Captain Aenwyn stood and leaned against the mast of her ship, watching as her crew brought aboard what goods they had traded for that day. She was, as always, impeccably dressed—with her sapphire blue coat and fine linen shirt she might have looked like any of the other merchants who had made port here, were it not for the sword and pistol strapped to her belt.
"Well, well, Myrin," she hollered as she caught sight of the elf, "what are you dragging back home this time? You finally found them?"
"I did, captain," Myrin responded, giving both Vivi and Owen a half-playful, half-annoyed whack on the head. "They got themselves into some trouble... again."
Aenwyn beamed, looking very proud. "What have you been up to now, Nerikas?" she asked, making her way down the gangway to stand in front of the three.
"Just a small misunderstanding with a few tincaps... they're just overreacting as always," Owen replied, waving his hands dismissively. "You know how these people are. Anything would set them off."
Aenwyn chuckled, ruffling Owen's soot-colored hair. "I'm sure you were nothing but civil," she said cheerily—Vivi had a hard time keeping a straight face at Myrin's look of indignation.
"Respectfully, Captain," he began exasperatedly, "shouldn't we be at least a little worried? If the authorities are after them, they might give us some trouble."
"Not to worry," Aenwyn replied, shaking her head. "I figure we'll have set sail before too long—and even if anyone would follow us, the only way to catch the Ajdaha is to chase her to the end of the world."
"If you say so," Myrin said with a sigh of resignation.
"I do." Aenwyn smiled warmly, clearly still more amused than concerned. "But enough of that," she continued, turning to Owen and Vivi. "Now I'd like to hear more about these escapades of yours."
"We found a message from the Thieves' Guild," Vivi piped up before Owen could go on yet another long-winded retelling of their adventure. "Maybe someone knew you were here and sent it to you?"
Myrin, who seemed to have forgotten all about the message in his annoyance, took the scroll out of his pocket. "The police seemed very intent on getting their hands on it, too," he commented, handing it to Aenwyn.
"A message, indeed?" said the captain, taking out a pair of reading glasses from her coat pocket before studying the scroll closely. "No one seems to have read it yet, either," she added, breaking the seal. "Let's see..." She unrolled the scroll, and as she read, a grin slowly spread on her face. "From Zérèn. He's not saying much, but he's asking for help—and he assures me he's got the job of a lifetime."
"The usual, then," Owen said casually, putting his hands in his pockets. "Are we gonna join him?"
Vivi felt a rush of excitement; it had been a while, but Zérèn's "jobs" were always an adventure worth experiencing—not to mention the treasure one might get one's hands on.
"We'll put it to a vote, as usual," Aenwyn replied—then, after casting a look at Vivi, added, "and I figure I already know how you will vote."
"What gave it away?" Vivi said with a grin. "Zérèn always has us searching for some hopelessly lost treasure or stealing some artifacts from the houses of the rich—I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"All that aside, captain," Myrin interrupted, "is it wise to throw our lot in with Zérèn again? We're making a steady profit as merchants—why risk throwing that away for one of his dubious missions?"
"Our crew is a crew of adventurers," Aenwyn mused, starting to make her way back up the gangway. "Most of them have stayed this past year out of loyalty to me, but trading goods is not their calling." She paused, then turned back to face Myrin with a grin. "Besides, I think a pirate's life suits me—don't you?"
Before Myrin had time to either agree or protest they were interrupted by shouting from further down the docks. Vivi jerked her head around and spotted the tincap they had talked to in the tavern—as well as the one whose face Myrin had elected to redecorate. Neither looked particularly happy.
"Get on board!" Aenwyn barked, putting one hand on her pistol and shoving Vivi and Owen up the gangway with the other. "Are we ready to sail, Sarjeon?"
Sarjeon, the tall and serious-looking elf who served as Aenwyn's first mate, nodded. "At your command, captain."
Aenwyn backed up the gangway as the tincaps started swarming towards them—there were over a dozen of them now. "Then let's make it quick!"
Sarjeon barked a few quick orders, and the crew scrambled to raise the sails. Myrin unmoored the ship with remarkable speed, then sprinted up the gangway after the captain.
"All right, boys!" Aenwyn shouted gleefully as the sails caught the wind, jerking the ship into motion. "We mustn't forget our manners; let's give these good fellows a hearty farewell!" She drew her pistol, and all those of her crew that had one did the same, sending the guards scurrying to take cover behind their shields as a thunderous salvo roared over their heads. After a brief moment of confusion, they collected themselves and returned fire, but the ship was already well on its way out of the harbor and down the river.
"Well, Nerikas," Aenwyn said, handing her gun to Morwen—the raven-haired little girl who usually cared for the guns on board—to be reloaded. "It seems you did make some enemies after all."
Owen smiled innocently. "Well, it's like you said... I think I prefer a pirate's life, anyway."