A Twist of Fate

You join the rest of the crew in a cheer as the Roman-style carack captained by Balastruse ignites in flames. Men leap into the water to escape the spreading fire, and the vacant helm results in the ship drifting aimlessly. Old Ironbeard’s ploy was successful, and the other vessels of the Venetian appear to be retreating. Laurelia approaches the captain. She smiles disarmingly and says, “I think it is time for a toast, Capitan de mi Corazon! Another brilliant victory to add to your little lock book.”

Old Ironbeard grimaces, “You mean my logbook, dearie. An’ it ain’t so little. But I think I must acquiesce with your proposal. Let us drink!” The ships anchor in the shallows of a nearby stretch of beach, and a plank is run between Deens Brand and one of the hijacked ships of the enemy. A barrel is brought aboard, and its contents distributed freely. It contains a higher quality of wine than you have ever tasted, and you can’t help having more than usual. You join the others in singing chanteys and telling bawdy stories. You see the pirates of other ships who follow Old Ironbeard celebrating, as well. Within a few hours, all the revelers are more than a bit squiffy, lounging about in variable states of consciousness.

Suddenly, a fish-faced man strides onto the deck from below and holds a falcata made of Toledo steel to the captain’s throat. It’s Giovanni Balastruse! He says, “Relinquish your command and you may yet see another day.”

“NEVER!” cries old Iron Beard, as he blocks the blade with his bracer and rolls to the side. The Venetian starts forward, then retreats a step as the cap’n fires a round at him and misses. He draws his falchion as you and your nearby crewmates clear-headed enough to realize what’s happening draw weapons and rush to the captain’s aid. Laurelia Cariño steps next to Balastruse, shouting, “Ayudame!” and various pirates move close to her. Your own crewmates are turning on the cap’n!

She says, “Put down your weapons, Mi Amor. We need spill no more blood today.”

Old Ironbeard is outraged. “You would betray me, wench!? How did this oaf get on me ship?”

Laurelia says, “I snuck him onboard last night when I returned from my visit to his carrack. Don’t take it personally, Mi Capitan, but Giovanni has much better connections.”

Giovanni steps in, “Our combined forces will be enough to restore my family’s land and reclaim our seat on the council.”

“Sorry,” says the red-haired pirate king, “but I don’t play nice with others!” He rushes forward, firing a volley at Balastruse as you and your mates attack the traitors. Laurelia darts about and parries with her rapier, slashing throats and piercing chests. Old Ironbeard cuts a swath with his falchion, then clashes steel with Balastruse. The two fight fiercely as the ship is filled with the noise of combat. You narrowly miss getting shot and focus your attention on your enemies.

Finally, Balastruse is cut down and Old Ironbeard decapitates him. The captain raises the head of the Venetian by the hair and shouts, “Lower yer weapons, lads, or ye’ll suffer the same fate as ‘im!”

Some of your treasonous crewmates drop their weapons, while others leap overboard. Laurelia is disarmed, and the cap’n approaches her.

“A shame it has come to this, dearie. We had a good romp, ye and me. Suppose ye just had to have more power, eh?”

Laurelia looks at him with sorrow. She says, “It wasn’t the power I craved, Mi Amor, but the freedom. I love the sea, but I wanted a quiet place of my own, as well, where I would not be hunted. I could have had that with Giovanni.”

Old Ironbeard appears distressed. Bowing his head and turning away, he says, “I cannot bear this. Sell her to the Haitians.” He heads toward his cabin. “And find the rest o’ the traitors,” he mutters to Ignaas. “I’ll reward handsomely any man who removes them from this world.” And with that, he disappears into his quarters.

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