Aphelion Issue 239, Volume 23
May 2019
 
Editorial    
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Poetry
Features
Series
Archives
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Forum
Flash Writing Challenge
Forum
Dan's Promo Page
   

Silver Tongue Part II: The Departure from Propriety

by William Roberts




Warm misty gusts blew ashore from a distant storm that danced and flashed upon the northern horizon. Multihued light of the three sisters, the three goddess moons, shone down and illuminated the Star Nola. A tri-hulled, six masted Elven Lúthien transport, she bobbed and swayed with the incoming tide alongside a long wooden dock that protruded into the secluded bay.

Three heads peeked from around the corner of the dockside warehouse in the direction of the moored vessel.

“There’s only the two guards on deck. Should be a piece of cake for the boys,” Lealand whispered.

“You missed one Captain,” Ving said pointedly. “There at the end of the dock, leaned back against that stack of sacks.”

“Are you sure...oh wait, yup. Good eye Ving, good eye.”

“If we wanted to give them a fair fighting chance we could just send the men in on a charge,” Ving suggested.

“Or we could send in the McCready twins.”

Ving smiled at that thought.

“They’d give their left eyes to get payback on a few of those pointy eared bastards,” Lealand excitedly laughed quietly.

“Aye, they would Captain.”

“Now don’t you dare harm a hair on those poor elves heads,” Arya cried. “They haven’t done anything to you so there is no reason to hurt them. They are just merchant sailors doing their jobs.”

Ving and Leland looked to each other with disgruntled glances.

“May I remind my captain that he is the one who insisted that he marry the she devil in the first place,” Ving said with exasperation.

“Shut your bloody mouth,” Leland whispered a shout.

Arya sternly glared at the pair. “If you hurt a hair on any of those elves’ heads I swear to you that you will never find my father’s treasure cache on your own.”

Leland huffed. “Alright, alright. We’ll try it your way.” He turned to Ving. “Send in the McCready’s to clear the way and we’ll follow close behind. Ving nodded and motioned for the twins to come forward.

Two average sized men in dark garments approached Ving from behind. Ving pointed to the two elves on the deck and the third one against the stack of grain sacks at the end of the dock. “Take them out quietly. Don’t wanna hear a sound from any of them. Pull it off and there’s an extra gold in it for each of ya’s for your troubles.” The pair nodded to one another and silently sprinted away toward the dock.

The trio watched in silence from their hiding place as one of the twins crept up beside the man on the dock. The guard jerked, then instantly went limp as the McCready clasped something over the man’s mouth. The second McCready rushed onto the deck with whispered foot falls toward the helm, knocking the guard in the back of the head as he lazily dozed against the massive ship’s wheel.

The first McCready leapt ahead to the foredeck, wrapping something about the distracted guards’ neck, he forcibly choked out the elven guard.

Ving flicked his fingers forward, motioning the rest of the crew ahead. Twenty some sailors emerged from the darkness and moved as if they were shadows in the night. They advanced toward the ship; each ritualistically tapped the unconscious guard that lay against the grain sacks on the head as they passed.

Leland stood and straightened his coat. “Let’s get this barge launched and underway, Ving.”

Ving agreed wholeheartedly. “The sooner that we’re back in the water and underway, the better, Captain.”

“When we reach the estate, send the lads out to round up all of the valuables that they can find. Also have them gather the servants and guards into the drawing room. Please pass the word to the men if you would, Mr. Ving.”

“Aye Captain. Sounds like a merry plan to me.”

The whistling warble of a whippoorwill announced the crew’s success.

“Are yea happy dear?” Leland glared toward Arya. “The crew didn’t get to kill naray a pointy eared bugger tonight, though I can’t say as to the condition of their safety later. Do you suppose they be fit to ransom or just leave them on the docks,” Leland asked to Ving.

“I’ve never heard of a ransom paid for any elf.”

Lealand grumbled under his breath.

“I’m sorry Captain. I know it tweren’t what you wanted to hear, but tis the truth that I know it to be.”

