Acqua Alta

Session 1: Scirocco

23 Febbraio 164~

While returning from Sicily with a small cargo of trade goods, lack of action and personal bigotry gets the better of Antonio Paulo, known to most of the crew as Tonso. He swaggers up to the young stowaway-come-doctore, Quinn Archer, and declares her an unnatural woman, demanding what nature of curse she has brought down on the ship. As his three friends look on, he unsheathes his foil and demands a fight. Quinn throws back his insults and jumps into the ratlines, heading for higher ground as she fumbles for her bow. She was not expecting a fight.

Tonso clamps his knife between his teeth and springs to the lines after her, slicing her side with a devastating swipe of his blade as he grins around the sharp steel in his mouth. Quinn’s arrow goes wide. The rest of the crew waste no time in moving towards her aid, but Don Angelo is the first to strike, moving quickly from his private rooms below deck, he strikes out with a hand full of hard glass bottle. His quick movement drops all three of Tonso’s friends before he reaches for the dagger at his waist. Captain Montescue is disgusted by this cowardly attack aboard his ship. His sword flashes in a low arc, cutting the line at Tonso’s feet. The reckless fellow drops his blade, but manages to catch himself with one hand as his feet dangle five feet above the deck.

Anglo grins and throws his dagger at the stretch of white shirt above him. Gasping as his crimson blood spreads from the dagger in his ribs, Tonso faints, collapsing to the deck. The captain orders the four attackers be thrown in the bilge and sets sail for Sveti Andrija and the even smaller island nearby.

As La Dolce Vita approaches, they catch the flash of sun on sails near the island. Spanish colors flap in the wind, but Benito Montescue’s trained eyes detect deceit. The ship is off trade-course and not of Spanish make. Closer scrutiny reveals a crew without uniform or discipline and signs of shoddy repair from previous combat. This is surely a pirate ship, less than three days from Venice!

The wind is with our heroes as they bear down on the pirate ship. The ship turns to engage the small ship, but is quickly outgunned. A blast rips a hole in the aft hull. Then the Darkening Wind’s front mast is lost and it turns, beginning to flee as Quinn spies men wrestling with a weapons chest on aft deck. La Dolce Vita gains on the pirates in minutes, taking out the rest of the sails before coming round and preparing to blast with grapeshot before boarding. Quinn watches the pirate captain give an order and the first mate go running for the ships hold. She fires from the crow’s nest, but misses the enemy captain by a hair. As Angelo prepares to join the first boarding party, he notices men rushing to the far end of the pirate ship and jumping from the edge. His cunning mind makes a leap, and he screams to Benito, “They are going to blow the ship!”

Benito calls for the cannon to fire and then for the ship to away. Musket men on the pirate aft fire before being shredded by the Dolce’s cannon. Quinn spots movement from within the ship. A man with strange metal bracelets is preparing to jump through the hole in the ship, and she fires, hitting him in the thigh as he falls into the icy water.

The Darkening Wind explodes with sudden fire, ripping apart down the middle and flinging debris in every direction. La Dolce Vita takes a hard hit, Angelo is sliced by a sharp piece of shrapnel, and several other sailors are carved to ribbons on its main deck. The heroes’s ship is in danger of sinking, so most hands are ordered to repairs while a small boat is sent to capture surviving pirates and rescue those like Angelo, who were blown overboard. Quinn makes certain they seek out the man from the aft.

Angelo rescues a bedraggled Lord Eduardo Carnero from the sea. Only one pirate can be found clinging to life, though he refuses to speak. Both men are brought aboard ship, which returns to the shallows of the islet to make repairs for the journey home. Quinn tends to the wounded. Eduardo is given a pallet in the state cabin and makes himself comfortable. Quinn notices a subtle reaction when she attempts to speak to him in English and Venetian, but he only speaks in Spanish, saying “Gracias, nino.” Angelo directs the captive to be placed in his cabin. It is clear to Quinn that the man will die if he is allowed to sleep, so a guard is set to watch over him. He clearly understands when Angelo speaks to him in Arabic, but speaks only with the hatred in his eyes.

24 Febbraio 164~

Tonso and his friends are marooned on the smooth sand of the islet beach. As La Dolce Vita sails away, his vitriolic curses are eaten by the sea wind.

Angelo catches up on sleep while Quinn sits by the slumbering prisoner she has finally allowed to sleep. Caught up in her fletching, she almost misses his movement, pulling a small blade towards his throat. The two struggle as the pirate tries to slit his own throat, but Quinn prevails over the injured man. Awaken by the sound of struggle, Angelo taunts the man, making it clear that he will only live or die as it pleases Angelo. The pirate invites him to anatomic improbabilities, and Angelo gleefully responds with a few creative tortures of his own, as Quinn listens to the angry Arabic words, uncomprehending. Meanwhile, Benito gets to know Eduardo, and offers an escort while in Venice. Eduardo, guarded but polite, accepts.

26 Febbraio 164~


In Venice, Angelo and Benito each take their “guests” deeper into the city, leaving Quinn to seek out gossip and help with restocking the ship. Eduardo is escorted to the Basilica of
Giovanni and Paolo, where he greatly receives the trust forwarded by his family and rewards the good captain 50 gold for his deliverance. He informs Benito of his new address but rejects the need for further guards from the ship.

