Chapter Twenty-Four

"Sir, you have a letter." I merely glanced up from my log book, noting the envelope in the vice admiral's hand, and began writing again. "Sir, this may be important."

"Yes, I am well aware of that, Kaelin," I assured him with a sigh. "However, it can wait until I have finished this entry. I have more than enough on my mind without filling it with any more blather." The man said nothing else while he waited for me to finish my task, yet I was certain he was annoyed with me. I could understand his sentiments, of course, but there was an order to such things. "Well then, let me see it." He handed the letter to me, turned so that I may see the black seal, and I smiled. "It would seem that Mr. Williams has come through for us once again."

"That it would," my companion agreed. "Do you think he has found Viento?

"As much as I would like to believe it, I have my doubts," I replied. "Even a man of his caliber would not think to take on a notorious pirate such as Viento on his own. However, I did have a word sent to him about another matter when we left." I became quiet for a moment as I broke the seal and read the few orders offered therein. "Ah, yes, the matter of Mrs. Lourne appears to have been resolved."

"He has caught her so soon?" Kaelin sounded doubtful, but after a stern glare from me, I offered for him to see for himself. "'It is my pleasure to inform his lordship that the woman which he has written of has been found is presently being kept under my personal watch...' Seems like a rather abrupt conclusion."

"I feel you only gave the woman far too much credit," I sighed as I folded my hands upon my desk. "No doubt Mrs. Lourne was coerced into believing that she might avenge her dear husband. Hardly the thoughts of one who is coherent enough to think of such a plot."

"I suppose..."

"Now do not be too hard on yourself, my friend. It was only a slight misjudgment of character on your part, so you need not dwell on it." My words seemed to comfort the man, and thus, we left the matter at that. For me, the woman in question was of little to no consequence, but for him, I was certain there was a sense of relief which greatly eased his troubled mind. A blessing for myself and our men, no doubt, for he could put his wisdom and cunning to our objectives at last.

A knock came upon the door, and after granting permission to enter, Zack stepped into the room. He offered me a smile, yet I could see by the whites of his eyes that he was nervous to have found himself in my presence. "Admiral, there is a man wishing to come aboard."

"Who is he then?" I asked. "One of our scouts no doubt."

"I don't believe so, sir," he replied. "He's not like any man I've ever seen... Goes by the name of Won if I remember right. All I really know is he's saying he knows where Viento's run off to."

"And why is it you did not tell me this first? Let him aboard then!" It was not long before the man in question came to my cabin, yet though I had been eager to see him at first, I began to question whatever value he may have had. Not only was he not an Englishman as I had hoped, but I saw in his slitted eyes that he was no a man deserving of absolute trust if he was to have any at all. However, I did my best to be hospitable towards him. "Welcome, sir. One of my men has told me you have word of Viento's current whereabouts."

"I have, yes." To hear him speak, I felt my trust in him waver all the more. Had I not been so determined to capture my adversary, I would have turned him away then and there, yet I found my hands were tied. "Do you wish know?"

"That is why I asked for you to be here," I replied coolly. Won hesitated as his eyes darted from one side of the cabin to the other. He tried to smile, yet it only served to make him look all the more sinister. Though he had done his best to appear respectable, even the dress of a man of Europe could not hide his less than reliable nature. "Well, what news do you have for me?"

"A price first," he insisted with a deep bow. "I am of business, you know."

"Mind your words, sir," the vice admiral warned. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see his hand resting on his sword and at the ready, and I was not the only one to notice it. "You may not be familiar with our language, yet I am sure you are well aware of how to speak more politely."

"I thank you, Vice Admiral." He only nodded before coming to stand beside me. "As for you, sir," I continued as I brought my attention back to the other, "I am quite certain we can come to some agreement. However, I feel it is only fair that you accompany us on our journey to find him." When his yellow face paled, I was all the more confident in my terms. "You are a man of business, are you not?" He would not even meet my gaze. "I am sure you understand that this will only be a means of security on my part."

"Answer Admiral Hurst."

"Yes, yes," Won agreed. "Very good." With some reluctance, he made his way towards my desk and the map laid out upon it. He pointed to the coast of the southern continent. A small port to be sure, but for a pirate captain and his ship, there was no finer place in which to try and hide. "Here. Here is where you find him."

"That will be all then," I replied with a wave of my hand. "You shall be in Zachary's care until we arrive," I went on. The man in question nodded, and while our guest was uncertain, he beckoned to his being asked to follow. I continued to stand only until the door had closed behind them, and when I sat back in my chair, I had just enough strength left in me to sigh. "How much longer must I be subjected to associating with the likes of such people?"

"Only until we restrain Viento," my companion assured me. I smiled up at him for a brief moment, yet it was not long before returned to gazing doubtfully at the map. "You fear that we have been led astray so soon?"

"No," I said with another sigh as I closed my eyes. "For what little he is worth, I am sure this Won would not stake his own life to save that of another... Since he is so confident in calling himself a businessman, I can only think he would be more cunning than that." After having thought on it for a short while longer, I opened my eyes again. "No doubt that he has his own motives in place for wanting to see Viento captured."

"And do you still wish that as well?"

"But of course," I replied. "Though I may fear for our dear Popuri, there is no way for me to find her without pursuing Viento." However, I did admit that I was becoming more resigned to the fact that I may not have the opportunity to see her as she once had been. After all, Viento may have led the public to see him as a roguish gentleman, yet I knew better. A man such as he would think nothing of deflowering such a fragrant blossom as my beloved little sister.

"You speak only the truth, sir," he agreed, resting a hand on my shoulder. It lingered there for a time, and it was only after I brushed his hand away, that he withdrew it. "I am afraid I must leave you now," he said with a bow. "The men will need to be properly assembled before we can set sail again."

"Understood." I watched the vice admiral go, and once I was alone at last, I reopened my log and made a note of our departure. However, even as I wrote the coordinates of where it was that we were to go, I felt uneasy... so much so that my hands began to quake under the stress of my thoughts. All the same, I was quick to quell my doubts. We would find Viento, and likewise, we would find my sister. "That is the only way in which it can be done."


Author's Note: I'm having a lot of trouble with ending my chapters lately. It seems like I'm too impatient, but at the same time, I worry about going on for too long. One day I will find the balance between the two.