The fight against the ships of Giovanni Balastruse lasted weeks. The Italian privateer was well-outfitted, and it took every trick in the book to match him. Your hands were raw from handling the ropes as the vessels sought to outmaneuver one another, firing cannons and pistols, positioning to board, and occasionally ramming each other. It looked like no victor would emerge. But Old Ironbeard had a few surprises up his sleeve…and one of them came in the form of a sensuous Spanish lass.

Laurelia Cariño was said to have shared her bed with the most powerful mortals of the day, and even some men who were not so mortal. She had an allure that was difficult to ignore. The sun is setting, and it brings a glow to Laurelia’s features as she passes you on her way to the captain’s quarters in the fo’c’sle. You can’t help watching her, admiring the way she walks. She has a dancer’s body and a whore’s curves. Seeing that the killick, the captain’s backup anchor, is in need of maintenance, you lean against the side of the captain’s quarters to drop some eaves as you clean it. There are few words at first, but plenty of other noises. You imagine what you might do in the captain’s stead, given a private audience with such a woman. Finally, genuine conversation begins.

Laurelia says, “I think it’s time I make my offer to Giovanni, Mi Capitán. If you are ready to roll over.” You wonder if there’s a double-entendre there. Old Ironbeard says, “Don’t mind at all, lass,” followed by a muffled noise. “It’s only a show o’ weakness, after all. ‘Nuff to lure in that fish-faced mongrel, Balastruse.”

Laurelia replies, “Sí, Mi Amor. I will have him eating out of the palm of my hand.” She giggles. More noises follow.

The Cap’n growls, “And when the bilge rat moves in, he finds ‘imself in the jaws o’ me trap. Har har! Let’s see how ‘e likes me cannons from close up!”

You recall the Cap’n using this trick before. He had few ships customized to shift ballast in such a way that the vessel would heel to one side as if sinking. An overeager assailant would then ignore the ship to his detriment.

Laurelia says, “Only a fool would believe I could sabotage your ships, Mi Amor. Now, let us speak of this no mas. I wish to enjoy my time with a real man before I must sneak over to the ship of the little boy.”

You continue listening as long as you dare, then head below to relax before the action starts. With any luck, tomorrow will be the final battle with Balastruse.

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