Silk sauntered into Gen’s office and handed her a note. “Message, Mistress. Minion is waiting for reply.” She wrinkled up her nose.
“All right.” Gen jotted out a hasty reply.
She was meeting with Wolfgaar’s brother later. If she could meet with Sigren at the same time, that might save some time.
Silk returned and sprawled across the couch like a large cat, watching her. “You going to hire elf?”
“If I can. I need some help around here since you can’t seem to let Jack come up for air.”
There was a bored shrug. “Nothing else to do.” She raised a brow as if something had just occurred to her. “You saving him for you? I can find another pet.”
“Not particularly, but once we get under sail, you’re going to have to curb your appetites a bit.”
Gen set her pen aside. “I’ll think of a reason.”
“Better be good one.” She wriggled her fingers at her and slipped out, no longer interested in conversation.
Gentyl had left quite a bit of money behind, but it wouldn’t last forever. Plus, Gen had her own money. Still, she’d have to turn a profit soon. Crime paid, but it also took money to grease the wheels and it would take a lot of money to fit that ship. It would have to be renamed. She had people removing all traces of the former name even now just in case someone stumbled across it in that hidden cove. She was leaning towards the name Maiden’s Revenge, but hadn’t made up her mind yet. Maiden’s something. She finished putting the final touches on the flag. Two crossbones in the background with a maiden dancing with death over them in the foreground. Death being a skeleton. The flag would be larger than normal. When they raised their colors, she wanted no doubts in the minds of her victims the maiden was about to dance with them.
If her smugglers could get that goblin’s drug formula, that would make a lot of money. She wasn’t interested in slaving, but anyone who was, would pay a fortune for that stuff and she’d turn it out in a lab she controlled. She heard someone say once the goblin had bragged, he could take any noble and make her compliant in a matter of days. No more than two weeks for the most determined. Powerful if true, and she believed it was.
She already had buyers for stolen artifacts as soon as the smugglers secured the formula. There would be plenty of work for them, or another if she found the right person. Weapons were already waiting as well as buyers. There was always a market for liquor. Information was going to be tantamount to success as well as being lucrative. Blackmail always paid well if you had the right information on the right people. Plus, peace or no peace, secrets still passed hands every day. She intended to cash in on that. Lastly, she needed a good assassin or two. There were some debts to settle and she’d be making new enemies. The pumpkin patch could use some fertilizer.
She’d have to find someone to sell legitimate goods as well. She’d bring enough standard fare to hopefully keep Orwyn and his crew off guard, though they were going to be a pain in the *^% anyway.
Abon could recut jewels from stolen goods. If she could keep her away from Silk. If not, one of these days Orwyn was going to be wondering why small bits of gnome were being used as fish bait in the harbor. Why couldn’t she just shut her mouth and leave that elf alone?
Last week, Silk gagged the gnome and tied her to the figurehead of a ship. If someone hadn’t noticed her, they’d have sailed off with the gnome into the wind.
She’d have to find someone to forge documents on other goods if they brought them into Stormwind.
Silk looked up from what she was doing when Gen walked out of her quarters. “Want me to go with you, Boss?”
“Uh, no. Don’t you have a room?”
“Thanks,” Jack mumbled.
“I’m going to meet Wolf’s brother and Sigren hopefully. I’ll be back later tonight.”
Gen waited upstairs at the appointed tavern. She’d reserved a private room thankfully as it was packed with all manner of people. A woman waved at her and made small talk. Friendly enough and Gen soon realized it was a priest she had fought with long ago. A candle witch she called herself. She could use a good candle witch. Too bad she was already bound to a cavalry.
Before too long a young man matching the description she was looking for walked in. She waved.
He smiled tentatively and bowed. “Hael…You are… Gentyl?”
She returned the smile and bowed. “And hail to you. I am.”
“I am Haethulf the Aetheling, son of Æthelred, son of Hroðgar. Brother to Wolfgaar.”
“I am Gentyl D’Amond. Dottir of Sensor D’Amond, dottir of Keiran D’Amond, cousin of Gentyl D’Amond the Second.”
He raised a brow in surprise. “Your speech… “dottir”… it zounds very much like the speech of my cynn.”
