Authors: David Michael Williams
Rebels and Fools
David Michael Williams
Rebels and Fools
is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living
or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
© 2016 One Million Words, LLC
Heroes and Liars
copyright © 2016 by
One Million Words, LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced, utilized, transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system
in any form or by any means, without prior written permission from the
publisher. Inquiries can be directed to [email protected]
Cover art copyright © 2016 by One Million Words, LLC
Cover design by Jake Weiss (
Author photograph by Jaime Lynn Hunt (
Interior art copyright © 2016 by One Million Words, LLC
Map by David Michael Williams and Jake Weiss
HEROES AND LIARS
Rebels and Fools
is dedicated to everyone who ever encouraged me to keep writing no
matter what and/or humored me when I spoke of the people and places that existed
only in my mind.
Captain of the Guards’ boots tapped a steady cadence on Port Town’s weathered street.
According to the messenger who had been sent to fetch him from his home,
had finally dropped anchor at the northern harbor.
bloody time,” he muttered.
he hurried to the wharves, Captain DeGrange thought that he ought to be
thanking the gods that the ocean voyager had arrived at all. Reports from Fort
Honor told of increased piratical activity off the island’s western coast.
Everyone had feared
had been intercepted somewhere
between Continae to Capricon.
squinted as the docks came into view. The setting sun cast an orange reflection
on the harbor, where most of small fishing vessels were heading back to shore.
The smell of frying fish drifted from the chimneys of the inns and houses he
passed. It was enough to make DeGrange’s stomach roar. He had had only a few
bites of his own dinner before duty had whisked him away from the company of
his wife and daughter.
, he saw the ship’s crew and the local dockhands
unloading crate after crate from the ship into a nearby warehouse. The wooden
boxes were filled with rare Huiyan spices, a cargo valuable enough to tempt any
ne’er-do-well who scoured the Aden Ocean.
moment later, he spotted the ship’s captain, a wide but squat man who looked
like he would sink faster than an anchor if he fell overboard. Upon noticing
DeGrange—and apparently recognizing his rank by the golden stripes on his
’s captain gave a final order to one of his crew
before turning to DeGrange.
like you have everything well in hand here,” said DeGrange, coming to stand
beside the captain. “Judging by the fact that your vessel is in one piece and
you still have cargo to unload, I’d wager you didn’t encounter any pirates.”
a one,” the captain assured him.
tell me, why you are a week late?”
he had gotten to know many of the captains who sailed back and forth between
the island and Continae, DeGrange recognized neither this seaman nor his ship.
But DeGrange’s brusque manner wasn’t due to unfriendliness. He knew that, after
the long voyage from the continent—a trek that typically took two weeks but had
three—most sailors were eager to leave the
confines of the ship and enjoy a few precious days ashore before returning to
to get business out of the way as quickly as possible.
that DeGrange himself didn’t have his own reasons for hastening matters. Today
had been the first day in weeks he had arrived home before sunset, and he could
not remember the last time he had shared an evening meal with his family. He
did not blame the job itself for such inconveniences. Rather, he blamed the
individual factors that made such long hours necessary.
who threatened the peace, Mayor Beryl’s impossible demands, slow ships—all of
these things and more were his concern as Captain of the Three Guards in Port
can’t see it now, ’cause her sails’re down, but there was a storm that tore her
mainsail to ribbons and sent us far off course to boot. Hell of a squall, it
was,” the ship’s captain said.
the man recounted the events of the voyage, DeGrange studied the ship with only
a mild interest. Typically, it was the harbormaster’s responsibility to
interview the captains of newly arrived vessels, but the mayor had ordered
DeGrange to handle
what was so important about a spice-laden ship, DeGrange did not know. True,
wares from lands beyond Continae were precious and few in Capricon, but it was
hardly the type of thing for the Captain of the Guards to worry about.
thought DeGrange, Crofton Beryl will be pleased to hear that
has arrived safely and the people of Port Town will be able to
purchase perfume and seasonings to their hearts’ content.
my crew don’t shirk in the face of danger,”
continued. “No, we fought every wave that tried to take us to the bottom. We—”
of the cargo got wet, did it? Were the spices damaged?” DeGrange knew Mayor
Beryl would blame him for the ruined cargo. Never mind it would have happened
many leagues away from Port Town.
captain snorted and gave a sharp chuckle.
the captain asked, knotting his brow. “What’re ya talkin’ about, man? We’re
carrying arms. Swords, spears, chain mail…you name it!”
DeGrange was once more studying the ship, thinking perhaps that he had been
misinformed, that the lookouts had mistaken this ship for the true
, which, sadly, lay at the bottom of the ocean.
no, he could see the ship’s name, complete with a depiction of a sword-wielding
sailor, painted on the ship’s prow.
DeGrange could put any of his many questions into words, he spied something unusual
near the ship’s stern. A solitary figure, his face hidden by the hood of a long
dun cloak, seemed to be staring back at him.
scratching his graying beard, DeGrange realized he must have blinked, for
suddenly the person was gone.
isn’t right,” DeGrange muttered. “Captain, did you take on any passengers at
captain opened his mouth to reply, but then both men’s attention was drawn away
from the ship to someone running down the dock. The young man’s blue-and-white uniform
denoted him as a pier guard, but DeGrange did not know him.
was not much of a surprise, however, for Port Town was growing rapidly.
