The Merchant's Mayhem: Part Two
A favor? Marcilli shook her head. "I'm a merchant captain, not a wish-granting faerie. I don't do favors."
"Oh, believe me. You'll want in on this."
She stuck her nose in the air. "Nonsense."
"It pays quite handsomely," Clauret replied in a lighthearted manner.
Marcilli perked up, and Clauret knew he had a grip of the reigns. She may not have claimed to be a true pirate, having distanced herself from the pirate in her blood, but if there was one thing that was the center of her drive, it was money. "Go on."
"I was asked to deliver some items to Shenkuu. You and I both know the route is a little too long for me, so..."
Already a red flag was raised. "The items are coming from Krawk Island? Why wasn't I given them in the first place?"
"I'm not sure. The individual that asked me for their delivery seemed unfamiliar with the ropes of the Krawk Island trades." Clauret shrugged. "They're extremely valuable, you see. The buyer in Shenkuu wants them immediately and in perfect condition."
"They don't happen to be stolen, right?"
She was seeking a firm and assured "no," but instead was met with Clauret awkwardly tilting his head and wincing. "Now see, I wouldn't refer to them as stolen..."
Her golden rule was already broken in a timely manner. That's the end of that, Marcilli grumbled as she pushed away from the table. She never got herself involved with illegal activity not regulated by the merchant union. It reflected the values of her parents, which was of total pirate anarchy. "Absolutely not. I will have nothing to do with them. It was nice seeing you, Clauret, but I must ask that you leave."
"They're two talismans, and if you get them to Shenkuu you'll be paid ten million up front. How's that for breaking the bank?"
The comment made her stop in her tracks. The Draik looked back over her shoulder in disbelief, trying to find words to say. The sum was what she could make in a decade. "Is this for real?" she whispered.
"Once you dock in Shenkuu, ask for a fellow named Cybin. Give him the talismans and he'll pay you right then and there."
She paused. "What's the catch?"
"There is no catch. You bring the talismans to Shenkuu along with your regular cargo and you get paid." The Grarrl propped his elbows on the table and shrugged. It's as simple as that."
None of this was making sense to the merchant captain. It was too simple, and that was exactly what scared her. "Who is sending the talismans to Shenkuu?"
"I don't know. It was given to me by an individual who couldn't carry out the favor, but he didn't say what the exact circumstances were."
"It seems a little strange that for a payment of ultimate riches, you nor your friend are willing to carry out the trade," noted Marcilli.
"I'm not sure what his motive was, but money doesn't matter to me anymore. I just want to be out on the sea, even if I'm confined to the perimeter of Krawk Island."
She rolled her eyes and smirked. "Charming."
"So you'll do it?" he eagerly inquired.
Clauret had not tripped up once during his spiel. Despite the entire situation being portrayed as incredibly fishy and questionable, it was legitimate. "The payout is unbelievable. And we dock there to begin with... fine. I'll do it."
"Fantastic! Have someone come to my ship and I'll hand them over."
Marcilli and Clauret exited the quarters to the sight of a lingering crew. Some had disappeared to the lower deck while others lounged idly by the rails. They savored the short break before the long haul to Shenkuu. Upon seeing their captain reemerge, Arwman ordered for everyone to reassemble.
Marcilli drew her attention to a blue Gelert that was scrambling to compose himself behind the crowd of his fellow mates. "Hank, climb down to Clauret's ship and bring back whatever he gives you."
Hank was the deck cadet, a kind soul that was very eager to please. He nodded and gave a quick salute. "Yes, Miss Marcilli!"
As he prepared the rope ladder, Marcilli turned her focus to Clauret. "I am curious to see who will be waiting for me in Shenkuu."
Clauret grinned. "As am I."
"I will report to you as soon as I return," Marcilli said. "Thanks for your... visit."
By the time Hank had climbed down, some crew members were rolling up the ladder and giving it to Clauret to hang on to so he could be hoisted down.
"Farewell, Miss Marcilli! Best of luck on your route!" Clauret said as he was lowered out of sight.
"Thank you, Clauret, same to you!" Marcilli called down. Once he was considerably out of earshot, she turned to face her crew. "Next time, leave it to me to confirm who we do and do not stop for."
"Yes, Miss!" they replied in unison.
Minutes later the young and healthy Hank had returned to the deck. He handed a black drawstring bag to Marcilli.
"Thank you, Hank." Marcilli quickly opened the bag to peek inside. Once she saw what she was looking for, she closed it back up tightly. With a sharp bellow, she made her orders known. "Hoist the anchor! Drop the sails! Don't stop until we see Shenkuu!"
She retreated to her quarters but quietly tapped Arwman on the shoulder as she walked by him. "Come with me," she ordered, and the Eyrie followed her to her quarters. Once the door was closed, Marcilli untied the bag and reached inside, carefully lifting the talismans by their thin black chain. The identical talismans had red rubies the size of a coin cemented in between a gold pendant.
"What are they?" Arwman muttered.
"They aren't cursed or anything like that... right?"
"Oh, I sure hope not."
He chuckled. "Well then, that's reassuring."
Marcilli smiled. When Arwman was at ease, he was actually incredibly charming. "Once we get into Shenkuu, I have to ask for someone named Cybin," she mused as she outlined the chain with her fingertip. "Have you ever heard of him?"
