So parley it is. I withdrew my blade and released Marcus. A squidlike demon floated to his side, clipping bandages and applying salve to the scratches running ebon trails over his neck ruffles.
I stepped over the demon-bear's swollen belly beneath me as I joined my doll companions. The girls screamed as they looked back at him. The beast scurried on all fours behind his throng of demons.
Marcus and I pulled up chairs and sat at one of the marble chess tables. As I listened I pulled off my leather firefighting gloves and examined the damage to my nails and skin of "living porcelain".
"I was planning to build a Bloodwine Mist Generator to turn the Earth into a legion of undead slaves..."
I interrupted. "Too many vampires and you won't have a Herd left to feed them all. This is what I propose. We need the Bloodwine. You need a crew that can actually fight."
He leaned in, staring into my clockwork eyes. "Go on..."
"I propose we join forces. The Dolls can fight, but as you see..."
I gestured towards two of the dolls helding one of their sisters upright, her right side blown away by a Middlesea cannon.
"...we're high maintenance. We're not just talking rewinding and basic repairs, either. Their budget for outfits...they're like Jagers in lace and ribbons!"
"I am not familiar with these Jagers."
"You will, if you start your conquests. These Dolls expect to be pampered with manicures and porcelain detailing and exquisite tea parties..." I heard excited whispers from the demon contingent. "...and half the treasure." Groans immediately followed.
He smiled, for the first time. There was something disarming about him, as if I saw a glimpse of the boy beneath the conqueror. "That is apparently what they were trained to do to begin with," he said. "An even split of the gold seems more than fair...as long as the crew are tipped for their services fairly?"
The mumblings and whispers on both sides sounded positive. I stretched out my hand in ladylike form. "Master Marcus, I believe we have..." One of the Dollies leaned forward quickly to whisper in my ear. My demure smile turned to and angry scowl.
"What do you mean 'that wasn't a gun'?"
Marcus spoke up quickly. "I'll have him removed. He's the most distrubing one on this whole ship to be honest..."
I shook his hand heartily. "Deal. What was he hired for, anyway?"
He shook his head. "Trust me, you don't want to know..."
"I was hosting at that place below us...the Mayor seems to have demolished it. He's very finnicky I hear."
"We do have a Stage Crew on board...I wouldn't mind watching you perform..." He rested his hand on mine. "...from up here in the ship of course." He grinned as he stared at me again. I simply smiled back and looked down as the Dolls giggled.