Nocturna League (Episode 2: The Mist Hour), p.5Kell Inkston
Chapter 5: The Dirty, Nasty Scheme
Time passes slowly for Colette. She returns to the bar and slumps over in a corner table, is asked to leave thirty minutes later by the barkeep, and then she tells him that she’ll leave if he can finish a glass of vinegar. He leaves her alone, and she wiles away the hours in that sort of half-sleep that most find quite uncomfortable. Hours pass with strange, shifting dreams of friends, family, and that damnable overlord that tormented her home. Just when she gets to the part of the dream where she has the means to fight back, does a hulking cloaked figure bust into the bar. The figure scans the bar with two vertical, crustacean eyes, poking out of two holes cut into the hood, and finds Colette’s table. The sleeping bartender awakens, and is just about to tell the figure to leave when the cloaked one steps over to Colette’s table and slams down into a seat.
She wearily opens her eyes and frowns snidely. “You know, Boris, you’re not the sort that gets much use from a disguise. Old Salt sent ya’ here to spy on me?”
The figure raises a massive claw to pull up the hood. “THIS IS NECESSARY DISGUISE. CAPTAIN’S EYE IS OF THE SHARP ONES, YES?”
She leans back and crosses her arms. “I guess. So why’re you here then, Boris?”
Boris leans forward, his large lobster whiskers pointing out from his cloak. “I AM OF THE AGREEING WITH YOU. THE CAPTAIN IS OF THE CRAZY SINCE THE DAY I KNOW HIM FIRST, AND WHILE CAPTAIN IS OF THE GOOD AS CAPTAIN, HE IS OF THE BAD IN HEAD.”
She smirks. “Wow, I had no idea,” she says with no sarcasm at all.
“YOU WERE NOT OF THE NOTICING? I WAS OF THE THINKING IT QUITE OBVIO-”
“No, Boris. Of course I know he’s nuts!”
“BUT YOU WERE OF THE SAYING TH-”
“It’s called sarcasm, Boris, shit.”
“OH, I AM NOT ALWAYS GETTING OF THE FUNNY WORDS.”
“I AM GLAD THIS IS OF THE COOL, BECAUSE I WOULD BE OF THE WORRYING IT BEING TOO MUCH OF THE COLD. BUT I AM OF THE DIGRESSING. I COME TO JOIN YOU AGAINST THE CAPTAIN. IF THE GANASTERES ARE NOT OF THE REVEALING, THE KALAMESTS WILL BE OF THE DOOMING, AND THE JUSTICE WILL NOT BE OF THE SERVING!”
Colette raises a brow. “Well you’re right there, and if we do nothing they’ll have no chance. The Captain’s gonna be sorry he messed with me. He trained a true killer.”
Boris is quiet a moment. “ARE YOU OF THE MEANING THAT YOU’D BE HURTING OF THE CAPTAIN?”
Colette’s quiet too. “I certainly am. I’m going to shut down his parade. I’ve grown a lot since I’ve been on this ship, and I’ve watched him a good deal. I know how to take Old Salt alright. He’s a better shot, and a better fighter, but I have my head, and that’s the most important asset one can have.”
Boris shakes his entirety. “I AM OF THE DOUBTING, THE CAPTAIN IS OF THE UNMATCHED IN THE FIGHTING. YOU MUST HAVE A PLAN OF MUCH GOODNESS TO BE OF THE STOPPING OF HIM.”
She glances to the windows, half expecting a looming Captain to be staring at them. “I do, now that you’re here. What’s his weakness, Boris?”
“I… I AM NOT OF THE SURE I SHOULD BE OF THE TELLING.”
“Come on, Boris. Lives are on the line. The Kalamests’ll probably get killed for crimes they didn’t commit if you don’t.”
Boris takes a deep breath. “VERY WELL. THE CAPTAIN IS ONE OF MANY WEAKNESSES, I SHALL TELL YOU OF THE ONE I AM KNOWING OF THE BEST. TAKE A BANDAGE OF HIS, AND TIE IT IN A KNOT. ONCE HE IS OF THE EXERTING, HE WILL BE IN FOR THE SURPRISING.”
Colette hums. “What sort of surprise?”
“YOU ARE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE BANDAGES ARE OF THE CONTAINING FOR HIM?”
“AND SHOULD EVEN A SMALL SPIN OF THE BANDING BE OF THE FOUL, HE IS OF THE DANGER.”
“Yeah? So? He can just wrap himself back up like he usua-”
Boris reaches into his cloak and places a long roll of bandages upon the table.
Colette’s eyes spark in ambition and a large grin forms across her face as she handles them. “Boris, you sly shellfish.”
“THE CAPTAIN IS OF THE UNAWARES WHEN ASLEEP. I WAS OF THE TAKING OF THESE,” Boris says, his deep aquatic accent sounding strangely melodic to Colette for the very first time.
