The Pirate King and El Vago
by Dana DeVries
The door to the captain's day cabin opened and Allende, the most famous pirate in La Boca, strode in. His glance took in the room's three occupants and the intricately carved designs on the walls. Across one wall, a beautiful woman frolicked in the waves as light clouds blew by and a lovely sunset was carved into the oak wall across from it. The front of the desk that extended from the wall was carved to show a jagged reef. The only things atop the desk were a vase of flowers and a tall Castillian man sitting on the corner of the desk swinging his legs and smiling. Behind the desk sat a severe looking woman whose features bore a strong resemblance to the woman in the carving. Several sea chests were pushed into a corner and another Castillian sat on one of them staring blankly at the opposite wall. Allende's forehead was covered in dried blood from a shallow cut, but he ignored that and stepped forward to stretch out his hand towards the two at the desk. "Captain Orduno and Captain Orduno, thank you for the lives of my men. I don't know how to repay your mercy." Joaquin Orduno, the man on the desk, shook his hand without rising. Margaretta Orduno rose from her seat behind the desk and put her hand in Allende's. He quickly kissed it.
Joaquin responded with a smile, "Well, we couldn't very well let the Corsairs enslave you all. That would hardly be the act of a good neighbour."
Margaretta slid back into her seat and snorted. "Enough. We're alone here, so just drop the act. You knew exactly where we could pull in close, the same spot the Brotherhood just happened to retreat. Not likely. You're more than a good neighbour, Joaquin. You're a traitor to your country and a pirate to boot."
Joaquin's tone was calm and reasonable as he objected. "Now dear cousin, let's not jump to any conclusions. It's true that I do have contacts and informants among the Brotherhood. I've even fenced a few cargos of stolen goods for them. But it's information that is my greatest asset. And you don't learn anything unless you're willing to deal with those who are less than virtuous. That hardly qualifies me as a traitor. It's certainly not enough to bring to the authorities."
Margaretta's face was cold as she evenly replied. "I wouldn't dishonour my husband's family in that manner. Why don't we just leave it up to the family to decide what to do with you?"
"I'd prefer to avoid that. They may think of me as the black sheep of the family, but if they ever had any proof that I've had any dealings with the likes of the Brotherhood of the Coast... Well, they won't denounce me, but I'll never set foot on a ship again."
Margaretta's eyes bored into him. "So what is that to me?"
"What if you were the one stuck on land, under your family's thumb? Trapped on shore when your heart remained at sea?"
"Somehow I don't see your heart anywhere but within your chest. Besides I'm not the one who conspired with pirates, am I?"
"No, but you have availed yourself of my aid before, haven't you? I'm far more useful as an information source than as a prisoner. And..."
"You are the heroine of San Cristobal. Your proper place is here at home. It was a difficult decision for the king to allow you to seek out your missing husband. If you reveal my...connection to the Brotherhood, I'll be spending more time on land with my friends at court. Powerful friends who might convince good King Sandoval to reconsider his backing of your expedition."
Margaretta hissed involuntarily before shaking her head. "No, you don't have that much influence at court."
Before she could continue the man in the corner suddenly interrupted in a singsong voice. "Nib nob no, El Vago. He saves king, king orders you, you fly across the waves in search of the husband you crave.." His voice was childlike but his words rocked the room.
Joaquin immediately blurted out, "How did you know..." With a horrified look, he stopped speaking and the only sound for a moment was the sound of the waves outside slapping against the planking. Margaretta cleared her throat. "Felipe is experiencing...visions. It gives him some interesting insights. But I do not believe that you are El Vago."
Allende nodded and turned to Orduno. "El Vago, huh? That would explain some of your...inquiries."
After a moment, Joaquin shrugged. "Well, I guess associating with two bandits isn't any worse than one. I say associating because I am not El Vago. However, I do occasionally work with him, obtain information for him, that sort of thing. I run across all kinds of useful knowledge and that's how I learned of the Corsairs planned invasion. Or the fact that the Inquisition has begun to outfit their own ships. Margaretta, the first one has already sailed with a mission to ensure that you don't return. I will be happy to tell you where she was bound in exchange for you've discovered."
Margaretta thought over the offer for a moment and then nodded. "Alright. Allende has promised his 'privateers' will leave Castillian hulls alone. Reward enough for saving his men. I would have liked to see you hung, Joaquin, but I'll forego that reward mostly because I know El Vago fights against those deranged Inquisitors."
"That's pretty much what I thought. Just about anything the Inquisition favours, I oppose."
The Castillian captain nodded her head, turned to the pirate and asked "What are your plans, Allende?"
