The Pirate’s Mermaid
The ship rocked back and forth in the rotten bay, sulking away from the crumbling docks and filthy men who gazed at it in wonder. The Verde Esmeralda, in all of its royal glory, shimmered in the musky water of Granger Bay, its graceful bow glaring down at the greasy sea rats that walked beneath it, flapping its elegant sails in protest of sitting in the disheveled bay that the nest of pirates offered.
A plank was lowered with a thud, and a gaggle of men skipped of the grumpy ship in favor of the barrels of wine that awaited them in the underground bars of Granger City. An elegantly dressed man waited behind them, still gazing at the city of filth that festered below him, shifting his chestnut hair behind his ears every once in awhile and pulling his drab hat down to shield his olive eyes from the setting sun. The lone pirate sat there in silence for a couple moments before a blond haired man marched up beside him and rolled his eyes at the daydreaming young man before him.
“Antonio, you have to stop gazing into the sunset every time we come to this godforsaken city. You’ll go blind and then I’ll have to deal with the captain alone.” He furrowed his brows further as Antonio continued to study the city below them and ignoring his blond friend. “Antonio, I know you can hear me.”
“Ludwig, you’re no fun,” declared the elegant pirate as he pushed himself off the rail and strutted down the plank, apparently finished with the deep thoughts he had tossed around and choosing to join the rest of the crew down at the bars. Ludwig hurried after him, shifting his long sword out of the way as he jogged down the Verde Esmeralda and joined his friend down at the rotting planks that led the way to the stone city.
“Why do they never fix these stupid planks!” Ludwig roared, lurching out of a hole his boot had smashed into the wooden dock. “This is a pirate town for God’s sake, why is it always so rundown?!”
“I think the town is too lazy to fix it, especially since this is the back end,” Antonio mused, skipping over the gaping holes and happily jumping on the solid ground. Ludwig grumbled after him, sneaking one last look at the lonely Verde Esmeralda and heading instinctively towards the bar the crew always went to when they stopped by Granger City. The duo absent-mindedly walked down twisting streets and moldy alleys, feet only speeding up when passing particularly rowdy buildings and silent men who walked with the pace of death in their eyes. They were almost halfway to the Blushing Raven, the tiny inn that always hosted their smashing parties and drunk tears, when Ludwig broke the silence that dominated the narrow dirt ridden street they were strolling through.
“You know the smuggler I was telling you about?” he asked, continuing after catching a glimpse of Antonio’s nodding head. “He got new goods, or as I believed he said, a ‘catch’ this time. Said it’d be something I’m interested in.”
“Well? What is it?” Antonio puzzled, hopping over a greasy puddle and dusting down his now dirty clothing with a sigh.
“That’s what’s odd about it. He didn’t say. Said I should meet him at the Blushing Raven and then he’d show me.”
“Sounds like a scam,” the brown-haired man advised, then looking in confusion as Ludwig shook his head.
“The way he wrote the letter it didn’t seem like he was trying to scam me. He seemed awfully serious about it. You know how the Dutchman is, always trying to sell people things. But it really sounded like he got a real deal. Besides, I’ve known Govert forever, he would never cheat me, well, not for a low price,” he added.
“What nice friends you have.” Antonio rolled his eyes, before perking up at the sight of the Blushing Raven that glimmered like a safe haven in front of them, already filled with the cheers of drunk sailors. The two raced into the tavern, the warm light beaming warmly into their empty stomachs as they bursted into the building to gulp down barrels of sour liquor. They quickly joined their usual table, and Antonio lit up when he caught sight of one of his more friendly acquaintances.
“Mon cher, you must sit,” the Frenchmen worried, pulling Antonio down onto a creaky chair and signaling a begrudging waitress to come over to their table.
“Helpful as always, Francis,” Ludwig grunted, kicking out his own chair as Francis continued fussing over Antonio.
