01 Making a Deal

Tortuga was the liveliest port in the Caribbean but not always the best for repairs. That was Curacao, ruled by the Dutch, who cared little what flag was flown as long as the color of your coin was gold. Every port area was the same, even here where the Dutch allowed the law to be lax. There were the usual characters about, the ladies, the sailors, those trying to make a honest gulden, and those who cared little how they made it. At night, those who were honest disappeared to the safety of their homes. It was late afternoon with the fish mongers and merchants trying to gain one more coin before they closed for the night. Children ran laughing through the streets, avoiding those who had drank too much as well as their parents. The smell of cooking began to simmer from the homes as it drew close to the evening meal.

It wasn't just the ship that had taken a beating with the hurricane, it was the crew itself in a haggard look of just barely making it through alive. Faelan leaned on the rail watching the port coming into view knowing well that their avoidance going back to Heathfield only added to the devil's due when they did. They would need to hire some of those fishmonger wives to mend the ripped sails. He was anxious to get into port and see to the hiring before the sun went down. Arrangements were best made amongst the honest and those became fewer by each passing hour. Hair was a dirty blond much like his brother's, curling tendrils that were tied back most of the time. Eyes like the ocean but in more lending towards the purple than blue.
  The wind still had a bite to it but went unnoticed as fingers dashed through the hair that had escaped for the breeze picking up. Orders given and the anchor set before he and his brother were heading to shore in a row boat. "We gots enough coin dae we Mor'gan?" He was one that worried on the financial as it wouldn't due for them to limp home with less than when set out. They might get away with it if they came back with more.

Regan had been left behind to oversee some of the details on board the ship. She had grumbled but there was pride in the fact her brothers trusted her with such. He glanced at his brother while brushing strands of loose hair back from his face. He'd retie the rawhide once they were on land. "More'n enough fer repairs an' supplies, bu' it'll be leavin' us wit'out much extra." He frowned as he turned to watch the dock growing nearer. "Once we pay t'e men, we'll nae hav' much fer profit." And that irked him. They had a ship within their grasp before fate decided a hurricane would blast them. "We cannae avoid Heat'fied much longer." He adjusted the collar of his heavy coat against the wind and looked back at Faelan, grinning. "Be t'e devil tae pay as is."

It was more to keep her out of trouble a port like this had to offer. Too easily found and Regan had a mind of her own thinking she was invincible. Luckily Morgan had convinced her, hit on her ego. Man was good. He would have to remember that approach. "T'en we should see about mak'in some 'ere," which meant some dice and cards. Faelan was better at the cards, Morgan the dice, together they made a good brother team. "Yea kin, once we bae settl'in we'll nae be doin' th' devil's run no more." They were leaning a bit more towards the pirate side than privateer and there was a huge gap of a difference between the two. Fine line easily crossed over in that unseen wide chasm. "Ain't going tae take th' sea out o' us so we best bae mak'in
' some compromises." It was about time they had this talk, started once they were on land and moving through the portside commons to hire the fishmonger wives. That part he let Morgan take of while he wandered. Once that was done they would be heading to one of the pubs close by where a few of their crew were headed too.

Of course it was to keep her out of trouble, but it had to be done right.  "Aye, I bae t'inkin' abou' t'at. Somet'in' we can talk on once we're ba'k on board t'e Fianna." He had been doing some studying of the place that would be their new home. They might be able to hire on under the shipping companies there. Clapping a hand to Faelan's shoulder, he grinned. "Dinnae worry. Somet'ing will com' up." It always did. With that he turned to talk to the women who were waiting. He knew his brother would be close enough for him to find once the talking was done.

He wouldn't wander too far as he dogged some kids running by, a group of women checking him out that he flashed a smile to. Cheeks went pink and giggles behind gloved hands while the two guards with them frowned. He knew their hands would be resting on the hilt of their swords just waiting for any excuse to draw them. He gave them a two finger salute that ended up one as he moved on and around some vendor's tents. He was grinning like the devil too as he got approached by another kind. "Out early are yea?" As the female sidled up against him, hand roaming as he shook his head. "Ain't got th' money," except he found out she was offering a free one for him. Tempted but he shook his head, "got business tae see tae," her pouting  wasn't helping but she assured him she'd seek him out later and see if he changed his mind. She was on her way while he making his way around to where his brother should still be. A few alleyways were checked out in a discreet way as he passed.

"Pssst." The hiss came from one of those alleyways, a boy of maybe nine or ten standing there. He was ragged, his boots a bit too big. No cloak but though the weather was cooler than normal, it was still warm enough now that the rains had passed. "Pssst, he kapitein." In spite of being small, he was all attitude and business as dark eyes watched Faelan.

He heard the pssst and at first he was going to ignore it but something had him stalling as he looked over the lad. First he checked beyond to make sure it wasn't a set up and he get ambushed and robbed. Even with enough kids working together they could take down an adult, one as rugged as he. Would they be daring? The attitude didn't fit however as he stepped closer. "Ja, knaap?" Being he was speaking Dutch. "English?" Noticing there were ones around that might overhear and not many knew English of the lower classes.

"I speak English." The boy's accent was heavy but he still was easily understood. He was quite proud of the fact. "Speak it good. You like a deal, ja?" He glanced around, leaning slightly to study the area beyond Faelan before dark brown eyes lifted again. He was nervous but being the only source of income for his family made the boy anxious.

Smile hinted, this was the usual course for lads in his walk of life. He made note of a few passing by then back to the lad. "Depends on wha' t'e deal is. Wha' dae yae hav' tae offer lad?"

"A map." He moved closer, biting briefly at his lower lip. "A scat map. Treasure." He was chancing moving away from the alley to speak to Faelan. Rocking on his heels, he glanced around again.

Brow lifted as this surely sounded like a con but he could tell the lad was desperate and not your ordinary cut of street urchin. "Where would yae bae gettin' sooch a map an' one t'at leads tae a real treasure?" He noted the thin leather was not the usual parchment a lad might scribble a map upon. That had his brows dipping as he added. "An' how much woul' yae bae ask'in' for t'is treasure map, iffin I bae consder'in tae buy'in it?"

"My papa." The boy bit at his lower lip again, lowering his eyes to keep Faelan from seeing tears. "He died, and all his money is gone. If we had some, my mama could take in sewing." He looked up again. "He told me where he hid  things, in case, this happen. I want five silver for it." He clenched the parchment a little tighter, as if afraid it would be snatched away.

"Five silver bae a lot o' money," as he moved closer, coin taken in hand as he held out the other for the map. "I'll see yer price," as the coin was dropped in his hand, one gold instead, this man came charging up the alleyway. The lad jerked his head around and dropped the map on the ground as he pocketed the coin, not even knowing what was given. Seemed this man wanted whatever the kid had as Faelan stepped forward enough his boot fitted over the worn leather. The angling would not have the man seeing if anything was passed and Faelan was there looking where the kid had run. The man gave him a passing glance before he was hell bound after the lad. "I sure bae hop'in yea kin run lad." Muttered under his breath before he crouched down once both were out of sight and withdrew the folded up leather and tucked it away in his cloak pocket. He was up and continuing on his way to intercept his brother again. If he had crouched for it before the man would have known something had been dropped.

The lad was quick and long gone. That coin would do he and his family good, keep them alive until the children's grandfather found them. The man was cursing as he crashed over an empty crate. Seems some were helping the lad.