She nods, but there is a sudden wave of suspicion that washes her features. “So… If you were in his room and you swiped his bandages, why didn’t you just go ahead and tie a knot?”
Boris raises a claw. “ARE YOU OF THE THINKING I AM HAVING THE DEXTERITY FOR SUCH?”
Colette nods. “A-ahh, right, and it would be bad if you woke him up and he found you out anyway…”
“SO, YOUNG FOOD, WILL YOU BE OF THE DOING?”
Colette strokes her chin in a Captain-like way, and nods. “I’m your woman.”
Boris gurgles in joy, producing a mess of foul-smelling bubbles that stream onto the table. The bartender cringes, and decides to pour himself a drink.
“THIS IS OF THE PLEASING TO BORIS. HE IS UPON THE THIRD FLOOR IN THE FIRST ROOMING TO THE RIGHT FROM THE STEPINGS. YOU MUST BE OF THE SNEAK AND BE OF THE MELD TO THE SHADOWLIES. YOU MUST BE SIMPLY OF THE PULLING OF ONE OF HIS TIES, MAKE IT OF THE KNOTTING, AND BE ON THE WAY OF YOU. OF COURSE, I SHOULD NOT EVEN NEED BE OF THE TELLING WHAT COULD BE OF THE HAPPENING IF HE IS TO BE OF THE WAKING.”
Colette nods, hearing the Captain’s black-sand knuckles crack in her mind. “Y-yeah, definitely not.”
“I’D BE OF THE RECOMMENDING THAT YOU SNEAK IN THROUGH THE ROOF, THERE SHOULD BE JUST ONE OF THE GUARDINGSMAN POSTED. ALSO, THE CONSIDERING OF STEALING THEIR MIST GAUNTLET, ALONG WITH THE STOLEN KALAMEST GAUNTLET, MAY ALSO BE A PLAN OF THE GOOD.”
The spark in her eye ignites into a fire and then she takes up from her seat. “Alright. Let’s get this ball rolling,” She says, stuffing the bandages into her pocket and then cracking her knuckles ambitiously.
“I AM WISHING YOU OF THE LUCK… AND I AM OF THE THINKING YOU WILL BE A GREAT CAPTAIN.”
Colette leaves before she can respond, but the thought is charming to her- a great captain. As she walks through the pitch morning streets of the port, she does her best to keep herself focused, but in the back of her mind, she envisions the image of The Captain’s hat upon her head. It takes only minutes of stepping through the lantern light until she reaches the Ganastere estate. She peeks behind the gate walls carefully, and spots two men armed with dress swords, the steel glinting carelessly in the red Ganastere light. She takes a single moment to check the bullets in her enchanted revolver, a present from The Captain, and she holsters it with confidence.
She goes past the gate, scales the wall with relative ease and lands on the other side. The Ganastere architecture is almost identical to that of the Kalamest estate, so it’s a familiar, swift ascent. The night’s taking its toll on her, however; she knows she won’t have much left in her so she’ll need to avoid conflict if at all possible. She finds a man on a stool enjoying a smoke. He’s leaned into himself with the tiredness of many years; he looks to Colette to be an easy mark. She prepares the extendable baton she received as being part of the crew, and taps the dude on the shoulder.
“Nice night out,” she says. The turned man flinches and reaches for his knife just as Colette cocks her gun inside its holster, stopping him immediately. “No need for that, sir. I’m just a little pastry looking to find the local bakery- and you have the key. Hand it over,” she says, tapping the steel baton against him with each word. The man nods, calmly reaches into his boot, and pulls out a key. “Right, also where are you keeping the gauntlets?”
The man stutters. “I uh… I don’t know.”
She pushes the baton deeper into him. “Yeah, you do.”
“No, I really don’t! I swear! Only one of the Ganasteres would know!”
Colette hums suspiciously, and shrugs. “Fine. Sweet dreams,” she says. The last thing the guard remembers for the night is a length of steel being smashed into the back of his neck by the strength of an overworked eighteen year old
“Wh-who’s there?!” And old, male, frightened voice rings out.
“A ghost, dumbass. Where do you keep the gauntlets?” She says to him, resting a tight hand around his throat.
“P-please. They’re priceless! W-without the gauntlets we’ll be unable to-”
She pulls the trigger. *Click* “I’m pretty sure the next one has a bullet in it. Want to find out?”
“Oh, please! By your honor please don’t take our-”
“In a room on the third floor, the one in the center. The lock on it is enchanted, though, you’ll need the password!”
“Which is?” she asks, smiling in the dark.
He sighs. “Uh, it’s lemonscratch.”
She tightens her grip. “You understand I’m going to knock you out after we talk, right?”
“Uh… Uh I guess?”
“So you won’t be able to call any guards.”
“So if the password’s wrong, I might just come on down and visit agai-”
“It’s Ganastere Pride! I’m sorry!”
