After the adventure at the Cove, I found myself itching for adventure. He agreed that I could keep the ship I'd captured at the cove as payment of my efforts. Besides, it was not a large one, certainly not as large as the ones in King Nightskar's harbor. Instead, it was small enough to be manned by only two or three people, or one in a pinch. It was perfect. The name, however, just wouldn't do. I re-christened it "The Wind's Cry."
We had been decorating the ship to suit our tastes, when I got a summons from King Nightskar. It appeared that ships had been sighted near the coast. Were they goodbeast, or were they corsairs? I had to find out. If they were corsairs, I was to persuade them to serve Nightskar. If they were Goodbeasts, well, I could always have a little fun.
I made this announcement to my family. Laraida laughed. "I think you'd better take me along, husband," she smiled. "It's not like they were totally trusting. Word of your expeditions may have gotten around."
I laughed, nodding in agreement. Then Shtaragk and Rolja wanted to come too, which floored me. "What do you think, Laraida?"
"Nothing like the present to learn." She said. "It might help to have them along."
I grinned, and the four of us got the old ship ready.
The younger children, Eisenzahn, Quallvoll, Adraizan, Sonsha, and Vladimir, were put in the care of the nurses at Moonshadow Castle. Eisenzahn was showing a great deal of interest in the battle-ax. Loroch was hoping Xean would train him.
We departed, looking for these ships. Shtaragk shinnied up the ropes to the top of the mast. He had better eyes than I did. "I see them!" he shouted.
"How many?" Loroch yelled back.
"Two of them!"
"Can you tell who's on there?"
"Not from this distance."
We brought the ship closer. Shtaragk reported that they were indeed goodbeasts. "I can smell the stench of kindness from here!" he joked.
We came closer to the ships. It turned out that they were all otters. The ships were small, a little larger than ours, but still quite small.
"Hoy!" Loroch yelled.
They noticed us, and called back a greeting. "What are ye doin' this far from land?" they asked.
"I'm taking my family on a sea cruise." My husband replied. "What brings you this far from shore?"
"There's a settlement a little north of that isle! We haven't heard from them in days! We're goin' to see if they're all right!"
By this time, our ships had come much closer. Loroch looked downcast. "I've got a lot to tell you."
Shtaragk and Rolja are smart kids. They know when to keep a straight face. Loroch is a champion of that. He could grieve with a widow whose husband he just stabbed.
We asked permission to board their ship, and they allowed us to come aboard. We introduced ourselves, under false names, of course. Loroch then told them briefly what he had seen. "Last time I saw them, they had all died. I recall that the water they used smelled funny. Something must have gotten into it, and poisoned them," he sighed. "It was a promising settlement. A bunch of beasts are over there now. They swear nothing's improved." The otter captain nodded. "Well, we may as well go back," he sighed, his eyes tearing.
We parted company, and my family went back to the Wind's Cry. We came up with a plan, and we armed ourselves, ready to fight. Loroch added the otterskin cape to his fighting armor.
Luckily, it was a calm day. Our ships drifted around a little, but we remained close. Nightfall came. An otter was out on deck, on watch. Suddenly, his attention was cut short by a hatchet that landed in his skull. "Good shot, Rolja." I whispered.
Shtaragk pulled out a barbed hatchet that he had made a while ago. It had a string attached to it for quick retrieval. He flung it, but the string got fouled up, and it didn't get far.
"I told you it wouldn't work!" gloated Rolja.
"I'll get you for that!" he snarled back.
I got out the small lifeboat, and rowed towards the ship, trailing a rope that was attached to my ship. I climbed aboard the otter ship, and tied the rope to the railing. Loroch and the kids reeled the ship in. I then did the same thing to the other ship. We split up, Shtaragk with Loroch, Rolja with me.
The plan was to butcher the sailors, and return to the Island with the ships. Shtaragk and I were about half-way through when the alarm was raised. Shtaragk and I stood back to back, ready to take one whatever came.
The otters came, waving some evil-looking daggers. I had a sword in one had, dagger in the other. Shtaragk had armed himself with a pair of hatchets. I cut down two, before getting a stab in my side. Shtaragk was already hurt, but he was still at it. The otters were still coming on, more than a dozen of them. Suddenly, a thrown hatchet cut down the captain of this vessel, and two female wolves dropped down beside us. Rolja and Laraida had come to the rescue.
We had just finished off the fifth otter when we were seen. Rolja scurried up the ropes, and I followed. Suddenly, she pointed. Loroch and Shtaragk were in trouble. We both swung over to the other ship. Pregnancy slowed me down a little, but not much. Not even enough.
We dropped down by our beleaguered men, and we arranged so that we stood at right angles. Rolja and Shtaragk were fighting with their hatchets, Loroch with his sword and dagger, and I was working with my twin swords. Loroch and Shtaragk were already bleeding, and Rolja suddenly cried out in pain. I simply ignored the cut on my arm. Both crews kept at us, until finally, there was no-one but us, and the dead. Well, not quite. We heard a thump, and turned around. It was the captain of the vessel Rolja and I had been on. Rolja had stabbed him in the chest, but missed his heart. He stood there, glaring at us. Loroch grinned cruelly. "I've seen that face before. You knew Longridge, didn't you."
The captain croaked, "He was my brother."
Loroch sneered. "And now I wear his hide. You should know me. Loroch Windschreiener. I killed your brother, and you're next." He took a hatchet from Shtaragk, and threw it at the captain. The captain had no time to dodge.
Bringing three ships home with only four of us was a trick. Laraida was right, Shtaragk and Rolja did come in handy. Rolja steered the Wind's Cry, I and Laraida steered the other two ships, and Shtaragk ran himself ragged working the sails on all three. Finally, we reached Moonshadow Castle. Shtaragk called out with his loud voice. The other corsairs came and helped bring the ships in. I made my report to King Nightskar, and left. I'd kept a few otter corpses, and when I got back to my ship, I skinned them, and gave Laraida, Shtaragk, and Rolja each a cape. The others would have to earn their own capes.