Love Hurts

I spent most of the afternoon relaxing in the Gilded Lily. I thought it a good choice for a number of reasons, the interesting view being quite low down on the list. Higher up was the fact that no-one I saw here would want to share that information with anyone, as doing so would place them here as well. Aramine has always been a relatively safe port for us, but one never knows when a pirate ship will have her welcome withdrawn. Being difficult to find is often useful.
This did not extend to my crew, though, who were all aware of exactly where I would be. This ensured that they did not turn up themselves unless they had urgent business that required my attention, and as evening approached and the rum began to arrive more slowly, one such item arrived at the Lily’s discreet entrance.
Yoko half carried Jash into the room, set him down at a table and looked around until his eyes rested on mine. He mimed the need for a drink and I passed the order to the bar-tender.
“Lots of rum and some food, that table over there,” I said, before making my way carefully across the room. Long before I arrived, Jash was surrounded by the inevitable crowd of sympathetic young ladies. I had to make my way through a cloud of perfume and well-filled lace before I could see what had happened.
Young Jash had apparently been used as a punchbag, and a number of powerful chaps had completed quite a tough workout by the look of him. When Yoko told me the beating had been administered by Lord Cadabera himself, with no help from any of his many minions, my stomach turned over.
“Something of a fighter then, this lord.”
“So it would seem, Captain,” said Yoko.
“Something of a psycho too,” I said, taking another look at Jash’s swollen face. “How did he escape?”
“Fell inna water,” said Yoko. “The lady has a pleasure barge on the river, and Jash was helping her put it to it’s stated purpose, Sir. Lord Cadabera … interrupted them.”
“That would explain why he has no pants on,” I said. “I’m sure the ladies could find him some, though?” This received an enthusiastic response and after much debate one of the girls was sent upstairs in search of appropriate clothing. Despite the gravity of the situation I smiled to myself at the thought of the potential results.
Yoko stepped aside to let the bar-tender set a tray down on the table. The conversation was interrupted while Yoko poured everyone a drink, and then persuaded Jash to take his. He swallowed painfully, then turned his puffy gaze to me.
“Sorry, Captain. We was certain he didn’t know.”
“Quiet, lad. You can rest up here for a few days, then we’ll sail and put it all behi-“
“We gotta take her with us, Cap’n,” he said. “Life with that swine will be unbearable after today.”
“It is not an easy thing, to leave one’s home on a pirate ship.”
He ran a hand through his sodden red mane and muscled his body into a more upright position.
“I know, Sir. Will you at least let me give her the choice?”
“And what use will she be to us, Jash? The Heart is not a pleasure barge.”
“If you are not satisfied by her contribution, Captain, I will pay for her passage out of my share.”
“We’re a pirate ship, Jash…”
“Please, Captain. I love her,” he said, as if that should be reason enough.
All eyes were on me for a several minutes while I considered. The ladies here had hard lives, and few romantic illusions, but from the look of them my continued welcome at the Lily was dependant on my giving the right answer. In the end I decided that if a love story was powerful enough to get through to these women, then it was almost certainly real.
“I will ask her what she wants to do. She may come with us, if she makes an informed choice to do so.” I dropped some gold coins on the table. “Yoko, stay here with Jash until I return. Look after Jash and Yoko, please ladies.” I thought for a second and added some more coins to the pile. “I may be some time.”