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“Forts always gimme the willies. I don’t know why I’m even considering sleeping in one!” Sean grumbled, setting his pack on a bunk he picked out against the wall.

“Aye, I know what you mean…” Bill agreed, then scowled as Jim climbed onto a bunk over his head just as he was about to climb up himself. “Oi! I called that one!”

“You’ve got wings, you can be high up whenever ya like! Let a few of us have a chance every now and again, aye?” Jim said, sneering down at his shipmate, but that sneer vanished when Bill grabbed him by his sleeve and tried to yank him down. He threw a light punch, which cost him his grip on the mattress and sent them both tumbling to the floor.

“Break it up, you two.” Jacques said, rolling his eyes as the two grappled on the floor like play wrestling children. “We need our wits about us. Don’t forget we’re here to help with patrols and the like!”

“The increase in numbers will certainly make things easier.” Barney said, looking at Jacques as Bill and Jim pulled themselves off the ground. “Still, I… I don’t know how the townsfolk will react to seeing pirates walking freely along the fort’s battlements. They were already starting to talk about seeing you at the port.”

“Word travels fast.” Jacques said.

“It’s a small village. Small, but growing.” Barney replied before looking around the barracks. “Though while they may not like it, that doesn’t speak for myself or some of the other recruits here. We need the help and we’re not too proud to admit it.”

“Nor too proud to take orders from a human.” Jacques said, then gave Barney a playful nudge with his elbow. “And let me tell ya, a bossy one that that!”

“We’re all settled in here, Jacques.” Sean said, walking over to the two. “Should we start on those patrols? Sun will be down soon.”

“Aye, we’ll follow Barney to our posts and try to get the lay of the fort.”

“Then if you gentlemen would,” Barney said as he turned to the door. Jim looked at Jacques.

“Gentlemen? Where?” he asked, pretending to look around. Jacques held back a laugh as they followed after Barney.

Garin, meanwhile, watched as a small crowd of people lined up and milled through the fort’s gates. He saw Standish and Vladstone among the crowd, making small talk with a few other guests as they passed under him through the gate. He could see some of them glance over at him, expressions ranging from suspicion to curiosity, and he couldn’t blame them all that much. It did seem odd that someone of his sort was in a place like this, normally full of folks in uniform. But he wasn’t about to put on a uniform just to please a few strangers; he would prefer it if they got to know him better, and he in turn.

A whistle caught his attention, and he looked down the wall to find Victor waving at him. Garin waves back, then jerked his head, indicating for Victor to come up and stand by him. After a brief job up the stairs, and the Krawk was there.

“All settled into your new home?” Garin asked.

Victor nodded. “Aye, we’ve got the cradles all set up and the little ones are tucked in for the night. We’ll need to pick up food in the morning, and maybe buy some furniture, of course.”

“Of course.” Garin smiled, looking over to the main building and seeing Matilda start to greet the guests as they entered. Victor followed his line of sight, then glanced around the walls at the guards.

“Dangerous with almost everyone’s eyes on the guests,” he said.

“That’s what I said.” Garin agreed. “So, we’ll have to be extra careful tonight. Keep our eyes peeled.”

“Peeled it is.” Victor said with a nod, before glancing back down towards the main building. “So strange, seeing her in that sort of getup.”

“Aye.” Garin nodded, looking over the uniform Matilda was wearing. It was a tad more formal than the one she had been wearing earlier; a long, sangria colored dress coat that folded across the chest with polished, gold buttons, with small, matching tassels dangling from the shoulders. And on the left breast was a patch bearing the seal of the Faerie Council, just like on the documents of marque he had signed just a day before.

“It’s odd to see her with her hair up like that, too.” Victor added.

“Not for me. That is to say, I’m used to its length. It was that long when she first joined up with my crew, if not a bit longer.”

“Still, it’s odd.”

“Aye.” Garin nodded, then looked at Victor. “Oi, here we are griping about too many eyes on the inside and that’s where our eyes are! Let’s get on patrol!”

“Aye, aye, sir!”

As Garin and Victor walked along the wall which overlooked the bay, the last of the guests made their way into the main building. It was a warm night so the doors were left open, and it wasn’t long before the sounds of idle chatter and music began to filter out through the fort, as well as the smell of the foods prepared for the occasion. It was all a bit distracting, especially for Matilda, who did her best not to appear nervous as she made conversation with a few of the guests.

Even though most of them smiled and were polite, she could feel them looking down their noses at her, especially while her gaze was averted. It wasn’t just the stigma surrounding humans, either, they were sizing her up, trying to see for themselves what she was made of. They were giving her a chance, at least, however she silently prayed that this chance would extend to a point where she could actually prove herself.

After all, if she wasn’t capable the Council would never have even considered trusting her with this. That alone filled her with the confidence she needed for tonight, and it seemed to waft from her to the guests around her, but whether or not it was affecting them was another story.

