A Word of Caution

Welcome to the realm of the Unseelie Court. Feel free to wander and browse, but know that the content you will find here is not for the faint of heart. The visions portrayed are often darkly erotic, even disturbing, and should be traversed only by those with the appropriate character and mental age.

You have been warned.


Chapter 2 – The Queen’s Mistress

“This isn’t the Grand Maiden?”

“No offense to Captain Reiss, but I wouldn’t command such a government run powder puff for three times my weight in gold as salary. No, child. This here is the Queen’s Mistress. She’s all mine, and you’re in a hella trouble.”

Molly suddenly felt sick. “I think I need to sit…”

The Captain nodded to Brill, who pulled out a chair.

“We’re not going anywhere near Pellin Harbor, Miss Amberly, in fact, we’re headed almost due south, which is about as wrong as you can possibly get. Sorry.”

“So,” she said, looking miserable, “I just put myself in bond to go to a harbor somewhere completely opposite of where I want to be?”

“Oh, it’s much worse than that, I’m afraid.”

“What could be worse than unintentionally making yourself a slave?!”

The Captain looked briefly at Brill before fixing her gaze on Molly again. “I don’t think you are clear on the laws concerning stowaways, Miss Amberly. I’m under no obligation to take you anywhere.”

“What, are you just going to dump me at sea?”

Neither the Captain, nor Brill, said a word.

“Oh my god, you are! How can you do that?! I won’t cause trouble, really I won’t.”

“Miss Amberly…”

“You can keep me in the cargo hold, I don’t care. I’m not picky…”


“I’ll be quiet as a mouse. You won’t even know I’m there, I swear. I’ll even…”


The force of the Captain’s words caused her to cringe.

“Keep your mouth closed unless I ask you to speak, or I swear I’ll beat you myself,” she yelled, her temper barely in check. “It’s not about you being quiet, it’s about how much you consume in food and water.”

Molly was about to speak, but the woman quickly raised a finger and cut her off with a warning. “Small as you may be, you still require sustenance to survive.”

Molly was shaking her head.

“Don’t be ridiculous, girl. If I’m going to simply starve you to death, I might as well just toss you into the sea as a mercy. What you don’t understand is the difference between this ship and the Grand Maiden. The Maiden is a passenger vessel. They make their profit on passengers. As such, they fill their holds with more than enough staple to feed their pompous patrons for the entire duration of the voyage four times over. A stowaway on bond is just another fare to them, and a profitable one as well because you travel as servant class for whatever the going bond rates are, which are a far side higher than a first class passenger.

“But the Queen’s Mistress is a merchant ship. I make a profit on moving goods from one place to another. The more goods I can carry, the greater my profit. As such, I have a minimal crew, and just enough food and water to feed them for the voyage with a buffer to account for unpredictable winds. I’m also armed to the gills. I’ve twenty guns each side and two at back to dissuade anyone from trying to take my cargo en route. A ship like the Maiden has no need of weapons. No one bothers to rob a passenger ship, what would you steal? Eclairs?

“The point is, aside from my cargo, my hold is filled with munitions and powder, not food. So then along comes a stowaway, a mouth I must feed from my carefully calculated rations. We’re over two full fortnight from our next land. That’s a lot of food and water. Now imagine that I had to take and keep alive any stowaway that managed to board my ship. It’s not unthinkable that I could get two or three each trip. What do I do then? Do I cut back on my cargo and my profits for more food that I may or may not use? Or, do I put my whole crew at risk of running on empty stomachs for the last week of a trip? Ever see someone try to do hard work without food, Miss Amberly? Hungry people don’t focus well, and on a ship like this one, a lack of focus will get you killed.

“That’s why the law says that stowaways can be cast into the ocean at the Captain’s discretion.”

“No, please! I’ll do anything!” she wailed, a real sense of panic starting to settle in.

“But since you’re not overly hungry yet, and I would hate to waste such a pretty treat, I’m sorely tempted to hand you over to the crew for their pleasure first. It’ll be quite some time before they get a chance to slake their lust with such fair flesh…”

“No! Mercy, please!”

Brill placed heavy hands on Molly’s shoulders, reminding her that she had nowhere to go.