“Oh you poor thing, you are filthy! Let me buy you a drink, Bella, some give my friend Antoine some rum, won’t you dear?” He motioned the blond waitress closer, and the woman came towards them with a sigh, no longer being able to avoid the Frenchmen who have given her nothing but trouble during the weeks he had stayed in the tavern.
“What is it this time Francis?” Bella snapped, already mentally rubbing her temples as she slammed the bottles of liquor on the table and shot an annoyed frown at the unaffected Frenchman, who eagerly grabbed another bottle and shot a wink at the irritated waitress. “I have at least 13 hungry and drunk sailors to feed, I don’t have time for your games.”
“Bella, my sweet giver of love, mon cher-”
“No more free drinks Francis.”
“Oh, why must you be so cruel?”
“I gotta quota is why. Oh, Antonio, I didn’t see you there!” Bella finally acknowledged the other two pirates at the table, one snickering, another jabbing an elbow into his companion's side. “Oh, and Ludwig too! You’ve finally come back to Granger City, I see. Welcome home boys!” She patted Antonio on the back and nodded to Ludwig, before picking up her tray and giving another glowing smile to her new customers. “Feel free to order anything you like! For you, it’s on the house!” Francis perked up and opened his mouth to ask a question when Bella added dryly, “And only for Antonio and Ludwig, Francis. No more free drinks for you.”
“Oh, how cruel you are! When you fall for me, I will make sure to use this as a shield from your attempts, you enchanting-”
“I mean it, Francis. You can’t flatter me like last time,” the Belgian said, though Antonio noted with a smile that there was a hint of red in her cheeks and a certain lightness to her step as she stomped away to serve more of his fellow pirates that howled and jeered in the humble inn.
Francis sighed and turned to Antonio, saying, “Well old friend, what brings you to Granger City? You don’t usually stop by.”
“I could say the same,” Ludwig said with raised eyebrows. “Why are you in Granger City, Francis? Shouldn’t you be in that port city you like so much? I thought you quit pirating.”
“Well, you know how it is, once you have the Royal Guard on your tail, they never let you go. Those men kept following me around,” Francis waved his hand in the air, “And then they caught me, we had a, how do you say, a conversation of sorts, and now I steal for them again.”
“Tale as old as time,” Antonio muttered dryly, sipping the low-quality rum in front of him and grimacing. “How’d they catch you?”
Francis was dead silent for a minute, staring at his glass almost unseeing and jolting out of his daze when Ludwig silently nudged him a bit. “Oh, you know. The way they usually do. Let us change the topic, non?”
Ludwig jumped at the chance to liberate the depressed Frenchmen from the gruesome topic and leaned into the table, pausing for a moment as the two men focused on the German and his serious face. “Francis, you know of Govert Achter, ja?”
Francis nodded, furrowing his brows in confusion as Ludwig leaned in even more to shield their conversation from the drunk men around them. “Oui, I know of him. He is the Dutch smuggler, non?”
“Ja. Have you seen him recently?”
“Yes, actually. He has been wandering around town selling his wares like he usually is. Why?”
“Well, he has an item he thinks I should have,” the German whispered, and Francis furrowed his brows even more. “AND! He said it had something to do with...magic!”
“Magic?” Francis leaned in, glancing around them to see if anyone was listening. “Are you sure? The crown has made that illegal years ago.”
“Yes I’m sure,” Ludwig nodded proudly, apparently satisfied that he had told his big secret, leaning back a shooting a rare smile. “And he said that-”
“Excuse me, Ludwig,” a cheerful voice chirped, and the trio whipped around to find Bella smiling back at them, tray in hand and placing bottles of rum on the loud table next to them. “Someone is calling for you in the front!”
Ludwig shot Antonio a look as if asking for his old friend to come with him with a simple flick of his eyebrows, and receiving a nod in return as they both stood up. The German shot Francis the same look but got a shrug in return as he said, “Sorry Ludwig, I simply cannot afford that kind of trouble right now. I’m barely passing by the Royal guard now, and I imagine they will not be too keen to see me deal with magic.”
