Nocturna League (Episode 2: The Mist Hour), p.3Kell Inkston
Chapter 3: Boris Ends up Being Useful and Colette has a Less-Vinegary Night
The Captain and Boris step through the salty, chilly streets just past the midnight hour. They approach the fortress-like Ganastere estate, and The Captain gives a sensible tap upon the large steel-enforced wooden doors. A dog barks in the distance, and the two moons bend slowly through the sky - no answer.
The Captain gracefully motions Boris to the door. “Good chap?”
With the force of a battering ram Boris slams his claw into the door, the sound reverberating out through the entire town. “WE ARE OF THE BEING HERE. MUCH THANKING FOR THE OPEN DOORING,” Boris says with a polite, delicate tone- such a shame only another seasort could come even close to picking up on that politeness.
A rush of steps approach from the other end, and the doors shift open via a mechanism to reveal the lavish interior of the home, and a man pointing a loaded crossbow right at Boris. “So it’s come to this, ha-” the man stops once he sees them clearly. He puts aside the weapon. “Terribly sorry. I thought you were someone else. Who might the two of you be?” The well-dressed, balding man says with an inquisitive raise of the brow as he takes up the cup of coffee he has on a side table just behind the doors.
The Captain steps up. “I’m The Captain, captain of the M.S. Nocturna. We’ve come t-”
The man, in the shock of realization, promptly spits his coffee in The Captain’s face, says a very nasty word and shuts the door. The Captain and Boris listen to the man lock the door and then frantically pace off somewhere.
“Quite a peculiar fellow, that one,” The Captain says. Boris nods.
Just before The Captain decides to give the order to break in and strap everyone inside to tables for interrogation, the man returns and opens the door with an apologetic look about him. “Eh, terribly sorry about that. It turns out the master would quite like to see you,” the embarrassed servant says, bowing for entry.
“Thank you for the warm welcome.” The Captain steps in with the gigantic Boris lumbering behind him on his many, shelled legs.
The two are led through long halls of gold and rose. Suits of armor, paintings of snooty-looking ancestors, and trophies of the hunt line the walls on both sides, providing a much-needed artistic sound for the otherwise silent hall. They approach a set of fancy doors, and a pair of maids open them to reveal the office of the current head of the Ganastere line.
He’s really quite plump, and this excites Boris more than most people upon seeing a plump person.
“Why hello there!” the graying, short-bearded man says between sips of wine. “The name’s Varr Ganastere.” He presents his hand to The Captain and the two shake hands. “How can I help the prestigious Captain this fine evening?”
The Captain adjusts his cap to perfect straightness- a sure sign he’s been successfully flattered. “Well, your legacy, we wanted to look into the disappearance of one of our crew members- captured by an assailant made of mist, it appeared.”
Varr squints an eye. “I suppose you’ve heard of the recent upsets with the Kalamests, then?”
The Captain nods as Boris starts smelling the air. “We have. I suppose it was not misinformation that they’ve been suspected with the kidnappings, and have not dealt with the matter publicly?” The Captain asks, looking about the room to spot paintings, whitewood furnishing, and an old grandfather clock.
“I am of the smelling,” Boris states in a tone he considers a whisper, but in fact is a bold decibel to any common ear.
The old, red-cheeked Varr laughs. “It’s quite true; and by all means my friend, go to the kitchen if you’re hungry. Is it true, dear Captain, that this is the one and only Boris?”
The Captain shoos Boris away, and turns back to Varr as the giant lobster seasort lumbers away on his massive bright red legs. “He is. I suppose you’ve heard the rumors?”
“That you were betrayed by the Duke of Whales and abandoned in that Vuru forsaken reef?”
The Captain helps himself to a chair and kicks his leg up upon the other. “That’s right.”
Varr draws back in repose as he takes another sip. “Oh my. I’ve heard stories- I’m just shocked they were true. I must apologize for my doorman’s rude demeanor earlier. A man o-… commander of your caliber would of course have all sorts of distasteful rumors surrounding him. I am curious though, if I may pry.”
The Captain switches legs. “You may not.”
A breeze blows outside, whistling through the window, and then Varr laughs. “O-of course! Pardon me! Straight to business, then.”
The Captain nods. “Thank you. Are you certain that the kidnappings were by the Kalamests?”