Although DeGrange had been Captain of the Three Guards for almost a decade, he
could hardly keep all of his men straight. New recruits were hired daily.
forward, his hands on his knees, the young pier guard spoke the dreaded words
between deep breaths: “Pirates…nearby…sir…”
looked out into the open waters, expecting to find nothing less than an armada
of the buccaneers charging toward the city, but seeing nothing other than small
skiffs and fishing boats, he asked, “Where? Are they attacking?”
the guard replied, his face regaining a little color, all of it red. “We
spotted…two ships…a caravel and…the other has two masts—”
DeGrange repeated, trying not to shout at the lad.
anchored a couple miles south of the city…just off the coast. They’re hidden by
the dense trees…no one can see them from the road, but—”
his way from the wharves, DeGrange told the harbormaster to have a chat with
the captain of
. He quickly told him of the discrepancy
in the cargo and mentioned the figure he had seen on deck. Confident the
harbormaster would get to the bottom of it all, DeGrange focused on the next
through the streets of Port Town with the younger guard beside him, DeGrange
marveled at how much energy the boy possessed. He had surely sprinted all the
way to the wharves. Now he was running at full speed once more.
meanwhile, was already breathing hard and had a stitch in his side. And the
harbor wasn’t even out of sight yet! He suddenly felt much older than his
forty-six years, as though the weight of his responsibilities were aging him
quicker than the seasons could. At that moment, DeGrange would have gladly
traded places with the pier guard, rank and all.
much for dinner with the family, he thought. Then he banished all thoughts
except those concerning Port Town’s safety from his mind.
his brief exchange with DeGrange, followed by an almost identical encounter
with the harbormaster, Captain Toeburry decided that he would never drop anchor
in Port Town again.
there was the confusion over his cargo. Why, the mayor of this gods-forsaken
city himself had requested the arms shipment and had provided quite a sum of
silver to pay for the voyage!
then there were the pirates the young guard had mentioned. Toeburry had fought
off buccaneers before, but the casualties were always high. Toeburry planned on
shoving off as early as tomorrow if he could manage it. He’d have to promise
his men a full week of shore leave back on the continent, but if that’s what it
took to avoid pirates, then by the gods above and below, so be it.
only regretted that he couldn’t weigh anchor immediately after unloading the
boys. Faster!” he called to his men. “The quicker we’re done with this mess,
the quicker we can be gettin’ drunk in the city!”
Toeburry, however, was scheduled to share a drink with the harbormaster in his
office. Apparently, there were more questions that needed answering. He spat in
the direction of the whitewashed building and made a colorful comment about
Port Town’s forefathers.
to retrieve one of his fancier coats when he
caught sight of the monks. The five of them were making their way to the upper
deck. Toeburry wondered if they would have bothered finding him before
disappearing into the city.
captain spat again but swallowed the curse that would have followed had the
monks not been near enough to hear him.
Klye,” Toeburry greeted, nodding vaguely to the others, whose names he had
never bothered to learn. “I hope the storm didn’t toss you ’round too badly.”
leader of the monks didn’t reply at first. He untied a pouch from his belt and
held it out to the captain. “Fifteen crowns at both ports, as we agreed.”
Toeburry snatched the purse from the monk’s upraised palm and quickly stashed it
in the pocket of his dark blue vest.
Klye glanced around before adding, “We will be on our way now. Thank you,
again, for accommodating us.”
another word, Brother Klye and the four other monks started walking away.
Biting down hard on his lower lip, Captain Toeburry trotted to catch up with
their retreating forms.
provin’ to be a bit of an inconvenience, ya know.”
Klye stopped and turned to regard him with a look that almost made Toeburry
regret confronting him.
to be thoroughly interviewed by the harbormaster,” he explained. “The Captain
of the Three Guards saw one of ya up on deck. They’re wantin’ to know if I
brought any passengers to Capricon.”
did you tell him?” Brother Klye’s asked evenly.
didn’t tell them nothin’, but when DeGrange is through chasin’ pirates, he’ll
want some answers, don’t ya doubt.”
what would you have us do, Captain? Buy your silence?”
shook his head so quickly he got a little dizzy. “No, no, no, nothin’ like
that. I’m as honest a man as yerself, Brother Klye. I’m not trying to fatten my
purse at yer expense, but maybe it’d be better if we all forgot that ya came to
Port Town on my ship.”
never happened,” Brother Klye summarized.
said Captain Toeburry. “And if any of the guards see the five of ya leavin’ the
, me and my men don’t know nothin’ about it. Stowaways are
getting’ cleverer and cleverer all the time, ya know.”
the last of the monks disappeared up a ladder, one of them called back, “May
Gnuren the Wise bless you and guide your path.”
Toeburry just stood there for a while, leaning against the wall of the narrow
passageway. If Brother Klye is a monk, then I’m a monkey, he thought. Shaking
his head, he spat and resumed the walk to his cabin.
and his mates had ignored the passengers during the voyage, and the five men
had kept to themselves, remaining in their cabins most of the time. Toeburry
hadn’t wanted to get caught up in whatever they were involved in, but the risk
of smuggling them to Capricon had been worth the price.
he reached his private cabin, Toeburry counted the silver coins and smiled.
the gods watch over you, too,
Klye,” he said with a great laugh.
“But if yer needin’ a ship to take ya back to Continae, you’ll not find
in this port again!”