Cynn. That was the word for clan if she recalled correctly. “I am somewhat familiar with your people and say it to honor you. My people and your people were of a kinship long ago. Let’s repair to a room I’ve reserved where we may speak in private.”
He nodded and followed her, taking a chair next to her and looking about the room. There was definitely a family resemblance though he was more fair complected, with strawberry blond hair, with pale moss green eyes. He might have been a lumberjack with those broad shoulders and muscular build and had probably spent much of his life working with wood, but there was also the look of the sea about him. It was always there with these men. One of Orwyn’s men had it.
Though clean shaven, there was a heavy red stubble gracing his cheeks this late in the afternoon. The waitress came in as soon as they were settled and took their orders. Gen asked for a plate of meats and cheeses to be sent also. Wolf was fond of meads and thought that might be agreeable, though she waited to see if Haethulf wanted something else besides the pitcher of mead. He poured a glass and offered her one, seemingly content.
Once the waitress left and closed the door, he said, “How can I be of þéowdóm?”
Straight to the point. She liked that. “This is a rather delicate matter. I have, if you will forgive me, researched your family a bit. You are, if I understand correctly, people of the sea.”
“Ah… your rezearch iz gód. Ve are a people of ze sea.”
How to put this to him without coming right out and saying she intended to plunder the seas and burn down everyone who got in her path? “Your brother is a very kind and noble man.”
He smiled. “Your kindness is guð willspell. He haz been in these land much more time than I. He is much more… good… at zis language.”
A soft chuckle escapes. “He is very good, yes, but you’re doing fine.”
“It is struggle for me yet.”
“Lord Wolfgaar is above reproach. Very…law abiding. A paladin to the core.”
He nods. “I have not seen him in many years. I vas very surprise when I receive word from him. He thought me still in ze Hinterlonds. He knew not I had begun adventuring.”
Her eyes light up a bit. Wolf hadn’t mentioned this. He thought the young man was still at home and not out adventuring. Perhaps a wanderlust had taken hold of him. If so, that might be even better. “He tells me that you have some knowledges of ships.”
He nods in a gesture of thanks for the kind words spoken about his brother. “Yes… I am a brimliðend, spend much time at sea with my people.”
“And you know ship repairs?”
He finishes slicing off some ham and hands her a piece, with a matter-of-fact look. “I have build ships. I know them well.”
Wolf hadn’t told her that and she didn’t hide her surprise well she was sure. She accepted the ham with a nod of thanks. “I’ve taken possession of a fast little sloop of war that’s in need of repair. She’s been a bit…molested. She’s still afloat and limped into harbor, but is not in good shape. I understand you might also be trusted to be very discreet. And you may not want to be involved after I share this with you. I need her repaired and refitted. I need it done quietly.”
If he was unsettled at this, he showed no sign and only nodded. “I vill look at her. Can you take me to this scip?”
“She’s in a cove near Booty Bay. I didn’t want Orwyn and his crew snooping around her. We’ll have to deal with them sooner or later, but I’d rather it be later.”
He sliced off another piece of ham for himself and some cheese and put it on one of the fat rolls, completely nonplussed. “Is this for… morþor?”
She’d been around Wolf long enough she knew much of the language, but she didn’t recognize that. “I don’t understand that word.”
His brow knitted into a frown as he struggled for the right word. He continued chewing, thinking for a moment, his hand gesturing as he thinks…
”Is this to be a …þéofscip?"
“I will be raiding the seas until they bleed red. She’s a pirate ship or privateer if we want to be more polite.”
Haethulf smiles wryly for a moment and then places his right hand over his right eye. “Pirate scip I vill see to her for you - for my bróþor, of course. He speaks highly of you.”
The door opens and the waitress brings in another pitcher of mead and lays out some moor cheese and meat. Gen thanks her and hands her a gold coin. “We’ll need another glass if you don’t mind.”
"The man nods and pours more mead. “He speaks highly of you. You are lady of nobility.”
Gen laughs at that. “Hardly, but how sweet.”
“To other lady. Masts? What many?”
“Three. She’s a shallow draft so I’ll be able to get into some coves the man o wars can’t. She’s fast and maneuverable, when she’s seaworthy.”
He taps his fingers together, thinking. “Ah. Much more big than a langscip. But I can do this for you. Is there place I can verk there? This cove?”
