Casidhe tried to get up to take care of his unconscious boss, but the Princess Anna’s captain forced him back down, and one of the deckhands slung Sim over his shoulder, presumably taking him to a bunk down below to sleep it off. “Let us handle ’im,” Captain Fallon said. “I’m enjoyin’ yer company, and yer not near drunk enough yet.”
And I won’t be, as long as you’re serving this swill, Casidhe thought behind his smile. But he feigned affection for the grog all the same. That afternoon, the ship had returned from a perilous voyage loaded with exotic silks, and the crew’s celebration had raged all over the city before ending up back here. With Sim and the deckhand gone, the galley belonged to Casidhe and the captain alone. He might not get another chance like this.
Casidhe let the captain finish his drink and pour himself another before he began. “So Captain, indulge me if you will. Earlier on, at the Golden Flask, you said that you were worried about being boarded by the navy.” Sim had shushed Fallon at the time; hopefully, the captain wouldn’t remember that part. “Some reason for that, beyond the usual?”
“Aye, it’s because Torin got greedy this trip, an’ we couldn’t fit all th’ swag in th’ blasted smuggler’s hold.” The captain swigged his grog again with a stupid grin.
Torin? Black Torin, the pirate? Casidhe once heard Phelan tell a friend about one of Torin’s lackeys coming to Luthais with a business proposition, only to be led away from the MacDaer estate in irons. Sim hadn’t been part of that meeting – or, at least, he told Casidhe that he hadn’t.
One of Sim’s ships was smuggling pirate goods into Denerim – and had done it before, if the words “this trip” were followed to their logical conclusion. If Luthais had refused Torin’s proposal… and Phelan had talked about it in front of Casidhe…then Sim must have made that deal.
And in exchange, Black Torin’s men moved Sim into power.
Wait, that didn’t make any sense. Thugs attacked Sim and Casidhe, and the authorities found documents showing Phelan’s guilt. Still, Phelan had been attacked too, or so he’d claimed, and documents could be forged…
This all ran through his mind in an instant. Casidhe raised his tankard to salute the captain. “Then it’s good that fortune smiled upon you today.” They clanked mugs together, and Fallon drained his again, not noticing that the duelist set his right back down. “Torin could never have done this without the MacDaer reputation,” Casidhe said. Fallon became the Princess Anna’s captain after Luthais’s death, and barely knew Casidhe outside of these drunken revels; it was time to see what he knew. Set the hook, wait for a bite.
“Aye,” said Fallon. “Costs him ten percent of every haul, but it’s worth it.”
“And what about the sacrifices that the family made?” Casidhe kept his tone bon vivant; a friendly demeanor always worked for Sim.
“Cost of doin’ business,” Fallon replied. “Torin tried with Luthais first; to the Fade with ‘im if ‘e don’t know a good deal when ‘e sees it. And that Phelan was so far up ‘is father’s arse that t’kill one was t’kill t’other.”
Fallon had no reason to lie. Casidhe weighed those words carefully as other facts came back to him. It had been Sim’s idea for Casidhe to train with his father in the old house on the night Brandeouf died. Luthais was left under the protection of lesser retainers on his trip to the docks that night… and Brandeouf was ambushed on his way back from the MacDaer estate.
He remembered visiting a girl that night – a last-minute decision he regretted at the time. Would he have been killed, too, if he’d been where Sim expected him to be?
Casidhe’s head swam in the sea of lies, and his guts squirmed. “Ye all right there, boyo?” asked the captain. “Ya look green about th’ gills, thar.”
“Not as such, no. I believe I’ll take some air.”
- – - – -
Casidhe stood by the hatch to the crew’s quarters, looking down at the moonlight shining on his dagger. Sim was down there somewhere; in the work of a moment, Brandeouf Fionnlagh and the others could be avenged.
Father wouldn’t want that, and you know it. You’re not a murderer. And you can’t call Sim out for a duel… he’d never stand a chance against you, and duels are for honorable men. Never lower yourself to the level of trash like him.
What do you do, then? Turn him in, and pray that the law can protect you from those pirates? Act like you don’t know, and wait for Sim’s sorry life to catch up with him? Fall on your sword?
This was all too much. He needed to get away and clear his head before he could think it through. Casidhe sheathed his knife, walked down the gangplank to the dock, and into the street, still crowded even at this late hour. It felt good to leave Sim behind him, so he kept walking. The more he walked, the better he felt. By sunrise, he’d left Denerim, the city of his birth, the only world he’d ever known, behind him, without so much as a backward glance.
Casidhe wasn’t sure where this road went; he only hoped that it would lead him to something honorable.