"No, I can't say that I have."
"I'll ask around once we get there."
The arduous trip was about to come to an end as the shores of Shenkuu came into the Silver Kazeriu's view.
"Prepare to dock!" Arwman barked. "Reel us in, Bo!"
"On it!" the fire Kyrii coxswain who went by Bo quickly steered the helm so the Silver Kazeriu slowly but surely turned to the proper angle along the dock. By the time all of the cargo would be taken off the ship, it would be dark in Shenkuu. The Silver Kazeriu would stay docked overnight, and the crew would stay onboard in the lower cabins. Meanwhile, Marcilli would stay in her lavish quarters for the night. Or so that was what her crew assumed.
As the sun set behind the looming Shenkuu mountains, Marcilli took in the serene sight. She never grew tired of the view of the Shenkuu port with the lush forests and hills beyond the wooden docks, ramps, and giant warehouses. Oddly enough, she had never ventured out to the land.
Crew members were already in the hold of the ship, loading cargo down the ramp and onto the dock. From there they would load it to the warehouses and bring back any items marked with a black "KI" for Krawk Island. A spotted Flotsam was positioned at the end of the ramp with a clipboard, making notes of what goods the Silver Kazeriu brought onto Shenkuu's shores. Marcilli recognized him quickly as the new dock attendant named Gus who had just started working two weeks ago. Marcilli believed that Gus was straight to the point and very invested in his job which he made an extreme effort to perform flawlessly. She was not sure if he would know Cybin, but the lone sight of Gus attending to the ship left her with no other choice of who to ask. She strutted down the ramp and approached Gus, who briefly looked up at the Draik before returning to work.
"Hello, Gus, I'm looking for someone named Cybin," Marcilli explained as her crew headed to the warehouses.
The Flotsam kept making notes on his clipboard. The mention of Cybin made him scowl, which heightened Marcilli's interest in the mysterious individual. "Look for the desert Scorchio that's shouting at any living thing he sees," he replied gruffly.
"All right." Marcilli looked around. Besides her merchant ship, no others were staying at one of the four unloading docks. She squinted towards the giant gold and red warehouses that were roughly fifty paces away, noting the crates and barrels stacked around the entrances waiting to be sorted. Usually someone was tending to the supplies, and sure enough, a couple of figures were in the distance that were not members of her crew. One of them appeared to be a Scorchio, so Marcilli headed in his direction.
"This box may be twice the size of you, but that's not an excuse to slack off!" Marcilli winced upon hearing a raspy voice yell across the dock. Marcilli saw that it was a desert Scorchio scolding a tiny Meerca who could barely lift a giant crate.
"Excuse me, are you Cybin?" Marcilli inquired.
"Yeah." He glared at her and growled. "Who are you?"
"I'm Captain Marcilli of the Silver Kazeriu. I've come with your talismans-"
At the sheer mention of the talismans, Cybin leaped at Marcilli and grabbed her shoulders. She stifled back a cry of surprise as his hands feverously dug into her skin. "SHH! Shh... not so loud!" the Scorchio pleaded. He glared at the Meerca who scurried away in terror, and then went back to Marcilli. "Let's continue this discussion inside, perhaps."
Hank the deck cadet, Sicrax, and a few others that were retrieving crates stopped to glare at Cybin. Marcilli stole a glimpse back at her ship and saw Arwman was standing on the main dock, pretending to overlook the shipments but really keeping an eye on Marcilli. As soon as Cybin lunged at her, Arwman had to grip the side of the ship to stop himself from running out to them.
"Please don't touch me again," she said coolly. "It won't sit well with some of my crew members."
The Scorchio snapped out of his mindset to take in the nearby "I'm terribly sorry," Cybin quickly retracted his grip, and Hank, Sicrax and the others slowly went back to work. "It's just that... these items are very important. Please, won't you just come inside so we can talk about them?"
The shelter he was referring to was a small building lodged in between two warehouses. It looked like it could barely fit four people, let alone any forms of supplies. "That would be fine." Marcilli followed Cybin inside. Arwman watched Marcilli willingly go in, so he backed off.
Once Cybin had closed the door behind him, Marcilli reached inside her coat pocket and pulled out the two talismans. "Not a scratch."
"Finally..." Cybin murmured. He gingerly held the talisman by its gold chain and examined the glittering red jewel. "After all this time, they're here."
"They're beautiful," remarked Marcilli and awkwardly looked around the room. Only a beaten table, rickety chair, and the door of a rusty vault brought any life to this old shack. Nothing reflected Shenkuu's wealth from their long established trade routes. "Now, there was something about payment-"
"Yes, of course," Cybin set the talismans on the table and slipped his hands into his pockets. "I'll need some members of your crew to help with moving the bags. How many work on your ship?"
"Fifteen, including myself."
"Call for all of them. I've got twenty bags full of payment," Cybin ordered as he turned the knob threw the vault open. Giant burlap sacks were stacked on top of each other which caused Marcilli to do a double take. The Scorchio pulled one out and opened it, showing Marcilli how it was packed with coins.
As the two examined the inside of the bag, the door to the shack swung open. A Darigan Tonu stood in the entrance, making not a single remark. Marcilli looked at Cybin, expecting him to snap into a fit of rage at the mysterious intruder, but instead he was beaming.
To be continued...