Morgan heard the commotion as he looked for Faelan. Spotting him, he grinned and crossed the square. The fishwives were closing shop, some of the other merchants gone. "Sails will bae started tomorrow. We'll have 'em down an' t'e masts fixed afore t'ey're done. What ha' yae been up tae while I was dealin' with t'em?" His mood was good, having managed to keep their price down.


"Boug't mae a treasure map," feeling like the children's tale of jack and the bean stalk as he gave a shrug of a shoulder. "Lad needed t'e coin, yae coul' tell and no' use tae t'e streets, man was after him tae." So he spared a coin he probably should not have and worse, showed he had a soft spot. Something that was not good for certain others to know. "How many more days yea bae count'in until we set sail again?"

"If we bae lucky, week an' a half." He scratched at his chin, lips twitching. "A treasure map. An' how much coin did th' lad get off yae?" The part of a man chasing him had him frowning slightly. "Did he catch t'e lad?"

"A gold," not looking his way for that was quite a bit of money to impart for a treasure map probably drawn up by the kid. Usually it was only a copper or two he parted with under such circumstances. "Th' lad bae quick as a jac' rabbit and will get away. I'll bae win'in it bac' soon enoug'" pointing out the pub ahead. "Yea go' yea dice wit' yea?" He had his deck of cards.

He winced hearing how much but knew he would have done the same. "Well, we'll frame it, maybe dependin' on t'e work put intae it." He teased then patted his chest where the inside vest pocket was. "Aye, bae thinkin' we migh' bae needin' tae raise som' funds." Devilish grin appeared. They'd make more than a single gold tonight if all went well. Maybe double their money.

The idea was to win so much here then go onto another pub and work their way around. It kept any one group from getting angry at losing too much coin. A certain amount was expected but if ones kept winning more than that, then cries of cheating started up whether they did or not. He was up the steps and grabbing the door before it could be closed over as one went in ahead of him. "Seems tae 'ave a few games go'in already." Glance given his brother before he was heading in to get in on one of the games while Morgan took to the ones using dice.




02 Plans Made

The thin cigar bobbed from one corner of his lips to the other as he relaxed in a lean against a pole across the street from the tavern. A glance given the one street leading down to the port as Faelan waited on his brother. Poet's shirt fit loosely, lacings half undone down the front, tails tucked into form fitting black leather pants topped off in black boots. Arms were crossed for the lazy stance.

His brother didn't have long to wait as a familiar figure appeared at the end of that road. Morgan was singing as he walked, his swagger showing that he was a sea-faring man. As he neared his brother, the song faded.

Hey-ho, diversion came in a comely sight as once more the mysterious woman was spotted upon horseback. Oh, Faelan watched being she was focused dead ahead and certainly would miss his notice. The cig flipped to the other side on a thought and a slight grin flashed with the weed between his teeth for a moment's blink. Shifting focus was back to the street his brother should emerge from. He could wonder if he was all right all considering the kind of trouble that usually found them.

He was fine, his pockets full of coin. He pulled a pouch from a vest pocket as he approached Faelan and held it out to him. Money owed and now, duly paid.

He was up from his lean, quick as a flash, taking the pouch to tie off into his belt. He knew better than to let it hang and sticky fingers be on his holdings. "Obviously all went as planned." The glint of bronze against his chest showed off the talisman worn along with some other leather strung objects.

"Almost too easily." He chuckled as he answered. Billowing sleeves held a few tricks and one of those helped to win that gold. He took note of the woman and horse and turned to bow in her direction, a mocking flourish added.

"Makes up for the other, far too many that don't go so well," sometimes getting away by the seat of their pants. Ah, but what a Life. Never dull. Chin lifted slightly as violet blue eyes settled beyond his brother's shoulder as if staring down the equine she rode. Dare almost except he got along well with animals. Good rapport there on the norm. Lifting then to meet the more stoic expression of the woman. A thought streaked on whether she ever had any fun. Real fun. He cracked a smile, winsome tilt as any thoughts sparked in the unusual violet-blue eyes.

He flashed a smile that was far too amused as he turned back to his brother and clapped a hand to his shoulder. "Shall we continue on and have a drink or two?"

She might have trouble smiling but at least she noticed. A trailing glance traced her features in what could be seen and started shifting over her in general before quickly pulled away with his brother's suggestion. "In very good order," a clasp to his shoulder as he headed up the short distance before ascending the few steps. "Tankard or whiskey," called over his shoulder as he approached the serving window.

"Whiskey." He decided quickly as he followed after. Regan had been in a temper when they left. She probably still would be when they returned.

Maybe he could read thoughts but then Regan was both their sister. "I think we need to find her a husband," humorously laced and a really loaded thought. Regan would claw their eyes out. he was around with a smaller tankard of ale with whiskey as the chaser. Enough of the one to quench a thirst and the other for better reasons. Of course neither quench certain thirsts.

"Are you mad? She'd have the crew mutiny and string us both up." He chuckled as he leaned against the rail, stretching out leather clad legs. He had noticed a few eyeing his brother.

Now he had a stallion at one time that smiled by baring his teeth although the lunging part made a different statement as a brow lifted. A shake of his head followed as once Morgan took his tankard, Faelan was over to the rail to claim a lean. "Evening," called out to greet one and all, met or not.

"Evening, all." He wasn't sure he'd remember all the names but was making an attempt. "Morgan and me brother, Faelan."

"That means if we find her one it will have to be an alpha male." Now that had some visuals race through his head and all amusing, fire and brimstone, spit and hissing. "'Lo Thorn," with another glance her way that at least took his thoughts off some humorous confrontations for his sister.

He looked heavenward briefly but thought it best not to continue thinking on that. Amusing and dangerous as it could be. He grinned in Tyg's direction but didn't say a word.

"Paige, Thorn," who he knew, "Elly, Vasha, Eliza, Des," Devin noted in his leaving, and then.. he was lost. Too many at once but Eliza made herself known. The mystery one remained a mystery as her horse seemed to lead her away
. Ella got a wink. It seemed the shy one remained like the mystery one. "I'm fine," to the question on drinks or he would be ploughed under.

He was listening as he drank, trying to match names to faces though Thorn had him chuckling.

Which reminded him as the tankard was lifted and a good portion drained. It was immediately followed by a gulp of whiskey which he offered that bottle to his brother. "I have your name right. The lovely Thorn amongst the roses." Reversing implication of roles there and amusing in a wry way. Ah, two he missed. "Tyg and Sunyata, nice to meet you."

Bottle taken, he groaned and looked at his brother, then chuckled. "She blushes nicely, doesn't she?" To Tyg.

"And blushes well I might say, dimming those roses around her." Wink given Tyg's way for helping out in such a nice blush upon Thorn. "..and a smile to light up any room with her presence. Like Ireland on a summer's day greeting the dew upon the heather." He lifted his tankard in salute before draining another portion.

He grinned and looked at Thorn. "With the stars in her eyes, and the sun in her smile?" Asking his brother.

If she fell off the rail, he could catch her and have her blushing while in his arms. There was a thought. "Aye and the dew of Eire upon the sweet curve of her lips. Nectar of the gods. Evening," chimed Poe's way in return. As normal a quick dipping glance too in the whole before away again to another that joined the porch crew.

"We don't need to kiss it, we're born with the gift of blarney." In retort to them kissing the Blarney stone. He laughed. "It's in our blood."

"I think we were born with a piece of the stone." Pointing to his brother as laugher came in a rich husky tone.

"G'night Thorn." He lifted his hand then nudged his brother in the side.

