Raven Willoughby – Origins ~ A Fantasy by Dellani Oakes – Part 17

The Governor plotted and schemed, thinking of some way he could rid himself of this nuisance. Everything had been fine until Willoughby showed up. Making a mess of things, strutting around like a peacock in full tail. There had to be a way to win, for he always came out on top. If he had one thing to pride himself on, it was his ability to cover his massive rear end.

They arrived at a large quay, resplendent with an elaborate building which housed the Governor’s shipping offices and the harbormaster. This was separate from the town, set apart and private. Six fair ships bobbed at anchor. Raven looked them over with a knowing eye. Despite what Uriah said about this ships being destroyed, he knew that was a lie that the Governor had perpetuated. Here sat six of his seven ships. He’d worked too hard earning each, traveling from shore to shore upon them, as he built his business. He knew every inch, how they sat the water, the number of planks in the deck.

“You lying thief!” He sprang from the coach, rushing to the dock. “He’s stolen them all!” Raven pointed at the docks.

Uriah descended from the coach after the Governor, watching his master with a discerning eye.

“Each of these—mine!” Raven thumped his chest.

“The names are not those listed with your ownership,” the Governor oozed.

“They are mine, nonetheless,” Raven growled. “And I will have them back. Where is she? Where’s the Annabelle?”

“We have no such ship,” the harbormaster said, as he came to the dock.

“You have a ship with sleek lines, sits high and fair, who can outrun even the fastest warship. She’s mine. These are all mine. Your Governor,” he spat the word. “Has stolen from me.”

“That’s a heavy accusation, milord,” the harbormaster said, his hands on his belt.

Raven sensed he was an honest man, with no idea what his overlord had done.

“Can you prove it?”

“I can. Uriah, I need our solicitors immediately. Send someone.”

“Yes, Lord Willoughby.”

“I’ve a runner,” the harbormaster said. “Steady and reliable.” He turned to the building, waving. “Boris!”

A lively lad of about fifteen, joined them. His eyes were hazel, his hair a russet brown. Raven knew immediately, this boy wasn’t full human. If he didn’t miss his bet, Boris spent a night or two each month yipping at the moon. His other awareness told him, Fox. He had a sense of otherness about the harbormaster, too, but couldn’t yet place it.

“Yes, sir?”

The harbormaster pointed to Uriah, who stepped forward.

“You’re to go to town and fetch Mr. Sterner, or Mr. Hope. None of the subordinates, do you hear? Tell them Lord Willoughby needs them in an urgent matter.”

“Yes, sir.”

Uriah handed the boy something before sending him off. The lad hopped on a horse, bareback and set off at a gallop.

“While we’re waiting, can I offer you refreshment? It’s a hot day.”

“That would be appreciated,” Raven said. “I thank you, Mister….”

“Renard,” the man replied, shaking his hand.

Not only was Renard a fox, the boy was his son. Raven’s wolf said hello and Renard raised an eyebrow. Nodding slightly, he guided them inside. His office was spacious, with a sitting area. Tea and biscuits were brought.

As they settled in, there was noise outside. Boris had returned. Leaping easily off the horse’s back, he rushed inside.

“Mr. Sterner said he’ll be here post haste, Father.”

“Thank you, Son.”

Raven handed the boy a coin, smiling. “My thanks, Boris.”

“Anything you need, sir.” He grinned and stashed the money in his pocket.

Sterner arrived a few minutes later, descending from his own coach. This man was lean, hawk-like, dressed in a dark, foreboding suit and hat. He carried a leather bound book under his arm. His coachman leaped down, opening the office door with a bow. Uriah and Renard stood, bowing slightly. Raven stood, but didn’t bow. Instead, he extended his hand.

Sterner suited his name, or it suited him. His face seemed caught in a perpetual frown—or perhaps he was angry about being summoned so precipitously. He didn’t seem angry with Raven. His ire was focused on the fat, balding Governor.

“What are you up to now, Giles? The boy said something about a ship dispute. Is this true?” he addressed Renard with his last.

“Quite true, Mr. Sterner. This is Lord Willoughby, sir.”

“We’ve met. It was some time ago, you were just starting out then. I helped to draw up your business papers.”

“That you did, sir. You weren’t nearly as well known then, either.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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