This is mine, mine, mine. No stealing my stuff. There is no resemblance to anyone, place or time. This is total fiction/fantasy that I made up. This chapter will contain 'swearing' so this is now officially for mature readers.

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First I am not one hundred percent happy with this but after some more bad luck (Parts went missing, corrections disappeared, etc) I am thinking it is best to just put it up before more disappears. This means since I am putting a bit of a rush on it there may be some mistakes and the characters may not be as cool as I want them to be.

Yes, before you begin asking, I did give one of my male characters a female name. I am evil like that. He hates it. But after we sat down, and much screaming on his part, I have agreed that only certain people, Like Mark, are allowed to call him that.

And thank you to paputsza and those who favored this story or put my story on their alert list. You gave me more confidence. Hopefully I can continue meeting your expectations.

Ok, there is no real action in this chapter. That will come later. I have plans for fights and yummy sex, but that will later.

Chapter Two

"Bridgy, why are we here again?" a man sighed out with a monotone that only belied his boredom.

"Because you dummy, we are hiding." Bridgett Manwell stated shooting a look of contempt at his friend.

"And why does it have to be here" the first man said with a wave at the surrounding area. The said area was one of the worst bars in the world. Every night there is a death, usually by stabbing or by poisoning. Actually considering just that fact the man looked at his beer and puts it aside. It was cheap and did not taste very good anyway.

Bridgett just shakes his head at his oldest friend, "Because Mark, if we were anywhere else within ten minutes we will have one our crews running in yelling 'captain the ship is on fire'."

Mark just shakes his head but does not disagree. For it is true, perhaps it is just a coincidence or their crews just hates them but they could never could find a chance to just sit and talk. Well at least that was their excuse anyway. They have been here for a half an hour just sitting in silence. It is funny how things change. When they were just young whelps they could never stop talking but now… they just sit there trying to scrub their brain for any topic to share.

Bridgett was staring off into space then he faced his friend suddenly. Apparently he figured something out to talk about. "Did you hear the new rumor? I am not sure if it is true or not but it sounds interesting."

"Hm?" Mark only responds with a raise of an eyebrow. He is not really interested in silly rumors but he is extremely bored so he might as well listen.

"Well they are saying that the Master is starting a new project." Nothing new there the Master is always up to something in the hopes of finding better ways of making money. "Well this one is a bit different. They are saying that he wants us captains to take on concubines."

"What?" Mark said with disbelief. He had heard a lot of stuff in his time but this is just too weird. What can a concubine do on a ship? It would be a disaster from the get go.

"That is what I heard. Apparently if you take one in and if you can keep them alive and well for the duration of your voyage you will get ten thousand vets. "

Mark whistled at that. "Ten thousand vets. That is a lot of money."

"That is right. But the thing is if you cannot keep one alive and well then you will have to pay ten thousand vets." They both wince with that. It would take three long voyages to be able to make that kind of money. This would make the whole situation very dangerous.

"Does this mean that you are interested in a concubine?" Markel lightly teased his oldest friend. Actually to anyone who does not know the captain very well they would not have caught the teasing. Mark's mask was so cold that no one, except for a select few, really knew that there was a human behind it.

"Me? With a concubine? No way, no how. I cannot take that kind of a chance. Plus I don't think that my crew would appreciate it." Bridgett laughed off the idea.

"Well I am quite sure that you have your fair share of girls to choose from." Mark continued to tease.

"No I do not." Denied the other captain.

"Oh yes you do. How about that thin flighty thing that you were dating last time I have seen you?"

"Hera? Na, she dumped me not long after that. Apparently she found the fact that I was always out of town kind of worn on her. She wanted someone that was more consistent and there.

"That is too bad. But I am sure that there are others."

"Oh I am sure there is but I would rather keep my bedmates on land and not at sea. Plus I do not think I can stand being around a girl for that long." Bridgett laughed. "I am sure that is why a lot of men chose to be sailors. It is because they want to get away from the women."

"There are ships with women on them you know."

"Oh yes I am quite aware of that. Tricky things too. We have battled with a couple and have nearly lost on more than one occasion." The captain of the Sea Mare said with a dreamy look.

Mark noticed the look and had to comment on it. "Had a wonderful experience eh?"

"Experience? Oh yes. There was this one woman captain… let's just say that she was quite the woman but she escaped before we could fully capture her." Bridgett said swirling his beer. "I would love to have a woman like that on my crew."

"As a concubine?" Mark asked

"No. She is too good to be wasted as one. No she would be my first mate if anything." Bridgett decided with a nod.

Mark knew that if his friend was talking like that then Bridgy must have it bad. "It sounds like she is the kind of person who would make you the first mate and she will be the captain."

"Oh you are probably right. But if it was her I would gladly work under her."

Mark shook his head at his friend's antics. Bridgett is always moony eyed about some girl he just met. Hopefully this time he will either wake up before he gets hurt or it actually turns out right. After that they both lapsed into silence. Bridgett stared off into space thinking about a certain elusive captain while Mark took a moment to watch the bar around him.