"Besides, why should we be kissing something cold and unyielding when it could be a lass' warm supple lips. Far more enticing to drink from," than any other notion of the stone being bathed by the locals. "Good night Thorn, sleep sweet in slumber's kiss at least. Well there, seems I chased them all off..." comment came low between his brother and him as he leaned near. He touched his tankard to his before swinging it up for a drink. The chaser of whiskey to follow the swallow.

He chuckled and nodded. "At least it was you this time and not me."

"You get the next shift while I drink and add comments." Word held the amusement in tone as the bantering would start between them. Oh, here is a loaded one. "So what type of man do you think our sister would fall for?" Of course Thorn left for other reasons than chased off by flowering words to avoid blushing.

And glad he was that he hadn't been drinking with Faelan's question. "Someone ... brave." He gave a slight nod as he checked the bottle. Still a goodly amount.

Which he grabbed up from his brother before he drank it all.

He gave a shrug then nudged Faelan. "Anything left? Or should I get another?"

"Plenty left," and he'd share as he handed over the bottle so he could drain what was left in his tankard.

"So ... back to this man for Regan... " He took the bottle, pausing though. "Brave is one quality. Deaf?"

"Daft and deaf?" Of course he was joking. "Let me think," which he gave a good pause before continuing. "Good looking enough so she notices him amongst others, intelligent with enough charm she doesn't know he is smooth talking her."

"Not a sailor." He grinned. "Need to keep her off the sea and on land."

"We need to set sail," talk about a 180 degree turn. "Where is the next stop and should we set sail at dawn? Well," it tied in it turned out, "once we get where we're going, we can get back. There are a few well thought of lordships in the lands that would be a good match." Regan would have his head and just that thought had him flashing a grin.

"True. Did the man get back to you about the map?" He glanced over at Paige and Tyg, smiling slightly and looked back.

"Map is genuine, very old. If we can make it out he said we have possibly something real in our grasp. Only way to find out is to follow it and see where it leads. He warned that if it has not already been found that there could be danger in going there." But that was the usual anyway.

"That's normal. I think we should have a sit down, the three of us and study it. Regan is our navigator after all." He held the bottle out. "I'd like to set sail as soon as possible."

He took the bottle and a drink, tipping it then back down to hand off. Words soaked in much like the whiskey as he shifted up from his lean. "No time like the present. I'm not that sleepy and Regan tends to stay up late. If she is still up, we can go over it tonight and possibly sail tomorrow."

"Sounds good." He stood, and rolled his shoulders. Too much sitting and the walk back would do him good. "Good night to you ladies. It was good to meet you."

"Good night all, nice meeting you," and possibly he would remember some of the names when next encountered. Seemed there was something going down in the tavern itself as he headed down the steps avoiding running into the one coming up them That wouldn't do.

Well, the noise was normal. He nodded to the gent coming up the steps with a flower for Paige, then caught up to his brother. "Think we should get something for Regan?" Just an idea.



03 The Map

Repairs on the Fianna had been completed, the stores had been restocked from powder to spare sails to live chickens. The crew was itching to set sail, never ones to remain in port long. A few of the men had disappeared, but that wasn't unusual in a port like Curacao. They had been replaced easily enough by young men ready to earn some coin on the high seas. Morgan paced the deck of the ship, waiting for Regan to return and for Faelan. He had the information on where they were to sail. The map would be studied further once they were out on the water. He kept watching the shoreline not only for his brother, but in case any of those they had gambled with decided they wanted their money back, or the hides of either brother.

Faelan was itching to set sail! He wanted to find out if the map held treasure or discarded for having been used already. When he let his mind soar on all the possibilities it went from the bogus to untold riches. He would be happy if there was enough to have been worth their effort if truth be told and even more, the adventure it might bring. They could end up with that without any gold. The men that disappeared were easily replaced and good riddance to the ones that had. Usually they were not worth the space they took up. The Slags as he called them, came and went, eventually they had the majority of seaworthy, trustworthy men. In that he was in agreement with his brother's thoughts, ones that had been expressed too. He was making the rounds from one end of the ship to where he would meet up with his brother, slicker would billow around him with the gust of wind to pick up one way then sweep another. Hair had been bound to keep it from whipping in his face except for the strands that had escaped. Poet's shirt beneath would even puff up, left open half way down showing off the hair on his chest. Not that he had much. He drew out the map as he approached and the wind nearly snatched it from his hand, it had actually left the one only to be caught by the other in cat like reflexes. Might give Morgan that moment's catch of breath. "Here you are, red sky at night," which had such an aesthetic splash across the sky that was slowly being eaten up by twilight. A few of the brighter stars already boasting their light.

Regan had been ashore, seeing to a few last details and was just now returning. She had been accompanied by two of their most trusted men. Burly and muscular, they'd not let a soul near Regan if she didn't want to be approached.  Both men were laden with purchases and one was leading a goat. She ran up the gangplank to join her brothers, saluting them both in a mocking sort of way. The young woman was dressed as usual in pants that fit loosely, boots with the tops folded down and a poet's shirt beneath a red vest. Her hair was bound in two braids. "No sign of trouble, and I got the tinctures the old woman made for the fever." Being they were going into the jungle, she had thought that a good idea. The men that sailed the Fianna for the most part, were used to the sight of the lass and some called her Neptune's Pearl. They never had bad luck when she was aboard, contrary to what the newcomers might believe.

Morgan nearly jumped forward when the map left Faelan's hand but he grinned when it was caught again. "Be a good night to set sail." The moon was no longer full, but still rose bright in the sky, and they would use the stars to navigate. "And finally she returns." He muttered under his breath as he spotted Regan. It was with a great deal of relief he heard her report. "Gents, stow those supplies below deck. All right, ye sea dogs! Prepare to cast off. Mr. Dalles, you have the helm. Guide us into open sea while the three of us go below to plot our course!" He and Faelan would act as Captain as needed, and the men listened to both. With another grin, he motioned to his siblings to head to the room they used as a 'war room'. It was there the map would be looked at.

He turned to see their sister, greeting her with a charmed grin. One that got him both in and out of trouble over the years. "You have a craving for goat's milk?" He kept the map under a good clutch of his hand. "Once we are out to sea, we should go below to review this, privacy of our cabin." Some things would distract the sailors from their tasks and a treasure map being going over would be one of them. He gave a few orders added to Morgan's but more on a few to get their skinny arses in gear or they would be leaving them behind. A shape-up or ship-out, shipping out meant dumped in the sea. There were times being a nice guy didn't pay off and this job was one of them. Fair but not necessarily nice. Seeing all the goods, reminded him he had something for her, gotten on one of their escapes that left her behind. Seems she made up for it shopping this time. Fingers slipped into a pocket of the slicker and he drew out a highly polished onyx stone in the shape of a great sea turtle. Even at night it seemed to reflect the stars above that were becoming more prominent now that the sun had set. "I was thinking of you." Which he dangled the one inch stone from a silver serpentine chain her way.

"It can come in handy and we can always use her for trade." She laughed and gave a toss of her head. "Besides, you never know if one will need something to soothe the stomach." Her eyes got wide when she saw the onyx and she reached for it while she hugged him. "Ooo. It's a good luck piece. Look how the reflections are picked up." She grinned up at Faelan. "I have a message for you from Lovely Lydia. She said to remember to keep your promise and bring her back a pearl necklace." She bumped Faelan with her hip, laughing. "Making promises now, are we?"

