It wouldn’t be right to take so much from
you for only an ale.”
“It’s for more than the ale lass,” Lealand said as he looked down at
the dead man on the floor. “Please see to it that Cooper comes and
retrieves the bloody idiot before he begins to stink. And here lass,
for yourself,” he hands her another gold coin.
“Thank you Captain, yes sir, I’ll tell Cooper right away sir.” The girl
ran back to the kitchen.
“Where are my manners,” Lealand said as he pushed a chair out from the
table with his boot. He took another deep drink from the mug. “Please
Dear, sit and rest those thin twigs that you call legs.”
“Why would I want to sit Lealand? You killed that man in cold blood,”
she reprimanded. “What makes you think that I would be willing to sit
so close to a killer or a cold corpse for that matter?”
“That’s hardly fair now. He’s still warm to the touch.”
“You are incorrigible,” Arya said with an exasperated huff.
“Aye, I am. And you are my wife. I am fully within my legal rights to
punish you as I see fit, should you fail to obey any command that I
give. I have personally witnessed your father invoke that law a time or
two.” Lealand smiled with self-satisfaction.
“You wouldn’t dare,” she growled with uncertain defiance.
“Wouldn’t I?” Lealand smiled, then propped his feet on the table and
took another sip of ale. “Do as I command or don’t, makes no difference
to me my dear. Just know that with choice, comes result. For good or
bad I cannot say because first, we must see your choice in order to
reveal the result of that choice.”
She sat in the chair.
“Now Mr. Renegar, where were we in our little discussion?”
“You were about to explain to me how you will deal with my employer,
your father in-law, after I have informed him of how you have
endangered his daughter's life.”
“Mr. Renegar, really that is enough,” Arya defended. “Lealand will not
allow anything to happen to me.”
“You defend him after he has just threatened you with harm by his own
Lealand fought for breath through a hearty red faced laugh. He finished
his ale and slammed the tankard onto the table. The young barmaid
pushed past Mr. Renegar and replaced Lealand’s empty Mug.
“Ving! Where be ye’ lad,” Lealand shouted
A short, barely five-foot tall man with broad shoulders, bald head and
goblin like ears appeared beside Mr. Renegar. “Yes Captain,” Ving
reported, at ease but tall and proud before his captain.
“Do ye’ still have my rosters and affects?”
“Aye Captain. I stowed all of your gear as you asked me to before I
sold off the ship and paid the men. It would only take a few moments to
retrieve your chest from the lockers.”
“Good. If you wish, place yourself on the roster as quartermaster and
increase your previous pay by ten gold Airh per voyage.”
“Aye Aye Captain,” Ving said with a wide smile then disappeared through
a door at the rear of the common room.
Lealand gulped his drink and slammed the empty wooden mug onto the
stained and sticky table. He let out a loud belch as he stood tall,
removed his embroidered velvet jacket, and tossed it at the minstrels.
“One of you lads make good use of that and play me another tune.” He
drew a strange barbed dagger from its scabbard at his side and checked
the edge of the blade.
“Gold,” Lealand shouted over the ruckus of the tavern. The room went
silent. He stepped away from the table to the center of the room and
glared at each and every man. His cold gaze stern and condemning, as if
he inspected the depth of their very souls. “What man in this tavern
does not wish for gold?” He placed the tip of the strange dagger onto
the table and began to grind it into the wood. “I have heard tales of
the Far East; The mysterious perversions of AlKol, the great Guardians
of Yolin, the wonders of the Melnnay seas. I mean to gather a crew,
take a ship and make for where the winds take me. I will fund this
little endeavor by plundering my own lands, and those of my benefactor.
My soul screams for the seas and I mean to see all that a man can see
before my time is up. I will capture, pillage, and trade my way across
the known world. And I dare any other man to stop me or to get in my
“Have you lost your mind Johnson? Lord Kinston will not allow this!”
“You say that like I should care what Lord Kinston thinks, Mr. Renegar.
Lord Kinston is helpless to do anything and he will find out after it
is too late. Same as you sir, after you entered this den of cut throats
“Now see here, I am a very important man. I will see to it that any man
who so much as touches me will hang.”
The crowd erupted in sudden laughter.
“You will silence yourself Mr. Renegar. I have grown tired of that
slack, flapping jaw of yours.”
