The order to throw hostages overboard caught everyone off guard including members of his own crew. Several even objected, but Emerson Lighthouse had been the first as he responded swiftly, “We aren’t finished negotiating I kept my biggest card hidden!”
“I am not throwing any kids into the water!” Cyan protested, followed surprisingly by Ambal and others.
That caught the Captains attention, but the protesting crew and guests were still ringing out until the first mate, Faitha, stepped forward. For the first time she raised her voice, “Silence!”
This brought about the desired effect as Faitha smiled softly. The Captain turned to everyone pleased with the momentary order. “Well, I know everyone on the ship heard that. Makes good scare! Now open cargo bay 2!”
Many remained where they were, but at least some of the crew slowly stepped towards the lift.
“Wait!” Emerson stepped forward confidently, “Lets talk coffee!”
This caught the Captain’s attention and he turned to the tubes, “All hands, belay my last!”
Khopesh turned to Emerson quietly, studying him. “We have plenty of coffee, courtesy of the generosity and carelessness of our neighbors and others approaching your land. But you know that…how will you convince me to release your children under more favorable conditions for them?”
“No, everyone is safe, that was part of the deal. No more raids!” Khopesh turned to Faitha who nodded, and he glowered slightly at the reminder. Emerson continued, “So far we have no more fighting and freed kids. In exchange you have the right to moor over Book’s place and sleep at the Gangplank. And we can have pirates freely running the streets between Wheatstone and Clockhaven. That will be good for business. We’ll see an economic boom thanks to me!”
Khopesh slowly nodded, the addition of the pirates being free to move on the streets made the deal more enticing.
Emerson suddenly smirked, “Listen, Let’s leave the second half of the deal until next time. Lets say in this round you get the mooring rights, base at the gangplank, possible business ventures around town, all the kids safely brought back…and we’ll finish the coffee next time.”
As it stood now they could still steal coffee or burn it. But they agreed to meet one more time at their new welcoming base, the Gangplank. The Captain was agreeable to this but made it clear, he wanted the head of that clockwork. The children were kept for now, but they would bring them to the next parlay.
As they left, Beryl watched them confused. She turned to the pirates, “Am I going with them? Or am I a guest still?”
Book saw no harm in it, though her friend seemed out of it, she did not press the issue. If she had stayed for the response she may have changed her mind.
“You stay,” Faitha replied with a silky tone. “Pan says your insight into their weaknesses could be very helpful.”
“My what?” Beryl remembered sharing a few things she wasn’t supposed to, but never on purpose. It was difficult to focus right now.
“Do not worry about it,” Faitha reassured her as she descended the stairs. “Say goodbye to your friends.”
Beryl did, giving them a quick send off. By the time she returned Khopesh had turned on the tap of a brandy barrel, with orders not to disturb him while he passed out drunk. His crew shook their heads at their captain, their disgust clear.
Beryl smiled to herself, the parlay was going so well.