The god of the monsters places his chess piece across the board opposite of his Hades’. Typhon did not hesitate on his move as if Hades’ plan had some semblance of their aggressive tack. He exchanged eye to eye with his opposite, message sent. Undisturbed Neptune remained motionless studying that last move and delved into it’s myriad of future consequences. He chuckled to himself knowing Typhon moves are often akin to mere theater.
The crow's nest proclaimed, “Sails off the starboard quarter, I see eight sails!"
Khaman acknowledges, "Ikonian Empire frigates!"
"All hands standby for orders!" Said the young Captain.
D nodded, cupping his hands he relayed the command, "All hands standby!"
“Steersman, maintain heading.”
“Aye, aye, Captain maintaining heading!” Replied Khaman as he re-gripped the wheel.
K stretched his spyglass towards the starboard horizon. The unidentified ships turned onto a parallel course but have yet to raise their flags, the shape of their sails suggests of Ikonian origin. A squadron of light frigate type ships that were light on armament but quick. There numbers made them quite problematic if they decide to engage. On the other hand, the flotilla had more than enough firepower to fend them off. For now, they seem to be content following on a parallel heading, likely awaiting reinforcements and that was the presumptive stance.
The Atrean Captain signaled from the Celeste for all ships to remain Standing Down.
"Captain Friar of The Celeste signals to Stand Down!" Ordered K.
D echoed K's order, "Stand down, stand down!!"
"Reply our acknowledgement Goldie. "
"Yes sir." Goldie steps over to the stern rail and signals the Atrean command ship with a blue flag.
Lieutenant Senz Less is the assigned Atrean liaison officer. He acknowledged to K that his actions have so far conformed to Atrean naval protocol always considering communication as vital. He often quizzed for hours with Captain K from a large grid sheet of predetermined communication codes. "Well done Captain, you learn quick."
He felt her powerful kick square upon his chest, the shield charm dulled the impact enough that he could remain on his feet.
King Atrea understood that this unique assassin was fast but had never realize how fast and agile she was. If it weren't for the shield of Zelda enchantment, he would have been already dead. There was only a limited time it would last and that depended on how many times defensive power was expended. Xandra seemed very much aware of it.
Rather that a reactionary defense he must go on the offense.
She hissed at him to distract his concentration. "You're still an old man!"
The king was silent, his eye on his opponent and kept his sword of Menē pointing at her constantly thrusting and prodding her defense leaving her uncertain of his reach but by mere chance the invisible tip plunged into her shoulder leaving a shallow wound.
She stood back momentarily to test her wound with a stiffening roll of the shoulder, "So, you figured out my strategy, my compliments King of Atrea! You are a worthy prey!"
"I've earned my place as king on the front lines of war in protecting my kingdom, you fight just for power and gold!"
Princess Atrea stepped out onto the deck with her escort, her wide delicately layered broad hooped skirt forcing the rigging hands to course around her, each making a hasty tip of their hats as they pass by to their next station.
She made her way up the stairs to the poop deck stopping in front of Captain K and tapped on his spyglass with her fan before looking into the brass tube to his open eye. "Captain, I am trying to study. What is the meaning of this disturbance?"
K’s thoughts wandered that moment assessing whether she was the greater threat or growing number of Imperial ships, "Oh many pardons your highness, but I must by protocol ascertain the intentions of the encroaching vessels. It is required by your maritime laws. Steady as she goes Mr. D!"
"Steady as she goes Captain!" Echoed his first mate.
The Princess continued complaining, "It was firearms and now this dreadful clamoring. "
The Captain collapsed his spyglass and removes his hat with the appropriate flourish, "Since they do not present an immediate danger and not interfere with your journey I Captain K am now at your service. "
Lieutenant Less mirrors K's manners. "Your highness."
The Princess glances over at the distant ships, "Hrumph, they would not dare!"
"I agree but their goals are unknown to why they are following, and should they decide to attack, I believe then I must advise you to barricade your door until it is safe. As you know I am held personally responsible for your well being your highness. Is there anything else?"
"One more thing, I do not like that masked woman patrolling by my door at the late hours, her presence is unnerving to me. "
"Oh, in what manner may I ask?"
"She did not say or do anything, but I expect her to be…somewhere else."
"Ah, Lady Ravenhill excels in nighttime security, I usually sleep well knowing that she is on duty but as you wish."
"It is what I wish."
K could picture Lady Ravenhill 's wry grin in his thoughts, she rarely complains about her assigned duties but always finds a subtle means to get her way. "Anything else my lady?"
