High seas and adventure await Sophie as she delves deeper into the mysterious of the islands of the werewolves. Her mate and she find themselves captives aboard a sailing vessel, but the captain has more on his mind than them walking the plank. There’s trouble brewing on another island, and he wants them to head it off. Erik thinks only of finding out the mystery behind the island troubles. Conflicting priorities come to a head when the tide turns against them and fate forces them down the road of adventure and danger.
The night was calm. The cannons were silent. The only sounds were the oars as they slid in and out of the water.
I sat tucked between Greg and Erik on that old-fashioned away-boat. At the bow stood the leader of the men who had captured us. His face was young but stern, and at his hip was a revolver.
I leaned towards my mate. "You didn't tell me there were pirates on this lake," I whispered to him.
He shook his head. "For the reason that I didn't know myself."
"Quiet," the leader ordered us.
I scowled at him. "Quiet yourself. We're having a discussion here about the latest bandanna fashions. I'm going with stupid." One of the oarsmen snarled at me and showed off his long, fang-like teeth. "Grr," I growled back.
"Enough," the leader commanded his man. The oarsman leaned away from me, but still glared in my direction.
Erik nodded at the large sailing ship that loomed ahead of us. "What ship is that and who commands it?"
he asked our lead captor.
The leader ignored his question, but we soon got our answer. The oars cut through the water like a hot knife through butter and we soon came up to the ship's stern. A rope ladder and several ropes were thrown down to us. The men pushed us to the ladder, and we were wedged between the sailors as we climbed the rungs.
I peeked my head over the deck and found the ship ship-shape. The boards were scrubbed until they shone and all the ropes were new. The men went about their tasks with energy, but more than one cast curious glances at us.
"Get on with ya," one of the sailors behind us growled.
Erik helped me onto the deck and, along with Greg, we were marched up the stairs at the rear that led to the wheel. A tall man stood at the helm, and behind him with his back turned to us was another sailor. The man at the rear was hefty and wore a tall, broad hat. He sported a coat with tails, and he wore breeches that finished at buckled shoes.
"Is this some sort of pirate convention or something?" I spoke up.
The sound of my voice made the swarthy man turn around. His face was covered in a bushy black beard and his eyes twinkled with energy and mischief. He strode over to us and grabbed one of Greg's hands in both of his.
"A pleasure to meet you at last, Greenwood, a great pleasure," he told the servant. The sailor studied Greg's face. "But it seems you're older than I expected."
Greg coughed and nodded to Erik. "I believe that's because you have the wrong man. My Master stands over there."
The sailor glanced between the two men and dropped his hands. "I see. Sorry about that."
Greg bowed his head. "Not at all. I'm flattered by the mistake."
"Yes, well, where was I? Oh yes." He strode over and grabbed one of Erik's hands in both of his. "A pleasure to meet you at last, Greenwood. I've heard a great deal about you from mutual friends."
"Then can we consider you a friend?" Erik asked him.
The sailor chuckled. "Of course. Captain Edward Black is a friend to all those who wish for peace on the islands." He paused and looked Erik over. "You are looking for peace, aren't you?"
"Peace and quiet. Could you point us in that direction?" I spoke up.
Black turned his attention to me. His eyes lit up and he grasped one of my hands in both of his. "My my. A pleasure to meet such a beauty." He leaned down and pecked a kiss on the back of my hand. "You must be the mate of Greenwood. Your eyes speak to me of a burning fire like a strong drink."
"I hope you like strong drinks," I quipped.
He chuckled. "Indeed I do, miss, and I wish I had one strong enough to wait out the storms that are springing up on all the islands."
"You mean the rebellion?" Erik asked him.
Black turned to him and nodded. "Aye, I do. More than one island has fallen victim to this madness, but I hope we can cut it off at the source before it gets any worse."
Erik raised his eyebrows. "Do you know the source?"
The captain shook his head. "Not a whiff of the source, but there's rumors the Guards are moving about and making the people more miserable than we were before, and these confounded earthquakes haven't improved our lot."
"If the Guards of my family have been so troublesome to you then I wonder why you went to the trouble to rescue us," Erik commented.
"We were warned that it'd be hell for all of us if we didn't come and rescue you," the captain explained.
"Warned by whom?" Erik asked him.
The captain slapped the back of the man who stood beside him who was the same man who led the away-boat. "By Draco's, my first mate's, mate. She's a feisty one herself, but they generally are when they're newly mated, and none of us dared go against her wishes."
I held up a hand. "Wait? Who's his mate?" I spoke up.
"We call her Red for her fury when she came to us, but she prefers the name Bree," the captain told me.
My eyes widened and my heart quickened. "Bree? Is she okay? Where is she?"