The German nodded his understanding and patted him on the back as he passed, and Antonio whispered to the Frenchman as he walked past, “I’ll make sure to get you some magic potions if I see any.”
“You do that Antoine,” Francis chuckled before giving a half-hearted wave and going back to his drink as the two of them disappeared under the jeers and howls of the drunken sailors and their dancing forms.
The two pirates dodged their way to the front desk, ducking overthrown buckets of food and jumping over passed out sailors with all the wealth on their bones already stripped off their sleeping forms. As they passed the last table to the front, both men caught sight of the harsh frowning man in front of them, fingers impatiently tapping the desk as the Dutchman ran his left hand through his long hair. His green eyes lit up when he saw the approaching pirates before twisting into irritation as the two walked slowly over. The scars on the man’s face exaggerated themselves as the man scowled deeper, grabbing Ludwig by the arm and dragging him out of the Blushing Raven, ignoring both Antonio’s and Ludwig’s cries of alarm. Govert finally let the German go when they passed a dark alley near the inn and looked at them dully as they expressed how exactly pissed off they were.
“What the snoggers is wrong with you?!” Antonio spat as he rushed over to Ludwig, who was brushing off his pants that were filthy from being dragged from the tavern. The Dutchman rolled his eyes and motioned them into a squatted and pressed store to their right, huddled in between a pawn shop and a whore house. The duo grumpily followed him into the shop, dragging their feet and shooting nervous looks at one another. Was this really such a good idea after all?
Govert opened the door and walked into his small shop, and both pirates stopped dead at the array of trinkets, gadgets, charms, and an infinite amount of other items Antonio couldn’t describe if he had a million years. The roof had displayed thousands upon thousands of stars, galaxies, and specks of light that shimmered with the movement of a being so ancient one couldn’t count their age with the breath still left in on their tongue. It seemed to move, with planets and supernovas slowly shifting around, and as the dark sapphire of the blue abyss stared back at him, Ludwig nudged his attention to the left wall, where a rack of cold, empty weapons glared in the soft light emanating from various orbs around the room. Daggers and swords and slingshots and bows and axes and maces and whips and-
“Hey, you all done admiring my stuff?” Govert grunted, tearing both of their eyes from the particular and foreign objects that littered the room and forcing them back on his harsh face. “I don’t have all day, and I got an item to sell.”
“Alright, Govert, what is it?” Ludwig sighed, and they walked past the empty-looking tank to their right and watched Govert slowly walk behind the counter and pull something out. A small match sprung to life as a newly lit lavender fire burned happily in front of them and the Dutchman moved past the duo and cautiously stepped to the tank they had thought was empty.
Govert was about to put the lavender fire near the tank before he jerked his head over to the pirates and scowled, “I want you to know, I ain’t accepting anything less than 5 golds for these things. Very hard to get, very expensive. I’ll give you a break, Ludwig, as we have been, how do you say, acquaintances for a while, but I want my money’s worth on these two.”
“These...two?” Antonio cocked his head in slight confusion before it was shoved aside as the Dutchman threw the match into the tank and jerked back to where they stood. The weirdest thing Antonio had ever seen was starting to take place in that tank, as the happy purple flame the smuggler had put in there continued to burn in whatever pitch black liquid was in that thing, only that the edges of the liquid that touched the flame turned white and started to peel back, becoming colorless and allowing the duo to see the rocks and storage traps that had been placed inside. Soon enough, all of the black liquid was gone, and the flame gleefully poofed out of existence, the match falling to the bottom and disintegrating. The men didn’t even take note of this, however, because their eyes were stuck on two creatures that were slowly starting to wake up in the tank. There, in Govert’s smuggling shop, in his tank, were two mermaids.