“Captain,” Ving shouted as he pushed through the crowd. He placed a
small chest next to Lealand’s seat. Ving retrieved a thick ledger book
from the chest, laid it out on the table, flipped to a blank page and
entered his name on the roster. He snatched a thick bundle from the
chest and stepped toward Lealand. “Welcome back Captain,” Ving said
with a smile, then unfurled the bundle. With a flip of the material,
Ving held out a well-worn, greenish black leather longcoat.
“For those who do not know me, I am Captain Lealand…Silver
Tongue…Johnson,” he proclaimed as he slipped on the longcoat. Ving held
out a leather head wrap that the Captain eagerly donned. “That feels so
much better. Thank you, my friend,” he said with a nod to Ving. “My
swords Ving,” Lealand demanded. The small man ran to the chest and
retrieved two single edged short swords with simple wooden handles.
Lealand checked each blade with loving care, and then slid them into
the scabbards hidden inside the longcoat.
“Those of you who are loyal to me blockade the doors and gather those
who are not. If you wish to sail beneath my colors, then step up and
make your mark. I mean to steal a ship this night and rob my dearest
father in-law of everything he is worth.”
“You will all hang for this treason,” Mr. Renegar blathered.
“No sir, I will not. I regret to inform you that you will not have the
opportunity to witness such a heinous thing as a pirate hanging, but I
am sure that we will meet again in the underworld.” Lealand pointed the
strange dagger at Mr. Renegar’s chest. “Say hello to the great beasty
for me Mr. Renegar,” he laughed then flipped a small lever on the
dagger. With a heavy metallic thwack, the blade of the dagger flew
forward and embedded itself up to the ricasso into Mr. Renegar’s chest.
The sides of the blade scissored outward and chewed into the thin man.
“Oh my gods! Mr. Renegar!” Arya sobbed. “He’s a worthless leech on the
back of the world, my dear. I have made the world a better place on
this night by removing him from it.” Lealand wound up the slack of the
thin cable that connected the blade of the dagger to the handle. “And I
assure you. This man is a soulless beast that no one will miss.” With
all of his strength, Lealand yanked on the cable and removed the blade
from Mr. Renegar’s chest with a sickly crunch. A portion of the man’s
rib cage clung to the dagger.
“Ving, reset my dagger if you please,” he ordered as he handed the
handle to Ving. “You two get rid of this,” he pointed to two men, then
motioned toward Mr. Renegar’s body.
“You vicious beast! You murdered my father’s man in cold blood.”
“If you feel that way my dear, please consider this notice of our
divorce. I have already managed to arrange work for you.”
“Wha…,” she stammered before Lealand interrupted.
“Someone take her upstairs and put her to work with the rest of the
painted up doxies.”
“No. You cannot do this. My father will have your head!”
“No my dear, I don’t believe so,” he laughed. “A valuable word of
suggestion for you to mull over, Wife. Learn to do for yourself
quickly. The quicker you learn that lesson the less harm will come to
you,” he laughed.
“More Ale! Come lads make your mark and let’s get to business.”
Arya tore herself away from a sailors grasp. “I will not be anyone's
Lealand glowered at her. “What makes you think that you have a choice
in the matter? Take her away,” he ordered the sailor.
“You will not!” She struck at the sailor like a feral cat. Four red
stripes appeared across his face that immediately began to seep. “You
will take me with you as full partner in your enterprise as well as
your wife,” she growled.
The room exploded into hysterical laughter. Two sailors restrained
Arya’s arms to her sides as Lealand approached. He stopped a few steps
away from her and glared with curious uncertainty.
“Who are ye’ lass, and what have you done with my frigid, docile sheep
of a wife?” He looked her up and down as he licked at his toothy,
lustful grin. “You’ve a fire about you that I’ve never seen before,
Wife. What pray tell has sparked this bit of you to life?”
“You have summed up the misery of my life. I do not want to rot away of
boredom at court. I want to experience the world Lealand. Take me with
you,” she pleaded.
“I think not Arya, you’d be a distraction and hindrance at best on a
voyage. Not to mention a liability should we get into a situation. Take
her upstairs and hand her over to Kayleigh. She’ll take good care of
you my dear.”
“I said no Lealand. I am no one’s whore and I will be boarding that
ship with you!” She white knuckle gripped the manhood of both sailors.
