Captain Blackshear and his first mate, Sal, stood looking down at nine wooden crates. The words “Freeport Shipping Company” were painted in bold black letter across the sides of each box. The night before, the Pirates had intercepted a cargo ship that had been carrying a load from the citizens of Arcadin. They surrounded the ship with their smaller, more agile boats and boarded. After slaying the ship’s crew, the Pirates looted everything they could. This included the nine wooden crates.
When they were back at their camp, they carried the large boxes to the center fire pit. Blackshear placed his hand on one of the boxes and slowly moved his hand over the fine grain wood.
He had grown up in Oasis with the Gypsies of Tunaria before leaving at the age of nineteen to become a Pirate. After a few years he had enough money to buy his own ship. He started small before recruiting a small force that could help commandeer other vessels. His fleet grew to the size of eleven viable warships.
They had often run up and down the Southeast River between Hazinak and Oasis but the flow of traffic reduced once the new colonies were set up in the Frontier lands. To keep the flow of money steady enough to pay off his men, Blackshear decided to abandon the river and head north to the ports of Freeport. Ships were sailing by the dozens between the Western Human city and the colonies in the Frontiers. After several successful raids, Blackshear decided to set up a village along the northern coast of the East Ocean. It would be secluded from any harm and would be a short sail to the routes between the Frontiers and Freeport.
Thanks to the abundant supply of plundered tunar and tradable goods, the Village had plenty of money to build huts for every sailor. Even the lowest of the low slept alone in their hut.
Captain Blackshear motioned for Sal to open one of the crates. Sal took out a black crowbar and slammed it down between a crack where the box walls and lid came together. He dropped his weight on the bar, popping the lid off the crate. The Captain stepped forward and peered down into the dark box. Inside was wrapped a set of black chainmail armor that glimmered in the afternoon sunlight. It was too heavy for Blackshear’s men. They needed light armor and preferred leather. The Pirates in other parts of Tunaria would love this sort of thing and thus the Captain figured he cold trade it to the Pirates near Forkwatch. He thought that it’d be a nice upgrade from that fishbone stuff they currently dress in.
Sal cracked open the next box and it contained the same black armor. The next one did too. The fourth box contained a ton of black sapphires. The fifth was lined with an assortment of crafting alloys, while the sixth was full of metal studs, also used for crafting. The seventh and eighth boxes were full of tunar. Blackshear guessed in the range of 18 million based on what he had seen in the past.
By now, Blackshear was very satisfied with their plunder. Rarely was he this lucky. Sal hacked in to the ninth box. He peeked over the side before the Captain, in his need to maintain his command, yanked away his first mate and looked down into the crate. His eyes widened at the sight of the box’s contents.
Lined up side-by-side were six black long swords. A greenish-black glow emitted from the blades, just enough to light the inside of the box. Blackshear reached down and picked up one of the swords. It was perfectly weighted. He turned and swung it in the air and then gave it a strong thrust. He felt powerful. It was if he was wielding a two-handed axe with the agility of a dagger. His stained teeth were showing as a grin of excitement occupied the seasoned Pirate’s face.
Snyde, Juno, and Eterin had been running up the east coast for the last day. They were traveling in their wolf forms, racing at a speed that their two legs could never match. They passed by the caiman island outside of Bobble-by-Water and then ran through the valleys of Neriak. They were in a hurry since they were already behind. They had stayed in Freeport for the night, hiding out in the upstairs of the Smiling Serpent Inn. Rest had been more important to his men.
It was mid-afternoon when they saw the fire from the Pirate Village up ahead. Snyde came to an abrupt stop and so did his students. The Elf spoke up.
“Pirates,” Eterin said. “I remember these guys from my early days.”
Eterin had grown up in Teth and spent most of his time there until the age of twenty when he moved to Qeynos to study under Snyde Cragsmear. Teth youth are sent all over to fetch random items at the requests of their elders.
“They seem to be pretty interested in something,” he said.
The Pirates had opened all nine boxes and were gathered around them. In total there were maybe forty men, all with their scimitars hanging from their waists.
“Well, why don’t we take a look as to what these men have gotten?” said Snyde.
They were no longer invisible and the three Rogues formed a triangle as they approached the Pirate Village. There were no city walls or anything of that sort. If one were to follow the road north, it would literally take the person to the center fire pit. The Rogues, led by Snyde, stayed on this path.
They got within ten feet of the group and stopped. The Pirates’ backs were to the Rogues. Thanks to the excitement brought on by the crates, no one heard or noticed their approach.
Snyde kicked the dusty dirt and grunted loudly. His hands were on his hips and he had a smile of curiosity on his face. The stealth black robe given to him by Sir Keegan Quicksteed fluttered from the ocean’s breeze.
“Excuse me lads. Or should I say, mates?” Snyde said. “You men have something fancy, do ya? Well how about we take a look?”
A few men turned when Snyde began to speak. They had heard him and were a bit confused at first. Juno was huge and towered over them but the Elf, Eterin, seemed little of a threat. The one talking, who stood with the black robe in the middle, looked eerily calm.
