“Stop!” Olivia yelled as she swooped down on the guild ship as it was making a break for the open ocean. “In the name of the guild!”
The sailors stared at her, dumbstruck. Not really out of the ordinary for her, really. People stared wherever she went. Even without the Collar around her neck, she was attractive, but with her radiance blasting through it right through their eyeballs and straight into their lower brains, they didn’t have a chance.
As Olivia landed and slowly strutted slowly around the ship, she soon noticed something odd: the captain wasn’t there, nor his first officer. Drat, have to start over I guess, she thought to herself. She wasn’t sure how much progress she’d made on making the Captain fall in love with her, but it obviously wasn’t enough. She looked around, and with the entire crew staring in an awkward state of hesitation, she decided to change tactics.
“Who’s in command here? I don’t see your captain…” Olivia said more smoothly, whilst batting her eyelids.
“Uh, I’m in charge,” one of the sailors said hurriedly, before realizing how he sounded. “Um, I mean, I’m in command. I’m Captain Pistamar. Welcome to the Stormchaser, Guildswoman. I am afraid we didn’t catch your name before.”
“Olivia of the Guild,” Olivia introduced herself, throwing in just a hint of shyness to draw out Pistamar’s interest before hitting with the big guns. “Could you do something for me? Can you tell me where you’re headed next?”
“Uh, err, of course,” Pistamar said awkwardly, apparently struggling with words. “Captain Tory said he’s got a new commission, so I’m to take this ship back to our dock at Nexus and get into new business.” A number of the sailors cheered at this, whether for the thought of making more money or because they liked Pistamar more than Tory wasn’t clear to Olivia. No matter. Getting them to work against their own interest would be difficult. She would have to provide something else more alluring to them.
“Ohh, so you’re the new captain, eh?” Olivia said, switching into full-flirt mode. “I would just love to have a word with you in your new captain’s quarters, privately, if it’s not too much to take you away from your captainly duties.”
Pistamar seemed about ready to sprint to his quarters but one of the other sailors started shouting, “Anything Captain wants to say he can say in front of us, eh!” which was met with raucous cheering from all the sailors. Apparently they wanted a piece of the action. Well, seducing the Captain might get her a quicker result but it would probably also put a wedge between him and his crew, so why not instead get everyone on her side?
Olivia smirked at the sailor, winked at him, then said loudly, “Well that’s true I guess. I was just going to ask the Captain if he wouldn’t mind signing a contract with a particularly wealthy and well-connected Guild Factor… a contract for personal services.” She punctuated this double entendre with licking her lips, which brought cheers from the crew again, and Captain Pistamar was practically shaking. He was obviously having a meltdown from Olivia’s targeted seduction, and Olivia knew all she had to do now was seal the deal.
“Well,” Pistamar said with probably as much cool as he could muster, “I’d be delighted to sign with this Guild Factor. I wonder if you don’t need some proof of the quality of services we offer here.” He leered at her, and the entire crew was now hanging on her every word, hoping they were going to get lucky.
Olivia smirked inwardly. This was the part where her inexhaustible mutation would come in handy.
It took a lot longer to wear out the entire crew than she had hoped. A full day in fact, before they were all so tired that she had a chance to sit alone with the Captain to finally play her cards.
“Captain,” she said slowly, “I need you to tell me something important.”
“Anything for you,” Pistamar said in that dreamy voice that told her she had long since built an Intimacy for herself in him.
“I need you to tell me where Captain Tory went.”
“Mmm, he never gave me the details, but I’m sure he went to the East Valley Mercenary Camp,” Pistamar said dashingly. No doubt he imagined himself a great hero in Olivia’s mind just for having a bare inkling of Captain Tory’s move.
“Hm, do you know where that is?”
“He never said. He said he was taking command of that other ship, the black one, but I know the Captain. He took over this ship a year ago, and I know the Captain has other priorities than being a sailor.”
Olivia perked up. This was interesting news, a Guild Ship Captain having other interests? Quite rare.
“He wanted something else? Like what?”
“Couldn’t say,” Pistamar said lazily, obviously showing off, “But I’ve seen him meet with other people dressed like him, they’re dressed like Guild Officers but they’re obviously something else, and when no one else was around they would greet each other with something like “May The Cold Winds fill your sails.” Sounds like a funny saying to me. Maybe they’re all from the same hometown.”
“Maybe,” Olivia said slowly, while her mind worked overtime. The Captain stole the Moral Ambiguity, but if he didn’t intend to captain it, he must be hoping to use it as a bargaining chip.
“Captain,” Olivia said after a bit, “Could you take me to the East Valley? I need to talk with Captain Tory. It’s important Guild business.”
“Well,” Pistamar said slowly, obviously hoping to impress her, “There isn’t supposed to be a way to that valley. It’s surrounded by mountains on all sides, and there isn’t an easy way over or through them. That’s why the two mercenary companies that have holed up there are so long-lived, they know the secrets of that valley.”
“Isn’t there any other way there?” Olivia said, feeding him the line she knew he wanted. This guy is a real showoff. Men often are.
“Well, you’re a very lucky gal, Olivia, because I happen to know there is another way there. A sea cave just an hour’s sailing west of the fjord we docked at leads to a hidden underground sea route. Used to belong to the Mountain Folk, we think, they abandoned it, probably during one of their underground wars. The mercenaries discovered this seaway some years back and guard that knowledge closely, but the Captain may be sailing his new ship there through that route. They were up late talking about sailing that ship there, weeks ago. I guess they knew it was coming somehow.”
This was at once an excellent stroke of luck and a cause for further concern. Someone had planned this entire operation long in advance. Tory? Silken Cowl? Probably someone they both report to. She would have to get to this Tory to find out who had assigned him to take over this ship, also. She suspected whoever was putting the guild’s resources into this project was doing it through this ship. Was it Quellison? Or someone else?
“Well,” Olivia said, turning up the charm again, “If you could possibly take us back to the manse where my allies are still waiting, and we pick them up, then if you could take us to the valley, I would be so grateful.”
Pistamar grinned and said, “Well if you make it worth my while, I’ll consider it.”
“Oh, I’ll make it worth the while of the entire crew,” Olivia said seductively.
Once again, being inexhaustible comes in really handy.