Morgan chuckled and glanced up at Dalles. He was an excellent helmsman and loyal to a fault. Hopefully this excursion would keep all their men happy. Snickering, he looked at Faelan and Regan. "Just don't be promising the Fianna or we'll be in trouble." On the docks, as the ship was prepared to set sail, one of their 'missing' crew was watching. He had another to report to, especially concerning that piece of paper Faelan had nearly lost.

She was wrapped up in his arms for a few moments before the cough came as she was released. "Not quite. She spoke the promise as if I gave one and had not. She told me she expected me back and with a gift of a pearl necklace. Demanding and bold woman that I had only talked to." Hell no, he'd not bed one like that. Adventure his game but he wasn't insane. "She will not see me again but I left Morgan's name with her." There was that charmed grin again. He could at least bring about some trouble or possibly, even if only the idea of it. He swatted her rump with the bump and finally laughed. "There are certain ladies that have my undying respect," and that was their ship. Of course their sister was one on the human side of things. It was then he caught sight of the one on the dock and shot a glance Morgan's way. He mumbled something about the one being a deadman at sea.

She covered her mouth in a vain attempt to suppress her laughter, then let out a yelp at the swat. "Well, Morgan will deal with her then." An impish grin was flashed her brother's way. Knowing him, he'd likely dump the lass in the drink then argue with her. The necklace was placed around her neck and patted. "There you go, lad. Now bring us good luck." She was over to the port to watch the anchor being brought up, then back to her brothers as Dalles steered the ship out of the port. It would take a little while until they were out in open sea but the winds were billowing the sails with the promise of a quick start at least.

He hunched his shoulders when he heard Faelan, turning slowly to give him a look. "Ye did nae.... " He growled in a brogue, knowing very well Faelan likely did! "I've yet to face that one." He stepped closer to Faelan when Regan darted away, pretending to study the mainsail while he glanced toward the dock. "Mmm. Now what do you suppose that one is up to? I figured he'd jump ship, but to watch us leaving?" It didn't bode well. Regan was caught with one arm round the waist and turned toward the stairs. "Go on down, and make sure those things are stored right. We'll join you shortly."

She wrinkled her nose at Morgan, knowing full well he wanted to speak with Fael alone. It was something they always had done. Divert her attention so they could speak in private. Bouncing down the steps, she headed for the hold, spoke with the men there and headed back to the cabin and waited. Excitement had her pacing. It was always thus before an adventure.

"He has the stance of a snake. No good is what he is up to and probably why he bailed from the crew. You don't see him flagging us down like he'd only been detained. We best keep extra watch." He didn't like the overall feel he got from the one who boldly remained where he was until darkness would shroud and he noted the one finally turn and head off the pier. He watched the night settle in as the lights slowly faded along the coastline as they moved further out. He turned to Morgan. "I think it is time to sit with Regan and make our plans." Well, finely hone them. They had already decided to follow the map to whatever treasure or not it would lead them.

He watched the man as well, eyes narrowing slightly. "I wonder who would have an interest in us." Not that there weren't a few. Still, they didn't have time to go after the man and beat the information out of him. He agreed with the need for extra watch, and grabbed one of the men to relay the order to Dalles. "Aye, it is." He didn't need to tell Mr. Dalles where they'd be. The man could see them head below deck and would only need to send a cabin boy for the two men if there was trouble.

"Only tells me that the map must be worth something and not a goose chase." Which also meant there could be someone else interested and would attempt to waylay them. "I think we should find some mist to head into going one direction and change while in it if we have a tail." That would lead the other off onto their own goose chase. A hand then clasped his brother's shoulder. "It is best we not keep Regan waiting too long or we end up paying for it one way or another." Which had a amused glint in violet blue eyes before his hand slid away as he started for the steps. He was down them in a few moment's time heading with him into their cabin. Well, two captain's quarters were set up side by side with a room inbetween for such conferences.

"Good idea. Once we're out to sea, I'm sure we can find a goodly patch of it." He grinned and nodded. "Aye, and we don't need that this soon into the journey." Regan's quarters was near theirs, for obvious reasons. He chuckled as they headed down the stairs. "She's been waiting to get hold of that map again." As their navigator, she'd pour over every bit of it. Not just because it was her job, but because she was curious as any cat.



04 Map Reading

Steps were descended quickly as the pace of their boots marked the hall to the door of the extended captain's quarters between the two bedrooms of the brothers. Door was swung wide as Faelan entered with his brother and shut off once both were through. He was over to the table to spread out the map, facing Regan before taking up a seat to her one side, figuring Morgan would flank her. "So let us begin," reaching for one of the tankards to fill with the ale setting there along with a platter of bread, meats and cheese to nibble on.

"About time." She huffed, though her eyes belied the fact she was upset with her brothers for making her wait. As soon as the map was spread, she was leaning over it, reading the rough spelling and replacing it with her own writing, brow furrowed. "I can't say how accurate it is, by miles but we can make port at Margarita and restock if need be." She looked up at her brothers. "We can disembark there, right? No problems with the Spanish? No angry husbands or discarded lovers?" Before they could answer, she continued. "Southwest, along the coast, there's a cove." She tapped the map to show. "If we see Blade Shallows, we've gone too far. He didn't write if there's a path or not, so we may have to cut one. And there's a reason the path twists and turns, likely the terrain, but he did place landmarks."

Morgan pulled over a chair after they entered and moved to the table. He didn't sit but instead placed a booted foot on the seat, resting his arms as he leaned. Occasionally he took a drink from the tankard in his hand or leaned to grab a piece of cheese or bread. "So, there are at least natives there. We'll have to be well armed. They likely use bows." He rubbed at the scruff of his chin thoughtfully. "Mail might be a good idea?" He looked at Faelan to get his opinion. Might protect us against insect bites too."

The coordinates were already given the helmsman to take them to this coast of South America. "This map is authentic and I think we may have attracted some attention." Letting Regan in on this bit of information. "I have given added ones that would have us moving in a different one until we hit an area of mists. We hope to lose anyone that might follow under that cover. We should wear some armor, shields would not be out of the question. First aid that includes snake and bug bite, machetes, flintlocks, rapiers, knives.." they got the picture of being well armed. "Mail would be good and some of that thick leather breast plates. I suppose we can't talk you into staying on the ship, Regan?" Lifting a brow her way because they would not wish her into harm's way and on the same notion knew her stubbornness.

"That's a good idea." She straightened, looking thoughtful. "Have them think we're heading out into the Atlantic, then turn in the direction of Margarita." He got a look for the last. "No, you can't because you'll need me to mark the landscapes and estimate distances. Besides, why should you two have all the fun?" Arms crossed over her chest. "I'll be fine, and neither of you need to watch over me like a hatching. I'll be armed too."

He just grinned as he listened, popping another bite of cheese into his mouth. "The Jesuits have a mission some distance away it looks like. I wonder if they've made some inroads with the natives. At any rate, we could order you to remain, lock you in your cabin with a guard watching your every move. But you'd still figure a way out, wouldn't you?" He'd rather have her with them then following.

"Under one condition, you as the others will obey orders given. Not argue or rebel in front of the men especially. Or I will take you over my knee because I still can." If she tried to humiliate them, she would get it back ten fold. There were a few times before she openly rebelled them for her temper. "We can stop there first, ask around, come up with a good story why we are there looking for rare butterflies or something?" Lie to the Jesuits, certainly.