Varr nods back, his eyebrows raised in a drunken attempt at composure. “Well, as there is only one gauntlet of mist, it is either them that have been doing it, or someone that stole it.”
The Captain caresses his bandaged chin. “I see. And you’re planning an assault on their manor?”
“It seems we have no choice in the matter. They refuse to discuss what’s been going on, and so we, with the townspeople’s help, must act in their stead. We could use some stalwart sea-folk like Boris and yourself. What say you. Will you help us?”
The Owner of the Nocturna delivers a suave hum, and then nods. “Yes, I feel we can be of some use,” he says as Boris storms in, sausage links strung around his neck festively as he crunches down his fourth raw chicken breast.
“MISTAKEN, I WAS,” Boris says after chewing down the chicken.
The Captain turns to Boris with the utmost of poise. “Is that so?”
“I AM OF YES. I WAS OF THE THINKING I SMELL ANOTHER FOOD, BUT NO, JUST THE FOOD OF THIS.”
The Captain squints an eye as Varr makes a wide, uncomfortable grin. “Well, you win some and you lose some,” The Captain says.
Varr nods. “Yes, well, we’re just about to start the assault- I suppose you would be the finest to lead considering your… reputation as a person of action. Will you have the honor?”
A smile crosses the Captain’s bandages. “I shall take the honor.”
“E-excellent… But there’s something I suppose you need to be told before we go ahead.”
“Don’t worry, my dear sir. I’m already quite aware of the situation. Would you mind if I got some food from the kitchen?”
Varr’s breathing picks up in decibel.
Meanwhile, a far less comfortable Colette has reached the far side of town, and overlooks the Kalamest estate in front of her. It is a tall, solid, elegant building- windows, doors, and all points of entry hatched down with metal. The sailorette scowls, sighs, and stretches a moment before she leaps for one of the windows, latching onto the bars. The weeks of jobbing on the Nocturna, though proven unpleasant and soring the first few days, have developed a rather competitive set of muscles for her in comparison to other ladies her age.
She scales the bars with gymnastic ease, pulling up ledges, other bars, and any outcropping she can grasp to pull her way up to the top of the roof. A cold, ocean-bound wind blows freely up top. She shivers but once before she buttons up her long shipman’s coat and puts on her brown gloves made from the leather of some monstrous beast the crew encountered on the island of U’ellawat. Colette checks for any sort of entrance into the manner, but finds nothing. She then goes to the back of the manor’s roof to check for a balcony she could drop down on, but instead finds something much more interesting.
A suspicious looking figure steps out from the first floor backyard door, locks it behind him, and starts off into the backwoods. She snuffs in the cool air, and quiets her breath as she descends the keep and enters the forest.
It is a dark, tombstone gray in the wood, only the light of the two moons providing any light to travel by. Colette sneaks with light steps across the moist ground, following the clear trail of the figure’s clumsy, frantic footwork. She spots that the tracks are consistently deep, as if the person were very heavy, or very tired. In just minutes of walking, she finds a si
She cocks her revolver, and the figure flinches. “Good day,” she says as if she met him down a street at noon.
The wind howls. “Y-you… shit. You’re with that crew that arrived.” His voice is young, pure- about her age, actually.
She squints an eye. “How would you know that?”
He scoffs, “We’ve banned guns here.”
She clears her throat. “Ahh… My turn. You’re a Kalamest.”
“What’s left of one.”
Colette reasserts her posture; straighter, as if she owned the place- like The Captain. “Am I to believe that you just decided to abandon your fortress at a time when the whole town was raring for your head?”
The figure gets to his feet, trained perfectly under Colette’s sights. “The manor’s defenses won’t hold. Didn’t hold last time, won’t hold when they decide to come, either.”
Colette exhales a puff of steam. “Last time?”
“Our heirloom, the Gauntlet of Mist, was stolen from us two weeks ago.”
Colette listens to the wind a minute. “And just how did the person get in?”
The man pauses, shakes his head. “Spose it doesn’t matter now. Everyone’s out of the manner, so I guess I might as well tell you. We weren’t expecting so much force at once- someone got in during the changing of the guard. It had to be an inside job; not that it matters anymore.”
Colette nods her head a bit to the side. “…So this happened two weeks ago. When the kidnappings started?”
“And no one believes you, I guess.”
“Of course not. No one could steal something so well guarded… unless they also had a gauntlet for themselves.”