“Give me one good reason why I should risk my ship for you, Miss Amberly?”

Molly thought fast.

“P-put me to work…” she stammered, on the verge of tears.

“Doing what?! If you knew how to rig a ship you would have signed on as crew.”

“I could learn,” she tried.

“Oh, and who would teach you? I need my crew focused on this ship, not trying to school some fool girl on how to sail.”

Molly finally broke down and started sobbing, the hopelessness of her situation fully setting in.

“I’m so sorry. I had no idea I would end up on your ship, truly. I just wanted to get away from the Guild and their stupid notions. I never thought it would put you at risk… Please forgive me?”

The Captain sighed. “My forgiveness isn’t enough to save your life, I’m afraid, Miss Amberly. Another trip, perhaps, but there just isn’t enough food and especially water, to risk running dry on your account. Not this time.”

Her head snapped up.

“Wait, why would you be short on water? Can’t you just distill salt water? You have power, I saw your suncloth sails when I was on deck.”

“Our distiller hasn’t worked for over a year. We carry all the water we need in the lower hold.”

Suddenly, Molly was hopeful again.

“I… I can fix that! Surely that would be worth something to you, yes?”

“Hold on, lass. What would you know about electromechanics? I’m not about to let you go randomly messing with my distiller, even if it is broken. Short of my matrix, that’s one of the most expensive bits of tech on my ship.”

“I’m Guild trained! I know electromechanics, alchemy, bio…” She ticked off subjects on her fingers.

“You’re a Tech?” asked Brill behind her.

“Yes!… Well, no. I mean, not officially.”

The Captain squinted at her. “Either you are or you aren’t, lass.”

Molly took a breath. “I’ve done all the training, and passed my examination; full review. I was even in Internship for the last year.”

“So why…”

“Because I’m a GIRL! That’s why!” she blurted out, her face hot with anger. She knew she shouldn’t interrupt the Captain, but she couldn’t help herself.

She saw the woman behind the desk count to ten. “Explain, Miss Amberly.”

Molly was close to tears, but she pushed back her emotions and took another deep breath.

“The Guild says they won’t give me a cert because I’m too young, but that’s garbage. There are plenty of Techs my age, just none that are female, and I told them so. They denied it, of course, but couldn’t give me a single example of a female Tech just of age. They are lying misogynistic scum, and that’s why I left.”

“You left the Guild?” clarified the Captain, her brows rising slightly in surprise.

Molly nodded. “I couldn’t stand to be in a place that treated females so differently than males. It wasn’t fair. They were going to make me pay another two full years of dues before they would give me a cert. I did the work. I earned my placement. I even scored highest marks in my class. Please Captain, let me prove myself to you. I may not have much experience, but I’m rock solid on theory. I can do this.”

“Not to put a damper on your enthusiasm, child, but a distiller is complicated tech. You may know how to fix it, but without the proper tools, you could easily make things worse.”

“Oh! You don’t have to worry about that either, I brought my own!”

The woman looked over Molly’s shoulder.

“I don’t know about any tools, but I have her carrisack right here,” said Brill. She handed the bag to the Captain, who took it and began emptying its contents on her desk.

“Please, be careful,” cautioned Molly when the woman went to upend the sack.


She hesitated. “Well, some things in there are… valuable.”

The Captain gave her an uncomfortable stare, but proceeded more slowly. Finally, something wrapped in a shirt made a clunk as it settled on her desk, and the woman looked up at her.

“That’s it,” she confirmed, looking a little nervous.

Unwrapping the cloth revealed a silver and gold ball, about five inches in diameter. It was covered with fine lines and symbols. The Captain looked up at her, expectantly.

“May I?” asked Molly.

The woman waved her hand. “Please.”

Molly took a deep breath and picked up the ball. Turning it over in her hands, she pressed three specific points on its surface at the same time. There was a click, and then the sound of sliding metal. In seconds, the ball seemed to fold into itself and reconfigure until it was an open ring or oval, about a foot wide and a little more tall. Molly then took the ring and slipped the opening around her neck. With a slight push to each side, it closed and locked in place such that it was hanging at her chest.

“Is that… what I think it is?” asked the Captain.