Her mouth dropped open as if to protest, then clamped shut with a snap. She knew Faelan would do it too! And Morgan would let him. "Alright, I'll listen." She sulked a moment, then perked. "Yes there are. Or even better, orchids. They'd know there's a high price for them right now being all the nobs want them for their homes. I don't know much about them, but I think they grow in the jungle." She bounced up on her toes, smile bright for her two brothers. "Maybe we'll be able to get me one of those colorful parrots. An egg or a baby."

He was laughing out right as Faelan told her exactly what he'd do. Rolling his eyes, he sighed. "We have a the cats here. They're not enough?" They weren't really pets but needed for rodent control, and most sailors thought them good luck. "Flower hunters now. We'll have to fly a neutral flag so no one fires on us. And, no we've never been to Margarita before." He paused to look at Faelan. "Have we?"

He thought on all that to come up with something feasible. "All right, Regan, you will be the lady who has financed this trip and insisted on coming too. You are looking for orchids and exotic birds. You will, by your sweet charm, convince the monks to divulge any trails leading into the jungle, perhaps even supply a guide so that you don't get your pretty head chopped off in some head hunter's native party. I believe we have some of those cages we can have some of the men cart in this ruse. Only a few as we don't want them thinking we are going to unbalance nature. That would not go over well either." He paused then with a blink. "I have no offspring that I know of and I don't think we were here before, Margarita, unless we were drinking, on one of our binges and it is all a haze." There were a few ports not remembered until returned to such a surprise. Not necessarily good one at all. He had some Lordship sending his men after him saying he promised to marry his daughter and had wealth to offer. He scratched along the scruff of his jaw trying to recall.

She sighed then threw her arms around Faelan's neck. "I'll protect you from any wenches that try to make claims on you." She planted a noisy kiss to his cheek before stepping away. "I still have the clothes from the last time we played out such a ruse. I'll be all properly covered and prim to meet with the Abbot, or who ever their leader is. And I'll have a guide for us for sure." She grinned. "And wear me britches underneath." She knew it wasn't a game, but there was no reason not to have a little fun."

"You better protect me too. I've no memory of the place." He'd ask the Bos'n who was sure to remember. The man could hold his drink like no other. "We shouldn't need much in the way of supplies. We stocked up well enough at Tortuga, so more than likely we can restock on our way out. We're having extra watches too, being we think someone is after the map."

Regan moved fast out of her seat to assault him with that sloppy, noisy, slimy kiss to his cheek. One he was wiping off but laughing too as he stood. "That's right pretend to be my mistress again but what about Morgan there, it might be him this time." Neither were any saints even if he seemed to be the one more flocked around. "See," as Morgan voiced the same. "Give him one of those repellant kisses too. Slop one on him.." grinning like the devil he could be.

Both were far too charming and she knew it. Laughing she stalked Morgan and did the same to him, though she made it worse than the one she gave Faelan. "I love you both, you know, and I know you worry over me but no man dare touch me, not when I've a whole ship full of protectors, along with the two most dangerous Captains to ever sail the seven seas." She grinned, then looked at the map. "I think that's all I can tell you for sure. If you don't mind, I'd like to sit here a while and plot the quickest course away once we're ready, study the map more too. There was more writing but it's hard to decipher."

"Ugh! Get off me, ye sea witch." He teased as he pretended to fend her off but then scooped her into a hug. "I don't mind you sitting here, long as you don't forget the time, or forget to eat or sleep." He released her and tugged one of her braids. "Time to get on deck and seek out a good bank of fog to hide in, just in case." He looked up at Faelan. "Join me, or are you going to rest a bit and take over later?" He grabbed a slice of bread as he asked. Always had a good appetite though not a bit of fat on his frame.  Instead of waiting for Fael to answer, he turned on a heel and headed for the door. If Faelan followed, he meant to keep an eye out for the mists as well. If not, well, he'd likely be asleep within the hour.

He gave Regan a hug, "whistle for us if you find something in your study we should know. We'll be above sighting out the fog." A kiss to her cheek as he grabbed up some bread, meat and cheese to take up with him. He also took one of the smaller wineskins to wash all down with the mulled wine it contained. He'd share with his brother if needed too. He wanted to be on deck for the fog and the change of direction. A new spyglass to use to check all points to see if they were being followed. He would not sleep at this point anyway.



05 Porting in Margarita

After doing a little more work on the map, Regan was satisfied she had figured the most important details out. One smudge near the crude drawing of the ruins couldn't not be deciphered, save for a single letter. A d. Giving up, she headed up on deck, redoing one of her braids. She sought out her brothers before moving to the port side of the ship. Dolphins were following them closely and she laughed as she watched.

Morgan had taken over the helm after a few moments, watching for a likely bank of fog that could hide the Fianna. So far no ship had been spotted following them, but that could change quickly. A call out had him turning the ship south west where a large bank had been spotted. Though they'd have to rely on a compass and their own skills, he willingly steered the ship into the bank. It was an odd sensation, sounds muffled, the feel of moisture from the fog, but he had to admit, Faelan had the right idea.

Faelan was leaning against the rail, the spyglass balanced in a hand, balanced against the rail. Ever so slowly he'd scan the horizon and nearly missed the distanced ship. "Starboard," pointing out the direction. They were being followed, or a good chance instead of a random ship. The bank of fog came just in time as the mist swirled around as they entered it. If the special spyglass he owned still made it difficult to see, they would barely see them in return too. He was over to the helm with his brother as that strange silence engulfed them that came with such a heavy fog. One could hear the slightest creak in the wood construction, the flap of a sail that took a different gust of wind. The lap of the water, a cough, sneeze, grunt, or something mumbled in their form of prayer. Oddly enough everyone was as quiet as the thick fog except for those sounds.

Regan looked away from the dolphins as the ship began to turn then moved over to starboard when she heard Faelan. Hand shielding her eyes from the sun, she squinted as she tried to spot the ship without benefit of a spyglass. A moment after Faelan had moved to the helm, so did she. Not a word was spoken as she listened, not for their own crew, but to see if the other followed. She looked at her brothers, eyes touched with quiet concern.

Morgan flashed both siblings a quick grin as they joined him. He stayed on the south west course for a few minutes, then glanced at Faelan. The ship was turned in a more southerly course, though he watched Faelan while he listened to see if the other ship followed. This far out, there were no reefs to run afoul of, no islands close. They could ride with the fog until it dissipated if it continued south.

Every sound was evaluated and they were to keep silent for a reason. He gave his brother a nod as they would be coming out of this fog in a whole new direction, not the one that would be logically deducted nor an about face. "I think that should do it," spoken low, "now to get out of this fog before it overly spooks our men. I'm heading down now to get some sleep and will be up in an hour's time, enough time before we reach our destination." With that he was soon disappearing into the very fog as he made his way below. Morgan would make sure he was up and not let him oversleep if that ever be the case.

Regan watched Faelan go before she offered a smile to Morgan. With a motion upward, she was off, climbing the ropes to the crow's nest. She'd take watch there until they were near their destination, then set the course. After, she'd be dressing the part of a noble woman.

With a nod to Faelan and then to Regan, Morgan turned his attention to sailing the ship safely out of the fog. He'd remain at the helm for that hour, then let the helmsman take over. Nearly alone in the fog, he concentrated on the compass, using it to make sure the Fianna stayed on course.

A couple of hours sleep did him wonders as he was up to wash his face and muster up some life into himself. Clean clothes donned in a more Lordship style so he trimmed the scruff growing along his jaw too. He was setting up the ruse, get into the role so by the time it was needed it would come second nature. "Pip pip, man your posts." Waving off the men as he passed, ruffled shirt, nice vest but the tight fitting tailored pants had him complain. "I'll have his head once back to England," adjusting his crotch in emphasis. Of course the crew were snickering and adding rude comments about how that could be fixed without the need of a tailor. Knowing well it was all an act.