At a table close by a bunch of gruff looking men were arguing over the politics of some small unknown, probably an inland, country and by the looks of it they will soon be in a brawl within the next five minutes.

The bar wenches swerve in between the tables moving as agile as any well seasoned seaman upon their own ship. They no longer attempt to make airs that they are an innocent young maidens like many women their ages do for they have seen far too much in their short lifetimes to even want to try.

Over yonder some men are playing what is supposed to be getlai, but in turn became a game of attempting to find out how many ways they can cheat. They will probably either walk away to try their newly learned techniques on some unsuspecting fool in a different bar or get knifed in the back before they can take two steps.

Along the far wall partially hidden in the shadows are those who hope to conceal their presence and their dealings. This in truth was completely in vain. Mark can recognize at least two assassins being hired, a magistrate sucking face with his opposition and the supposedly 'virgin' daughter of said magistrate skillfully bringing pleaser to a lowly merchant.

At the bar sat some hard haggard looking men who somehow survived as regulars in this bar. They would be willing to tell their tale to any unsuspecting youngling that comes to close or give a hard clout at the back of the head to any disrespectful ones who try to walk away.

A second rate bard sits in the bards niche and even though he twitches as a mug of ale narrowly misses him, he still keeps the horrid off key music going. His voice is just a rasp and his skin is scarred from flying glass but yet he still plays. They say that bards do not live for very long in this country and it seems like this one is on his last legs.

Within a cleared space near the bard there is a drunk man. His hair is wildly flying in every which direction and his clothing is in disarray. He sways back and forth mumbling in tune with the off key music. Sadly his mug of ale as his only dance partner.

Markel just shakes his head. This place was just too depressing and way too boring for his tastes. But here they sit for some odd reason.

"You want to play a game of devils mirth?" Bridgett held up a pack of cards.

Mark did not really want to but anything was better than hearing about Bridgy's infected toe. Again.

"Do you want to be the urchin or the elder?" Bridgy asked as he skillfully dealt out the cards.

With a grumbled "elder." Mark picks up his hand and sighed at his luck. It was a good hand, which means that this game will be a long one. He is sure that Bridgett also has as good of a hand, knowing his friends luck. He really hates this game.

After a couple of intreging hands of cards the air got a bit thick and his back began to itch. Mark just rolled his shoulders and tried to ignore it. His friend noticed his discomfort and looked. A knowing look passed his face.

"Do not look now but it seems like we have a colleague in the room." Bridgett muttered trying not to bring attention to their conversation.

"Oh? Who?" Mark asked in the same tone.

"Oh it is no other than your best friend Cladline." Bridgett said with an upturn of one side of his lips.

"Cladline? Well that explains it. So, is he the one trying to drill a hole in my back?" paying more attention to his cards he adjusted them more to his liking.

"Yes sir. I think he likes you." The other joked.

Mark humoursly laughed at that thought. That was the complete opposite to the relationship he had with said captain and said as much.

"Aw, I would not say that near him. You might actually hurt his feelings." Bridgy was enjoying this joke way too much.

"And I am telling you that the only thing he wants to do to me is to kill me slowly then hide my body where no one will ever find me." Mark adamantly insisted.

Bridgett looked like he wanted to tease his friend more but he was interrupted by shouting coming from the political group nearby.

"I am telling you it is true."

They both lazily looked over at the group. They did not really care what is going on but a change of topics was in order. It seemed like the whole bar had the same idea or at least hoped to finally see a fight that night for they also stopped what they were doing and turned towards the arguers.

"There is no way that some gush from some small country is that pretty." One man scoffed.

"Oh yes she is I have seen her myself and she is gorgeous." The first man insisted with that look in his eye. You know the look; it is the one where they were in serious lust. The unbeliever just scoffed.

"It is true. It is said that the women of the Ma`ray family is the most beautiful of the world." Piped in one of the group.

"Heithershit" the nonbeliever swore.

"Are you talking about the Ma`ray family there lads?" a rumbling voice came out. Everyone turned to the old men at the bar.

When the young fighters nodded one of the old men's voice rumbled out like thunder making all shiver in its wake. "Yes the women are quite gorgeous. All of them. My, I remember the Lady Ringla. She had hair the color of freshly spun gold, ample bosom and the lushest of bottoms. Pity she had to marry that old fart lord Guilding. The dumb ass." One of the old man's companions nodded his head in agreement.

"I do believe that the new lady's name is Era. I heard it said that she looks almost identical to her mother." The old man continued with a sharp look in his eye.

"Yes yes that is the one. And that is exactly how she looked too." The young man agreed.

"If it is true that she is so beautiful then why is she not married or living in the most expensive brothel?" asked one of the nonbelievers.

"Politics and tradition." The old man said with a shrug. "Plus would you like it if your niece was put in a brothel? She is basically related to all of the royalty in that country."

"EW, inbreeding." Someone in the bar said.

"No not really. Anyway, who are we to say anything about the way royalty works?" One of the old men insisted.

"Perhaps it is time for her to spread her beauty outside of her country." Someone said. Looking over, and to no surprise, Mark found that it was, of course, one from Cladline's group.