“What do you mean?” She lowers her gun.
“I suppose you’ve heard about the kidnappings, how the person did them?”
The figure shakes his head. “There’s two gauntlets.” Colette’s quiet, and the man sighs. “I’m guessing you haven’t heard the whole story… I suppose I might as well. Come on, I’ll let you into the Manor and I’ll fill you in- I can’t very well take you to the family hideout,” he says as he turns to a stride.
Colette holsters her gun, and enters the large manor. She’s let in by the man, and she’s met with the deep warmth of the Kalamest manor, its boiler running by the constant upkeep of the very same man that allowed her entry. He offers to take her coat, she denies. She then takes a seat in the sitting room before he offered to do so, and once he offered to give her some tea, she denied again. For the sake of not keeping her waiting, then, he takes to the opposite chair and sits politely, quite unlike his almost sulky demeanor in the forest. “Yes, well. You see, for generations the Gauntlets of Mist have been safely in the hands of the Kalamests and the Ganasteres. The man who wielded both was none other the intrepid captain Skellson of legendary repute. He forged these gauntlets from the soul of a warlock who terrorized the island. The warlock, you see, had powers over the mist- so much so that he could create, manipulate, and transform into mist at any time.”
“Huh,” a relaxing Colette mutters, cozening up to the corner of her chair.
“The gauntlets, when separated, display only a fraction of the warlock’s power, capable of being used during a single hour, the witching hour.”
“Precisely. But together, they achieve the full extent of their power- a perfect mimicry of the warlock’s magic. Skellson, not needing the power and being a good captain, decided to split the gauntlets between the warlock’s two sons, Ganas and Kalam, one for each. From those boys we get the Ganastere and Kalamest families- but it seems like the balance of power is all going to end soon.”
Colette squints an eye as she relaxes herself. “You think the Ganasteres stole the other gauntlet?”
“No one else but them could have done it. Really I’m impressed more than anything. The moment they got the other gauntlet they ‘kidnapped’ one of their own, and another each night. By keeping to midnight only, not only could they stay out of the suspicion of it being them, they’ve also turned public opinion against us; not that it was ever good.”
Colette leans in. “Yeah? Why not?”
“They run the mailing service. A small operation but they have the printing press. The WhiteWave Includer’s been including some very skeptical opinions about us, presumably written by anonymous sources.”
“Wow, that’s…” her initial skepticism, melted into confusion, cools into a weary compassion. His deep brown eyes carry his case quite well, she feels. “That’s real shitty of them. But that does make sense… I guess. I guess I should apologize,” she says, averting her gaze in some sort of embarrassment. “Name’s Colette. I’ll do what I can to help.”
The man, looking equally abashed, brushes his forearm with a hint of pain on his features, and nods. “Itrim Kalamest. I’m sorry, but I don’t think there’s much we can do at this point,” he says, looking through the halls and rooms to the front window— lights and chatter are approaching.
“So you think the kidnapped people are with the Ganasteres, held up somewhere?”
Itrim nods. “Probably. Either that or one of their farms.”
Colette strokes her chin in a very Captain-like way. “You know, we can’t win this with so many. My commander is joining in with the Ganasteres, but once he hears of this, he’ll see things my way.” She leads him to the back door. “Look, Itrim, you need to get back to your friends and tell them to get the Ganastere estate noon tomorrow, I’ll have The Captain turned around and we’ll blow this whole thing wide open. Fighting the Ganasteres will be hard, especially when they have the gauntlets, but if we show them to be the kidnappers the people will turn on our side.”
Itrim smirks, and nods as they lock the door behind them. “You got it. I… I don’t know what to say.”
She smiles. “It’s an upstanding captain’s duty to be a ready and willing help.”
Itrim’s smirk grows into a grin, and he nods again. “Thanks, captain Colette.”
She’s quiet as Itrim rushes off to his hiding place. It’s very cold, but there’s enough in her for her cheeks to redden, if only a slight increment.
“Captain Colette,” she says to herself in awe. Colette turns about to the main street, moving around through the woods to avoid the Kalamest estate’s assault party. She then approaches the back of the group, and finds The Captain and Boris at the front of the crowd.
Nocturna League (Episode 2: The Mist Hour) by Kell Inkston / Fantasy / Actions & Adventure have rating 3 out of 5 / Based on18 votes