A Peg Leg and the North Star
Ventini had never been particularly fond of the ocean, even before the incident with that damnable shark. He had always lived in ports, his parents being shipping merchants. But it had never engendered love, only familiarity and respect, and maybe just a smidge of unease. It all just reinforced his views when it happened.
Ventini had always sat a little sideways of the law, at least as far as tariffs and legal goods were concerned. So when he inherited the last ship his parents had owned, it only made sense to him to start operating in the grayer markets. He setup his new business in Port Peril, knowing of its neutrality. He couldn't start the business completely on his own though, he couldn't afford it. A friend of his from his younger days, Malcog, had been doing fairly well for himself, but had no ships, so Ventini took him on as a partner.
A few years passed, and the Grand Duchess was making a run at night towards Port Peril yet again, with a load of venomous snakes, for certain individuals. Ventini was asleep in the captains quarters with the first mate, Prista, having finished an evening's worth of entertainment. Dreaming wistfully of the gold his latest shipment would bring him, he was not prepared for a rude awakening.
Five of his officers, including Malcog and Prista, stood over him whilst he knelt in his smallclothes.
"What is the meaning of this, friend?"
"Nothing much, old pal. Just a shuffling of priorities. I believe it's time to move on from these pittance runs, and start into a harder market. Moving flesh if you catch my drift. And I don't think you have the salt for that kinda job."
Ventini looked towards Prista for some sort of sign. She looked slightly abashed and raised her shoulders. It was obvious that she was the one who had let them into the cabin in the first place. Malcog smiled one final time and signaled to one of the others. An odd thudding sound resonated through Ventini, though he couldn't seem to place what it could be before the darkness took him.
When he came to, all he see was the hull of one of his ships' rowboats, but he could hear much more.
"Why do we have to take em out so far?"
"'Cause. Capn Malcog doesn't want any chance of one of the loyal parts of the crew to find 'em. D,you unerstan?"
"I tink so. But why do we need to worry 'bout dem? This ships ours now."
"You idiot. The ship is Capn Malcogs' now, not ours. And it will be easier sailing ifn the rest of the crew thinks ole Ventini over there was takin' by some seafaring monster-types."
"Barnacles. It's a good ting I donna have to tink up any of dese plans, or we'd be bullocksed."
"Yeah, sure is. This looks deep enough here."
Before he could even let out a yelp, Ventini was thrown overboard. Splashing into the deep dark blue, he realized his feet were securely attached to a pair of chained cannonballs, his hands also being bound in hemp.
He started to sink quickly. Thrashing about didn't seem to help one bit, but it did inform him of something important. There seemed to be a dagger up his sleeve. He quickly tried to work it out without having access to his hands. The handle popped out first, then the hilt, and finally the rest of the blade, right out into the dark murkiness. This was the most opportune time for Ventini to finally, and with great verve, start to panic.
Twisting and thrusting, he tried to reach the all but invisible dagger, to no avail. He slid to the bottom with a light tap and feeling of utter oblivion. He decided that the best way to handle this was to just sit, and wait for the inevitable. Upon setting himself on the ocean floor, he was promptly greeted by a sharp, metallic point. In less than ten seconds he was floundering his way to the surface with what he considered a magical, though probably not, dagger and a distinct lack of breath.
Ventini broke the surface sucking in more salt than air, and made the slow road to mental recovery. Full physical recovery could wait until he got back to land, maybe some rum, and ham hock. When his vision at last started to clear from the whiteness caused by oxygen deprivation, he noticed he couldn't see anything. Oh, he could see water, lots and lots of that, but not much else in the way of stable footing, or landmarks.
Being a ship captain does require certain types of knowledge, and one of them is star based navigation. Knowing roughly where he was helped. All he needed was the north star now, and there it was, right above that peculiar looking dorsal fin. In his current state of mind, Ventini couldn't, for the life of him, tell what it could belong too. Was it a dolphin, maybe a whale, perhaps he couldn't even see it properly and it was simply a piece of driftwood silhouetting just right, to confuse him. When the sharp pain shot up from his leg to his brain, he slowly started to consider that the fin could, just possibly, belong to a shark.
His brain at this point promptly decided it was time to spring into action. With all the downward force he could muster, Ventini plunged the dagger into where he thought the creature was placed. He felt a noticeable amount of material resistance as the blade stuck itself right between the large fishes' eyes. Relief was only a small blessing from Besmara, when the pain from his leg only seemed to get worse.
Ventini could tell that the shark was no longer attached to him, it was floating upside-down beside him. When he got a closer look at the maw of the beast, he noticed something oddly familiar. A foot seemed to be protruding from twixt it's formidable toothy grin.
"You got me good, ye belabours ole piece o fishmeat." Wagging his finger at dead the shark in a fit of dark humor.
Yanking off his undershirt, he wrapped it as tightly as he could below his knee at the stump that was once connected to his now forlorn foot. Using the sharks' corpse as a means to help him keep afloat, and once again, started towards where he knew the closest tract of land to be.
While paddling only somewhat fruitfully, Ventini gave a more close inspection to the dagger still in his fist. It obviously wasn't his, since he did not recognize it. One of the five must have slipped it to him while he was being bound. Somewhere, a cautious friend, was missing a Belladonna inscribed dagger. Somewhere, just as close, another friend most likely slept quite soundly and at ease, though, hopefully not for long.
It took almost a year to make it back to Port Peril, but traveling on a new spring enforced peg leg does give you some time to practice. Ventini wasn't sure what he was going to find, and so wasn't too surprised to discover his old warehouse and office sold off under specific unreferenceable provisions of the local legal code. He also found no sign or story of his parents' ship or of its' new captain. He thought it was high time to take in some Rum, and settle down for the night.
The Formidably Maid seemed an unassuming enough establishment...