Beyond Here Lies Nothing

Letters of Marque and Lessons of Men

The Journal of Jon Corsair

Saturday, Fifth Day of Kindling, Year 1133 of the Common Era, 9 of the reign of King Boaz Adaer I

Opportunities in my chosen profession universally come with a great deal of risk. This I have learned from years at my task and it took some time for me to develop an understanding of how best to ameliorate those risks without forgoing the opportunities. All the same, sometimes things end poorly. Explosively, one might say.

When The Magister arrived I frankly didn’t know whether to shake his hand or push him overboard. But a letter of marque from the Palace at Stonesage should not be hastily refused. King Boaz seems to want someone, anyone, to push into the little-known lands to the North to chart and claim them in the name of Arxim. Naturally he has the all-too-recent conflicts with Par Fess and Lillerland on his mind, and to be sure the Toying With Arrogance is one of the most celebrated (if infamous) ships of the Six Seas of Arxim. But all royal gifts are poisoned. Adaer only wants us to claim these lands so he knows who he’ll be shelling and hanging when accounts are settled. Much easier than going in blind and risking expensive warships. Smart. The captain was much more enthusiastic than I’d have otherwise anticipated. She senses an angle here, and I suspect I might know what it is. But enough speculation on that.

We landed at the Redshore at sunrise yesterday and after provisioning the Arrogance I gave the crew a liberty for the evening. The Magister tried to jolly me along on the waterfront, he obviously thinks my noble blood inspires me to some form of kinship with the man. Perhaps it would, were his beloved King not still trying to shed my blood in vengeance. Do you pet the hounds of your family’s hated foe? I made my own modest purchases, paper and ink, a few books and spirits for the journey. The captain wants us first to investigate the southern half of the rebel province of East Farhold. She suspects someone there might be able to help direct us in the North. I think otherwise, but she is master of the ship and so her order stands.

I asked around and heard that a few salts from the Giant’s Bane were due dance to the hangman’s tune on the morrow. The Bane was well regarded as a terror on the seas and her men, once I met them, passed my muster for recruitment to the Arrogance. I made sure to say all of this loudly and repeatedly in the proximity of the Magister to see if he’d tip off the guard. He did. Useful to know, although it did complicate the evening’s events.

The jailbreak proceeded without too-terrible incident until the actual “springing” (to use common parlance) took place. Then every thief, lout and tanner-sack of the Shore busted loose to run for the docks. Irritating, especially with the guard on heightened alert. I consider myself the acme of restraint for not painting the cobbles with the Magister’s brains right then and there. I rousted our men at the Hag, a wine-sink of considerable ill-repute, and had begun to think all might go without major distraction.

Then the front of the damned building blew in.

The Magister took it worse than I did, struck deaf and dazed by the blast. I got behind the bar in time to take only minor wounds. The man striding through the smoke was looking for me. “Jon Corsair, you shall not escape the King’s Justice!” he cried. I answered back and challenged him to draw his pistol. And he put a ball right through my leg. Incredible shot, considering the circumstances, and I almost crumbled then and there. But I fired back and caught him in the shoulder. Gouting blood, he retreated, cursing me and swearing “they” would find me again. I limped back to the Arrogance, firing my flare gun and ensuring all crew was aboard before I pulled up the gangway.

We were pursued, briefly, by The Infinity of the royal navy, but a quick volley from the main broadside saw them off fairly effectively. The Magister bound up my leg, and now here I sit. The captain is in a black mood about the whole affair, and I don’t entirely blame her. I started the exercise mostly to test the Magister’s loyalty, and in that I suppose I succeeded. Beyond that the evening was something of a fiasco, I fear.

Ah, well. Opportunities and risks. The nature of our trade. And none of our crew dead and the baucans waves still above the mast. I must leave this, now, and finish the log. Two new crew to enter and a small expenditure of powder and round shot to record. And I must finish that letter to Helena…

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