Two boatswain’s mates on the main deck moved toward the main mast. A charau-ka, an ape-like humanoid, readied a bomb while the more ordinary sailors cleared the deck, wanting to be as far away from the fighting as possible. The sniper in front of Chopper dropped her rifle. “I’m no match for you,” she said. “I serve the Gunworks of the Grand Duchy of Alkenstar, and I offer you the secrets of my trade in exchange for my life.”
Arrows peppered the other sniper atop the second mast, most striking the wood but one eliciting a cry of pain. Feruzi yelled as the bomb hit her, enveloping her in flames. The air went cold and a pair of unearthly monstrosities appeared beside Reiko. Chopper jumped from the tower to assist Reiko in fighting off the daemons.
Ezikial blasted the charau-ka alchemist to gibbly little bits, then finished off the boatswain’s mates that were now menacing Feruzi. One piscodaemon expired noisily under Reiko’s sword, and the other wasn’t looking so hot. Then a spell hit Leila and she fell to the deck, stone dead.
Chopper screamed, charging toward the poop deck. “There!” Ezikial yelled as something hissed angrily and the door to the captain’s cabin flew open, revealing Bonefist in all his glory. Or lack thereof. Sandara threw a spell across the deck that purged the invisibility, revealing a tall woman with the lower body of a snake. She whirled her scimitars and attacked. Chopper was more than happy to return the favor, hacking wildly with his axes while Feruzi lined up a shot, piercing lamia through the chest.
“Your witch is dead and your crew has abandoned you, Bonefist!” Reiko shouted. “You have no one left to fight for you. Give up now and step down.”
“I ain’t forsakin’ my throne fer the likes o YE.”
“That’s a shame,” Reiko said, attacking with her katana. Bonefist was blindingly fast with his rapier, fending her off despite his wounds. He backed away, almost running into Chopper, who had jumped down the stairs behind him.
“Stand down, Reiko,” Chopper said. “This one . . . er, the REST of this one is mine.”
“You still have the opportunity to surrender,” Reiko said.
“NEVER!” A bullet tore Bonefist’s ear off. Chopper shrugged, and buried his axe in the former Pirate King’s skull. He then turned away, looking sadly at Leila’s body.
“I’ll, uh, start prayin’ for her,” Sandara said. “Once ye make sure this area is secure. And find that treasure vault . . . you need that to impress the other pirate captains, an’ all.”
“There will be time for that. We see to Leila first.”
A full exploration of the sea caves revealed no more opposition and, yes, quite an impressive treasure room. After a night’s rest, Sandara was able to raise Leila from the dead. The delighted Chopper hugged Sandara, with instructions to transfer it to Leila.
“You big soppy,” Feruzi said fondly.
“Summon tell Fishguts to quit choppin’ onions,” Chopper blubbered.
“So, your Majesty, what’s your plan?” Feruzi asked.
“Guess I should get coronated. Something, something, drink heavily, something, something, see about easing up on Sargavan tarriffs.”
“I’m sure your mother will be thrilled. You going to invite her to the coronation?”
Chopper suddenly looked pensive. “I guess I might as well.”
“I could handle that for you . . . I’m sure Merrill would like a nice, long, relaxing, UNEVENTFUL trip.”
“Aye, fer once,” Sandara said.
“And then we can see about getting you a PERMANENT wife.”
Chopper raised an eyebrow at that. “Let’s go provide the Council with the proof of our deeds and leave nonsense topics tabled forever.”
“He’s still got the better part of a year to go with his current Missus, anyway,” Reiko chimed in.
“Bah, with him it’ll take months even if I start looking now,” Feruzi said. “Picky, picky, picky. I’ll have to get his mother to help. She doesn’t put up with him.”
“Look here, you lot, I’m the bleedin’ Hurricane King. I’ll not be henpecked by ye.”
Feruzi snorted. “Keep dreaming.”
Sandara and Leila giggled.
“And after that, Reiko,” Feruzi continued in a burst of extravagance.
“No,” Reiko said.