Sal pushed through the now staring crowd. He removed his scimitar and lifted it to Snyde’s throat. The Rogue didn’t flinch.
“Mind your own damn business!” snarled the first mate.
“Do you kiss your mum with that mouth? Of course you don’t.” Snyde paused for a second, looked to have a change of heart and then continued. “I’d love to mind my own business! But, ya see, what you guys seem to be interested in looks much more exciting than anything else around here. And me men and I have been-a-travelin’ all day long and we wouldn’t mind some excitement.” He was still smiling and his Irish brogue was almost too thick for even his students to understand.
The Captain of the Pirates heard Snyde and put down the black long sword. He walked up behind Sal and put a hand on his first mate’s shoulder. Sal lowered his weapon.
“I’m sorry gentleman, but you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said the Captain.
It was a subtle threat that made Snyde chuckle inside. He’d crossed pirates before and when a pirate gets defensive about something, it’s usually a valuable something.
The other Pirates had spread out and had begun to surround the Rogues. They started arming themselves while Snyde’s men remained calm.
“Oh, come on!” Snyde whined. “We were just passin’ through, you have to understand! Hey, hey now lads. Put down your weapons. Step back, I tell ya! I… I…” Snyde pretended to be stuttering as if he was nervous.
The Captain lunged forward and with his scimitar, swung at Snyde’s head. The Rogue casually ducked and went right back into his pleading for mercy.
“Don’t do that! We don’t want trouble. It’s not even fair! There are so many of you!” The Captain swung again and once again the agile Rogue easily dodged the attack. “Please don’t hurt us. These are my students and we are very tired from running all day—“
Blackshear swung harder this time. He lifted his blade and drove it down at an angle as if to slash through Snyde’s left shoulder and exit through his hip. This time, the Rogue didn’t dodge. He brought out his blades and caught the Captain’s scimitar in mid-swing. The sudden halt almost ripped the blade right from the Captain’s grip.
Before the Captain could say a word, Eterin had run him through with the Elven short sword. The Captain’s body buckled in pain. Sal raised his blade and swung at Eterin. The blade hit nothing but air.
The next five minutes were incredibly brutal for even a Barbarian’s taste. Every single Pirate was slain. When all were taken care of, the three Rogues wiped their blades and huddled back up by the nine wooden crates. The lids were off and Snyde inspected each one. The black armor inside the first three crates was some of the best he had ever seen. He reached in and compared it to his own. It was even better than his gear and that was already among the rarest in Tunaria.
He turned to his men and said, “Three sets, three of us. Works out nicely, don’t it?” Juno nodded.
He looked at the other boxes and studied their contents. The boxes of gems, metals, and tunar were all put back together with their lids on top and then pushed into the East Ocean. The Rogues would eventually come back for them.
The ninth box, containing the six blades, was still remaining. Snyde picked up the blade and went through same motions Blackshear had just minutes before. He came to the same conclusion the Captain had. The blades were incredibly unique and frighteningly powerful. They packaged their armor in the empty crates and threw these boxes into the ocean with the others. They were now wearing the new armor. The new, green glowing black blades were left in their box and also pushed into the water.
They began to drag the bodies to the ocean and were almost completely done when the sounds of people were coming up the road. Eterin looked up and in the distance could see Volgo leading the way. The three Rogues vanished and waited for the army to look around the Village.
After revealing themselves, Snyde stayed up with Sir Keegan, Quinn, and the others. Meanwhile, Juno and Eterin had set up their own camp to the south. When everyone was asleep, the three Rogues loaded up one of the Pirate ships with the sunken treasure. They took out the new long swords and put their old weapons into the box. They then sailed the ship over the horizon, dropped anchor, and swam back into shore. This had taken a considerable amount of time. They didn’t get back until two hours after sunrise.
When they returned to the camp it had been abandoned. They were running north when they heard a huffing Barbarian stammering up ahead. With the new blades armed, Snyde wasn’t sure who it was and what kinds of questions they might start asking if the Rogues had to use force.
“Wolf. Now!” he ordered.
All three turned into the huge black wolves and vanished.
Volgo came around the corner with the Amulet of Fire in his hand. From the look on his face, Snyde concluded that the Warrior had been up to no good.
Running at full speed, Snyde leapt forward and knocked the Barbarian to the ground. All three wolves came out of their invisible cloak and formed a semi-circle around Captain Volgo. When Sir Keegan came around the corner, Snyde knew the Captain must have stolen the Amulet.
More were going to be coming. So the three Rogues vanished and headed out to sea, swimming out to the horizon where their anchored ship was floating. They sailed around the continent until they got to Whale Hill. There, they unloaded the ship and stored most of the goods, only pocketing some goods and enough tunar for food and travel. Then they made their way to Wyndhaven where they took coaches all the way to Highpass Hold.
In his bag were fifty black sapphires, all for the Bard.