"Na, never going to happen." The old man waved the idea away. "Tradition says she stays put. Plus if any one tried to they would have to deal with her guards."

"But I seen one of her guards and he seemed like a gush that could easily be over taken." Said the young man.

The old man's eyes got even sharper. "Do not even think of it young man. That man could and has killed many men who even so much as looked at the lady wrong. Those that guard the lady have dedicated their lives and those of their children to her. "

"I am sure that one of our countrymen would be able to do it." Mark knew that voice. It was none other than Cladline.

"Believe whatever you want young man. You will learn if you even try." The old man scoffed and turned his back on the onlookers clearly dismissing any other inquiries.

With the loss of their main informant and no fight occurring all lost interest in the topic and drifted back to what they were doing. Mark picked up his cards and was trying to remember who's turn it was when a shadow fell over his shoulder.

"Would you mind? you are in my light." Mark mumbled without looking at who was behind him. He did not have to for he could already guess.

"Oh and why should I. from the looks of it you are going to lose this hand anyway." Cladline stated without a care.

Mark just shook his head at the stupidity of the situation. "What do you want?"

"That is just like you. Always to the point. Well I wanted to just make a friendly little bet." Cladline said while leaning against the table.

"And why would I want anything to do with you?"

"Aww, I am beginning to wonder if you do not like me." Cladline said trying to pretend that Mark's words hurt him.

Markel wonders if it was too late to just ignore the other captain. He blindly played a card and apparently that was the wrong one as Bridgett just played his own card which in turn won this hand. Bridgett collected all of the cards and began to shuffle and deal the next hand.

"Oh come on are you going to seriously pretend that I am not here?" when he was met with silence he grabbed Mark's cards from his hand.

When mark turned to tell him off he continued. "So I was thinking we can have a friendly little bet." Cladline continued.

"No thanks. With you nothing is friendly and little." Mark said and turned away.

"Come on if you just agree I will leave you alone." Cladline said but apparently it seemed to fall on death ears. "Oh come on just listen."

"I am listening." Grumbled Mark.

Cladline victoriously smiled. It seemed like the only times he can get the other captain to speak to him is to majorly piss him off. "I was thinking about that story about the lady of Ma`ay." He began.

It seemed like cladline would not leave him alone if he did not play along so Mark sighed and asked. "What about the poor girl?"

"Well I was thinking that someone of our company can easily kidnap her."

"Right and do what exactly?"

"Well I am sure that she would be an excellent canadate for the concubine system. Do you not think?"

"No thanks." Mark scoffed.

The younger captain's smile turned a bit more evil. "Oh come you would not want a pretty thing as a concubine?"

"No thanks. I do not want any concubine period. Plus the whole concubine thing is just a rumor."

"Ah my dear Markel. You are wrong. I have actually seen the official statement. It is indeed true."

"So you want her for yourself?" Mark was getting quite bored of this chatter. He would rather be back on his ship than listen to more of this heithershit's drabbling.

"Oh no, I do not need any help with that. I already have a concubine picked out."

"Then why are you bringing all this heithershit up?"

"Because dear Captain Markel Drale I want to make a bet."

"You keep on muttering things about a bet. What the heither is this stupid bet?"

"Well I was thinking that you can take on the lady herself as your concubine." When Mark scoffed he just rolled his eyes and continued. "Oh come on it will be easy. You just find her and take her on one voyage. Simple as simple. When you are done she should be trained well enough that someone else can take her on as their concubine or she can make a home in a nice warm brothel."

Mark did not agree that it was simple or even a smart idea at all. Who would want an unwilling lover? Mark was starting to gather his coats and motioned his oldest friend to do the same.

"Oh come on we can make it interesting." Cladline insisted. Mark was not at all interested.

"Do you think our crews are running around like crazy trying to find us yet?" Bridgett asked

"Probably, this is the longest we have been away from our boats in a long time. They are probably crawling the walls by now. "Mark laughed while totally ignoring the youngest captain who was standing nearby.

Bridgett laughed as well. "then we better hurry up and get back."

Cladline in a last ditch effort reach out and grabbed Mark's coat. "Markel please. Just think about the bet."

Glaring at the hand on his coat Mark firmly growled out, "I am sorry but I am not interested in any bet at the moment. Right now the most important thing is my crew and their wellbeing. I have a feeling that any bet that you want to make will put their lives at risk. So, unhand my jacket. My crew is waiting for me."

For a moment Cladline just glared unmoving but reluctantly he released the jacket. "Please think it over."

Mark thought that Cladlines behavior is stranger than usual but his thoughts were interrupted by the door clanging open and a red faced young teenager rushed in. The teenager was wildly looking around until his sight landed on Mark. Then he rushed over with an energy found only in the young.

"Captain. I apologize for interrupting you while you are on your shore leave but, there is an order for the master himself. He insists that you are to return to the office at once." The young lad said shying away from the captain and waiting for the blow to come. Markel knew that this young lad will not last long. Either the sea will take him or one of the men, wanting to play, will see to it within the upcoming month.