Retaliation

“Are you sure about this?”
“Yes. They must be crippled – our men must be avenged!”
“And you will pay?”
“We have an agreement. I am a man of my word and my pockets are as deep as they come.”
“We will get the job done, Milord. They will never know what hit them!”
“It is more important that no one else knows what hit them, Felix!”
“Gotcha!”

The two men were sitting in a dimly lit tavern in Callioth – the City of Courage. Lord Sunnycool had donned a simple, rough robe and put on its hood. His old friend Felix wore typical Dragon Battalion uniform – that is to say – undistinguishable from regular robes of adventurers, save a small dragon emblem, visible only to those who know where to look. The tavern was called “The Thirty Mugs” and many suspicious-looking people visited it – looking for secrecy and a quiet place to make arrangements of all sorts. Two tables from Sunny and the Xi Squad leader was another member of the Dragon Battalion – Paul. Sunny had dismissed his regular guards, but he trusted that Paul would watch his back at least as well. All the remaining guests were whispering in couples or small groups.
The owner of the place did not mind. He never had to deal with fights and all of his visitors paid well. Besides – it was nice to have a reputation for secrecy. It was good for the business. He was washing some glasses quietly, not even bothering to eavesdrop on the silent conversations. He did not care. They paid well for his attitude.

“Felix, you do understand the importance of this mission being kept absolutely black?” the Lord whispered after sipping from his wine. It was of dreadful quality. He made a mental note to clear his taste once he got back to the castle.
“Yes, Stan!” Felix answered with a wink. Few people knew of the Lord’s real name and it made perfect cover name for this secret conversation.
“Good,” Sunny said, emptying his glass of wine, “I will return to the castle then. Videous has been making a lot of fuss about his punishment and Locky is backing him up. I have some explaining to do I guess.”

A sigh followed. Many Realmers had expressed dissatisfaction with the Lord’s actions since the Corsair Attack, but he was convinced that he did what he had to do. At least Andy had agreed. Of course no one knew of this little undertaking, but Sunny was sure that no one would miss the Corsair leaders. Or a few other Corsairs for that matter. Xi Squad would get the job done. No need to worry anyone. The Corsair War was officially over. Well, Sunny thought, soon it will be over for real!

Sunny nodded to Felix, then turned around, winked at Paul and left “The Thirty Mugs”

Felix patiently finished his wine, sitting completely still. Paul rose from his seat and left the inn some two minutes after the Lord. Felix followed and the two men walked silently to the stables. It was a cool, clear night and the moon shone on the dusty road. The two tall Dragons rode off as soon as they retrieved their steeds.
Half an hour later they finally spoke, as they rode on the dusty road.

A wolf howled in the darkness as Felix said:
“You, me and Ben.”
Paul was not surprised at all, but made an ironic double take. He spotted a figure in the woods, prepared to fight and found out it was a fox. He laughed at himself and then asked:
“Where?”
“Isla de Corsairs!”
“You gotta be kidding me?” The surprise was genuine this time. “How the Oblivion are we going to get there?”
“We swim!” Felix replied as he smiled.
“Dude, I hope you won’t get us killed. We are no Sea Dragons, you know?” Paul was serious. He did not like the idea of a voyage to some unfriendly islands far, far away.
“Don’t worry, Paul. I have connections there. They need new men after the attack. We will volunteer for corsair duty, infiltrate them, kill their two leaders, stick around for a while and bug out afterwards.”
It sounded incredibly dangerous to Paul. He liked that:
“Dragon style, eh?”
“Yeah, mano! The assassination might be tricky, but I am sure Ben will think of something. It’ll be easy enough since we will be three out of about one hundred newcomers. We will make it look like an internal power struggle. The damned pirates are not happy with their leaders at the moment anyways. If we instigate an internal war, the bloody bastards will just kill each other off, sparing the world from their honourless shit!” Felix said. Sunny’s plan was brilliant. The Lord would have revenge on the two leaders responsible for the hundreds of dead Realmers and eliminate the “threat at sea” forever. Paul nodded, truly impressed.
“We’ll pull it off all right! How much is our dear ex-Dragon paying us for this?”
The question amused Felix. Dragons were mercenaries after all. And mercenaries also needed food. Of course the pay was a crucial part of an agreement.
“Enough for three years of food, drink and pleasure!”

Paul was surprised again. He was also surprised that he had been surprised so many times this night. The Realmers were cheap bastards, but apparently this mission meant a lot to them. Hell with it – Paul did not really care. Killing pirates was all right in his book. The hits would not be easy, meaning a lot of glory and if they paid them this well, then no Dragon could say no to such a mission. He smiled and asked one final question:

“Ain’t we bringing Scarlet? Could get lonely out on the seas!”
Felix looked him straight in the eyes:
“You dirty fiddlestick, Paul! She is taken! Get over it!” Felix said seriously, and then added: “A woman at sea is bad luck anyways!”
The two Dragons laughed. They rode on towards Cobalt Village, where Ben, Scarlet and a few other Xi Squad Dragons were waiting for them.

Three months later, Lord Sunnycool paid them in person. The large amount of gold was followed by a smile and a single sentence: “You guys make me wish I was a Dragon again!”

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