A taste of the new fantasy world I'm conjuring!
Some explanation before we jump into it:
I started writing this series several years ago, after getting inspired by Glen Cook’s THE BLACK COMPANY series. I wanted to write about a swashbuckling mercenary who has the job of a lifetime, I just couldn’t get the stakes right.
If you were a patron of mine, then you know all about Sinner Sharpe and how it went from strictly a pirate fantasy adventure to a vampire-infested pirate…horror adventure.
You see, I was stuck on it for years — unable to get past Chapter 1. Literally the other night/morning, I buckled down and went back to it now that I’m free of The Dark World Series’s grip on me (until editing starts…), and this is just a bit of what I came up with:
“What brings you men to Battle Port Bay?”
Not a one opened their mouth to respond, but I did not relinquish my stare.
And it was clear no one would speak. About several minutes passed before anyone made an utterance, and it was a big-eyed bastard right next to me that did so. Son of a bitch coughed.
Ignoring the bits of phlegm and spit that flew onto my hand, I let a stirring of harsh words settle in my throat before I spoke. “I’m looking for men for a little job. The pay is handsome enough but you won’t be promised your lives.” This clearly got their attention for the slew of ‘em started to squirm interestedly in their seats.
“What’s this job?” one fresh-faced individual barked over his cup.
I stared at him for a long moment, trying to decide if he was just that stupid or if he truly had no idea what to ask when a man offered a job.
As I stared into his baby blue eyes, I decided it had to be the latter. Well shit, these men were new to this life after all.
I forced myself to keep my eyes off Dagger as I rethought their significance. Aw hell, it couldn’t hurt to train ‘em—show them the ropes. I eyed the way they sat in their chairs, some ready for a fight, others waiting with bated breath to hear my next words. Didn’t have much to lose in taking them on.
After all, who’s counting a million gold pieces?
The dagger under my spit-covered hand was cold—always a good sign. I pressed a finger against the silver blade and allowed my mind to cool. I could feel it in my bones, then.
“I’ve been commissioned to secure a prince in the south,” I said.
All ears perked up, brows rising with their disbelief. One of ‘em, a fresh cut along a jagged cheek said seriously, “Now that’s dangerous. Royalty’s untouchable cargo, mister. What’ll make it worth our lives to help you secure this prince?”
I didn’t lose my cool as I stared at this individual for a long moment, the words rising to my lips. “Gold. A million pieces.”
I didn’t say anything else as I let these words settle in their ears. It was clear it got their attention, for they all sat up, not a gaze traveling elsewhere. “You shitting me?” one of them whispered as if to speak any louder would tell him I was indeed shitting him.
Another man raised a hand from across the table as if to still the one who’d just spoken, and with a gruff voice, he said, “How can we trust you? You gotta ship? A name?” The others sank back into their chairs with his words, realizing that I had given them nothing to warrant coming with me at all.
Backtracking, I began again, “Name’s Sinner Sharpe,” (this raised no alarm from them at all; I scowled wondering if I hadn’t made a mistake), “ship’s, The Bloody Sinner, and you can trust me by reputation.”
They all sat, some mouths agape, as they processed these words, then one slowly started. “Ah yeah, you’re that crazy guy—the one with all the fancy weapons and some such.” He blinked rapidly, pulling himself out of his thoughts. “Sinner Sharpe…yeah, I’ve heard of you. You stole Dranna Gethgil’s painting some months ago, heard you scored half a million gold pieces with that job.” At his words the others nodded some more, seemingly coming around to me and where they’d heard my name.
“Didn’t know you were Othrillian, though,” one muttered underneath his breath.
“Aye,” I said, unable to keep the bite out of my voice. “I am Othrillian,” and I pressed a fist against the worn leather of the vest that covered my bare chest. My dark skin beneath was lined with scars here and there of battles nearly lost. Their eyes traversed them with wonder. “Will that be a problem for anyone here?”
Othril people, my people, were not known that much in this part of the world. I left Othril what feels millennia ago to forge a new life for myself. I was not suited to their diplomatic ways. Not suited to the lavish decadence and parties thrown in the King and Queen’s honor every month. I was, however, suited to killing, as I’d learned when the Arkcanians from the west attacked and killed said King and Queen and many of my people. I killed their killers—as many as I could—and left. Nothing for me there.
But here, I reminded myself, as I stared at their wide-eyed inexperienced faces, there was gold.
Finally, one of them said, “Sorry, sir, I just didn’t realize Othrillians still existed.”
I moved a thick black loc from in front of an eye. “Is that what they tell you in your schools?” I asked, unable to keep the anger out of my voice. I was used to incredulity when I tell people what I am. Never hurts any less when met with it, though.
Some nodded while others continued to stare at me in wonder.
I let a small smile settle on my lips. Still, they knew of me. They’d learn of my not-so-friendly ways later. I didn’t get a chance to say a word before Dagger was at my back, his low words in my ear, “Satisfied, Sin?”
Hardly. Straightening up, I gestured a hand to the man behind me and said, “This here’s Dagger, my right hand. Any questions you have can be directed toward him. As of right now, we have to set sail…so if you’re ready to join say so now and we can begin instead of wasting words. You already know the essentials, anything else you’ll learn on the way.”
I could see there were other questions they wanted to ask, the shadow of how long they’d be away settled in-between their eyes, but no one said a word. It wasn’t ‘till the man with the cut against his cheek stood that anyone followed his lead.
Once they were all standing, I felt Dag smile. “Come along little doggies,” he said in his best teasingly sing-song voice. With his low voice, it came out sounding immensely disturbed: an old puppeteer holding fresh strings not yet attached to their puppets. This wasn’t lost on any of the men as they traveled around the table and shook off their bemused expressions. None of ‘em were entirely sure what they’d gotten themselves into.
It was just where I needed ‘em.
I nodded to the patron behind the bar and she flashed me her prettiest smile before I turned for the door, following in their footsteps. I promised myself when I came back, I’d spend some time with that one.
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Until next time,
With Blood and Love,
I’m S.C. Parris