Livinia Hillibrand leaned on the gunwale of the ships, holding a line to steady herself against the rocking of the boat on the choppy bay, and wrapping her cloak tightly around herself as protection from the cold winter winds. The sun had risen from the east already, but whatever warmth it would bring was blocked by the shadow of Mt. Ire for the time being.
She thought of her twin brother and how he had kept his secret for so long. She tried not to be angry with him, she reasoned that it was for her protection. He claimed there was a spy in the inner circle of Tyn’s rulership, and he needed to keep the plan to as few people as possible- not that he distrusted her (though he did ask her pointed questions about their childhood- questions only she would know). But now, he needed her help.
Her brother was an Earl of Tyn he was technically captain of the Royal Guard, and as such, he could make excuses for why he was training with the men every day, focusing on urban warfare. After all, did Royal Hill not nearly fall due to lax security and underestimated enemies only last summer? It would be harder to explain why he needed his men to practice around that strange Gate, and the Engineer was sure to ask uncomfortable questions. On this ship, however, Livinia’s mission had an easier cover, and not an untrue one- they needed to resupply Est Harbour, so badly damaged during the fire.
Livinia looked well behind her in the bay, at the fleet of ships sailing from Tyn, a mix of merchant vessels and military naval might.
“Beggin’ yer pardon Milady, but I still feel strange about this. I had made a vow to stay at port and work for that group of adventurers, and the Duke’s man paid me double my retainer to do so.”
Livinia looked up at the salty old man, wrapped in his seal-skin coat, a face of grey stubble. An honest face, one she liked.
“Captain Breen, you cannot be expected to keep a vow to dead men. The Duchy needs you, and the Argyle was the fastest ship in Tyn Harbour.” She looked back towards the fleet hundreds of yards behind the,.
“Still, seems ill advised to leave the harbour so defenseless…if you pardon me saying.”
Livinia responded “I understand your concerns. Luckily, the Baron’s navy is smashed, and I don’t think we will see Ice Barbarian’s in this bay anytime soon, would you agree?” At this she nodded towards Mt Ire. “Let’s hope Sea Orc Raiders don’t start attacking major cities in the winter, and all should be fine.”
Breen walked to the starboard side of the ship, eyeing his second passenger, the strange red-headed sorceress, and looked at the shores below Mt. Ire. His own son lived in the village of Plyte, if he was still alive, though he would never admit that to anybody. His son ran from Tyn as a teen, after forcing his way with a young girl. The guards said there was no evidence to arrest him, but the girl’s father would not have let the offense pass. Breen was away at sea at the time, but he heard his son fled to Plyte. As far as he was concerned, his son was dead. But, perhaps if he had been at home more…
As they passed Fort Thunder, the halfling shouted from the crow’s nest. “Ships! Ho!”
Breen moved quickly to the front of the Argyle. “What is it, Dory?” He called, and squinted against the cold spray.
“Ice Barbarian longships!!” The halfling cried back, staring through a spyglass as he clung to the rigging with his hairy feet. “I recognize the lead ship! It’s a monster! Flying the colors from Sneehold!”
“The Ice Barbarian king’s own boat, Breen remembered.
“Damn and blast!” the captain cried. “Fly the battle colors to the fleet! Lower the topsails!”
“Belay that order!” Livinia said, and moved next to the captain. “Continue on this course. Signal to the Atkinson Grey that we have spotted our allies.”
Breen looked at her as if she were mad. “They’ll kill us all if we leave this bay.”
“No, my good captain. These ice Barbarians are going to help us win this war.”