a boat, a crown, a harp

This one is going to be a toughie….

“Hey!” Cain said walking briskly through the people who were still boarding to approach this new boat. “Do you have room for passengers? Name your price for me and my squire.”

Rothmir bristled under the weight of being called a “squire” but went with it for now. His lord was in a mood.

“Are you not listening to me?” Cain yelled. He walked up behind someone who was checking the lines and rigging. It looked to him like they were about to set sail. Which only made him all the more anxious to get their attention. Before Rothmir could stop him, Cain grabbed their shoulder and whipped them around.

“When a Gryphic Knight calls you, you turn around,” he commanded.

He expected a male pirate and was confronted with a female sailor. She had bandana tied around her head and her hair was tied in a pair of braids. She stared at Cain in anger, breaking his grasp on her shoulder and dropping her harp. Rothmir got in between the two of them to apologize.

“I apologize on behalf of my lord,” Rothmir said. As one of his duties when serving Cain, it required him to apologize on his behalf. “He is anxious and keen to get on his way.”

“And I want to know if you’re brave enough to cross the Ildritch Sea,” Cain demanded. “And I want to know now.”

The lady just smiled and pointed behind them. They turned to be faced with a eight foot tall nagini. Cain attempted to draw his sword but the nagini batted it aside then grabbed him by the throat. And before Rothmir could even think of anything the nagini’s serpentine tail wrapped around his legs, sending him sprawling to the ground.

“You have a problem with Tessa,” The nagini hissed. “You got a problem with me.”

“You alright captain?” Tessa nodded in reply.

“What do you want me to do with them?”

Tessa made a hand gesture neither Cain nor Rothmir could interpret.

“Tessa is going to let you off easy,” the nagini said. He dropped Cain and released Rothmir. “Gather up your things and get the hell off her boat.”

“We want to hire your boat,” Rothmir said, before Cain had the chance to say something noble and stupid. “Name your price.”

“Yslin’s Hate is not for hire,” the nagini said.

“Are you refusing a knight in the king’s service?” Cain demanded. “I can have your arrested.”

The nagini reared up to its full height, over nine feet tall, and loomed over Cain. “They’ll never find your body.”

Rothmir remembered tales of the giant snake humanoids, swallowing humans whole in the service of Yslin, their sacred water deity. Armour and all. And this one looked hungry.

“Good sir,” Rothmir said soothingly. “How may I address you?”

The nagini turned on Rothmir but his look softened, if only a little. “Address?”

“Your name, good sir,” Rothmir said, glancing over at Cain. His lord had the good sense to look grateful. He would have fought this nagini to the death to preserve his honour.

“Call me Balder,” the nagini said. “And it doesn’t change my mind.”

“And your captain? You said her name was Tessa?”

“I speak for her,” the nagini said. “I know her mind.”

Tessa ignored the two of them as she plucked away on the strings of her harp, satisfied that they seemed to be in good order. What struck Rothmir as odd was that for as much as the strummed the harp, he couldn’t hear a single note. Judging by the look on her face, it didn’t seem to matter.

“What if I told you a crown was at stake,” Rothmir said. “And that you can name any price?”

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