Well mermen, specifically. And they didn’t look like any of the mermen Antonio had ever heard of. The mermen of fantasies and legends spoke of huge, handsome beasts, humming with magic and drowning all those in their domain. The reality was a lot less, impressive, to say the least. For starters, the two things that were in there were extremely small, measuring about two of Antonio’s hand spans maybe, and that was being a bit generous. Long teeth hung from their lips, like one of those tusks he had seen so long ago during Market Day, and more razors could be seen slicing remains of food when they opened their scaled mouths, imitating the mythical beast of old in their snarls and rings of sound that resonated through the air when those teeth clashed. Fish scales dug into their bodies, and instead of arms, frog-like hands and webby skeleton limbs sticking out of their body awkwardly like they weren’t used to staying still like they were now as they were waking up. The tails were surprisingly delicate though, at least on the smaller one, with different shades and tones flashing among every strand and scale in the feathery limb, giving only a glimpse of the strong, unbreakable tail underneath. The taller one was more plain and green, but the smaller one sparkled every bright color known to mankind, and then some, painstaking attention to detail written on its scales.
The mermen started to wake up more rapidly, jerking their odd fins and flapping their tails almost groggily and the plain green one looked the brown-haired pirate in the eye, and it was only then that Antonio found out their strangest trait. They had no eyes. They were bleak and colorless, the only change in shade being the darkness wound the frame of their pasty eyelids and the soulless dot in the middle that stared emptily at the two humans, and Antonio could have sworn that he saw those obsidian eyes twist into an expression of anger on that strange, scowling green one.
They immediately found each other, the rainbow one bolting over to the side of the tank that hosted the green creature, which seemed to grow more irritated by the second. As the smaller merman his behind his courageous counterpart, the merman he was hiding against opened its mouth as if to say something, and a high pitched noise shattered the air, shaking the glass orbs on the walls and the strange trinkets on the floor. Ludwig and Govert covered their ears and groaned in pain at the high pitch, but Antonio sat there entranced, finding that high frequency rumbling to be strangely beautiful.
“Stop that racket, you stupid fish!” Govert roared, stomping over to the tank and slapping the glass, making the mermen dash over to the corner behind one of the rocks and hiding them from sight as the humans started to recover from their shock and that blasted scream.
“What was that?” Ludwig breathed, staring at the tank unbelievingly and ignoring Govert’s rolled eyes.
“Those are mermen, in the flesh. A bit underwhelming at first, but they have a hell of a bite. I think they can talk too, but not in any language I can understand,” Govert responded, brushing off his pants with cleverly hidden shaking hands and walking over to the counter. “The black stuff is to keep ‘em asleep, cause when they’re awake, all they do is scream and break stuff with some kind of magic. Special fire activates the black stuff, and boom, screaming mermen. Found ‘em off the coast of one of the Skull islands. Got caught by a fisherman who didn’t know any better, and now they’re mine, though maybe not for much longer.” Govert studied them with a calculating eye, before saying, “So boys, what’ll it be?”
Ludwig was still staring at the tank, not listening what so ever. He turned over to Govert and said, “What?”
“How much are you going to pay for ‘em? I have a heck of a long list of potential buyers, but I let you take the first look at the goods, Ludwig, so keep it short and simple.”
Antonio stepped closer to the glass, blocking out the banter that immediately started going on between the two blondes and lightly tapping the glass with a single finger. He waited for something to happen, and soon enough, the green merman hobbled out from behind the rock and stared at the pirate with those strange eyes. It swam closer as Antonio stood as still as he could, before finally floating in front of the Spaniard and reflecting the same fascinated look the human was giving it. The man mouthed a “Hello,” at the creature, and it stared at him for a while before mimicking the action, scaled face twisting into an emotion Antonio couldn’t read. He held his breath as it slowly moved its webbed claws towards him before the two creatures almost seemed to touch hands, and this time an emotion the Spaniard could read was on its face. Help me.
“How about 50 dinak for them? I’ll throw in a free raid if I can convince the captain.” Ludwig’s voice finally broke through the trance Antonio found himself before he jerked around to the Dutchman with an erratic look in his eyes.
“I’ll buy him.”