"Yes, and I need some special modifications made to her also. She’ll need more guns. I need enough fire power to run off all but the biggest and I can outrun the men of war if I need to.
“What else verk do you vant done?”
“Some other things I can point out to you when you see her.”
Like many men do when they think, he rubs his chin. She can almost feel the faint scritching. “Cannon bring vith them, veight. And veight slows.”
I know, but…in my line of work…I need guns. Eighteen of them. She already has some, but not enough, obviously or she wouldn’t have been taken. If you see some improvements you can make to make her more maneuverable or faster, do it."
He nods. “This can be much gold.”
“I have it and you’ll be paid well. I’d also like to offer you a job on the ship later if you’re interested. If you want to go to sea. I also need a good woodcarver. I need a new figurehead.”
Haethulf’s eyebrow twitches up, his eyes betray the excitement he tries to hide. “You need crew then?”
She looks down to hide the smile, but she hasn’t missed the look of excitement. She has him. She couldn’t have offered a better bribe than going back to sea, if Silk had sashayed in here naked. Well, maybe. Silk was powerful bait. “Yes. Is anyone in your clan interested?”
“I… could ask some of ze men.”
“Please do. I can use hearty stock like them. My first mate may be a woman, will that be a problem?”
He shakes his head. “The Æþelingas are strong. Good brimliðendas.”
“I know they are. I would like to have as many as I can get.”
His head cocks to the side a bit, studying her; then he turns to look at her through one eye and asks, “Does my bróþor know of your plan?”
She chuckles softly and remembers the eyepatch he gave her when she tried to break the news to him at the fancy dinner he took her to. It was so beautifully wrapped she couldn’t imagine what it might be. There in a velvet box lay an eye patch “I may seem oblivious, but, yes, I know what you’re doing, and it doesn’t change how I feel about you” he had said. “I believe he does. He may not completely approve of it, but he approves of me I think.”
“He very approves of you, dis I do know.”
“I’m very fond of him.”
“Perhaps best if you do not speak of my involvement if I join your crew.”
“Oh, trust me. I have no intention of telling him I’m corrupting his little brother.”
The waitress knocks and opens the door for Sigren who strolled in with typical Sigren fashion as if she owned the world and narrows her eyes curiously at Gen.
Haethulf looked up at her, appraising her. Before he can say anything, Sigren lifts her chin in greeting to her, and then nods toward Haethulf without actually looking at him. “Who’s the new monkey?”
Gen cringes. Well, that’s Sigren all over. Hasn’t changed a bit. “Master Haethulf, this will be my first mate, Sigren if she will accept.”
Haethulf looks a bit surprised. “A …holtwudu mægð?”
“He’s going to repair and refit my ship,” Gen says, trying to head the two off.
“Can she even swim?” he asks.
“Better than you can speak common, apparently,” she replies and pulls up a chair.
Gen sighs. “Be nice, Sig, I need him.”
Sigren grins crookedly. “I never did nice very well, you know that.”
“I know, but try.”
“He’s a master craftsman and his people are raiders from way back. I need this type.”
Haethulf’s hackles are up a bit. “The Æþelingas, my clan were at sea when we were somehow … brought to this world. It was scinngelac… a magick … door,” he says by way of explanation.
Sigren stops pouring mead. “OH! You must be related to Cap’n Wolf.”
Haethulf nods. Wolfgaar is my older bróþor. You know him? I have not zeen him in many winters. Ten, maybe?"
Sigren glances from Gen to Haethulf. "Mkay, all sorts of things are starting to make sense now. I assume so, since you’re one of exactly two people I’ve ever met that talk like that. One day, you’ll have to bring me back to see your cave. Er, “clan”.
Haethulf gives Sigren a nasty look
Light, am I going to get these two out of there without them killing each other?
Sigren returns a teasing wink.
“Æþelingas have great herenið árweorðung! Our enemies fear us and for guð reason.”
“I’m sure they do,” Sigren replies with a smirk and fixes herself a sandwich.
“To get back to why I asked you here,” Gen said. “I’m going to turn the sea blood red. I need someone by my side on the sea and land I can trust.”
Sigren takes a bite of the sandwich. “Gen… trust me all you want, but you know what they say about money, and bull%^&*.”
“The money is there, but I need people who are loyal to me. If you have a better offer, take it.”