“Then strip em’ and tie each of em’ to the pier. There’s no need to be lugging them about and keeping up with their room and board if there’s nothing for us in the end. Better to leave them here for the mosquitoes and seagulls. But keep the clothes. Their silken duds will fetch a fine penny or two in market.”

“Aye Captain.” Ving thumped a fist against this chest and strode away to tend to his task.

Arya kissed Lealand on the cheek. “I am so very proud of you Leland. There may be hope for you yet.” She flashed a gleeful smile at him.


*****



Leland burst into the foyer of his manor house and quickly ushered the ten or so men into the drawing room off to the left of the entrance. “Ruben, Harbin, Forsythia, please come down to the drawing room and attend to your master,” Lealand bellowed. “I know that it is late, but we have guests and important business at hand.”

Servants sleepily rushed into the foyer from the depths of the manor to attend their duties. Each lazily dressed in nightgowns and robes, they jumped with surprise as they were met by a room full of dirty, dingy sailors that patiently waited, lounging about in the drawing room.

Each servant submitted quietly, without a fight. Simultaneously confused and excited at the prospect of pirates invading their dull, dreary lives.

“Ya know Ving,” Lealand said in a low tone, leaning in close to his quartermaster. “Arya may be onto something here. This is the second time that quietly being patient has paid off for us.

“You may need to eat crow in the not too distant future,Sir,” Ving reminded him.

“Hush your mouth and get to it,” Lealand groused. “Take anything of value, from linens to paintings. Use your best judgement, lads,” he ordered loudly. “Hurry lads, we’ve my beloved father-in-law’s estate to loot before this night is over. Make haste and do not dawdle here.”

The men cheered and clapped as they exited the drawing room. They fanned out through the house, taking up any item that looked to have some worth about.


*****



Slowly the over two dozen sailors, now weary from the three mile uphill trudge from Ravencliff bay, arrived at Ravenwood, the manor house and estate of Lord Reginald Kinston.

“I will say one thing about your father, dear wife,” Lealand silently gasped for air.

“And what is that, dear husband?”

“He chose his site well. If it were day time, it is doubtful that anyone could cross the fields that surround the manor house without being spied. And even so, if they were to manage the sneak upon the land they may fall short of capable once they had arrived. I find myself winded and in need of a breath from the steep incline and hard pressing pace that we have covered the distance from the sea.” Lealand stopped, took a breath and turned back, looking toward the coastline. The town of Taplin stood out above the treeline to the north. To the northeast, the masts of the Star Nola, the only ship in Ravencliff bay, swayed with the breeze. Lealand turned and quickly sprinted to the head of the line as they entered the courtyard of Ravenwood estates.

“Well bloody hell,” a young voice squeaked with surprise from the darkness of the stable to the right of the road.

“Oh no,” Arya gasped. “Young Rankin has spied us, husband.” She tugged at Lealand’s sleeve.

“Someone get the lad and shut him up before he gives us away,” Leland shouted a whisper.

“Oh but don’t hurt him,” Arya insisted. “He’s just a lad and like a little brother to me.”

“Dammit,” Leland huffed. “Fine. Get the lad and take him back to the ship. Toss him aboard in my cabin. Otherwise let’s take the place.” He waved a hand forward. “Harm only those that would kill you otherwise,” Lealand ordered.

They rushed forward into the courtyard and up to the front door. Ten or so men peeled away toward the stables and the estate’s bunk houses where the hired hands lived and hung their hats. The remainder gathered on the low steps of the manor’s main entrance. Ving placed his ear to massively heavy wooden doors, then quietly turned back to the mob and nodded.

“Sounds all clear Captain,” Ving said as he stepped aside.

“Alright lads,” Leland whispered. “Let’s make this as quick and…”

“Eh hem,” Arya interrupted.

“As quick and painless as possible,” Leland scowled at his devilish wife. “Whoever finds Lord Kinston, bring him to me.

The crowd nodded eagerly. Mumbled, aye’s and grunts of acceptance escaped the rag tag mob.

“Alright then, off to plunder and piracy.” Arya leapt in front of Lealand as he raised his boot to kick the door in.