“What?” Govert stared at him in confusion and looked over at the German, who shrugged. “What do you mean you’ll buy them.”
“I’ll buy him. Both of them. With my own money. Here, I have it right now.” The Spaniard lurched his hands into his pockets and brought out a sagging, moth-eaten looking pouch, only for gold light to glint out as he spilled the pouch contents on the table. “I have 30 dinak with me right now, and I have more on the ship. That’s enough for them, right?”
Govert stared in shock at the gold in the counter before he ripped that expression off his face and settled comfortably into business mode. “Each of ‘em cost 25 dinak or no deal.”
Antonio’s jaw dropped before he snapped it shut again and the crazy glint in his eyes outshone the feeling of caution his brain was screaming at him. “Alright, 25 dinak for the green one.”
Now it was Govert’s time to gape as the Spaniard started counting his gold and handing 25 pieces near the Dutchman’s hand. Wasn't he even going to barter? He cast a look to Ludwig who just shrugged and took out his own money. “Um, alright then.”
The green mermaid watched with his pale eyes as money exchanged hands, flicking his decorated tail closer to the strange barrier and letting his teeth slide further down as he stared at the brown-haired man. His magic crackled through his body, and he was waiting for something, anything, to happen. One mistake, and he could drown all these disgusting things that had taken him away from his home. He watched the one who had trapped him step closer to the tank with a strange metal glowing in his hands. Odd.
Govert knocked on the cage, letting the 50 dinaks slide into his pocket as he threw another flame into the tank, this one happily burning a bright blue, and jumped back as the water twisted and curled back into a gruesome black. After a few moments, he walked over and grabbed a net. “You sure you want both of ‘em?”
Ludwig nodded, his pouch of money feeling strange after paying his 25 dinak, and watched as Govert reached into the inky tank, wading his hand through the nasty stuff until it felt the hard scales of the mermen. The rainbow monster was pulled out first, luxurious scales looking dull in the soft light the magic items around the dim shop glowed, and the feather-like tail now was now a tired mop of mush in the cold air. It was asleep, barely breathing in the foreign air and faintly sighing in relief when it was gently placed in a sphere bowl. “One down, one to go,” Govert grunted, and he reached down in the tank, trying to brush up against the light feathered tail or jagged scales of the merman when his hand jolted to a stop. A green whiff of magic snaked out of the water and drifted towards the Dutchman, who stood there frozen in fear and another alluring emotion he couldn't name. The green smoke grew, and the inky black water turned the darkest emerald and twisted away so a glowing creature could be seen in the dark. It floated up, reaching for the Dutchman and teeth flashing in the light when its prey was shoved away from the tank.
Ludwig slammed the man on the floor, and the trance that had taken hold of the cold smuggler shattered, to the frustration of the magical creature in the corner and to the relief of the pirates in the room.
“You okay?” Ludwig breathed, and Govert nodded numbly, still staring at the green light and mouth slightly open. “I think the rainbow one is just fine.”
“No, let me try.” Antonio confidently walked over to the tank, hand on his sword out of reflex and staring the jade mermaid in its pearly eyes. The two other men gaped at him, Govert’s eyes stilled glazed with shock and Ludwig’s dumbfounded face growing even more extreme as the man stood a mere foot from the tank.
Before any of his companions could shout out, he plunged his arm into the water, breath-stopping and a shallow gasp being drawn out of him when the frigid water made its pinpricks of cold known. He waded his arm through the water, searching for that glowing demon, and his hand brushed against a smooth scale. It was gone before Antonio's mind could register the delicate touch and he waded his arm around again, and this time, a sharp surface dug into his skin and he jerked his hand out of the water, before shakily lowering it back in and holding his breath again. A green smoke was still floating around the tank, and it seemed to mix with the water until Antonio could see two bright eyes staring back at him, not the pitless white of the mermen, but two emerald eyes, human eyes, that glared at him with suspicion and demanded an answer for this treatment. Antonio stared entranced, before a small, soft portion of his mind spoke back to those green eyes in the smoke, saying that he meant no harm, he was trying to free them, they could trust him, and the green eyes blinked in response, studying the human and picking apart his thoughts bit by bit, before a desperate look flooded over them and the emerald eyes disappeared, though not before blinking at the man in acceptance one final time. The green smoke flooded his vision, and the world swayed beneath his feet as he stumbled back, hand somehow gone from the water, and tripped over his feet and slammed onto the floor. His head hit a hard surface, some sort of trinket of Govert’s, he remembered thinking, before the world faded to black.