The old lake-dog laughed. "At home, much against her will." He slapped his first mate's back again, and the man winced. "There was quite the row in keeping her there, but water and war are no places for a woman." He winked at Erik. "If you'll get me drift."
"I understand, captain, but what is this?" Erik gestured to the ship around us. "Where did you find this ship?"
The captain walked over to the wheel and patted it. "Good, isn't it? We lifted her out of the water where she'd been scuttled all those years ago. The deep lake waters kept her pretty whole for us. A few new boards and she and the rest of her sisters were ready to sail."
"‘Sisters?'" Erik repeated.
The captain grinned and tapped the side of his nose. "That's a secret I'll keep for myself for now, but what might I do for you? Blankets? Food? Rest?"
"A full explanation would be nice," I quipped. "Like how you showed up just in time to save us."
"And why you would drag the ships from their graves," Erik added.
The captain stroked his beard and nodded. "Aye, those are good questions for someone who doesn't know, and if you'll step into my cabin I'll be glad to tell you. Ya might be wanting some blankets to be drying yerselves in, too. Draco, hold the deck while I initiate our new friends into our troubles."
Draco bowed his head. "Aye aye, captain."
Black led us down the stairs and into the cabin beneath the wheel. It was a spacious room with a large bed in the far corner and a table in the middle. There were four chairs, one for each of us. I was glad to be off my feet, and the captain offered us each a towel to dry ourselves.
"You look like you have a tale to tell yourselves when mine's finished," he commented as he took his seat with a bottle of drink and four mugs.
"Yes, but what of your tale, Captain Black?" Erik asked him.
The captain uncorked the bottle and poured out the dark alcohol which he passed around in the mugs. I took one whiff of mine and nearly toppled over drunk. The captain himself took a hard swig and smacked his lips.
"Always good to start a tale with a drink. Now what were you wanting to know first?" he wondered.
"Where do you hail from?" Erik questioned him.
The captain chuckled. He leaned back and gestured to our surroundings. "Doesn't this give away enough?"
"Then you hail from the Maritime Island?" Erik guessed.
"Correct, and that calls for another drink!" the captain crowed. He took another swig and refilled his mug. "We hail from that wonderful island of ports and fishing where this beauty of a ship was first made. We read the warning on the tide some months ago and put an old dream into action." He tilted his head up and smiled at the massive beams above us. "I always wanted to see these beauties sail again, and I promised myself I would if the chance presented itself."
"And this rebellion has given you that chance?" Erik asked him.
The captain pursed his lips and nodded. "Aye. What better way to protect Lord and Alliance than by raising the ships from their slumber and putting them into ship-shape, as it were."
"But how was this done without my father learning of it? Or of Deacon speaking of it?" Erik persisted.
I wrinkled my nose. "Deacon? He's in charge of this Ship Island?"
A dark look passed over Black's face. "Maritime Island, but aye. Deacon, curse his dark soul, has been winning the election of our representative for many decades, but he doesn't win through fondness, for the people aren't too fond of him. No, I think he wins through cheating. The votes are stacked in his favor and against all other contenders." He sat straight in his chair and pushed out his ample chest. "Yours truly, of course, has had more votes cast for meself in the last election than all his in the last three combined, but he keeps getting sent on his way."
"So he cheats? For what aim?" Erik wondered.
"To be influencing things the way he wants ‘em to go. He spoils himself with influence and buys himself a fine house on one of the highest hills. Uproots some of our cemetery land to do it, too," the captain growled.
"Then Deacon doesn't know about the ships?" Erik guessed.
Captain Black took another drink and grinned. "Nope. There's a cove on a small island we claim as our own, and it was in there we dragged the ships and repaired them. The rest of the fleet waits for us there, and is at your bidding, my prince."
Erik shook his head. "The kingship died long ago. I'm only a citizen who wants to see things righted and learn what drives these rebels."
"Well, for some it's the promise of something new, something that gives hope, and for most it's to have land," the captain explained.
"The gentleman at the fountain did speak of the fog and new land," Greg reminded us.
Erik furrowed his brow and leaned one elbow on the arm of his chair. "Yes, he did, but I must admit I can't think what he was talking about. The fog can't be lifted except by a powerful-" Erik paused and frowned.
"You don't think, Master. . .?" Greg asked him.
Erik shook his head. "I don't know what to think, but if someone has found a witch to raise or move the fog then we're all in danger of our lives."
"A witch? In this day and age? Not bloody likely," the captain scoffed.
I snorted. "That's what I thought until we met that vampire."
The captain's eyes widened. "Vampire? There aren't any vampires on these islands."
"Not on the islands," a voice spoke up. From the deep shadows beside the bed stepped Methuselah. "But certainly on this ship."