the smuggler’s bible

Chapter Eight: Sealburg

The search for Iphigenia took Tattersail the Pirate King and the wizard Hognut north to Sealburg, where the winds blew so cold that even the stars themselves were frozen solid and fell into the sea. They pinned their hopes to one thin scrap of clue: a smudge of coal dust on a playing card in the Pip King’s royal library.

“They told me you’d come,” the mine foreman said, taking the card from Tattersail. He nodded. “The mad king’s very own one-eyed Jack. You’re on the outer edge of the spiral now, gentlemen. Your friends await you at the center.”

Chapter Seven: The Pip King’s Hoard

Tattersail and Hognut escaped the dungeon as the cursed timepiece’s red hand struck three o’clock—the shattering position. In the end, it was through simple kindness that they achieved the Pip King’s hoard. Hognut shared his last crumb of ship’s biscuit with a hungry mouse who led them through the impenetrable gauntlet of traps.

And do you know what they found there?

That’s right. One solitary, blank domino—the king’s beloved daughter, transformed by alchemy. Oh, they managed to cure the poor girl, and broke her father’s spell of madness in the bargain. But that’s another story for another Christmas.

Chapter Six: The Pip King’s Dungeon

The Pip King’s dungeon was cold, but the floor was dry and the straw fresh. Outside the high window, snow fell quietly on the mountain.

“I told you he was mad,” Hognut said.

“I know what you told me.”

“’A noble king,’ you said. ‘He’ll hear me out.’”

Tattersail shrugged, rattling his fetters. “I knew him in my youth. Montecarda was not always such a place.”

“And you weren’t always so sentimental,” Hognut said, standing up and crossing the cell.

“But how did—”

“What kind of wizard would I be if you could simply chain me to the wall?”

Chapter Five: The Pip King’s Court

“You accuse me of cheating!”

“Of course not,” said Tattersail. “We suggest merely that you have been cheated.”

“I am no cheater! If the treasure you seek rests in my hoard, I have already won it,” the Pip King roared. His two coal-black eyes gleamed underneath his crown. “You were a fool to come here. In my court, a pirate—even the pirate king— is simply a thief.”

“But we haven’t stolen anything.”

“AND I INTEND YOU NEVER SHALL!” the Pip King shook with rage on his high throne, coming to rest slowly with his five coal-black eyes shining angrily.