The sailor on her left vomited across her back and shoulder. The other
shrieked in tearful agony. She stood proud and defiant as she released
“Would you look at that Ving. There may be hope for her yet.” Lealand
licked his lips, then slapped Ving on the back and stepped toe to toe
with Arya. “So tell me good wife. What services do you bring to the
table?” He looked downward at her with a grimace, the top of her head
almost to the height of his shoulders. “How do you propose to earn your
keep aboard my ship, Wife?” He stared so deeply into her eyes that he
looked to be inspecting her soul.
“I have tended to my father’s accounts for years. I could be of use in
your business dealings.” Arya wrung her hands, then caught herself and
placed them behind her back.
“Pah! That’s what I have Ving for,” Lealand chuckled.
“Then let me say this plain and clear good husband. You said that you
plan to raid my father’s estates as well as our own to fund this little
venture. You have no idea where my father keeps his gold and jewels and
I seriously doubt that either yourself, Ving, or any other crewman
could ever hope to find his cache.” She bore a contemptuous gaze at him
as she turned to leave.
“He keeps it all in the vault I am sure. Hidden in a secret room just
off from his offices. I have seen inside of it with my own eyes. The
room glitters with gold and silver,” Lealand replied.
“You must have too much salt in your head husband. You know nothing of
my father or his ways. That room he chose to let you see is a mere
pittance compared to the real horde.” Her voice was coarse and
gloating. She continued toward the front door of the tavern.
“Wait Arya,” Lealand shouted then turned to Ving. “What say you man?
You’ve been my right hand all these long years. Could you teach her to
keep the tallies and logs? That would free you up to tend to other
“Aye Captain, I could. And if what she says is true, coin and gems are
easier to spend than artwork or goblets.”
“We’ll give you a fair chance as the ship’s Eigthmistress, dear Wife.
You’ll tend to the ship’s logs and accounts and report directly to
She glanced back over her shoulder with a sly grin. “And what of my pay
“Pay? What pay? You’d be along for the voyage as you requested,”
“I think not,” she continued toward the door.
“Fine Arya, fine. Dammit to all the hells. A gold Airh or equivalent
coin per voyage and payable in port.”
“Three,” she countered.
“You’re out of your bloody mind if you think any apprentice on board my
ship will earn nearly as much as a master.”
She continued out the door. Lealand looked at Ving in frustrated
“Don’t look at me Captain, you married her”
“Two,” Lealand shouted.
Arya poked her head back into the doorway. “Two and a half.”
The Captain looked between Arya and Ving as he tapped his foot. “Fine!
Two and a half, but you’ll be fodder for the crew if you cross me. Now
sign the damned roster and get to work.”
“Aye aye Captain.” She obliged with a self-satisfied smile and signed
the roster then took a seat at the Captain’s table. “Line it up mates!
We haven’t got all night.”
“May Ordeious have mercy on our souls for letting that she devil aboard
my ship,” Lealand paused, shook his head, then continued. “Ving, what
have we anchored in port this night?”
“There are a number of small fishing sloops and schooners. A chebec, a
large number of Nao’s out of Gil’Ford, and a three hulled Elven
“A Lúthien you say? Now that is a prize to be sure. Is she moored at
the dock or anchored in the harbor?”
“She’s docked at the warehouse wharf Captain.”
“Then that settles it. We’ll have a ship, and a swift one at that. Do
you know the name?”
“I believe I heard someone say her name was The Star Nola, Captain.”
“I like it.” Lealand smiled at the thought. “I believe that we’ll keep
it. Make your mark lads and we’ll make for our new ship! A toast! To
the Star Nola, may she sail swift and true!”
The crowd erupted with cheers and laughter, “The Star Nola!”
© 2018 William Roberts
Bio: In a previous lifetime, William Joseph Roberts was an F-15
mechanic and Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force. He has
traveled the world and experienced many things in his few years. During
his tenure in this lifetime, he has been called a Jack of all trades, a
Renaissance man and insane squirrel wrangler by his peers. Since his
enlistment ended, he has perused careers as an industrial and
architectural designer, design engineer, and now, eclectic writer.
William Joseph Roberts currently resides in the quaint southern town of
Chickamauga, Georgia with his loving wife, three freaky smart nerd
children, and small pack of fur babies.
Twitter: William Roberts
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