The first noise to come out of Daniel upon awakening wasn’t an exclamation, but a whimper. The stressful moan of a man coming-to, exhausted from his lungs. From a pitch black cavern, to a well lit room, his eyes were certainly taking time to adjust.
He doesn’t remember being knocked unconscious, but he definitely felt the pain from it. His instinct to rub the back of his head was halted, as his wrists felt tightened when trying to move them. They were strapped to the chair upon which he was placed. Even though the seat was rather comfortable, the situation was was pretty alarming, considering a moment ago he was hiding behind a bunch of rock.
“What’s the worry boy?” spoke the loud voice of a woman. He winced a little, not quite adjusted or ready to hear anything. She sat at the other end of the table in front of him, quill in hand. Not looking at him, but giving him enough attention so he knows he’s not alone in the room.
It’s better he woke up there than anywhere else. Now that he’s come to he’s sure to have plenty of questions, and she’s the only one on board that will have any answers.
“Where am I?” He asked sure enough.
“The captain’s quarters boy. Why do you think you’re here?”
He wasn’t expecting that kind of question, and he sat quietly trying to process it. The ache in his head from the blackout prevented him from thinking too hard, and the pain made him squirm. Trying as hard as he could, he didn’t exactly have an answer for being the spot he was in.
The woman put her quill down and looked at him, “My crew found you, hiding in the shadows. What was your intention? To stowaway? To steal? Were you feeling brave?”
Distracted and still not entirely adjusted, he quipped. “I don’t think any of that applies to me, m’am.”
“Oh? And why not?”
“I didn’t expect to find anyone else around… Or anything really.”
“Ohoho… Really now? Then what exactly were you down here for?”
“The ground opened up from above the cave. I was looking for someone that fell.” The woman sat there and behaved that like she was looking at a liar. She then stood up from her chair and leaned closer to him pressing her hands on the table.
“No manner of person fell from the sky, boy. There was nothing but a mound of neglected treasures!”
“That’s what fell! I’m looking for one of them!” His wrists got tighter as he desperately wanted to move. This strange woman in an even stranger place made him so uncomfortable, he couldn’t help but keep talking. “He’s in one of the coffins! My uncle! My business is not with you, but what you took! I swear to god, I had no idea anyone else would be down there!”
The woman, now with her arms folded was considering what he said. It surely was strange for Daniel to suddenly show up the way he did. If it were any other person looking to start something, she’d have known about it. Thankfully for Daniel, Nothing about him struck her as a threat.
“If you’re look to see if he’s still alive. There were no living souls in any of the boxes, just the dead.”
“I don’t expect him to be alive m’am… I’m just looking for an answer to something I believe to be foul.”
“Foul? As in murder? And if you find him, what do you expect him to say if he can’t reply?”
Daniel sighed, “I don’t know m’am. I just wanted to see.” Daniel realises the absurdity of it all. He’s aware that finding his uncle again isn’t going to give him any answers. There may not be any secret note, or evidence of a killer. But it was the act of retrieving his uncle’s body and bringing it closer to home, that just felt appropriate.
That’s all he wanted at this point.
The woman read Daniel’s distraught face and felt a bit of sympathy. She has no patience for most men in his position, as most have more devilish intentions in her line of work. Though, it was clear that Daniel had no idea what he was doing. She cocked her head to the side, and decided to make him an offer.
“I can’t just give him to you, y’know. We travelled all this way, and we needed something for our troubles.”
Daniel was confused, “But why is it coffins you’re taking?”
“That’s out of the question. We’ll do with them what we will, and nobody cares about a person once they’re six feet under anyway.” The woman retorted, “but I’ll give you an option.”
Daniel just nodded.
“We either give you the boot and you swim your ass to shore, or I can give you a look in your uncle’s coffin… But you have to earn that privilege.”
The latter option sounded like a no brainer to Daniel but still, he had to ask, “ How do I earn it?”
“From here, to when we reach our next destination, you will work for me.” She was now right in front of him, sitting on the table waiting for the only response that she knows he’ll make.
In the back of his mind, Daniel considered the possibility of working on a ship, as an exciting experience. Of all the stories he’s read in his youth, the idea of travelling the sea and exploring new and exciting locations is something he’s always wanted. He’s never travelled outside of his own country, much less state and often dreamed of a moment like this to present itself.
Granted he would have preferred it at his own will, but perhaps this could be the opportunity he’s always wanted.
“I hope I can be of good service then, m’am.”
“Good!” The woman pulls out a dagger from a leg holster and effortlessly cuts the straps that were holding Daniel’s wrists in place. “First… no more of that m’am stuff. From here on out, it’s Captain!”
Daniel shakes and rubs his wrists. The woman plops back to her chair, resting her feet up on the table between them.
“Yes captain..” he asks, “But captain?…” The inflection in his voice is telling her that he wants a name. Something more than just… captain. She groans a bit and rolls her eyes, remembering that he’s clearly never heard of her.
“Captain Malenka St.Clair. The only woman that’s ever bothered to sail the sea. But don’t be proud to drop that name, boy! It’ll only be ‘Captain’ out of you, y’understand?”
Daniel nodded out of respect.
“We’ll be headed to Taperton from here. Taking a bit of a scenic route as to not get spotted by any unwanted attention. That’ll be plenty of time to do your part, and depending on the weather, at least half a week. Just keep your head down and follow orders and you may just end up fine. Get on the bad side of my crew though, and they’ll stuff you in the box with your uncle.”
She grabs an apple off the table and rubs some dirt off, giving a hard look at Daniel, “Are we clear, boy?”
Daniel did nothing but nod. He can only hope that he isn’t over his head, but he also understands that he doesn’t have a choice in the matter. An awkward silence filled the room, as he waited to be given an order.
She grew angry with him and yelled with a mouthful of apple, “What are you waiting for!? Go swab the deck or something!”