Regan had gone down to her own cabin as soon as the ship was free of the fog. She had need of Morgan's aid, and waited for him to finish his turn at the wheel. Now fully dressed, she came onto the deck of the ship. The change was almost miraculous. Her hair had been done in curls that tumbled down across one shoulder, held there by a velvet band. The gown was a deep blue silk, with an overskirt of black and blue stripes. The neckline was modest of course, since they'd be visiting monks. Artfully applied makeup hid any sunburned skin, and deepened the color of her lips. She fanned herself as she walked around, laughing at the wolf whistles that followed.

Most of the men had donned blue pants, with white shirts. Those who would be accompanying the three wore polished boots. He joined his siblings, studying  Faelan. "I say, old man, planning on making the native women swoon?" Maybe they should consider acting for a second career? Something to fall back on.

He would be her cousin accompanying her as a Lady of her status would never sail alone even on such an exclusive, daring, expedition such as this one. Exotic birds that she just had to hand pick to brave the wild. "Lady Alexandria," giving her a more important sounding name as his hat came off and he bowed in a perfect sweep of hand. One that was brought up as he straightened and his hat in place gain. "Your island awaits you." Deep wine jacket was trimmed in a silver brocade, pants a light tan that showed off a rounded backside and far too much in front for his liking. "The pants are a bit snug but I'm sure they will loosen up with wear. If the native women swoon then they have not seen a man before. I would say, considering their usual lack of attire that will not be the case." He wore a tophat of black trimmed in feathers and polished tooled dress boots. "We should be seeing the port soon."

"My Lord Evan." She curtseyed deeply, eyes dancing with suppressed mirth. "Captain Farrington. It is a great pleasure to join you on this excursion." As she stood, she made a face. "And it's bloody hot too." She knew how to use a fan, but it wouldn't relieve the heat, though once they had a guide and were away from the settlement, she would discard the dress for the clothing beneath. It could be retrieved on the way back if nothing had claimed it. At mention of the port, she nodded. "Has there been any sign of that ship?" Hoping it was a coincidence and nothing more, she still had to ask.

He laughed as she reverted back to herself briefly, then shook his head. "Not a hint of a sail. The men who stay behind will keep watch for it. Usual signal if they spot it." He moved toward the bow of the ship, resting there with the hat tucked under his arm. "We've set aside some of the supplies as a gift for the monks. Just be your most charming, Regan, and you'll have them eating out of your hand, no matter that they're celibate." He sounded confident but he knew as well as any they could be stubborn if they thought the three were playing out a ruse.

He was already looking when she asked. "No. We gave them the slip." Pausing, "Which is Captain Farrington? Will he be Evan, oh wait, I'm Evan Montigue, Captain Lawrence Farrington." Giving another bow as if introducing themselves. It would do well to remember the names and use them from here on out. "Lady Alexandria Montigue. My dear cousin with a bird fetish.." Grinning like a devil at this point.

"Fetish!" She huffed, the laughter finally escaping. "And while I may have a bird fetish, you have the desire to gather orchids." She lowered her voice slightly as she leaned toward Morgan. "Which has his dear father, my Uncle, quite worried." She fluttered her fan as she smiled sweetly at Faelan.

"Lord and Lady Montigue who both worry their parents with their odd desires." He nodded, trying to look quite serious and only manage to do so for about a minute. As he opened his mouth to say more, the call of 'Land-ho," sounded. Looking up at the helm, he nodded. "Make for the coordinates given. You should see the church and docks shortly." Looking toward land, he looked thoughtful. Maybe they'd bring the guide on board so he couldn't tell the abbot the truth.

"That's because they will go so well with my outfit," said with a roll of his eyes as he really could not come off as foppish so he would not try. That would be overkill. He saw the look on his brother's face and wondered what was going through his mind. That look usually got them in trouble, not that he didn't as much of the time too. Regan was about the only one who didn't but then, she rarely got to go to the places where she could. He had a good feeling that if she ever did, it would probably be BIG trouble as with everything she did, she did her best. Land Ho had those thoughts abandoned as he watched the port come closer with every passing minute. They were almost there and the start of their adventure. He liked the feel of that wonder about to be embarked upon as he leaned watching, the crew doing their job with only a few commands needed.

She grinned at her brothers, then darted over to the railing to watch, just as if she hadn't seen it a thousand times before. The parasol she carried was opened as if to protect her skin from the sun and she called out a few times as if it was all new to her. Once the ship was docked, she was back over to her brothers to join them in walking down the gangplank.

The small settlement came to life as the ship came closer and closer. Men waited for lines to be thrown and they immediately were tied off. The abbot himself, dressed in the same brown robes as the brothers, came to the dock to wait. On closer inspection, it would be seen that his robe was actually made of a finer material. Morgan waited as the gangplank was lowered and then started down. He did not escort the lady and lord but waited for them at the bottom. As the abbot approached, Morgan bowed, accepting the man's greetings. "It is an honor, my dear Abbot. Captain Lawrence Farrington at your service." Turning, he looked upward for the Lord and Lady.



06 Treasure Hunt

They were on cue, "Lord Evan Montigue, at your service as well my lovely cousin Lady Alexandria Montigue," with her hand upon his arm until they were standing the appropriate distance in front of the Abbot. He also knew the bit that would flatter the man as he went to a bend of his knee to take his hand and kiss his ring. "Father Abbot." It was a show of his faith and respect. The act done in a moment's time as he was back to standing at his sister's side. He didn't dare a glance at either sibling or possibly read shock or amusement and lose it himself.

Regan was the perfect example of proper English womanhood. She dipped into a deep curtsey just as Faelan kissed the Abbot's ring. Modestly keeping her eyes lowered, she managed not to break into laughter as she straightened again."Father Abbot." When the man offered his hand, she dipped down again and kissed his ring, then stood again. Hand placed back on Faelan's arm, she made sure to pinch him for that!

Morgan stood back, watching with undisguised amusement. He would play the part of an English heretic and not bow to the Abbot. "We've goods on board that we'd like to present as a gift for your community, Father Abbot." He said with a motion of his hand toward the ship. The Abbot immediately invited his guests to tea, leading them off to the special area for visitors. They didn't get many but there were quarters for both male and female, with Indian  servants. Once the man was done fussing about, they could ask about a guide. Tea consisted of a rather weak liquid, sandwiches of beef, and little cakes sweetened with cane sugar. It was more than obvious Abbot Calero loved his sweets. Small talk followed until the guests were served and then the Abbot leaned forward. "Now then, why don't you tell me why you are here on this land claimed by the King of Spain, hmmm?" Small eyes held a great deal of  cunning as he studied the three.

He suffered the pinch without even a flinch, she would owe him later when the Abbot gave the extras not usually given like a bath in a tub instead of making her use the creek. Who knew who watched unseen. It was hot too and made ones' skin already sticky. "My cousin and her friends have an eye for the beauty in God's handiwork. The talk has been all over the Bon Ton of Father Abbot and the exquisite island filled with exotic birds and orchids that would spare a few for his more generous contributors that they can bring a little bit of his island to their more drab existence." Drawling it out, especially the word drab like some kind of gloom set  upon them when the ones had the most and best of everything. Emphasis on eavy contributors the thing he knew would get his ear.