“It’s a Nanaris. We use them in place of carrying around a whole bunch of different tools.” Molly waved her hand in front of the device, which again clicked and changed. Suddenly there was a floating flat blue field in front of the girl’s face that contained a number of symbols and diagrams. It was mostly transparent, as though she were looking through a curved pane of colored glass. Several more hand gestures caused the symbols to rearrange and shift. Finally, Molly opened her palm and made a forward motion. Right from the front of the device emerged a thin metal tentacle with a tiny mechanical hand. It reached out over the table and picked up the pen that was sitting to one side. With only minimal effort on the girl’s part, it moved over to a blank sheet of paper and started drawing very quickly. In seconds a diagram took shape and was gradually penned in. In less than a minute as the Captain watched, fascinated, the page was nearly filled with detailed descriptions and call outs to further describe the drawing and the object presented.

Suddenly, the Captain looked startled and leaned in closer for a better look.

“That’s my distiller!”

Molly beamed. “Well, not yours specifically, but the general schematics for a common maritime model. If it’s not yours exactly, it will be very close. Nanari hold information on almost all the major kinds of tech available. I didn’t have to make a hard copy, but I thought it would be more impressive that way.”

“Well, I’m definitely impressed,” said the Captain, picking up the sheet of paper, boggling at the level of detail. Molly saw her glance up at her shipmate again. Finally she sighed and met Molly’s eyes directly.

“Alright, Miss Amberly. You’ve convinced me to give you a chance. Show me you can fix my distiller and then we’ll talk about your bond. Consider your life spared for the time being. You will be classed as a bondservant and can partake of our stores. Hopefully, you’ll be worth the risk, as this is a critical trip for the Queen’s Mistress. Our voyage has but a single patron, who you will stay absolutely clear of… Am I understood?”

“Yes, sir! Thank you, Captain. I won’t let you down.”

“No? Well you had better not, child, for until your bond is cleared, your ass is mine. You disappoint me and I may yet feed you to the sea. Brill here will set you up with a bunk. Dismissed.”

A squeeze on her shoulder told her that she was to leave. Waving her hand, Molly returned the Nanaris to a waiting state and left with her bag and the tall woman. Once they were back on the deck, she heard the other laugh softly.

“Well, now. Just when I think I have the Captain pegged, you come along and prove me wrong.”

“How do you mean?”

“I thought for sure you were chum, girl. Captain Abigail Pennylust isn’t known for her charity.”

Molly’s eyes grew big. “Pennylust?…You mean that was Penny the Pirate?!”

“Aye, lass. But I suggest you don’t let her hear you say that, as you’re likely to find yourself swimming home.”


The woman led her through the vessel toward the bow. “Not that being well known hasn’t hurt business, but the Captain’s no pirate. She’s a merchant true.”

“I’m not sure I know the difference,” replied Molly, following the woman like a puppy dog.

“A pirate takes what isn’t theirs, by force. Merchants do legal trade. But we’ve gotten a label, which means sometimes our clients or the cargo we carry is of questionable moral nature, but it’s still an honest business contract. Just a bit more adventure involved.”

“I’ll bet,” said Molly, dripping with sarcasm.

Suddenly she found herself nose to nose with the woman, who had spun on her heels and stopped just short of knocking her back.

“You watch your tone, techie. The person you mock just spared your life when they didn’t have to. I won’t go so far as to call us ‘blameless’, but as I figure it you’re more of a pirate than she is.”


“Don’t play innocent with me, lass. I’ve seen tech before like you’re wearing around your neck,” she said, pointing at Molly’s chest, “and while I’d never claim to understand it, I do know it’s worth far more than a lowly guildie without cred makes in their whole fuckin’ lifetime.”

Molly’s face turned bright red, her cheeks burning with shame.

“Please don’t tell the Captain, she’d ditch me for sure!”

Brill gave her a good stare. “The Captain knows already and is choosing to overlook it, and so will I. Part of being a pirate, even in name only, is that you learn not to ask a lot of questions. What you don’t know, you can’t tell; under pressure, or for a better price.”

