The Albatross flew through the smog, guided towards Port Babbage by the many lights on nearby buildings. She settled into the water and Rowan climbed down to tie off the fore and aft lines. She fumbled with the heavy ropes, a worried expression on her face. After several attempts she secured the ship and walked along the dock towards Cuffs pub, where Scottie Melnik and a red haired woman were waiting.
Scottie smiled and nodded to her as she approached. “Good evening, Miss Rowan. I saw your ship dock. I trust all went well?”
“Yes indeed, I have the cargo.” Rowan replied without returning his smile. “But frankly I’m distracted by what happened to Russ”
“I’m glad to hear it! We’ll just get you paid… oh?” Scottie said enquiringly. “What happened to the Captain? Did he sample the goods? You know, I’ll have to take a cut…”
Rowan cut him off “I left him at the hospital.”
“Hospital?” Scottie asked, eyes widening slightly. “The food in Ravila disagreed with him?”
“Did you hear?” Rowan replied, voice shaking. “At Ravila he scuffled with vampires and in the fight his left hand was lopped off.”
The red haired lady gasped and Scottie shook his head as he asked “Wait? What? How!?”
“I was disguised as to my elven race, but I caught my finger on a nail.” Rowan explained “The vampire workers smelled my blood, and went after me.”
“I see.” Scottie said, eyes looking up as he imagined the scene.
“Russ went after them.” Rowan continued. “I managed to fight one until the fellow we met killed him. Russ was fighting the other but fell to his sword”
Scottie furrowed his brow, “Winston killed him? I didn’t think he had it in him. I’m very sorry to hear of your misfortune.”
Rowan nodded. “He also killed the other. Winston was angry but controlled himself and took care of them. We dumped their two bodies at sea, no loose ends.” She closed her eyes for a moment, calming her breathing. “Otherwise, it was a nice trip.”
“I’m glad” Scottie said, frowning. “As long as Winston is involved, everything should be okay. Which hospital was the Captain taken to?”
“I don’t know.” Rowan said, looking worried again. “I forgot to look or pay attention, I’m not thinking too well.”
“I’m sorry, Miss Rowan. I’m sure he’ll be okay.” Scottie spoke soothingly.
“Yes he’s pulled through other things.” Rowan replied, voice calming. “I made a tourniquet and staunched the bleeding. Or slowed it.”
“And you got at least some help in Ravila, I hope.” Scottie queried “It’s a long trip back to Babbage.”
“Yes, Winston arranged a doctor.” Rowan stood lost in thought. Eventually, she looked up at him and smiled “The cargo is fine though.”
Scottie breathed a sigh of relief, “I’ll send some dockworkers down to help you unload. Do you have the payment from Winston?”
“Yes I do.” Rowan answered, taking out Scotties cut, carefully counted by the Captain during the trip. “Shall I give it to you now?”
“Please, if you don’t mind.” Scottie said, extending his hand.
Rowan placed the bag of coins in his palm and breathed a sigh as the responsibility was lifted from her shoulders. “There, I am relieved to complete that. Handling money makes me nervous.”
Scottie opened the pouch and counted the payment. Once satisfied, he pulled a few coins free and passed them back, “For your troubles. You and your crew completed your task admirably under very intense circumstances. Thank you. Now, go take care of your fiancé, hmm? We’ll get you unloaded and refuelled.”
“Thank you so much, Mr. Melnik.” She looked around, hearing a squeak from behind her. “Sigmund!”
Sigmund raised a clawed hand in greeting. The sloth had gone to the hospital with Captain Firecrest to present the designs for a mechanical replacement hand the pair had come up with.
“Can you guide me Sigmund? I can’t remember how to get back to the hospital.” Rowan said, crouching to look into the furry creatures eyes.
Sigmund nodded and climbed onto her back. He pointed a claw south, directing her towards the hospital.
A few weeks later, a window on the first (or second for all you US readers) floor of the Blackberry Harvey Memorial hospital creaked open. Captain Firecrest peered out, checking no nurses were outside. He stepped over to the bed and placed a hastily scribbled note on the sheets stating that he had discharged himself to free up a bed for someone who really needed it. The surgery, performed by Dr Sonnerstein, had gone smoothly and his arm was healing well.
Russ turned and stepped back to the window. Below, Rowan and Sigmund stood looking up at him. He smiled, giving them a thumbs up with his shiny new mechanical hand.
Turning, he gripped the windowsill with both hands and began to lower himself downwards. His boots scrabbled for grip on the brick wall eventually,finding purchase on an edge. He climbed downwards. After a moment of panic as his new hand didn’t let go as he expected, he dropped to the alley and hugged Rowan tightly. Sigmund climbed onto his back and he ruffled the sloth’s fur playfully.
After checking the coast was clear, the trio slipped out of the alley and ran to the nearest pub.
((I have had some interest in a live reading of this tale. If anyone wants one please let me know.))