S&S: Through the Front Door

      Today’s snippet, titled “Through the Front Door”, is a piece I wrote about my PC in Paul’s new pirate themed Pathfinder Campaign.
      Be forewarned, there may be mature themes and naughty language below.
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      He straightened his shoulders, turning to face whomever had just called his name. His stomach roiled with the movement, his bowels cramped, and he wanted to run back to his bunk to lock the door and hide until the Screaming Mermaid was put to port.
      “Oui, madame. What can I do for you?”
      Sawbones Faur’s expression was incomprehensible; the woman was as inscrutable as a statue. She had hardly addressed even a single word to Lorenzo or Red during their entire ten weeks on the ship, yet here she came, slipping an arm around Lorenzo’s as if they were the best of friends, and guiding him him away from the galley door.
      “We did not expect to see you again,” she said, her voice low and conspiratorial. “Is your big friend back above deck as well?”
      “Oui.” Lorenzo let her guide him. She was a tiny slip of a woman, standing just over five feet tall and weighing no more than a hundred pounds, but there was something strong and powerful about her. Her grip on his forearm was near enough to break bone.
      “Oh, see how you wince. Best take you down to the infirmary and have a good look atcha, don’t you think? C’mon then, step lively now.”
      Before he knew it, Sawbones had lead him to her private office and pushed him onto the examination-slash-operation table. It was a horror of unknowables and gouges. She pressed the door closed, then leaned her ear against it with her palm upon the wood. Listening, she shushed his attempt to ask a question. After several long, tense moments in which his heart began to pound in his chest, she slid the bolt home and then turned a chair around, jamming it under the handle.
      She tip-toed across the plank floor and then made a loud show of taking his pulse and probing her fingers into his throat, feeling for what she called “swollen glands”. Lorenzo stayed silent throughout her performance, both curious and more scared than he would have ever admitted. He even bit his tongue, holding back several ribald comments like the one about having another swollen gland she could inspect.
      “Lorenzo,” she whispered, leaning so close to his shoulder that he could feel droplets of condensation on his neck. “How did you escape?”
      Lowering his voice, Lorenzo turned his head to look her in the eyes. “Escape? Madame, whatever do you mean?”
      “Don’t play the fool with me, kid. You know what I mean – Kiskaeyn’s cabin. How’d you two get out?”
      “The front door, madame.”
      She gripped his hand so hard he was afraid she would break the fine bones.
      “Don’t fuck with me,” she growled. “She uses flayleaf and felwil and something else besides to keep her pets enthralled. How did you get clear of it long enough to escape?”
      Lorenzo fumbled in a pouch at his belt and then held his palm out. A pinch of dried herbs lay upon it. They were a distinctive bluish color, shot through the saffron-colored veins, and mixed with red speckled leaves – still whole – but smaller than an infant’s fingernail. When dried, you could no longer make out the pale fuzz that they bore when fresh. “Snorted a bit of this. They use it to make-”
      “Amongst other things.”
      “What’s it mixed with? The little freckled ones?”
      Sawbones Faur grimaced. “Of course. I should have thought of that. Damn it.”
      The little surgeon turned on her heel and began rummaging through the canisters and bottles upon the shelves behind her. She was muttering to herself; he caught the words captive, drugged, idiot, and liberate.
      “How many were there?”
      He blinked. “Were where?”
      “In her cabin, damn it – how many people were there? Eight? Ten?”
      Lorenzo thought quickly, counting on his fingers. “Sixteen, I think.”
      Faur stopped short. “Sixteen?”
      “Oui, madame.” Lorenzo watched her closely. She began murmuring to herself, tallying up names and locations. Her eyes rolled toward the ceiling as she did so, trying to remember if there was something she had forgotten.
      “She’s getting them from somewhere else. That’s too many. Damn it, how has she snuck them aboard without me seeing?”
      Faur told him that Kiskaeyn had essentially caused a mutiny about three years ago, when she had given the Captain drugged rum and then bespelled him. She remained First Mate in public, but ruled the Mermaid privately.
      “She’s bespelled him? She hardly seems like a mage to me.”
      Sawbones Faur gave him an exasperated look. “One cannot always tell a person’s aptitude from looking at them. Damned if I’d have guessed you were such an all-fired fool!”
      He puffed at the accusation.
      “Oh, settle your horsefeathers, kid. I only meant that you ought to have grasped the severity of this problem long ago. I can’t keep you too much longer or she’ll grow suspicious and we’ll both end up in the sea.”
      Lorenzo pursed his lips. “Go on, then. What would you have of me?”
      “Do you have any formula that can break the spell she keeps upon my husband? I need to break the enchantment, Lorenzo – if we can’t do that, then we must regain control of the Screaming Mermaid somehow. You and your big friend, with me and my allies. That should be enough. Will you help us?”
      He lifted a brow.
      “Will you? Please, Lorenzo. All those people she keeps drugged and helpless – they’re all but slaves. And my husband.”
      “You’re talking about mutiny.”
      “Mutiny isn’t mutiny if it’s to get back usurped control of our own damn ship!”
      Lorenzo could not argue with that. “What’s your plan?”
      Her face broke into a relieved smile. It was the most emotion she had shown. “You’ll help us?”
      “Uh, I’ll talk to Red,” he said, rubbing his neck. “How do you plan to-”
      She shushed him, bundling him toward the door. “It doesn’t matter yet. Don’t say a word to anyone but your big friend. You got me?”
      “Oui, oui. I get you.”
      Sawbones Faur grabbed his hand and pressed it to her chest, capturing his gaze with her own. He thought for a second that she might cry for her eyes began to glisten with tears. Instead, she shoved him haphazardly out the door and closed it tightly.
      Lorenzo stood in the hall a moment longer, watching the door with a puzzled expression. Then he shrugged and headed back toward the galley were Faedrin awaited him.

– – – – – – – – – – –
Signed, Josie
Note: Image is “Skull” by (George Crux) and “Black Cuffs” by (Andrzej Pobiedzinski) from SXC.hu; edited by me

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