The airship lurched forward as I smashed through the hatch to jump down into the hull of the ship. I unbuckled my wings and hung them off a horn on a relief of Bloodwing that stretched over the archway. I expected cramped and dingy tunnels. Instead I found specious interiors decorated with luxuriously soft furnishings and exquisite tapestries. I peered over the fully-stocked pink marble bar to find a furry brown creature on its back, looking up at me with a smile on his muzzle and round, black eyes feigning innocence. It waved a paw at me meekly. I only huffed.
The rest of the dolls slipped through after removing their flight harnesses. I heard them gasping and cooing over the fabrics.
"Stay focused, Girls."
I could smell the Bloodwine through the heady scent of the arrangements of carnivorous flora that decorated each of the tables in the cafe' we passed.
"Stop petting the plants!"
We passed what appeared to be a spa, advertisements for horn-polishing treatments flashed in Ereb'ai behind the glass. Judging from the trembling manicure tables, they were well-staffed.
Finally I found a kiosk in front of an empty dining room draped in crimson velvet.
"The Cigar and Tasting Bar. Tantalus Deck."
I ignored the whispers of my new troops as three of us tugged the heavy open door open by the wrought iron hoops. There I saw a boy in a black ruffled outfit...very distinguished but not too feminine, actually...standing defiant. He looked a lot like the young Darien, but...more athletic, and the hair was a bit lighter. In two hands he wielded a sabre he was too light to hold correctly, and behind was a shivering crowd of shivering demons.
"I am Marcus."
"I am Gematria."
"You are trespassing aboard my ship."
"Give us the Bloodwine, and we'll leave you in peace."
He scowled. "The vampire has his own supply."
"We don't want his. We want yours. And the live Bloodfruit Tree in the Greenhouse."
"How did you know...?"
"I saw the flyer."
He looked back disdainfully at his crew. I charged, swinging my axe. Marcus quickly blocked my swing with his blade. He was faking not knowing how to swing a sword, but he barely raised the blade in time. I could tell by the circles under his eyes that he was exhausted from wreaking havoc on his home town.
I soon learned that while his sword-arm was week his psionics were still potent. I felt gravity shift in my direction as he shot me across the room with a stare. The axe fell from my hands and I crashed into the large glass humidor to the screams of the sailors.
I reached for a pair of cigar clippers and quickly tesseracted behind him, embracing him and pressing the twin blades between his jugular. I turned and faced the faux-pirates.
"Give us the Bloodwine!"
Marcus growled as small drops of his blood spread down the blades. "Kill me and we jettison the casks, and expose the tree to sunlight!"
The dolls gasped. I heard the click of a gun beneath me. I felt the hot breath of the bear against my calf and what I assumed was a pistol barrel against my...lace.
We all stood in tense silence, the only sounds the creaking of the ship and heavy breathing of that damned bear.
I cleared my throat. "Parley?" I looked down at his warm blood dripping down my glove and staining a trail in the leather. It was black ichor.