Chapter 19 - Port of Squall's End

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Stormy Bay


Captain Bennett paid no head to the angry sky as the day's humidity was broken by a deluge of rain. He was too eager to get ashore and directed his full focus to the task at hand. The port of Squall's End stretched before the Lady Faith. It was a grand sight to any sea man eager for the comforts of land: spirits, good grub, tavern wenches, and a soft bed. The bay waters were full of ships-barges laden with grain and fish, cogs with their sails furled, and even a few hulks to ferry passengers about the bay.

Familiar sounds carried out over the water. He could hear the bells on the docks, clanging as they bobbed back and forth. There was shouting as people loaded and unloaded their wares. And finally, the ever-present cawing of seagulls permeated the air.

Since the pirate attack, three of his injured men had died. They had made great haste, but the festering of a wound could not be helped. Therefore, his first matter of business was to entrust those in need of care to the healers. It would cost him a fortune, servicing their wounds, but he would pay it.

"Ready to go ashore, Cap'n?" His first mate gazed at him with eager eyes.

"Aye."

Very carefully, the injured men were hoisted down into the ship's rowboats. Some were well enough to climb the ladder, others had to be lowered in hammocks (these moaned and groaned with each movement of the ropes). Only when they were comfortably set did he follow them into the small boats that would take them to land.

Much to their complaints, the remainder of his crew would follow later-unless they were set for guard duty. He ensured that his precious cargo would be heavily protected whilst they moored. His crew knew to comply.

The water on the bay was choppy today as the wind whipped about them, but it was nothing a good seafaring man couldn't handle. It did take them some time to get their little boats to the docks. While they finished securing them, a port hand appeared.

"Where is your captain?" he said with a pompous air of authority.

"Yer lookin' at him."

It was a younger man, drenched as they were. Probably unhappy to be out in the downpour. His long hair hung in wet tangles about his face, and the record book he carried was tucked as best as could be, under his coat.

"Ship name, please?"

"The Lady Faith."

The young man was about to pull out his ledger before crying, "Oh, drat this rain! Let us get under shelter where I can do this properly."

They rushed over the wooden planking to the eves of a nearby storage house. As they went, Bennett instructed his first mate to take the wounded directly to the town's healers. The port hand looked as though he might protest. All men coming and going were to be documented in the ledgers.

He waved a hand of indifference. "I will handle the business with you, let them be."

The man gave him a nod and began scribbling. "Reason for port?"

He sighed. These tedious matters were always a pain, but he was forced to go through them. The ports liked to keep records of everything to cover their behinds should suspicious persons enter their cities. It took longer than he wished, but at last, he finished running through names and reasons, and was free to enter the city.

Sometime later he found himself trudging through the streets of Squall's End, his rubber boots splashing through every puddle as he made his way towards the other side of the city. When he reached its edge and exited its walls, he saw Fort Squall dominating his view. The fort was a sight to see. Its heavy wooden palisades rose above the marshlands surrounding much of Squall's End. If he squinted, he could discern men standing upon the tall walls. As he walked, he also scanned the skies. Every so often he caught a flash of color as Drengr came and went.

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