Out over the sea, on the far side of the point the fort sat atop, a ship glided along the shore in the very shadows of the fort. With the eyes of the guards distracted by the party, and the lack of lights thanks to the newly fallen darkness, it went unnoticed. What also went unnoticed was the group of men that slipped over the side and onto the hill, before it began to move again towards the bay, where it was finally spotted.

“Oi!” Jim shook Barney’s shoulder and pointed as the prow of a ship cleared the point and turned towards the bay.

“Where did they come from?” Barney asked, taking a spyglass out of his pocket and lifting it to his eye.

“It’s likely it was hiding on the east side of the point here,” said Jacques. “Sunset glare is hard to stare into too long…”

“I can’t make out it’s colors!” Barney said, lowering the spyglass in frustration.

“No need, mate.” Jacques said. “We don’t need to see their flag to tell that they’re pirates!”

“How’s that?” Barney asked. Jim replied by pointing.

“Well the way they crept on us is one way,” he said. “The other is the fact their gun ports just opened up!”

“In that case, we’d best get to stations!” Barney said, running down the battlement to a small bell while Jacques turned to Jim.

“I hate to miss out on the action,” he said. “But I’m the fastest one here. I’ll run back to the ship, rouse the others, and warn the townsfolk along the way!”

Before Jim could so much as wish him luck, the Kyrii was off, and the alarm bell was ringing, calling the guards to their stations. He joined them, rushing to the nearest cannon and helping to position it while another of the crew prepared to load it.

Matilda paused in taking a sip from her punch glass, hearing the bell over the din of small talk and music. She could hear it much clearer as the voices around her died down to listen, and lowered her glass from her lips as the distant sound of a cannon rang out, followed by panicked sounds from the crowd.

“Stay calm, please,” she called out, making all heads turn her way. “The fort is too high out of range to be struck by cannon fire, and as you can see the soldiers outside are already making sure that ship doesn’t get within range of the village. So please, stay inside and do not panic. If necessary we will get everyone to a shelter as quickly as possible.”

The crowd was just starting to calm down, when one of the doors on the opposite end of the room burst open. Matilda spun around to face them and the unwelcome intruders, which she could tell, not by their clothes—though they were an obvious indicator—but by her years of experience, that these were pirates. Just what she didn’t need tonight…

“No sudden movements now,” a tall, burly Ixi strode forward, patting the flat of a cutlass blade against one palm as he walked. “Just hand over all the jewels, finery, and the pocket change, ‘n nobody will get hurt, y’hear?”

Matilda didn’t move a muscle, she barely twitched, even as several of the guests around her cried out in terror. Several of the buccaneers moved around the crowd to cut off their escape through any nearby doors, herding them towards the middle of the room as the Ixi moved over to Matilda, circling her once, but she still didn’t move, even as he lifted his cutlass to her chin.

“Might want to finish that glass to calm yer nerves… madam governor, right?” the pirate asked, sneering at her.

“That’s correct.” Matilda replied, still not moving.

“I’d heard they’d gotten one here at last,” the pirate remarked with a chuckle. “Didn’t imagine it would be one so young… and a lady, at that.” He paused and gave a toothy grin. “Not that I’m complaining, mind ye, but a man does prefer a challenge once in awhile…”

The shattering sound of glass without a doubt made someone in the room jump, and any eyes curious enough looked to find it was the glass in Matilda’s hand that broke, leaving a mixture of punch and her own blood dripping down the shards to her palm, and then to the floor. The pirate raised an eyebrow and laughed.

“Ye sure ye don’t need somethin’ t’ calm yer nerves, madam governor?” he asked. “That’s fine crystal yer breakin’.”

“One must learn to use the tools at hand, after all…”

“Wha—”

The pirate’s baffled word was cut off by a scream as Matilda turned the largest shard of glass in her hand quicker than a blink and drove it into his cheek. He stumbled back, somehow managing to keep a grip on his weapon despite the obvious pain and shock, but that was short lived as Matilda slashed at him again with the shard of glass, this time striking him across the back of his hand and causing him to drop his cutlass. She snatched up the weapon by the hilt before it had a chance to hit the floor, instead letting the glass shard in her hand fall, allowing her to reach up and grab the pirate by the collar of his shirt and spin him around, his back against her torso. She brought the cutlass up to his throat, too hard to be taken idly, and stared down the remaining pirates, who were still nearly stiff from surprise.

“Drop your weapons!” she hissed in warning, warning that she would clearly only give once. “Or your mate here has to learn how to breathe through a hole in his gullet!”

Dumbfounded as they were, the pirates each looked at each other, hoping someone in their company would have a solution to the issue, and finally they all looked back at the Ixi pirate in Matilda’s grasp, as well as the knife pressed dangerously against his throat.

“I said drop ‘em!” she warned again, louder than before, then glanced at her hostage. “Are they that dumb that they need you to tell them what to do all the time?”

“L-Listen missy, if you don’t want to get hurt—”

“I just cut my own palm with glass to disarm you, believe me, I’m not worried about getting hurt.” Matilda hissed, pressing the blade harder against his throat, creating a small cut. “And if you plan on following that up with a threat to hurt anyone else here; know that it will be your epitaph.”