Ludwig and Govert were still gaping at the Spaniard, looking from the hazing green smoke to the now unconscious man on the floor.
“What the living devil below was that?!” Ludwig raised his eyebrows in surprise at Govert’s unusual use of strong language, before shrugging and dragging the man up.
“I think he was talking to it.”
“What the snogger was there to talk to?! It’s a FISH! What was with that hocus pocus magic green smoke shit?!” Govert exploded, snarling at the tank and throwing his hand in the air in defeat, apparently recovered from his touch with the hand of death. “How am I supposed to sell these things when they can make glowing smoke pop out of nowhere and scream to kingdom come?! The crazy magician market is only so deep!” Govert stormed over to the desk and scowled, digging through a metal plated cabinet in behind the worn desk and plopping down a huge pile of papers. He then proceeded to dig into them, before dragging out a short piece of blue paper and turning his frow even harsher.
“Why are you so upset, Govert? Don’t they usually do that?” Ludwig asked as he knelt down to study his fellow pirate, rolling his eyes when he saw the knocked out man and throwing him hastily over his shoulder.
“No that’s not what they ‘usually’ do! The fishermen and the mermaid-hunters said they were complacent! Stupid! Almost magicless unless a special procedure is applied to their scales! Not some weird smoke thing popping out from their freakish eyes! I got scammed! Scammed I say!” The smuggler was absolutely livid, shoving aside his pile of papers and flipping through an old book that seemed to have popped out of nowhere. “SEE! Says they’re stupid and harmless creatures who can sell for a rich cost because of their rarity! Not whatever THOSE things are! I’m going to track down the Portuguese bastard and throw him to the fishes along with the rest of his stubborn crew!” The enraged smuggler carried on with his rant, using his explosive anger to hide his shaking hands that were still cowering from that, that thing, and slammed the book closed.
“Govert, if you want, we can give them back for study-” Ludwig started to offer hesitantly before being violently interrupted by a furious and shaking Govert.
“NO! No, I refuse to have those MONSTERS in my shop! I can sell anything, but I refuse to sell things that almost killed me!” the wild man screamed, a crazy glint in his eye as he shoved them out of his shop. “GO! Go and take those demons with you! That thing almost killed me, and I will NOT have it in my sight anymore!” He bolted over to his desk, grabbed the bowl where he had put the first merman, and almost threw it at the stunned German. He then threw another match into the tank, this one yellow, which shattered the glass with a crackling boom and poured the water all over the floor. The green merman quickly woke up, gasping for breath in the open air and eyes glassy as the Dutchmen yanked it off the floor by the tail and threw it into the bowl as well.
“G-Govert, your shop-”
“I don’t give a damn about whatever that magic voodoo will do to my floors, just GET OUT!” The shaking Dutchman shoved him out of the squat shop and slam the door so hard the walls rattled, leaving a shocked German in the cold, covered in magic water vapor, an unconscious pirate slung over the other’s shoulder, and two extremely confused mermaids swimming in a small glass bowl that was already starting to shake with the combined power of their magic.
“Well, that went well,” Ludwig remarked dryly to open air, shifting Antonio on his shoulder and starting down the narrow alleyway back to the Blushing Raven. On second thought, the German concluded, perhaps taking two extremely magical and confused creatures into a confined space with tons of other humans around was not the best idea. He shifted his course and headed back to the ship, taking a left here and jumping over a small, sort of pointless fence there, before ending up on the slippery dark stones of the dock.
