Unmoored – Part 4 of 6 – by Justine Alley Dowsett

Catch up by reading from the beginning. Here’s part 1. This is the prequel to Uncharted by J.A. Dowsett and M. Damodred. Find Uncharted in ebook and paperback form wherever books are sold. Then keep reading… 

He’d just washed and was having supper served to him that evening in his new Captain’s Quarters by his new cook, when one of the shipyard’s staff came for him. “Is the Captain aboard?”

“I’m the Captain.” Renaud grinned at the chance to name himself as such.

“I’ve been sent to let you know that your paint is dry enough that you’re free to go.”

“Splendid.” Renaud got to his feet, taking a piece of hard tack with him out onto the deck.
The ship was moored inside the shipyard, but with the torches all lit and the last of the light outside, it was bright enough within. He crossed the gangplank to solid ground and backed up enough to get a look at the painter’s handiwork.

The Clover? What is this? He blinked repeatedly, but the green four-leafed clover and the English name also painted in green stayed the same as if to mock him. “Excuse me,” he grabbed hold of the messenger, “what’s this supposed to be? Some kind of joke?”

“No, sir!” the young man said. “We painted it just as you said, only it took us some time to translate what you meant when you said a…a ‘trefle’?” he garbled the French word.

Le Roi du Trefle!” Renaud exclaimed. “The King of Clubs! As in poker? As in the card that won me this ship!”

As soon as he said it, Renaud realized where he’d went wrong. He’d been half-asleep and all the way drunk when he’d given his instructions to the shipyard worker this morning. It, therefore, stood to reason that he’d reverted to his native French.

“I’m…sorry, sir…” the young man stammered.

Renaud laughed, his anger dissipating as quickly as it had formed, and he clapped the young worker on the shoulder. “Never mind! It’s luck that won me this ship, so luck should name it. My lucky Clover.” He laughed again, shaking his head at the absurd coincidence.

“Glad you like it, sir.” The young man smiled before scampering off, leaving Renaud staring with pride at his newly-christened ship.

It’ll do perfectly.

***

Renaud was overseeing the relocation of The Clover from the docks, as the shipyard’s workers and his own meager crew worked together to clear the shipyard’s gates, when the first sounds of trouble came to his ears.

He turned around to look back along the dock, toward the town of Turrellin. The sun was setting on a cloudy day, but there were too many lights and far too much commotion for an average evening in the small port town. As he watched, a ripple of panic seemed to pass through the people he could see, emanating from somewhere beyond his visual range.

“You got this?” he called out to the shipyard worker who seemed the most likely to be in charge of the operation. Getting a nod in return, Renaud tossed the rope he was holding to the nearest sailor and made the leap from boat to dock without waiting for it to be secured. It was foolish, but he felt on high alert, like he was on open water and feeling one hell of a storm coming his way.

Renaud started for Turrellin, but the plague-like emotion that had infected the small but prosperous town didn’t take long to reach the docks, and soon people were darting every which way around him. He stopped someone at random by the simple expedient of grabbing hold of their arm. “What’s going on?”

“It’s King Vance the Usurper!” the young man in his grasp exclaimed, lost to panic. “Turrellin is under attack!”

Renaud felt the world beneath his feet give way and the warm breeze off the water left him suddenly chilled. My luck’s about to run out, I think.

He looked up at the town. He was near enough now that he could see the light from various torches bobbing up and down and hear the clash of weapons between those attacking and those trying to defend their homes. Shops and businesses lined the road that sloped upwards from the dock to the cliff edge, and at the top of the hill overlooking it all was The Crow’s Nest.

Damn. Renaud realized he was running again before he’d actually decided to do so. His gait slowed considerably going uphill, and he soon became aware of the fact he was the only person running uphill, as opposed to down toward the waiting ships. This shouldn’t be my fight, but that’s my bar you’re attacking!

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