A stunned silence falls over the Red Admiral’s Groghouse as Kat stares up at the Bandits looming over her.
The members of the Brotherhood of the Coasts quizzically stare at the Bandits staring down at Kat. Captain Valdus stares at his two nemeses, his grip tightening on the hilt of his sword.
“Dorian!” Estelle calls to her husband, breaking the tense silence as she pushes through the door and past the crowd of Guardsmen. “Vicious criminals are trying to kill your daughter!”
Dorian stares blankly at his wife’s sudden appearance.
“Estelle? What are you talking about?” he asks. “Dunstana’s right here.”
He points towards the little pirate, who interjects with an eager ‘Hi, Mom!’
“And, really, the Brotherhood are hardly vicious criminals.”
Estelle summarises the morning as succinctly as possible: “Not them! The Bandits! They tried to rob us earlier, and now they’re after Kat!”
“Dad! We have to save Kat!” Dunstana cries. “Come on! Let’s go!”
She looks down from the stage to the most familiar face in the crowd.
“Murphy! We need your help!”
“Murphy? Murphy?” the flustered older pirate repeats indignantly. “My. Name. Is. Myra.”
Nevertheless, she grudgingly rises from her seat to help a fellow pirate. The honour of the Brotherhood has to come before any of her own petty squabbles with tiny rivals.
“What do you say, lads?” Dorian asks the rest of the Brotherhood.
“And ladies,” Matchlock Sally interjects, as the other female members of the Brotherhood nod in support.
“And ladies,” Dorian agrees. “My Kat needs help. Are you with me?”
“Yeah!” exclaims most of the Brotherhood of the Coasts.
“No,” says Ragnar the Contrarian.
Witnessing this, Plaid Jack leans over to the nearest member of the Brotherhood.
“Who keeps inviting that guy to these meetings?” he asks in a concerned whisper.
No-Tongue Ximenez can do nothing but give a mystified shrug in answer.
“Help, please,” Kat calls, desperately clutching at Alison Steel’s sword arm and trying to aim it anywhere but her face.
This is somewhat complicated by the fact that Dirk Broadsword has decided that the best way to help his companion is by repeatedly kicking Kat in the ribs.
Dorian surges forward.
“Hey!” he bellows to Kat’s assailants. “Get away from my daughter!”
Bound by the oaths of the Brotherhood, several more pirates draw their own swords and other assorted instruments of violence, and follow Dorian.
Dirk Broadsword turns away from kicking Kat to face Dorian.
“Listen, old man,” he says. “Alison and me are going to settle things with Eyebrows here.”
He points over his shoulder to where Kat is still frantically struggling against the female bandit.
“Eyebrows? How dare you!” Dorian bellows, glowering from beneath his own impressively luxuriant eyebrows— the same sort of prominent eyebrows from beneath which a hundred generations of Darkstones have surveyed the world.
“The Darkstones have beautiful eyebrows!”
“I don’t have time for this,” Dirk Broadsword mutters, turning back towards Kat. “She started this, and now we’re going to finish it. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.”
“No, actually,” Dorian states bluntly, with a hard look in his eyes, “there’s plenty of things I’m going to do, you smarmy little punk.
“First, I’m going to smack that stupid little grin off your stupid little face.”
He takes a menacing step forward.
“Then, I’m going knock your sorry self down. Then, I’m gonna kick that same sorry self from one end of this city to the other and back.
“Then, I’m going to chain you up, boot you into the sea and use you as bait. And once the sharks have had their fill, I’m going to do it all over again.”
“Yeah?” Dirk Broadsword counters, largely undaunted by the Dorian’s lengthy promises of novel and strangely specific torments. “You and what army?”
“Oh, this one, maybe?” Dorian replies, pointing with a thumb over his shoulder to where the assembled might of the Brotherhood of the Coasts is standing ready to assist.
“And this one,” Captain Valdus adds, standing with his sword drawn among a line of Goldharbour Guardsmen.
Dirk Broadsword stares at the band of pirates levelling a frighteningly diverse array of weaponry at him.
There are more cutlasses than he can count, a few boarding axes, flintlock pistols and matchlock pistols. Several of the winners of Brotherhood Awards have them raised threateningly in his direction. There’s a board with a nail through it.
And one particularly grizzled-looking pirate appears to be levelling a shark at him.
Seeing the odds so thoroughly and utterly stacked against him, and having rather unpleasant memories of the world tasting like the smell of Purple and feeling like Thursday, the Bandit’s sword almost falls from his numb, terrified hands.
Compelled by a rare instance of good sense, Dirk Broadsword throws his sword to the floor and raises his hands above his head.
“I give up.”
“Smart lad,” Dorian says. “Now, just— what do you think you’re doing?”
Unfortunately for Kat, Alison Steel has become too blinded by her contempt to share her companion’s common sense or fear of boards with nails.
She obstinately, single-mindedly refuses to cease attempting to destroy her nemesis.
Since the nemesis in question is her, Kat is not particularly pleased with this development.
“You hurt my Honey-Bear!” she cries at Kat. “You’re going to pay for that! I’m going to tear off your eyebrows one hair at a time and feed them to you!”
Amara stalks over towards Alison Steel, scooping up a tankard from a nearby table along the way.
“You,” Alison hisses.
“Me,” Amara agrees.
No renowned hero in all of Realmgard’s long history has ever swung any legendary weapon with greater, more determined purpose than Amara swings the tankard at the bandit.
Amara’s heroic swing sends Alison Steel tumbling to the floor and her sword skidding out of her hand. Amara reaches to pull Kat to her feet.
“Katherine?” Amara asks, staring gravely at Kat.
“Fustigate that wretch,” Amara bids, pointing towards the bandit as she staggers back to her feet.
Kat stares blankly. “Fusti-what?”
“Stomp her, Katherine,” Amara clarifies.
“So why didn’t you just say that?” Kat asks.
“Hey, you!” she calls to Alison Steel. “
There’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you.”
“Oh?” the Bandit answers, punching at Kat’s face.
“You and your boyfriend talk too much,” Kat says as she ducks the blow.
She surges forward, catches the Bandit and lifts her up and off the ground.
Alison Steel wails “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” as Kat flings her across the groghouse.
Her arc through the air comes to an abrupt end when she comes crashing down onto the giant cake commissioned by the Brotherhood for its meeting.
Mere seconds ago, it had looked like a majestic sailing ship. Now, it is hopelessly crushed beyond all recognition and splattered all across the groghouse.
“Noooooooo!” the Brotherhood wails with one voice as they behold the chocolatey ruin that had been their highly-anticipated dessert.
“Yay!” cheers Ragnar the Contrarian.
“Nooooooooooo!” Alison Steel wails again as she realises that she has landed in a carrot cake and that, horror of horrors, she has inadvertently got some of it in her mouth.
“Waaaaaaaaaaah!” cries Ragnar the Contrarian, as the rest of the Brotherhood decides they’ve had enough of his shenanigans, grab him by the collar and toss him from the groghouse.
“Sugar-Blossom!” Dirk Broadsword exclaims, running in desperation towards his beloved. “Don’t worry, I’ll be right there!”
“Yeah, you will,” Dorian agrees, grabbing him by the shirt and flinging him across the room.
He also lands in the cake, smashing it even further beyond all recognition and finding himself promptly surrounded by the full might of the Goldharbour Guardsmen.