Angelo summons his boys from the docks of Venice and transports the pirate to the hidden stews of his townhome. He gives orders for constant guard and no sharp implements as he delightedly ponders the possibilities for his torture. He is interrupted by a hesitant servant on the backstairs. His wife, Moira, has been very distressed these past days, it seems. He sighs deeply as he goes about his duty to the rich but meek woman. She is at her needlework, but drops it at the sight of him, rushing forward and clutching at his doublet. She has been plagued by nightmares for the past week. Angelo gruffly demands an explanation as it dawns on him that his wife may have the touch of Sorte. Moira cries that she dreamt of fire, blood, and the lion sinking beneath the waves. Angelo assures her that he is fine, that the cause of these dreams are over and he has returned unscathed. Moira then takes note of his gashed head wound and her tears swell. Angelo spends further time comforting her.

Benito reports to the Arsenal and is soon admitted to an audience with Admiral Francisco De Gambaloti. He gives a report of the incident with the Darkening Wind, stressing the odd route and cargo of the pirate ship. De Gambaloti is dismayed by this intelligence, as the implications of a stockpiling of explosives this close to the city are clear as Munaro glass. He is quick to action, sharing with the impressive captain his supposition that such a conspiracy is unlikely to be completely foreign to the political creatures of Venice nobility. He fingers a folio of heavy vellum and eyes the captain up-and-down. There is to be a grand fete at the House of Sighs in two evening’s time. He has been invited, but, for family reasons, he is hesitant to attend. Perhaps the young captain might represent him and use the opportunity of half the Major Council in high spirits, to loosen lips and uncover truth. De Gambaloti recommends, he bring an appropriate escort, someone he trusts, but not his wife. This is not a party for wives. Benito accepts, pondering how well Quinn might clean up. De Gambaloti dismisses him with two commands: 1) a written report must be created to share with the Admiralty, and 2) the captured pirate must be delivered to the Arsenal by nightfall. Benito dispatches two groups of sailors, one to relay the order to Angelo and one to fetch Quinn to him.

Quinn is quickly found in the dockside markets. She has not found much gossip among the taverns, though one sailor takes a liking to her, warning her away from his bastard of a captain. The two sailors inform her that Captain Montescue requests she report to him in the Arsenal. She is wary, but complies.

Angelo is less pleased by the summons of his victim, seeing it as a time-limit on his interrogation. He wastes no more time, using his cruel imagination and deadly tongue to describe the pain the man will suffer. He quickly realizes the man fears discovery by his old employers more than death. He promises to kill the pirate if he cooperates, or to free him with news of his aid if he does not. The tough fellow finally breaks down, begging for his death. Kheired-Din, the notorious pirate captain will do worse than kill him, if he discovers his failure. Even Angelo has heard of Kheired-Din, the man who shanghais all strong male captives, forcing them to build and crew ships, while his lieutenants and captains claim the plunder. It seems the Darkening Wind was one of his fleet, though what it was doing carrying explosives is still a mystery. The prisoner does not know who they were to meet on the Adriatic coast and implores Angelo to honor his promise of death. Angelo gives him a bleeding cut, breaking his word in the sight of his men. He then orders them to deliver the man “by way of Murano,” leaving it to fate to decided if the man lives.

Benito tells Quinn of the invitation and asks for her help. He says he’d like her to dress as an Englishwoman of high class, causing a hitch in her breath as he explains the rest of the plan. Benito has spent time with Quinn, teaching her sailing and Venetian language, and feels she has the polish to attend such a party and help him. Quinn agrees and leaves with a downpayment to outfit the two of them.

Angelo swaggers down the alleys of Venice as night falls, taking the center path and smiling as people move to avoid him. Near the Rialto, he hears a commotion and notices an old “friend,” Veronica Barbaro, in her gondola. He waves, and she drifts towards the bank, allowing him to join her. She welcomes him back and the two spar peaceably. They both remark on the work of the other to integrate themselves with the nobility of Venice. Veronica hazards that Angelo would have a hard time truly moving in society without causing an upset. In fact, she bets he could not attend her coming gathering without causing an amusing disruption. Angelo realizes just how challenging this could prove, but the opportunity is to rich to pass on. He agrees to deliver her a jeweled tribute should he upset the discourse, while Veronica promises a future introduction should he succeed.

Angelo is late in returning home after a pleasant dinner with Eduardo. He finds a second message from Benito, delivered several hours ago, regarding an opportunity to investigate the reason behind the Darkening Wind’s mission.

Meanwhile, Benito returns to his brother’s home to find Quinn has purchased far too much red fabric and lace, in his opinion. He argues that she must not present herself as a courtesan! She is to be meek and retiring, the better to eavesdrop on the members of the party. Quinn smiles and suggests it would be better to come off as a flamboyant and flighty foreigner, trying to ape the Venetian courtesan style. She will be more overlooked this way than if she simple does not fit into the assembly. Benito is adamant. Quinn nods, and then proceeds to give orders to the seamstress to match her vision. They must work through the night to be ready for the party tomorrow evening.


derendel TrueMyth

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