The sand seemed to move beneath her feet as she threw her leg over the edge of the boat and touched the ground for the first time in nearly a month. The ship captain who was quick to tie the boat to one of the wooden poles of the docks laughed at the woman who had been in such a hurry to leave his ship. She was clad in loose clothes that seemed to be made of Yordle furs, and her long, auburn hair was neatly tucked inside her hood.
She waddled away, but not before tossing a small bag full of valors.
“Ma’am,” the bulky, short man called, his smile missing several teeth. “We use Silver Serpents here in Bilgewater.” Walking up to her, he brought his lips to her ear. “But we could always find another arrangement.”
“We could,” the woman whispered back, reaching inside her grey fur cloak. Turning around, her dark eyes looked at him seductively. “You could accept my money,” she said, pressing the tip of a curved blade into his belly button until she heard him gasp in pain. “Or you could have one of your men escort me down to the Fleet Street.”
The man who was barely taller than her swallowed loudly. “The Fleet Street is a mess right now, Ma’am,” he told her. She pressed her blade against his flesh until he felt the tip draw blood and he backed off, nodding frantically. “I will escort you personally.”
She smiled at his cooperative answer, and the two of them were about to leave the docks, when a loud humming caught her attention. She turned around, only to see a couple bubbles on the surface of the dirty seaweed-colored waters. She could swear she heard a melody being faintly played by strings, and she eyed the captain who was still shaking next to her.
“Did you just sing?”
“What?” he asked, startled. “No, I swear.”
Ain’t no place I haven’t been, she heard him say. “You just did it again,” she accused him.
Ain’t no place I can’t go again.
The frightened captain glanced around them, and only saw sailors and prisoners disembarking and gathering their stolen treasures. “Ma’am,” he whispered. “If we were in Valoran I would tell you to get your head checked. But here in Bilgewater, it is possible that you attracted some demons from the Guardian’s Sea,” he said before offering his arm, which she reluctantly grabbed.
Her left hand came to rest on top of her stomach, her pine eyes looking for bubbling waters but found none.
“Where exactly in the Fleet Street do you plan on going?”
Ruby lips smiled in the distance. “Bring me to Sarah Fortune,” she said in a hushed tone.
The man stopped dead in his tracks. “You mean Captain Fortune?”
The woman nodded, her green eyes beaming. As they resumed their walk, Katarina Du Couteau found herself humming to the strings she still heard in her head. The waters of the Guardian’s Sea bubbled with life behind her, twin yellow eyes staring at her figure from the deepness of the salt tomb of the drowned.
Quincy Simons, for proof-reading nearly every chapter at the most absurd times, for coming up with the idea of creating a soundtrack with this series, and for overall supporting this story even before it was written.
Katarina Matic, for living the story each time she read it, and pushing me to expand my writing experience by trying new methods and describing new places, as well as for sharing her voice for the project.
Minna Koskenmäki, for enducing every twisted scene that would have otherwise been mild, for her sense of humor and her never-ending faith. I wouldn’t have added the birds without you, and they ended up being a fine addition.