“Please dear husband. Remember, this is my childhood home after all. Let’s not leave it in such a disarray that all that remains of it are those childhood memories.” She bent down and dug about in a small stone planter to the right of the door. Arya beamed with a self-satisfied, pleased with herself expression as she produced a rusty, but still sturdy looking iron key from the planter. “See, it wasn’t that hard of a thought that should be immediately ramified by violent action. The door hadn’t done anything to you before, had it?” She unlocked and swung open the double doors. She stepped aside, and with a curtsy, she welcomed the crew inside. “Welcome to Ravenwood, gentlemen.”

“Is it too late to back out of this arrangement,” Leland asked with a sidelong glance to Ving.

“I don’t think you’d be out of this arrangement even if you vanquished the she devil to the depths of the nine hells, Captain.”

“What are you two scoundrels whispering over there,” Arya asked.

Leland and Ving straightened as if caught with their hands in the cookie jar. “Nothing at all my dear. Now, where did you say that your father secreted away the family’s fortune?”

Arya swayed playfully in the entryway, her hands behind her back. “Where would you suppose he’d hide it, dear husband?” She teasingly smiled.

Lealand crossed his arms and grunted with a frustrated huff. “May I remind you that was the whole point of bringing you along, wife. So you could tell us where it is.”

Arya giggled. “Oh no dear husband. I will not let you off that easily. I want you to learn from your mistake.” She winked. “Let’s just say that my father tucked it away somewhere very personal and private.”


*****



“I will agree that it is extremely opulent and a bit on the gaudy side, but there is only a limited amount of valuables to take away from this water closet, dear wife. The gold filigree that accents the tiled walls and surround the bowl of this aristocratic chamber pot does not amount to a family fortune in my humble opinion. I do however think that the depicted Hevica at the base of the pedestal, flaming tendrils escaping the hell gate and the unclean souls falling into said gate make for a fine, fine statement that I wholeheartedly agree with. It’s been many a year since I had to dig out a privy, but it was good honest work to build a man’s back and his sensibilities.”

“Sensibilities,” Ving questioned. “How does shoveling shite build one’s sensibilities, Captain?”

Lealand scowled at his Quartermaster.

Arya giggled. “It’s as obvious as the day is long, good husband. Or well, it is quite obvious to me at least. But I have known about it since my father began teaching me to keep his books, which has been a majority of my life up to this point,” she trailed off in self-reflection.

“It’s a privy,” Lealand argued.

“Yes, yes it is. Congratulations dear. You get a gold star for effort.” Arya sarcastically clapped. “Look closer,” she growled. “Things may not always seem to be what they are, husband,” she strained the last word to emphasize her frustration.

Lealand stared into the small closet sized space set inside of his father-in-law’s private study within the Ravenwood manor house. “It’s a bloody privy,” Lealand quietly growled to himself through clenched teeth. He gasped with surprised pride as his eyes caught on an oddity of the tile work that lined the room. Among the golden, tan and brown colored tiles, a lone, long and thin pastel green tile stood out, nearly camouflaged amongst the other patterned colors. He stepped into the room and pressed the tile, which popped out to reveal a polished metal lever.

Arya proudly clapped from outside the room. “Bravo husband, bravo. You’re such a good and smart boy and you make me so proud some days that I could just pinch your cheek.”

Lealand turned and scowled at Arya with a look of consternation then glanced toward Ving and turned back to the lever. It swung outward from the wall with little effort. Once the lever was perpendicular to the wall a series of metal clicks resounded from behind its surface and the wall swung away.

“Bloody hell,” Lealand gasped as his gaze landed on over burdened, treasure ladened shelves and stacks of chests. Stacked bars of gold, silver and orhalcum filled one sagging set of shelves while golden trinkets, boxes, jewelry, and bowls full of multicolored gemstones lined the shelves of the vault room that was at least four times the size of the privy itself.

Gasps and whispers escaped the awestruck crewman that peaked past the captain and his mistress.

“Told you,” Arya gleefully chidded.



THE END


© 2019 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.

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.