"Indeed." Regan added languidly as she used her fan in a vain attempt to cool. "And because of this, I desired to journey here, with my cousin as escort, to find a few of those lovely items. We have no wish to decimate the population of course." She smiled prettily at the Abbot. "That would be a horrible thing, but I do so wish to acquire a few of both flowers and birds. We were told that you are a most generous man, and would gladly give us information on obtaining a guide." She stopped fanning briefly as she added. "And of course, the guide will be suitably compensated."

The Abbot looked at Morgan, eyes narrowing slightly. "And you, Captain. You do this for hire?" Morgan laughed as he answered. "I would be lying, Father Abbot, if I said no. However, it is also the fact that I wish to see this place that you have come to convert. Indeed, it is well known that you are one of the Church's most valued of the Clergy. There are even rumors that you may find yourself with a Bishop's ring. It would be advantageous to have met you." Morgan barely kept from gagging outright while the man preened at the flattery. "I know just the one. He's a native recently converted." Without hesitating, he called to a servant. While the Abbot spoke to him, Morgan cut a glance toward his siblings, barely suppressing a grin.

So far so good but one misstep could ruin it all in an instance and then they would be in deep trouble messing with the church no less. They were often more ruthless than a monarchy. A fried Friar would see them all swing from the gallows marked as heretics and witch. Eye contact was made steadfast when Morgan looked his way and touch of those serious thoughts to linger in that fleeting moment. "Jolly good show. A night's respite, conversation and news of the mainland shared," mostly made up for they were not counting on being caught or coming back once they got what they were here for. "Would it be possible for the Lady and myself to freshen up before the evening's meal," knowing enough not to invite themselves to the Abbot's table for that would be his honor to do so. Still the way said was leading it that way for the food would be far better if he was to have guests at his table.

"That would be delightful." She smiled at Faelan as if he were the most considerate man in all the world then she turned that dimpled smile on the Abbot. Of course, one never knew which way the wind blew but he seemed to appreciate the smile. She sipped at the tea while she waited his answer. All the while, she was going over the 'news' they'd have to share.

Morgan gave a minute nod to Faelan. He knew the risks but still, it was amusing. He turned his attention back to the Abbot. "Of course. You'll find the facilities here quite modern. And I expect the three of you to join me for the evening meal." He'd show them true hospitality, as good or better than what they would find in the homes of the Ton. The cook he had brought with him was always glad to show off. "Very kind of you, Father Abbot." Morgan inclined his head. Following the meal, he'd return to the ship.  Come dawn, they'd be ready  to set out on their 'gathering' expedition. He wanted to see to the unloading of the 'gifts', as well as make sure the First Mate knew to wait a certain amount of days, then head for the natural cover marked on the map if they hadn't returned. There was also the possibility of another ship showing up. He wasn't sure if his brother and sister would return to the ship for the night, but he knew they'd be as anxious to start as he.

They would more than likely take up the Abbot's offer to sleep in a real bed and on land being the expedition would set them out on foot come the morrow. Well, most would be on foot, the Abbot would probably see to accommodations befitting a lord and lady in a trip through the jungles. Covered wagon they could sleep in and also storage for the food and cages, pots for the plants. Fruit balls to hang in the cages, with the scent of female on some, male on others. Long poles and nets if one didn't work to be used as a backup. Once to the Abbey they were shown to their rooms, offered for the night if wished, basin of water, towels and so on awaited them to freshen up. Faelan saw his sister to the door of hers. "Soon my darling cousin you will be the envy of all the Bon Ton and Abbot Calero's name on everyone's tongue who is someone." Which meant money talked. He made sure the monk that had shown them to their quarters heard his words, seemingly in private with his cousin as he headed down the hall. Once out of sight he gave Regan a wink then headed into the adjacent room given him to freshen up.

Regan placed a hand to her throat at the thought, her smile bordering on brilliant. "Oh, I cannot wait!" To be all the envy, and introduce the Abbot when he gained more wealth. She sighed, then gave her brother an airy wave. "I will see you shortly, my dear cousin." The wink had her nearly laughing as she turned to head into the room provided. A short time after, chests arrived for both Lord and Lady, holding the proper dinner attire. When Regan was ready, she was dressed in white Spanish lace over a gown of pale pink silk. Her hair was done up in faux pearls, but it would take a true expert to know the difference. She waited with a touch of impatience to be summoned for the meal.

Morgan waited until a servant came for him to leave the ship once more. He had changed into another coat of red trimmed with gold buttons and piping. The shirt, pants and boots were in the same style as earlier, and he carried his tricorn. The Abbot was wearing robes of blue, and though Morgan did not react, he was certain that was not the normal garb of a humble Abbot. Still, the man had set out to impress. Faelan and Regan were sent for as soon as the Captain had been. The dining room was amazingly cool in spite of the heat of the day. Appetizers of shellfish and shrimp were set out for the guests as well as glasses of wine offered. This was from the Abbot's private stock. He greeted the three and immediately began to tell them of his work with the natives and how they had been easy to convert, most willing. From the windows, one could see the fields were the natives and monks worked together though the fields were empty. Evening mass had been celebrated and it was time for the evening meal. "I think you will find the meal tonight unusual. There are root plants here that are quite delicious. Succulent pig has been roasted using spices from Spain, and the vegetables that grow here are quite tasty. I think too, you will like the fruits of this land." He motioned for them to follow him to the table which was quite laden ed with food. There were empanadas, dough filled with vegetables, along with the roast pork, some small game birds, seafood, yams, cooked in the skin, even black beans and rice. What they didn't eat would be served tomorrow to the monks and natives who worked the land. Mosquito netting kept out pesky insects so they could enjoy the air without being bitten. The sounds of the jungle at night could be heard over the conversation. The growl of a jaguar hunting broke through, causing silence except for the Abbot who kept right on talking.

There was no doubt the Abbot did quite well with some of the richest supporters. Faelan's attire would be of the latest styling in russet, gold and black trimming. Hair tied back and ruffles on his shirt. "I dare say this is a meal fit for a king." Complimenting while duly impressed. He would see Regan to a seat then took the one next to her, placing her between Faelan and the Abbot. Once all were settle and grace spoken, he dug in eagerly for the appetite worked up. He'd let his darling cousin fence any questions. Jungles sounds were listened to, some in concern, but he showed nothing expression wise that he even noticed.

As much as she disliked small talk, Regan could keep up quite well. She had studied the names of the nobility so that she sounded as if she knew exactly what was going on. "Of course, I daresay that going off on a great adventure will be all the rage now, especially when one is able to speak firsthand of how amazing it all is. Why, I must have the recipe for the ... what did you call them, empanadas? They're quite delicious." She was doing well enough with eating as she talked. By the time the meal was finished, and it was becoming close to bedtime, the Abbot was sure he was caught up on every bit of gossip. He was reluctant to part with his guests, but the day began quite early and he knew his guests would need rest. With promises to bless their journey come morning, he bade them good-night.

Morgan too, was in agreement with Faelan and complimented the Abbot in like manner. He watched Regan with a great deal of pride mixed in with his amusement. She would fit in anywhere. When the Abbot finally retired, he bowed to both siblings. "I will have a party ready come morning to escort you, and will join you as well. Rest , m'Lord, m'Lady." With a wink to Regan, he turned and headed back to the Fianna. Dawn couldn't come soon enough to suit him.