She turned her gaze back to the rest of the pirates. “And that goes for the rest of you!” she hollered. “Try and harm anyone here… and I promise that you will not live long enough to swing at the gallows!”

The room fell quiet for what felt like eternity, save for the sounds of cannon-fire just outside, as both the pirates and the guests exchanged glances that could have been read like the pages of a book.

“And you said there wouldn’t be any speeches…”

The pirates turned to find Garin, Victor, and Barney all standing with their weapons drawn, and just behind them were a few soldiers and members of the Black Pawkeet’s crew, armed with rifles aimed and ready to fire. Seeing this, the pirates dropped their weapons and raised their hands, while the Ixi growled in defeat, and Matilda smiled, lowering the cutlass while he raised his hands.

“To be fair,” she said. “I wasn’t sure that would keep their attention long enough for you lot to get in place.”

“Had to make sure they couldn’t get away, first.” Garin said as Barney and Bill moved forward to start shackling up the pirates. Garin laid his dagger flat against his shoulder as Matilda moved aside to allow the Ixi to be shackled.

“The rest of them, then?” she asked.

“We’ll have them soon enough. Their ship is sunk, and they’ve either taken to the boats or are swimming ashore.” Garin replied. “Jacques is taking the rest of the crew to get ‘em now.”

“Good.” Matilda said with a sigh of relief, then turned to the guests behind her. “It’s alright now, ladies and gentlemen, you’re all safe. Please just stay put for a few moments while I arrange an escort to take you all back home to your families.” She then turned to Barney. “Would you mind getting a few men together?”

“Of course, but after you get that hand looked at, ma’am!”

“Huh?” Matilda looked at her bleeding palm. “Oh, right. Don’t worry, I’ll tend to it myself. Just make sure everyone gets home safe.”

“As you wish then, ma’am.” Barney said with a salute, then walked over towards the crowd of guests. Garin looked at Matilda as she pulled a small shard of glass from her wound.

“You sure you don’t need—” he was cut off as one of the guests—a young Aisha woman—stepped forward and offered a handkerchief to Matilda.

“Here, please, use this,” she said. Matilda paused to look at her for a moment, before accepting the handkerchief.

“Thank you,” she said. The Aisha smiled, then moved back with the crowd of guests as they were guided out of the fort. She couldn’t help but feel… perplexed as each of them passed her with either a word, or at the least a nod, of thanks. Garin noticed the look on her face and smiled.

“I think you made a pretty good first impression,” he said.

“You think so?”

“They certainly are looking at you in a different light than they were when they arrived here tonight.” Garin said, sheathing his dagger under his vest. “Vowing to protect people with your own life will do that.”

He paused to look at her. “Just try not to hog all the glory for the next year, would ya, madam governor?”

Matilda could only shake her head and laugh as he gave her that usual smirk and wink. The usual smirk and wink that told her things were possibly—quite possibly—going to be alright for the next year.

Next Time...

Matilda’s first issue as acting governor is to address and solve a series of thefts that have been recently happening on the island, believed by the locals to be the work of a gang. Garin instead discovers that the thefts are caused by one person; an orphan boy named Marty.

                                                                                           ~~~
Here's Episode 5, as promised at long last! I hope you all enjoyed it, as well as the little teaser I prepared for the next episode! Please be sure to leave a comment of what you think below!

Garin and co., Neopets © Neopets
Matilda © Me
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:iconphantasmaree:
phantasmaree Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
YESSSSS SEACAT MESS HIM UP. SAVAGE. seacat being badass gives me life.
oooohh im super curious to see whats gonna happen with marty, and what his motives behind the thefts are
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:icon6seacat9:
6SeaCat9 Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Glad you liked it! :D
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:iconunlimited-tea:
Unlimited-Tea Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Ohhhhh this was such a good read. Oh my gosh I was so scared when the bell rang and the pirates came in and I was like-
'Oh my gosh whats gonna happen? Oh my gosh-' 
But then- AHHH Sea Cat when she broke her glass and used it on the pirate I was like 
'Oooooooooh- Get em! Get em!' xDDD 

But oh my gosh, im glad to see that some things are turning up alright for the most part! Even if there are pirates coming in-
(Also that bit of Bill and Jim cracked me up. Oh my gosh- children lol). 

Ooh oh oh oh- im so curious about the next part now. Oh man oh man. Im so ready for this. :squee: 
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:icon6seacat9:
6SeaCat9 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
:D Sounds like you're feeling better. I'm glad!

I'm also glad that you enjoyed the read! It really makes me happy!
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:iconrl-182:
RL-182 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2017
This was a great read! It was surprising to see a band of pirates try and rob folks at their first personal gathering and Governor Matilda got to show her grit to all her naysayers. She's earned a bit of respect, but still she has her work cut out for her.
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:icon6seacat9:
6SeaCat9 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
She sure does. ^^; And just wait until you read the other episodes!
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:iconrl-182:
RL-182 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2017
I can't wait!
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