Colette scoffs. “…Really? Ganastere Pride?” The old man in the dark mutters in terror, and Colette sighs. “Heh, cool. Goodnight,” she says, smacking the man right where The Captain trained her. He enters dreamland, and she travels next to the climax of the mission- The Captain himself.
She creeps into the room Boris told her of - no breathing coming from inside, just like The Captain. Though confidence has surged to this point, she stops at this moment. Her hairs stand upon her arm and a sense of impending powerlessness overcomes her, like throwing oneself into the cold, black salt of the ocean night. The Captain is silent both when he’s awake, and asleep, so if he’s conscious, this could be the end of her- she just needs to tie the knot if she can. She enters the room, and spots the Captain’s dignified lump motionless in bed. She creeps forward, moth-like and gentle, poised like a tiger. With each step she imagines an abrupt “Miss Ketiere, what could you be here for?” and that deep, stomach-churning sound of his knuckles cracking to punish her. Colette is not deterred, however, and steals up to The Captain’s bed.
This is it.
Envisioning a bandaged hand to jut out from the covers and end her existence, Colette does the unthinkable, and grasps one of the long, slightly adhesive bandages wrapped around his arm. With poise undisplayed by her till now, she ties a tiny knot into the notch of his hand, a slight amount of his black sand slipping out. She pauses, just to see if he’d wake up and then leaves the room. It’s done.
Colette finishes by using the password to gain entry into the secret room, and stealing both gauntlets. One minute later she’s out on the roof, the deep night still encouraging sleep. With the gauntlets hidden in her coat, she makes her way back to the bar.
A great big Boris has just received his order of hot wings from the sleep-deprived bartender.
“Here,” the bartender says with a tone containing the coldness of hell.
“OH! I AM OF THE THANKING TO YOU, FOOD-MAN OF THE BAR.”
“Yeah,” is all he says before turning back and slumping into a corner of the back room, deciding to sleep until he hears Boris do something else that’s completely expected of Boris.
Colette steps forward with a smile and much fatter coat pockets. “Heya.”
Boris’ stalk-like, obsidian eyes spark with intrigue. “WERE YOU OF THE COMPLETING?”
Colette peeks one of the gauntlets out from a pocket, her grin measured, but enthusiastic. “Let’s just say Ol’Salt’s gonna’ have a start when I draw my gun.”
Boris nods. “THEN IT MUST BE OF THE BEING,” he says with a solemn, grave tone, which, for the ears of a non-seasort, would actually sound like laughing.
Colette is able to grab a wing before Boris slams his face into the table for the last time, finally splintering the rough wooden legs and sending it to the floor.
A groan of contempt can be heard in the back room.
She nods as she licks her fingers of the wing salted with the barman’s theoretical tears. “Right. I doubt he’ll even show up tomorrow. Once he figures out his bandages are gone and he’s got nothing else to do but fight me, I’ll bet he’d just go back to the ship.”
Boris stares woefully at the remaining wings splattered on the floor, and then looks up. “ARE YOU OF THE CERTAIN? THE CAPTAIN IS OF MANY THINGS, BUT CERTAINLY NOT BEING OF THE COWARD.”
Colette’s smile does not fade, though she knows it’s true. “Bah, you worry too much. With the gauntlets there’s nothing the Ganasteres can do. The Captain can fight plenty of people, but not a whole town.”
Boris looks away, gargling contemplatively. “I AM OF THE SUPPOSING. YOU SHOULD BE OF THE RESTING THIS NIGHT. THE FIGHTING WILL BE UPON US SOON.”
Colette nods and stretches, “Yeah, I’ll get some shut eye. I’ll have to think of a safe spot somewhere… around here,” she says as she looks around.
A foul foam spits from Boris’ mouth in something resembling the excitement one gets when they’re being helpful. “I AM OF THE KEEPING YOU SAFE. MY SHELL HAS THE SPACING FOR MYSELF AND ONE OTHER!” Boris says. At that, the front of his exoskeleton opens like a machine, to reveal a horrific, unspeakable mess of organs, bile, and partially digested food, all spilling out festively. There’s enough space inside for a person about her size.
Colette stares blankly at Boris for a moment. “Uh, actually there’s a back room. I think I’ll just relax in there,” she says, watching Boris’ internal horrors dangling about and dripping with what could be any manner of unpleasant-smelling fluids.
Boris’ shell closes, and the bar suddenly smells much more like a bar, and less like the inside of a giant crustacean. “THAT IS OF THE SENSIBLE, I AM OF THE SUPPOSING. SLEEP WELL, COLETTE FOOD, FOR TOMORROW YOU WILL BE OF THE TESTING.”
Colette nods, walks away, and cringes at the concept of a situation in which she would have to take Boris up on his offer.
Back at the Ganastere Estate, The Captain smiles ever so slightly.
Nocturna League (Episode 2: The Mist Hour) by Kell Inkston / Fantasy / Actions & Adventure have rating 3 out of 5 / Based on18 votes