“Fantastic,” Sigren says, “now what were you saying about bleeding people?”
“I intend to find out who was behind the killing of my cousin. I’ll hunt them down and they will die mercilessly. Other than that, we have to start up some businesses.”
“What sort of business are you thinking?” Sigren asks.
“And money?” Haelthulf adds. “Ve vill need money.”
“I have money, but it won’t last forever, of course. Information always pays, you know. Time to start gathering it. Blackmail pays. Secrets pay.”
Sigren taps the table thoughtfully and tears up some cheese. “Hm. It’s been awhile since I knew anything important. Might be fun to get back in the game.” She smirks as she leans back in her chair, folding her arms across her chest. The wheels are already turning.
“People will pay for information or for information to stay silent,” Gen says.
“What …cargo? Cargo…do you plan to bring. Take. Sell.” the man asks.
Sigren leans forward now and places and elbow on the table, chin propped on her palm. “Yes, what’s the game, Gen? We gonna run some legitimate business parallel so we pass harbor muster, or underground all the way?”
“What things will you be … carrying on this scip?”
“I have some suppliers. We’ll have to set up a legitimate shop and bring in regular trade goods with real manifests as well as slipping in stolen cargo. Whatever the sea coughs up.”
“Ac he wæccendewraþum on andan.”
Gen doesn’t bother to ask what that means. He’s busy figuring something out. “We’ll have to have some way to account for our stolen cargo of course.”
“Sounds like we need a gnome,” Sigren says.
“We do,” Gen agrees. “Just not Abon.”
Haethulf looks confused. "What is this …“no”?
Sigren looks to the man, holding her palm flat about three feet off the floor. “Wee people, good with numbers and such. Cute faces and people believe them, mostly.”
Haethulf tries to take in Sigren’s words but is utterly confused.
“I’ll introduce you to one,” Gen says. “Orwyn is going to be a pain in the $%^ if we bring cargo into Stormwind without all the paperwork right.”
“I’m known in several harbors. Not wanted or anything, but there are a handful of harbor masters who’d sooner toss me off the pier than believe a word out of my mouth.”
“If “oarwin” is the city weardian, then I will agree,” Haethulf says.
“Do we think any of his people have weakness?” Sigren asks.
“I don’t know,” Gen replies. “We might be able to unload in some other harbors. Might feel his people out. Can any of them be bought? Or otherwise bribed? I’ll leave that to you.”
Sigren shrugs. “Dunno, I’ll have to poke around. Leaning on people is cheaper than buying them. I have some ideas.”
Haethulf pours more mead. He’s been making some drawings on a piece of paper. “I want to begin verk on the scip right away.”
“You’ll need a crew of workmen. Make a list of materials you need once you see her. I know you’ll need wood and iron, but make a specific list. Sails are shot. I need a tailor also to make flags. And your cannons. Eighteen. I want flags for each kingdom so we can change if we need to, plus our own flag. I want people to know the maiden is bearing down on them when we come. Let them know they’re about to dance with the maiden.”
“What will your flag show?” he asked.
She pulled out the drawing. “A maiden dancing with death on a black flag.”
Sigren leans in to peer at the sketch. “That’s rad. I love it. I need it on a shirt, I think. Cannons? Speed? Just how much trouble are we planning to start?”
“I plan on setting the seas on fire and I’m going to burn down anyone who gets in my way.”
“Do you have a place to hide this scip when necessary? The Hinterlands are a good place to hide, but they are far… And very far from places you may vish to go.”
“We’ll have to find a safe port for her. And a name. Maiden’s Revenge I’m thinking. Not sure.”
“Se Mægð’s Yrre.”
Sigren took another sip of mead. "Is it bad that I’m starting to understand you?
“You may be …learn.”
Sigren grins. “I’m a quick study.” She props taps her fingers on the table some more. “We might be able to get Six to help out with the documents, though she’s known to Orwyn for her previous association with Imperon. She’s very good.”
“Can she do the job?” Gen asked.
“Let’s try it out. Orwyn’s been trying to toss her in prison forever, though.”
“Well, let’s not give him a reason to do so. But maybe that will keep his attention somewhere else. He needs some exercise. I think he’s starting to get a bit of a paunch. We’re not going to get everything through. That’s the way it goes. But let’s see what we can stir up.”