"I still require someone to do my launder my underclothes proper."
K was at a loss of a suggestion as if the question was a devilish trap with no escape. He looked at lieutenant Less as he had his hand up upon his chin in thought, "As an Atrean officer you should understand the needs of the Atrean lady?"
The palace guards encircle the Assassin sealing off any escape.
King Atrea relaxed his defense, "Take her alive, we must know who sent her!"
The Guard cautiously close in understanding how dangerous she is. Perhaps even too dangerous to let live. The guard Captain draws his blade and stands by his king, "Are you injured my Lord?"
"No Captain, I still have enough fighting senses even after all these years."
The defiant Xandra shouted, "You're not leaving already my King!"
Xandra reveals her pistol and with her right hand brings it towards her own head. "I still have a closing act!"
The Assassin drops the pistol slightly not to fire the weapon but to ignite the fuse to a device appearing in her left hand. In her insane laughter she drops it at the feet of guards.
A guard shouted, "A grenade!"
"Take cover my Lord!" The Guard Captain immediately shields the King with his body.
Before anyone else could take cover, the device explodes.
The Dragon Master stepped next to the Captain, "I recommend a reconnaissance after nightfall."
"I will agree with you Slak-Tor, you and Tessaria should prepare. Just be careful not to engage in any fighting. As soon as there’s trouble or Tess gets a mental read, I want you all to return immediately, understood?"
"Yes Captain, just close enough for Tess to get a read on their intentions then report back."
The tactic is risky. If detected the action could be interpreted as an attack. The only choice is quick turn around before any rifle can be bought to bear. The darkness of night will provide cover as the ship's torches and lamps provide their only means of guidance. If not careful Tarakona could get entangled in the enemy ship's rigging or become disoriented in the dark. Either way, ending up in the water will make them very vulnerable.
Cornelius emerges from the ship’s hold, tips his hat to the Princess before climbing up the stairs. "Captain, I request permission to work on my new project!"
"Is it going to be noisy?"
"Well, some of it will be. "
"Some. Better save it for the daytime hours Sir Doggshire. I have to account for the Princess's leisure time whatever that time may be anytime."
"I shall take that as a resounding yet conditional 'yes' Sir."
"I take it as a machine of sorts. Like that steam powered suit of armor?"
K recalled that very experimental test, a revolutionary suit of combat armor powered and propelled by steam. It was fearsome appearing armor that bristled with various weapons, but the jumping artillery rockets attached to the legs malfunctioned sending him head over heels overboard. The crew was alert enough to rescue him from the sea before he sank with the suit.
"It will be different this time, I've double checked my calculations, lighter components and thought bigger. I'm sure you will find it an effective addition to our firepower. "
The Edwardian pirate hands a sketch to K.
"A mechanical Dragon? I’m impressed. That explains all the hardware you hauled aboard."
"A flying mechanical dragon, I presume our enemies have learned about Tarkona and prepared accordingly, they will never expect two!"
"We hardly have the room for one Dragon …and a princess."
Usually undaunted by failures the steely Cornelius had a point, in the recent encounters the enemy had clearly adapted their tactics and any new advantages can make a difference.
Cornelius' serious expression brightened at the sudden appearance of the Victorian Pirate, "The lovely Lady Ravenhill, tis an unexpected presence at this hour of the day."
"Sir Cornelius." as she replied with a proper English curtsy. "Excuse my manners Sir as I may report my recent discovery of the Mermaid relic to our Captain."
He tipped his sooty top hat. "Why, be my guest my Lady."
Admiral Kamaeus presented an envelope to the imposing figure amidst a gathering of senior officers. The seal on the envelope indicated the commission came not only from the Admiral but by the Emperor Ikanus himself. "Champion of the Ikonian empire, and protector of Empress Florentine, Persephian of the Werewolves I hereby give you full independent command of the Warship Arakan and her twin escorts the Crucsis and the Black Tusk. You may decide to engage the enemy flotilla at any time, other than my fleet's prepared time of attack and to capture the Princess Atrea best alive.
The enormous man stepped forward in his new uniform. The uniform looked as if it were just a half sized too small, but no one dare mention it. A short sword and war axe hung opposite sides of his belt. His nimble gloved hands clutched the envelope.
The Emperor’s champion broke the seal and opened the letter written by Empress Florentine and wrapped in a scented kerchief was a traditional silver coin of luck. "I am honored to accept this task for my Emperor and the Empire!"
“Et lux in tenebris to serve laboro, sum sicarius” “I work in the shadows to serve the Light, I am an Assassin”