Garron and I kept glancing at Tot over our tankards, trying to be as inconspicuous as we could be. We sat together at one of the smaller tables in a corner of the tavern, whereas the captain sat at a table in the middle with his boatswain and first mate.
When we arrived at this small port, we could easily see the shiverpeaks in the not-so-far distance, which explained the amount of norn moving through town. In my opinion, it made for a much better atmosphere compared to a city with mainly mice. Still, it would have been nice to have Kaya and Amethyst along—even though we did not tell them about our suspicions—however they had drawn the lots to stay and guard the ship.
Hearing Thornfang give a soft growl, I turned away from the window I just stared through and saw the captain standing at our table, shifting his glance between Garron an me.
“Sir?” Garron said.
“Look, mates, did ya really think that I wouldn’t notice that ya’ve been tailin’ me?”
“Uh, well, maybe?” I replied, not quite sure what else to say.
The captain shook his head, but could not conceal a trace of a smile.
“I want to know why. Why are ya trailin’ me?”
“Yes, yes, you see captain,” Garron said thoughtfully, “we are still keeping an eye out for your safety.”
“Why, mates? The assassin is locked up.”
Hit with a sudden thought, I made sure my answer was loud enough to be heard by the first mate.
“Yes, captain, the assassin is locked up, but I believe she wasn’t working alone,” I said, making sure I made eye contact with the first mate, who narrowed his eyes ever so slightly.
Tot looked a bit dumbfounded by the sudden raise in my volume.
“Aye? And who would that be?”
“Oh, I have my suspicions, captain, but no proof. Not yet.”
The captain looked thoughtful for a moment before giving a shrug.
“I think ya be wastin’ ya time, but I’m not gonna stop ya.”
He turned away and returned to the table with his officers. Shifting my eyes to Garron, I saw that he was looking darkly at me.
“What was that about,” he said in a hoarse whisper.
“What do you mean?”
“The first mate must have heard you, almost the whole tavern did!”
“That was my plan, yes.”
He leaned back in his chair—which creaked dangerously; worthless human craftsmanship—and gave an exasperated sigh.
“You see; I don’t get what you were trying to accomplish.”
“I’m trying to force the first mate’s hand.”
“Yes, yes, well, that is a dangerous game to play, Kumara.”
“I know, which is why I left you out of it.”
Garron arched his eyebrows, reflecting my own surprise at saying that.
“Look,” I stammered, “I’m better in close-combat, and if he tries to assassinate one of us, he’ll have a harder time doing me in. Also, he might go after just one, but could call in help when faced with two foes.”
Garron nodded with a crooked smile on his face, making it plain that he did not believe that I told him all the reasons. Thankfully, he did not press the point.
“Good morning!” Kaya said as I swabbed the deck.
“Keep it down, Kaya.”
“Aw, had too much to drink?” she said with a sly smile.
“Too little time to sleep, actually.”
I had lain in bed awake for the most part of the night, with my sword and a pouch of poison tucked beneath the little clothing I wore. However, the first mate had not come, and I knew why: the risk was far too great for him. In order to deal with me, he needed me secluded and alone.
“Kumara, I know you are brooding about something. You and Garron.”
I sighed softly. She could be a valuable asset to the continued investigation, but I felt like I could not risk it. For some reason, she would never allow me to put my life on the line as I was doing now, and she would make a huge fuss out of it. That was the last thing we could use right now.
“I just wish you’d let me in on things. Do you not trust me?”
Frowning, I said, “I do trust you, Kaya, but this is just something Garron and I have to do. Together.”
“Is it a charr thing?”
If I said ‘yes,’ her next question would be why Amethyst was not involved.
“No, it’s a… a man thing.”
“A man thing?” she said, arching her eyebrows in disbelief.
“Yea, a man thing. Once this is all over, I’ll fill you in and you’ll understand. You just have to trust me in the meanwhile.”
She stared at me for a few seconds with her arms crossed in front of her.
“You are doing something dangerous, are you not?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it, Kaya.”
That night, I had volunteered to do the night’s watch once I learned that the first mate was also going to be on patrol. I had my sword and pouch concealed and I placed the bull’s-eye lantern on the ship’s railing, as I stared out over the sea with Thornfang pacing behind me.
It was the last night in this port as we would be leaving tomorrow—with the prisoner, as the local authorities had no idea as to how to deal with her. The sky was clouded over and a salty smell was on the wind that tugged firmly at my fur. The wind was very far from being a storm, but it still hindered hearing. The sight, the smell, the feel… I never thought it possible that I would come to find sailing somewhat enjoyable. Even so, I could not wait to get my paws back on land and travel without a constantly moving board beneath my feet.
With a sigh, I grabbed the lantern and made my way towards the prow of the ship. I did this not only because I had to patrol, but also because I had no idea where the first mate had gone off to and I knew that would be the most secluded place. The ship’s prow, however, seemed rather empty. For a moment I thought I heard the clang of metal, but I shook off that idea. The only thing on this ship that could make such a noise were the prison bars, and Aqia had so far been a very docile prisoner.
After about a minute a heard a faint ‘thud,’ and I turned around. There, looming over Thornfang’s unconscious form was Aqia, holding a heavy wooden plank! Before I could rush at her, she turned to look at me and I saw her eyes glow with a faint purple light.