"Simple enough. If Senor Orduno could take us aboard his ship, we can rendezvous with the other members of the Brotherhood within a few days." Margaretta quirked an eyebrow at him and he shrugged. "It's probably best if you not know exactly where. Removes any temptations."
"But how will they know where to meet you?"
"We always expected to be attacked sooner or later. We're not entirely unprepared for it."
Margaretta nodded. "Then I'll leave the two of you to work out the details." She stood and stepped around the desk. Joaquin hopped up to let her pass and knocked the vase off the desk. Felipe's hand closed around it before anyone else had moved.
"Flowers, bowers, towers, sitting alone, king, sing, ring, Allende isn't your real name is it?" Felipe stopped and peered into the Brotherhood captain's face for a moment. "More than just king of pirates aren't you?" Suddenly angry, the Castillian swordsman slammed the vase down on the desk. Shattered glass and flowers scattered across the desk, but the tension flowed out of him just as rapidly as it appeared. He giggled and then lightly danced out of the room.
Margaretta glared at the faces of the two men left in her cabin, searching for any sign of pity or scorn. Seeing nothing, she nodded and stepped out of the room.
Allende turned back to Joaquin Orduno. "Again, thank you for the rescue."
"I'm just sorry I didn't find out about the attack any sooner. A couple hours earlier..."
"A couple hours earlier and you could have warned us. But I doubt that would have helped. Someone betrayed us and it was perfectly planned. There was no warning from the lookouts and the main batteries exploded on the first shot. The fireships engulfed the entire deck within minutes. The only reason the entire fleet didn't burn was that someone stopped the flames."
"Stopped the flames? How?"
"El Fuego. Someone with the blood of a Castillian king turned the fire against the Corsairs and led a couple of our ships to safety."
Joaquin frowned and made the sign of the cross. "Don't start that." Allende's voice was harsh. "Ernesto Castillus is a brave man. He freed scores of slaves from the Corsairs and we asked him to join us. I assume he was coming to La Bucca to agree. But even before joining us, he's saved the lives of dozens of my men. The fact that the Church calls him evil because of his sorcery doesn't hold much water with me."
"Then you'll care even less when I tell you, the Inquisition was behind this attack."
"My sources tell me the Inquisition sold information to the Corsairs. They're probably the ones who paid off this traitor of yours." Shaking his head, Joaquin continued. "I never expected the Church to ally itself with heathen barbarians. They must want be desperate to see you all destroyed."
"I'm sure they are."
The two men fell silent for a minute. Then Joaquin asked, "Where will the Brotherhood go now?"
"You heard what I told Margaretta. We'll regroup at the Isle of Richebeau. It's only half a day sail from here. Barren, uninhabited and secretly stocked with provisions."
"And then? The Corsairs seized La Bucca, their fleet is anchored in the harbor and we'll only have a couple of damaged ships remaining. And Margaretta passed word on to Admiral Torres before we left port. The Castillian Navy will launch their own attack soon. So what is the plan?"
"La Bucca is our home. The only home many of my men have ever known. There's only one thing we can do. We take it back." Allende paused for a moment. "Hopefully Castillus will aid us. His fire magic could turn the tide. But even if he doesn't, we're going to take back our home."
"What about the Castillians?"
"You said Admiral Torres, right? We used to call him Slowpoke Torres. An able commander, but a very cautious one. He'll summon as many ships as possible for the attack, so he won't be ready for days. I mean to strike back tomorrow night, before the Corsairs can entrench themselves. When Torres approaches and sees the Brotherhood's colors flying onshore and on ships anchored outside the harbor, he'll think we repulsed the Corsairs. He won't take the chance of embroiling Castille in another war, even with La Bucca, so soon after the Montaigne have withdrawn."
Orduno chewed upon his bottom lip for a moment. "You seem remarkably well informed on Castillian naval officers. Pirate King." His tone stressed Allende's title.
"It's good to you know your enemies, El Vago."
Orduno replied hotly. "I'm no enemy. I never even claimed to be loyal to you alone."
"Relax. I'm not asking you to be. Just get me and my men to Richebeau. We'll need to transfer to the other ships there."
Orduno's face broke into a broad grin. "Hopefully I can convince some of your men to stay aboard my Amo Stallis. If we're going to take on the entire Corsair fleet, I'd like to have a few extra men manning my ship."
"I was hoping you'd join us, friend. Now let's get moving. I'd like to be gone before your dear cousin reconsiders."
The pirate king and the agent of El Vago clasped hands and strode from the day cabin together.