A small preview where we catch up with alleged pirate Krutch Leeroy as he finds himself in a tight spot with the authorities….
“If it’s any consolation, this isn’t how I wanted the day to go either.”
Krutch could see the barmaid didn’t believe him, as her eyes shifted to confusion before returning to fear. He sighed and tried again to find some kind of comfortable position.
The tavern’s crawlspace was the three foot gap between the floor and the dirt foundation underneath. The ground was harsh and stony, and the floorboards above were filthy and congealed with something sticky. The air was sweltering—it felt like the worst of summer already—but the stink was the worst. It was the inevitable stench one would expect in the dirt beneath a tavern packed nightly with drunks and worse.
He tried not to imagine what awfulness had festered over the years in the dismal space he was cramped in—spilled drinks, dropped food, vomit, piss, blood—and focus on more cheerful thoughts like the growing cramp in his back, sweat dripping beneath his clothes, or the Sentry Elite he was hiding from.
The floorboards creaked, and dirt from the soldier’s boots spilled through the cracks. There were only two—in the tavern, at least. There was no telling how many more were waiting outside. One called himself Wayland Dillon. The other didn’t speak, but Dillon introduced her as Ellen Wells. The names rang a bell, but Krutch could barely hear them.
Not that it mattered. He knew the questions being asked. It had been the same song and dance in dozens of other places: We’re looking for Krutch Leeroy. Have you seen him? If so, where? How long ago? Where’s he heading? What’s he up to?
Across from him, Arkady looked calm, even though his skin was shiny with sweat. For a moment, he pondered if he might be able to see his reflection in Arkady’s bald head. The young pirate’s lanky body fit into the crawlspace well enough, but his toned muscles were tensed. He was ready for anything if things turned ugly. Continue reading