Dinner with the Captain
A couple of young crewmen, swarthy, fit, and no doubt hand-selected by Captain Wilder for their ability to handle all manner of shipboard tasks, helped me on board and directed me to my private cabin. After stowing my gear, I found my way to the galley. The cook fixed me up with a steaming bowl of salmagundi and some hardtack and then directed me to the captain's dining room. Apprehension overtook me-- I had heard about Captain Ebony Wilder-- she was also known as the Wild Wench of the West Winds-- sometimes she blew soft and fair and other times with gale-force fury.
I tapped lightly on the door. "Don't just stand there like a little mouse! Come in! We don't stand on pretensions around here!"
I opened the door, carefully balancing my bowl of stew and hardtack, and entered.
"Ah, it's YOU! I've heard about you! Sit down."
"Captain, if you will, I'm too young to be a maam."
"Yes, maam, er-- captain."
"How do you like the Salmagundi? The goat meat is a little gamey but the anchovies are fresh."
I swallowed hard. "Good-- real good-- I love gamey Salmagundi." I took another spoonful and forced a smile.
"So", said the Captain as she leaned back in her chair, booted feet propped on the table, "Matilda tells me that you've pinched a few of her tail feathers." I felt my stomach ball up in a knot.
"And, that horse of yours left her to pay quite a bit of a bar tab." As nervous as I felt, I still had trouble stiffling a chuckle--Albert!
"Well, Captain, if you would like me to pay... how much does he owe?"
"Four-hundred and fifty-seven Lemurian shekels."
I gulped. "Um, there may be a bit of a problem with that--I'm having a cash-flow problem....."
"Tosh! I won't hear anything of the sort." Captain Wilder leaned forward and winked her unpatched eye at me, "I love it when someone pulls one over on that old bird. She deserves it most of the time."
In the distance, a squawk sounded and a voice said "I heard that!"
"Shut-up, Seed-Spitter!" the Captain roared and then she turned back to me, "Now, I hear-tell that you are on your way to the Abbey and the Cave of the Ancestors."
"Yes, that's true. I'm told you are headed that way."
"Indeed. Did you also hear about the Bog People?"
"Ah, a little something. Can you tell me more?"
"Vile people. They live in the bogs along shores of this inlet and on an island in the midst of it. Very difficult to get around them. We're going to have to fight our way through. You up for a little excitement, darlin'?" The Captain chuckled again.
"I can hold my own," I said, lifting my head with more confidence than I actually felt.
"Good, because if they take you captive, you will regret it."
"Why? What do they do to captives?"
"Feed then alive to the Taraka?"
My eyes widened.
The Captain laughed again. "I love to tell people that to see the reaction. It's not true."
I relaxed a bit.
"The bog people strangle you first, then feed you to the Taraka. Ha!" The Captain nearly fell off her chair. When she had pulled herself together, she said, "Not to worry, dear. I've sailed this inlet a hundred times. They haven't gotten me yet..... crewmen-- that's another story, though!.....Darlin' have a glass of wine, you don't look so good."
LGloyd (c) June 5, 2006.