The Merchant's Mayhem: Part Three
"They just arrived, Ulf!" Cybin dropped the sack of money and sprinted to the table where the talismans rested. "After all this time, your wish has been fulfilled."
The stiff Tonu slowly made his way to the table and loomed over the talismans, making brief eye contact with Marcilli before he disregarded her presence. "Excellent," Ulf said in a hushed voice that made Marcilli raise an eyebrow. He was entranced by his acquisition, there was no doubt, but it was common courtesy for buyers to acknowledge the merchant for traveling the journey to deliver their items. It was not like he was new at the whole merchant business; his appearance was beyond impressive. This Darigan was adorned in a finely tailored suit, with his blue mane brushed and multiple horns polished. He was not a local Shenkuuvian by any means; those could be easily picked out from their flowing red robes adorned with golden details. Shenkuu was a popular port for those interested in growing their wealth or those who were sickly wealthy to begin with. Foreigners were abundant, and rarely did a Shenkuuvian work on the port.
"I'm sending her off with the payment!" Cybin said after a moment of deep reflection from the Tonu. Even the Scorchio appeared to be dumbfounded by Ulf's lack of reaction.
"Yes, yes. Splendid," Ulf muttered. He put the talismans around his neck and let out a sigh. "Make sure she gets the very best."
He appeared to be incredibly content with the talismans, and his whole demeanor in general made Marcilli very uncomfortable. She felt compelled to get out of the situation quickly, which is why she excused herself and stepped outside.
"Is everything all right?" asked a nearby Sicrax who was lifting an extremely heavy crate with ease.
"Very much so!" Marcilli replied, faking her enthusiasm to the best of her ability. She whistled to get Arwman's attention. "Send everyone here! I have some important things that need to go on board!"
Arwman began ordering the crew to head over to Marcilli. One by one they walked up the dock and entered the dingy shack where the business had transpired, marching up to the vault to receive the bounty. They knew better than to question Marcilli, so they dragged the bags along like they were nothing out of the ordinary as the sun began to set against the ocean.
"I had better go with you," Cybin murmured to Marcilli. "Gus is going to insist upon taking inventory and he'll want to know about this."
"Will he allow for everything?"
"He better! Hopefully he'll think twice about giving me a hard time before I give him a piece of my mind!"
Marcilli and Cybin strolled behind the first crew member as he passed Gus. Gus glanced up from his clipboard and staggered back at the sight of the merchants with the mysterious bags.
"What's all this?" Gus pointed his pen at the bags.
Cybin let out an exasperated sigh and a very noticeably exaggerated eye roll. "Nothing that concerns you!"
Gus put his fins on his hips. "It does concern me, actually. My job is to record everything that enters and leaves Shenkuu-"
That did it for Cybin. The Scorchio was not about to be scolded by a young member of the dock staff. He proceeded to lash out on the new attendant, "You're new here and you're trying to do a good job, I understand that. But as time goes on you will learn that there's some things that you don't want to mess with. If you ever question me again, we will have a LOT of problems. Do you understand?"
The Flotsam gulped. "Have a nice day."
"Thinks he's so tough..." Cybin chuckled. "He's the most timid and aims-to-please guy that works the dock. Obnoxious, to say the least."
"Eh, he's okay." Marcilli shrugged as they made their way up the ramp. "I'm not one to complain."
"Mind if I ask something?" Cybin inquired once they reached the deck.
Arwman had the bags of money situation under control, so she nodded. "Go ahead."
"You've always been just a merchant, right?"
Why did this always have to come up? "Correct. Only a merchant. I've been traveling to Shenkuu from Krawk Island for years now on a trade route."
"You aren't one of those converted pirates, are you?"
Again, why did this always have to come up? "I may be originally from Krawk Island, but I don't associate myself with those individuals."
Cybin nodded. "Merchants are still part of a lucrative business."
"Indeed, but I can't say that I've ever had this much of a payout." She motioned to the bags of coins.
"Oh yes, the pay for bringing them here was ridiculous, even I'll admit that. It was Ulf's bank account that covered it. But he can't be questioned. These aren't just any old talismans, you know."
Marcilli silently hoped that Cybin would explain why they were so important. "What makes them so special? Are they cursed?"
"Cursed with revenge!" Cybin blurted out before he doubled over in a fit of laughter. He noticed Marcilli's quizzical look, so he wiped the tears from his eyes. "You're hostile towards pirates, right?"
"Well, you'll get a kick out of this..." Cybin rubbed his hands together. "There are two pirates trapped in those talismans!"
She was all ears. "Really now?"
"Absolutely! Listen to this... Ulf used to be the captain of a merchant ship and I used to work for him. He had the Faerieland to Shenkuu route, which was a long but extremely peaceful... most of the time. Ulf would sometimes take his daughter so they could spend a few extra days visiting Faerieland since he adored her and since she was into that pink, fluffy stuff. Years ago on a normal route, Ulf was heading to Faerieland with his young daughter Felicia and a handful of crew members, including me, when his ship was ransacked by pirates. Every item on that ship was taken, from the goods that were intended to be sold to Ulf's family heirlooms that he kept with him for good luck. But those thieves... Marcilli, those thieves also took his daughter!"
Marcilli said nothing, either out of disbelief or disdain, so Cybin continued.
"Ulf tried to find his daughter but never did. Through some individuals that Ulf knew, they were able to track those same two pirates down after all these years. When questioned, they claimed they had no idea where Felicia was, and that was enough for Ulf. Those two pirates are trapped in the talismans, their souls bound inside for all of eternity. And they belong to Ulf. Payback for never seeing his baby Tonu grow up! Felicia was going to do great things."
Silence ensued. Marcilli was now gazing in the direction of the vast ocean completely opposite of the port. But Cybin thought nothing of it, as he was still intrigued by his story.
"Hoist the ramp up!" a voice beckoned from across the deck. The sacks of money were loaded onto the dock.
"Not yet!" the voice of Arwman barked as he folded his arms across his chest, adding rather dissatisfying, "We still have a visitor on board."
The Scorchio glanced back to see Arwman and the crew collectively glaring at him. "I guess that's my cue to leave," Cybin shrugged and bowed in Marcilli's direction. "Well, thank you again for the timely delivery. Enjoy your payment!"
"No... thank you," Marcilli said in a barely audible voice.
The Scorchio walked down the ramp, leaving Marcilli standing by the rail. Arwman walked over to her, clasping his hands behind his back. "Is everything all right?" he remarked.
Marcilli watched as Cybin headed for the hills. "To be honest, no."
Should she elaborate on the situation to her trusted chief officer? Her accustomed talent of making split-second decisions in situations like this was not aiding her. "I have to go out into Shenkuu tonight," she answered with her eyes still focused on the fading Cybin.
Arwman did a double take. "What? Why on earth do you need to do that?"
She turned to face a stark Arwman. "Keep the ship and crew in decent condition for the evening. I'll be back as soon as I can in the morning."
"Marcilli! What is the meaning of all this?" Arwman protested. He rarely questioned Marcilli's authority, but she had never done something quite like this before. And because of this, he had to seek out an answer.
"Those talismans are cursed. Each has a soul trapped inside, and the merchant that paid for them to be delivered here is the one that ordered them to be cursed."
"But who is trapped inside?"
"To put it simply, a couple of pirates."
"You have no tolerance for sea raiders! Why must you go try and save them?"
Marcilli bit her lip. Even Arwman could tell that she was trying to hold back tears.
"They aren't just any sea raiders. They're my parents."
To be continued...