Disclaimer: Nothing but the pirates and plot are mine. Everything else belongs to Sherwood Smith. I'm just borrowing her playground for a while. Got that? Good.
Chapter 1: Pirates
"I'm going for a walk on the deck with Willem, Grandpa," said Ezranya, braiding her waist-length wavy black hair, streaked brown by the sun, into a coronet before pulling a hat over her crowning glory and sticking a foot-long pin through the whole thing.
"You know," said her grandfather thoughtfully, "I've been thinking of retiring from being a pirate. Get myself a plot of land and start a vineyard some place. Would you like that?" He scratched at his day old stubble.
Ezranya paused in the midst of pouring him a cup of hot mocha, or a mixture of hot chocolate and coffee, and said carefully, "That would be nice. I'd like to live on land again."
"Think about it, poppet." He took a sip of the piping hot beverage and sighed blissfully. "Your mocha's almost as good as your mother's was."
Ezranya smiled tightly, a sharp pain in her breast as she was once again reminded of her parents' deaths those many years ago. She pulled on a worn but comfortable tunic and was making her way to the door when her she heard her grandfather mutter, "Still don't see what Willum gets out of kissing you when you're dressed like a lad." She rolled her eyes, causing him to chuckle appreciatively, before striding out of the room and shutting the door silently behind her.
The sea was calm for the night, the moon casting a pale glow on everything it's silver rays touched. Even Ezranya's tanned skin seemed dull. First mate Willem looked up when he heard the tapping of boot heels against the wooden planks, and grinned brightly when he saw that it was Ezran the cabin boy, otherwise known as Ezra, Captain Fyn's only granddaughter.
Her slender and almost boyish frame was warmly dressed in leggings, knee-high boots and a thick tunic, her hair stuffed under a hat as per normal. He caught the impish gleam in those doe-eyed green orbs and braced himself for attack. The distance between them closed, but nothing. At the very last moment, she flung her arms around his neck and pulled him close for a kiss. The lookout high above in the crow's nest gave a wolf whistle and yelled, "Face suckers on deck!" before hooting with laughter.
A few heads stuck out from behind coils of rope or barrels of apples, all smiled knowingly. There could only be two possible scenarios when face suckers were about: Ezra and Will or one of the lads and Dita, the cook cum communal whore.
The young lovers smiled against each other's lips, ignoring their audience. When they finally broke apart, it was Willem who regarded the all-male onlookers with a mock exasperated expression saying, "Can't a man get any privacy around here?"
"Sorry lad," came the fast reply, "When you're on a boat, everyone's business is your business and your business is everyone's entertainment!" Raucous laughter broke loose on the deck as hardened pirates relaxed for the night.
"You two lovebirds go have your fun somewhere else, I'll handle these brutes for you," said Dita, climbing up the stairs that led into the kitchen with a smile.
"You're a saviour Dita!" thanked Ezranya, grabbing Willem by the hand to someplace quieter while glaring at all her adoptive uncles disapprovingly, inciting more laughter.
The next day was just like any other the crew aboard the Fearless, they had awoken before the sun had risen and began their chores of scrubbing the deck and trimming the sails. But the sky was dyed a blood red when the sun finally rose, causing many to mutter uncertainly. Blood-red sky, Sailor's warning.
Ezran the cabin boy followed the captain out on to the deck, helping out where he was needed and making sure that all was in order. Suddenly, the lookout pointed towards the North East and yelled for the captain to take a look at what appeared to be an approaching fleet of naval ships.
"Damn them to Norsunder!" cursed Captain Fyn, "Prepare the cannons, let down the sails! We can only hope to out sail them, it's four ships against one."
The crew jumped into action, working like clockwork. Ezran shimmied up the mast for a better look at the approaching ships and squinted at the insignia on their sails. "Remalnan navy ships," he whispered under his breath before swinging back on to the ground with a monkey's agility.
Alaraec Renselaeus, Crown Prince of Remalna, felt sick. In fact, he felt like throwing up. This wasn't anything new, it had been weeks and yet the seasickness had not subsided. Nothing the healers gave him worked and he had almost made up his mind to throw himself into the vast ocean beyond to save his gut from any more torture. As he leaned heavily against the ship's railings, his distant cousin and best friend, Nadav Savona clapped him on the back. "Not feeling to good are we, Your Highness?"
"Shut up, Nadav," came the croaked reply.
"Well, isn't this nice? The salty sea air, the spray of the waves, the... what is that?"
"What is what?" Alaraec's steel grey eyes followed the direction his cousin was pointing in. Pulling out his pocket telescope, he extended it and placed it against his eye in one swift movement. "Pirates."
The chase and pursue was relatively long and arduous, with both parties exhausted and the distance between them still more or less unchanged. Night had fallen, but Alaraec was still poring over the map and the many scribbled strategies he and Nadav had devised.
"Go to sleep Alaraec, they'll still be there in the morning," said Nadav, rubbing his eyes sleepily as he squinted in the light of the glowglobe, trying to make out the drawings on the map.
"Could you get me some coffee, please?" came the reply.
"At your service, oh mighty one."
Nadav gave an involuntary jerk, spilling hot coffee onto his hand when Alaraec exclaimed, "Got it!" Cursing, he emptied a whole jug of cool water over his burning hand and strode over to his cousin.
"This had better be good." He bent over the map as Alaraec pointed out a way they could successfully rout the pirates without placing themselves at too much risk. They had four ships at their disposal, like a net, two of the ships would travel at full speed, pulling up beside the pirates' ship but staying out of their cannon range. The third ship would bring up the rear, and the ship they were in would push hard to get in front of all the rest in order to box the pirates in.
"Not very risky, but a little difficult to accomplish don't you think?" commented Nadav, quirking a brow at his cousin who was now pacing the length of the Captain's room, his seasickness miraculously cured.
"We'll just have to try. I've just heard from the lookout that that isn't just any pirate ship but the pirate ship." After a questioning glance from Nadav, he continued, "That's The Fearless, the pirate ship that belongs to the infamous Fearless Fyn. It is said that he is the only person who has ever been to Norsunder and lived to tell about it."
Nadav raised a brow yet again, "And you believe that? He was most probably lying, no one knows the way to Norsunder!"
"Whether or not the tale's true, we've still got to arrest him and his crew. Our job is supposed to prevent piracy in waters surrounding Remalna, remember?"
A brisk nod of the head from Nadav, "I'll round up the soldiers and sailors for a briefing right now."
Alaraec sank into an overstuffed armchair as Nadav exited the room and massaged his temples tiredly. Everything was going to go according to plan. As mysteriously as it had disappeared, a wave nausea swept over him once again, and he groaned out loud at the sensation of bile rising in his throat.
A/N: I just had to write something about Alaraec as a grown up, what with everyone writing about Elestra. Had wanted to set it in Marloven Hess when he was studying there, but this storyline tugged at me instead. Promise that this won't turn out to be a completely fluffy fic, I'm not sure if there'll be much fluff in the beginning at all, actually. It's more action and butt kicking, a little different from what I usually do. Hope you like it!
I'm pretty sure this fic is going to turn out way better than Heart Duel, so I am currently in a dilemma on whether to continue working on Heart Duel or not. I hate leaving it unfinished, but I've got to write this before all the images escape me. Sigh, I'll see.
Hope you all like it so far! The next chap would probably be up tomorrow. REVIEW!