the smuggler’s bible

Chapter Twelve: Iphigenia Among the Waves

They say the slate was wiped clean the night Tattersail the Pirate King (and Hognut, his wizard accomplice) destroyed the cursed timepiece, and that the last member of the Absinthine Guild of Alchemists vanished in a flash of light with his bitter order’s most terrible creation.

Then again, they say a lot of things.

The ship was waiting for them, of course, where they had begun their long quest—in rickety Goldtown. As he stood on the dock and watched Christmas morning dawn bright and clear over the harbor, Tattersail beheld—at long last—his beloved Iphigenia among the waves.

Chapter Eleven: The Alchemist’s Hour

The cursed timepiece’s red hand stood unmoving at twelve o’clock—the ritual position. “Now! Give it to me!” the alchemist cried. “All of this can be undone!”

Tattersail the Pirate King shook his head slowly. “I apologize,” he said, turning to Hognut. “I’ve taken so much from you. Now, given the chance to return it all, the years and the strife, I refuse.”

“I understand perfectly,” Hognut said. “Merry Christmas, my old friend.”

“Merry Christmas,” Tattersail said as he threw the watch high into the air, where it hung sparkling like a jewel until his pistol ball found its mark.

Chapter Ten: The Alchemists’ Tower

Tattersail and Hognut beached the longboat on the grey shore near the alchemists’ broken tower and headed for a thin stream of smoke which floated up from the ruin. Tattersail carried his cutlass and pistol. Hognut carried nothing but his wits.

They found one man sitting beside a meager fire. “You’ve finally come,” he said, “after all this time. The years cast long shadows, my friend. Our war has outlived eleven of my brothers, but now you’re here.”

“Better to be late than never arrive,” Hognut said.

“Late? But don’t you see? There’s time enough yet to make this right.”

Chapter Nine: Shadow Position

Three days before Christmas, Tattersail the Pirate King sat on a dock and looked out over the northern sea. The fur hood on his parka ruffled around his neck in the breeze. He had both hands in his lap, cradling the cursed timepiece. The red hand crawled slowly over its ivory face—yellowing now at the edges—toward seven o’clock. The shadow position.

“Will all this have been worth it?”

“You mean if we don’t manage to find her in the end?” Hognut asked.

“No,” Tattersail said, tucking the clock away in his pocket. “I’m worried about if we do.”