The shorter girl took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“You’d best keep that mechanical toy on your person when possible. Stow it in your locker otherwise. I would also keep it tucked under your shirt. I doubt many of the crew has seen its like, but on the off chance one of them might recognize its value, even as melt, best not to provide a constant shiney temptation.”

“Yes, ma’am,” replied Molly, shivering slightly at the thought of the Nanaris being melted for scrap metal.

“Uh, I’m Quartermaster, so, like the Captain, that’s ‘sir’. It’ll be ‘sir’ to all officers, or their title at the very least, understand?”

“Yes, SIR!”

“Good. Up here are the bunk spaces. Everyone gets one of their own, along with a locker, though you share the space with whoever has the opposite watch.”


“Two teams, five four-hour periods, and two two-hour periods, or ‘watches’ so that no crew member needs to spend more than four hours at a time on duty or above deck if things are nasty. The individual hammocks pull up out of the way. Each member of the crew is responsible for their own bedding.”

“This is all very complicated.”

Brill looked back at her and smiled. “Don’t worry. In a week you’ll wonder how you ever lived differently. It’s going to be a rough first week though… Always is.”

“Like you said, it could be worse. I could be treading water.”

“That’s the spirit. Listen Molly… it’s Molly, right?… You’re going to be sore. You’re going to bump and bruise yourself purple, and no doubt make more than a few mistakes. There’s no practice runs here, so we will keep you to light duty until you have gotten your sea legs. Don’t expect to see much daylight for a bit, and try not to complain when someone hands you shit work. As a bondservant, everybody on board outranks you and can pretty much tell you what to do while you’re on watch. And even if you don’t like it, or understand the reason why they are asking you to do something, you are to do it anyway, no questions, understand?”

She nodded.

“If you have a problem with someone or something, you follow orders until you’re off duty, then come see me. Under no circumstances are you to go directly to the Captain. Ever. I’m the Quartermaster, I deal with crew issues.”

She nodded and sighed.

“One more thing, the personal lockers are sacred spaces. They don’t have keys. No need. If someone is found to be messing with another crew member’s locker, the justice is swift and extreme. Ten lashes will change you.” The woman looked down at her with eyes that made Molly think Brill had experienced that change first-hand, and she swallowed.

“Just remember, there’s nowhere to go. You can’t run away on a ship.” She eyed the Nanaris. “Does that thing have a lock of any kind?”

Molly thought about it for a moment. “I can close the loop around something and prevent it from opening for anyone else. They sort of get to know their operators,” she offered.

“So… You could hook it around a fixed metal ring?”

“Sure, that would work.”

“Good. This is your locker,” she explained as they came to the back of the crew quarters. There were rows of wooden boxes, the lids of which doubled as seats. Each box was carefully labeled with a crew member’s name. The Quartermaster found an unlabeled one at the end and pulled out a marker. She wrote “M. Amberly” on a pad, tore off the sheet and then inserted it into the nameplate. Opening the box, she pointed.

“There’s a ring at the bottom.” She nodded at her chest. “I suggest you lock that away when you sleep, or any other time you need to take it off. Only once since I’ve been at sea have I seen someone steal from another crew member, but what they stole was worth a whole lot less than that tricky guild toy, if you get my meaning. Don’t take any chances.”

“Yes, sir.”

The woman went to a storage area and came back with blankets, a bundle of deck clothes, boots, and a hammock. The last she clipped into rings in the ceiling. She showed Molly how to stow it out of the way when on watch.

“You can keep those shoes in your locker if you want, but I don’t ever want to see you wearing them on deck. These boots should fit you. Wear them a little tight for the first few days to reduce blisters. Now, strip down to your skivvies and put on this uniform. Standard deck fare.”

Molly just blinked.

“Come on lass, I’ve not got all day!”

“Right here?” she asked, tentatively.

Brill laughed. “Girl, you are a sheltered one, aren’t you. Listen, you’d best lose that shyness real fast. There’s little privacy on a merchant vessel. If we weren’t just out of port, this room would be filled with the off-duty crew. And we’re a mixed boat, so modestly is a luxury you won’t find much of here, I’m afraid.”