"I daresay at the break of dawn we should set out and get as much traveling done before the sun is in full blast." Speaking up once the Abbot had retire. His contribution was minimal leaving the lovely voice of their sister to fill the Abbot's ears. He was indeed very charmed with her but it was taking its toll on them all. One could only keep up a good ruse for so long before it wore thin and started showing in places. Too many ears around even if none were seen, his message conveyed more in his eyes as they headed for their rooms and a good night's sleep. They were going to need every minute of it.



07 Into the Jungle
Morgan was up before dawn, well rested and ready to set out. He checked over all the supplies, black powder and machetes that they had ready for the tenth time before the wagon sent by the Abbot arrived. Another was sent to the guest house of the monastery where the "Lord" and "Lady" rested. It was covered with a canvas roof and draped on four sides with mosquito netting. There were several baskets containing foodstuffs as well as the monastery's wine,  and casks of fresh water. In the meantime, the First Mate was seeing to an exchange of goods, staples that they could afford to give in trade for crafts made by the monks and natives. Morgan studied the wagons and shook his head. He didn't believe they would be able to use them as they trekked fully into the jungle but it was apparent the Abbot didn't think they were going far. The guide was a young native lad who seemed to have other ideas. He just grinned when Morgan questioned him. "I speak Anglish good. Know all the ways of the jungle. I show you where you want to go." Morgan eyed him before he turned and headed off to retrieve brother and sister.

He too had been up before the break of dawn, anxious to go and to get out of the monastery. He was not comfortable there for any duration. Overnight, out of courtesy so a necessity, he could handle but he was rapping at Regan's door before the birds were even singing with the morning's sun. He washed up, light clothing worn but any exposed skin was lathered in bug repellant. His scent wasn't the best but far better than being bit. Who knew what disease they carried, besides, itching of itself being annoying enough. He waited outside in the hall, what little he had brought with him to the monastery was in a pack slung over a shoulder. Gone were the Lord's clothes into comfortable ones. Because it was so early, he left a nice note thanking the Abbot and was sure to be in touch once they got back, being he didn't want to disturb his morning prayer. Right. He had kept up the ruse to the last detail. The wagon had arrived so once Regan joined him he was quick to usher her out and head for the port. Not far to go and he could see Morgan there already. The sky only hinted at getting a lighter shade of gray.

Regan was waiting for that knock on the door, knowing her brother well enough. She kept up appearances though the gown she wore was much lighter and less formal than the one from the previous evening. That was stuffed into a trunk to be tended to later. She would pull off the gown she wore once they were away from the settlement. Underneath she wore clothing similar to what Faelan was wearing. The scent of bug repellant was strong but necessary. Flashing a grin at her brothers, she climbed into the wagon, just in case the Abbot was peeking. "Shall we?" She waved toward the jungle airily, knowing it was just a matter of finding the first landmark.

Morgan was wearing a hat as well as clothing that was light but covered most of his skin. He glanced at the natives who were accompanying them as bearers and nodded. The young guide was taken aside as they walked away from the monastery. Morgan was sounding him out to see how much they could get away with. Oddly enough, the boy was making a condition. He wanted to be taken away from this land and see the world. Easy enough to do considering that had been Morgan's plan all along.


One thing good about this ruse, they got to ride in the wagon with the supplies, netting and so on. They would have to keep up some of the ruse, at least for a short time while still in sight, more or less. "Morning Captain Farrington," the look in his eyes said far more with that gleam. He would drive the team of mules and hoping they were not as stubborn as most were  infamous for. "So, what on the map are we looking for first? The lake, geyser, deserted cabin?" Being he wasn't sure which angle of the map they were working from. Once that was known he'd have it straight. He had picked up a straw hat that had ends sticking out every which way but kept the bugs away like sweeping at them every turn of his head. Also got Regan a couple times as once he looked over his shoulder to see when the guides were ready, then back with a whip of his head and a tap of the reins to the mules starting them off.

"Good morning, Captain Farrington. I trust you slept well. " She smiled prettily at him then looked at Faelan. "Two dead trees in a straight line first. Beyond them will be the lake. If we see the geyser, we've gone too far on the wrong side." She settled into the wagon, batting once at the hat as it tickled her cheek. Adjusting the skirt of the gown so she'd be comfortable, she leaned slightly forward to watch for the trees.

Morgan was going to walk for now, having turned down the offer of a mount. One never knew if the beasts would be skittish or shy and considering the bugs here, might very well take off running if bit. The guide started along a path wide enough for the wagons. Apparently there had been quite of bit of lumber cut for the settlement. Morgan waited until they were a good distance from the settlement and well out of sight to explain what they wanted. While the guide didn't know the exact location, he knew stories of the city. He also warned about monsters and that the bearers would likely refuse to go near the city. For the moment, that wasn't a concern. While they walked, the men with them watched around them, looking for any wild animals or worse, head hunters.

"Ah," now he had a better idea in his head as the map was there but the way drawn was a bit confusing. Why Regan got that job. He took in the information the guides had about the area, wild animals might be the least of their problems. He had a flintlock tucked in his belt and a hunting knife. He knew there was a rapier under the seat and spears in the wagon the guides knew how to use. Still. Slanting a glance over Regan before scanning the thickening jungle either side of the road. "So when we get to the lake we make a path from there, big enough to fit this wagon?" That would be slow going and he'd be down, leaving Regan to tend to it while he helped hack a path.

The trees were easy to spot, standing on matching ridges. The road led around the hill, and toward the lake. It wasn't until the lake was slightly behind that the jungle began to grow thicker. A path was obvious, but not nearly so wide as they would need for the wagons. Regan was pulling the gown off and tossing it aside, grabbing up a flintlock and tucking it into her belt. "Aye, if we want to take them with us. Does make it nicer, doesn't it?" She pointed off to the west where through the trees one of the great stone heads lay. "That must be huge. If our luck holds, this path will lead us to the city. If not, we'll be turning west once we spot a deserted cabin."

Morgan had set a couple of natives to gaining at least one young parrot for Regan as they came to a stop. Others were set to hacking out a path as he made his way to the wagon. Swiping the sleeve of his shirt across his forehead, he took a lean against the wagon. "I'd jump into the lake but I'm betting there are alligators in there the size of two men." He told them of the warning the guide had given. "His name is Jedidiah. Abbot likes Old Testament names. He's going to come with us when we leave." The rest of the natives could return or flee into the jungle.

Faelan had handed over the reins to Regan as he was down helping to hack out a path. The more the sooner and faster they would get through the jungle area. They would take breaks every so often so none, especially them, suffered heat exhaustion or worse. "You and me both," as he took up a lean near his brother. "I'm thinking you might be right about that except not alligators but snakes that are even bigger." Taking a pause for a breath and a drink of cool water from his canteen. "Good, so you've been getting to know him." They could always use another good hand.

Oh, lovely. She had forgotten about snakes. It was bad enough that some of the bugs were bigger than her hand! She took the reins then looked from one brother to the other. "So we watch overhead, around and on the ground." She gave a slight shudder. "This better be worth it." As if she'd be able to get her hands on the map maker. Progress was slow but steady and Regan had three birds in cages, as well as several orchids tucked into special boxes. She wouldn't keep them all, but actually sell them except for one of the squawkers.

Morgan just chuckled when Regan made a face about the snakes then looked at Faelan. "It could be a giant snake that's the monster in the city Jedidiah spoke of. We'll have to be on our guard once we get closer. He said there's a thick patch of jungle where we might have to do some searching to get the wagons through, but he believes the city is on the other side. Might be a pass between two cliffs." Which could also make for an ambush. Still, they had to look at all possible entrances and exits. If there was a wealth of gold there, they'd need the wagons.



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