The waves rumbled into the rotten docks, causing a crunch here or there, though Ludwig tried to block the murmurs of disrepair below him as he took a deep breath and stepped out onto the sinking wood, pirate over the shoulder and all. He hastily jogged over the sagging planks and stopped desperately next to the place a plank was usually lowered when they docked, the tide causing the wood to shudder and quake beneath him.
“AYE, ANYBODY UP THERE?!” Ludwig listened hard in the cold night air for a reply, before a squeaky voice answered him.
“I’m here, yes I am, and I’m guarding the ship, like the captain said I should, yes sir!” A bundle of blond hair poking out of the side of the railway and light blue eyes along with the most hideous eyebrows stared back at him in wonder. “Aye, why you out so late, old Kraut?”
“Peter, lower the planks!”
“Because I need to get on!”
“To not beat your head in, that’s why! Let me in!”
“Alright fine, no need to be all shouty,” the cabin boy pouted, and Ludwig swore to himself that he would make the captain throw the brat overboard at the nearest opportunity. “Why is the Spaniard on ya shoulder, old Kraut!”
“LET ME IN!”
“Alright, alright!” Peter pushed one of the buttons that activated the magic plank, lowering it and making it thud on the rotten wood. Ludwig jumped onto it, running back onto the ship and sighing in relief to have the ocean under his feet again. There we go, safe and sound, he sighed internally, and walked over to his cabin, adjusting the falling Spaniard on his shoulder every couple of seconds and bursting the door open with his foot.
“There we go, home sweet home, Antonio,” the German grunted before plopping the man off his shoulder and onto the bottom bunk where he slept. “I think the bed bugs missed you!”
The pirate groaned in response, slowly crawling his way out of the pit of unconsciousness, and Ludwig threw himself down on the creaky chair in the corner, grimly looking around the cramped room and sighing.
“Well Antonio, we messed up yet again. We are 50 dinak poorer, Francis most likely thinks we’re dead, Govert will never talk to me again, and now we have to mermen who hate our guts and cause magic smoke that helps them eat people. What a great day, don’t you think?”
Antonio groaned again, burying his head underneath his arms and croaking, “I think I have brain damage.”
“I know you have brain damage,” Ludwig snorted back. “What are we going to do with these magical fish?”
“Throw them overboard more likely. What did that smoke do to you anyway?”
“I saw a pair of beautiful eyes that could read my brain.”
“Alright, you’re staying on the bed for at least 3 more days,” Ludwig sighed, placing the bowl on the nailed-down table and studying the half petrified-half furious magical creatures in the corner. Silence reigned between them as the ship creaking, rocking back in forth in the filthy bay and groaning her wooden walls in protest, when Antonio spoke, a dazed look in his eyes and his voice filled with the still moment of disbelief.
“Should we name ‘em?”
“Not yet,” Ludwig replied tiredly.
“Oh. I thought we could name the green one Arthur.”
“Like I said, a little too early for that.”
“And the rainbow one Feliciano,” he added.
“You are getting way too attached to these all-powerful fish of the deep caught by one of your Portuguese enemies.”
“I thought he got them from a fisherman?”
“Me too, but that’s what he said. Lied to us, maybe.”
“Ugh, this conversation hurts my brain. Talk to you in the morning, Ludwig.” Antonio turned over on his cot so his backed face the German, who sighed and stared at the mermen some more. The rainbow merman almost seemed to give him a hesitant wave, before the small creature was slapped down by the green one. Ludwig gave a rare smile in response and looked at the ceiling with a sigh. Tomorrow they had to come up with a plan on what to do with these bastards, though they haven’t done anything destructive yet, strangely. At least they had that going for them. The German sat up and walked over to his own cot, giving one last look to the eyeless small mermen, before lying down and praying they didn’t try to blow anything up while he was asleep.
Yes, tomorrow really was going to be an interesting day, wasn’t it?