Molly reached for the buttons on her shirt and realized that the Nanaris was in the way. She slipped it over her head and after a moment’s uncertainty, handed it to the Quartermaster. Undressing in front of the woman wasn’t what made her nervous, it was the way the other stared at her. She looked up, blushing when she was topless.

Brill tilted her head slightly. “You’ve got nothing to be embarrassed of, girl. Bit flat chested, but out here that’s more of a blessing than a curse. I’d skip a bra if you can be comfortable without. It’s just one more place for the sweat to pool.”

She pulled on the shirt she was handed, and then stepped out of her guild pants. Again, she noticed the woman watching her.

“Can I ask you something a bit more personal, sir?”

“That’s why I’m here, techie.”

She slipped into the looser deck pants. “You and the Captain mentioned ‘giving me to the crew’ before. Was that serious?”

The Quartermaster was a little slow to answer. “Aye. It was. But you are crew now,” she added, seeing the girl go pale. “Understand, Molly, we’re a bawdy bunch. You’re as likely to find people fucking as playing cards when not on watch.” She shrugged her shoulder. “Not much else to do actually. As a stowaway, your rights were forfeit. You had no more value than what you could give to the crew as a plaything to be worn out and discarded. Maybe that’s cold, but that’s the way of the sea. However, as a bondservant you’re protected as any other member of the crew. You may be at the bottom on rank, but you have the same civil rights as anyone short of the Captain. No means, ‘no’, even among ‘pirates.’ Understand?”

She nodded that she did.

“But don’t be surprised if you get more than your share of lecherous looks. A cute little thing like yourself is likely to attract some attention. How you handle someone pinching your ass is up to you. I tend to give the girls the benefit of the doubt when some male comes to me with a few missing teeth. If it gets to be a problem I’ll step in. I look out for all my crew, and I always know who’s bangin’ who. Can I ask you something personal?”

“I… Of course.”

“Did you get a P-shot with the Guild?”

Molly was a little shocked, but instantly realized why the woman was asking.

“Yes,” she answered after a moment.

“Good. Doesn’t matter if you plan to take advantage of it or not. The Captain makes it a requirement for every female member of her crew. She asks for a medical cert from each and every one. Obviously, you won’t have that with you, so I’ll just have to take your word for it. Trust me when I say, you don’t want to be pregnant on a sailing ship.”

“I would imagine not…”

The Quartermaster handed back the device once she had her boots on, then clapped her hands. “Right. Now that you’re bunk is squared, let’s put you to work. The Captain wants to test your skills with the distiller, so that’s where you’ll be. Come on.”

Brill led her down further into the ship, passing crew members on the way. Some were curious, but most hardly paid her any attention at all. At one point near the sleeping quarters, Brill motioned to a door.

“These are the showers. Get yourself clean when off watch. It’s cold seawater, and will leave your skin a bit dry, but you can get off the worst of the grime and stink. I’ll give you some special soap that works for a weekly cleaning. Be glad we’re headed to southern waters. The ocean is pretty warm. We had a cargo run up to Bellus Station last year; middle of winter. No one bathed for nearly a month. Talk about foul friends.”

Continuing, she took her down to the lower hold, ironically, very near where she was first found in the cargo. A small door led into a room that Molly initially took to be a broom closet. It was so filled with cleaning supplies, mops, and chemical abrasives, that she didn’t even recognise the distiller until she bumped her shins on it.

“Oh my…” she exclaimed, when she had a good look at the status of the device. “This is only a year out of operation?”

“Pretty much. Things tend to corrode and wear out a lot faster at sea… even people. So, what do you think? Can you get it running again?”

She groaned. “I have no idea. But if I’m going to have any chance at all, I’m going to need to clear this space. Would that be possible?”

The Quartermaster rubbed her chin. “I’ll have the Boatswain send down a couple of swabbies to take care of it. Why don’t you just pile things outside the door in the meantime. This project has Captain’s priority for you, lass, so no one short of another officer can retask you, got it? I’m putting you on the Port Watch, so your current shift ends when you hear eight bells. You miss mess and you go hungry, so listen well for those bells, okay?”

She nodded.

“Good, then get to work. Oh, and Miss Amberly…”


“Welcome aboard the Queen’s Mistress.”



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