A cruel snicker sounded next to me, and turning towards it, I saw the first mate who was wielding both his exquisite rapier and a wicked smile staring me down.
“Oh, you have no idea how I have longed for this moment.”
“You!” was all I could shout through my anger.
He shook his head and waved a hand through the air, releasing a purple smudge of light that expanded to form a dome that covered the whole prow of the ship.
“There, that should muffle your beastly roars. You know, beast, you could have walked away alive from all this, if you hadn’t kept on sniffing around.”
“And let you kill the captain?”
“So what, charr? What is it to you? What makes you a champion of justice, hmm?”
Taking a fighting pose, I growled at him. To be honest, I did not know the true answer either; I did not know why I was so bend on saving the captain’s life.
“At the very least, I couldn’t let someone like you win.”
Just before I could pounce at him, Aqia came rushing in, throwing her whole weight against my legs, knocking them from under me. Even before I hit the ground, I turned my body and once on the wood, rolled away and back up.
Again, Aqia came charging at me, but this time brandishing the heavy piece of wood. With a backhand I slammed her hands, knocking the piece of wood overboard and then continued with the momentum to deliver a roundhouse kick, aimed at her shoulder. The kick connected and send the little asura flying across the ship, slamming her against the mast after which she slumped at the base of it.
“You took out my puppet,” the first mate said with a pout. “It would have been much simpler if she was the one who took you out.”
I tried to draw my blade, but the first mate caught on too quickly. He lashed out with his sword and cut my paw just as I was drawing out my blade, sending a spray of blood and my sword sailing across deck.
“Ah, well, that makes it easier, thank you beast. Now all I have to say, is that the prisoner escaped, took your sword and killed you, and that I tried to save you but, sadly, came too late.”
Letting out a deep growl, I stuck one of my claws on my other paw into my pouch, straight through my clothing, ruining both the robe and the pouch, although that was not my main concern right now. The first mate arched his eyebrows at my action, which meant he did not understand what I had just done.
“Little mouse,” I growled, channeling all my hatred of humans, “are you sure you can play with the cat?”
The human gave me a sneer as he lunged at me with his rapier. I shifted my body, allowing the blade to slide off my shoulder, leaving a shallow gash, but more importantly, redirecting his blade away from my body. Moving myself inwards, towards him, I lashed out with my left paw. The human back-stepped, but I could still feel the tips of my claws cutting into his flesh.
The first mate cursed loudly as he looked at the crimson lined blooming across his vest.
“You will die!” he screamed, thrusting himself into another lounge.
I stepped to the side, ready to swipe another time at the human, but he was not nearly as committed to his attack as I had thought, so he managed to see the danger and dodge me. For a human, he fought rather well, he did not allow his emotions to lead him—not in combat at least—which made him a dangerous opponent.
We continued with a few jabs and swipes at each other, each time the other managed to dodge at the last moment. It was quite frankly becoming infuriating. Without my blade, I did not have the reach to penetrate his defenses, not without getting myself killed in the process. However, I could not reach my blade, as he made sure to always cut off my path to the weapon.
Before I could think of a better strategy, the human spat to the side.
“I don’t have the time to dance with you until sunrise. I still have to make the framing for the murder look convincing, and that takes time.”
“Oh yea? And what are you going to do about it then?”
The first mate gave cruel smile as he held his blade at the ready. However, this time he did not lunge. In fact, he did not move at all. Instead, he started waving his free hand, forming patterns in the air.
As he said it, a part of the patter light up, forming strange geometrical shaped.
Again, more patterns. Without a doubt, he was preparing some foul magic to finish me off.
As that third word left his lip the pattern intensified, before shattering into thousands of fragments that seemed to form lines that snaked across his outstretched arm, flowing into and around his body. First, there appeared a purple glow around him, but that slowly dimmed as his eyes flared with light. Then, all the light was seemingly gone, though I could feel the magical tension in the air.
He lazily changed the position of his hand, holding it ready to snap his fingers.
“You, beast, are going to suffer,” he said with a chuckle.
I could see in his face that he snapped his finger, however, his fingers did not move. His smile vanished and a dumbfounded look took its place. He stared at his fingers for a second, before his eyes grew wide and he started to shake all over. His mouth turned into a snarl.
“What… what is this?”
I gave him a wide grin.
“That would be the paralyzing poison I dipped my claw in.”
“You… what, when? How… no!”
The human stammered and sputtered, but he could not prevent his muscles from going lax, one by one. It did not take long before he collapsed onto the ground, his rapier skidding off. Walking towards him, I kicked his weapon away and loomed over him.
“I think you and the captain have some catching up to do.”
List Of Recurring Entities:
The following is a list of characters—apart from Kumara and Thornfang—who have made an appearance before this part, sorted by order of appearance. With all the different stories on CoT, I understand it is hard to keep track of all the characters.
Garron: A pitch black charr deckhand working with Kumara to solve a murder.
Tot: The asuran captain of the cargo ship Serendipity.
Amethyst: A charr clothes merchant from Lion’s Arch that loves to travel from time to time.
Kaya: An asura that Kumara got to know in a krewe they both worked in. Now, she sets out with Kumara to see the world.