12 So Eager

"Ah," Bastian said, turning his charisma on and pretending that he had merely been too deep in thought to interrupt himself. "I am pleased to see so many job seekers around here. Come aboard."

The women helped each other aboard the Maiden's Mercy.

Captain Bastian Black cleared his throat.

"You are here because of Captain Gorgo and what he would have done to you if you had stayed waiting in the Red Horse House," he said, letting his words sink into the women.

He waited to see them nodding, and then he continued.

"I am here because of the things he has done to me," he said. "In a way, I should be grateful, for he has given me a purpose. Someone to fight. A way to undergo challenges that let me prove my worth."

Such a speech was not a common phenomenon on the deck. Mostly, pirates did not care about a greater purpose, for no purpose was greater to them than the promise of riches. Personally, Bastian did not expect to arouse anything more profound in the women than pride and greed, but some of their expressions changed a bit and the words seemed to have a positive effect. They seemed to resonate, which was something much better than just appealing to their instinctual natures.

"Women who would have been your sisters have escaped the Red Horse House because of him, leaving them with little choice beyond working on the streets and placing their lives in increasing danger," Captain Bastian Black said with a solemn, gravely serious voice, letting his breath put all the power he had into every word. "This world is so unkind to women. You never asked for such troubles, such turmoil, yet your sacred desires are constantly threatened by animals like Captain Gorgo. To name a few things…you desire more than just a roach-ridden mattress, you desire comfort and the feeling of belonging, and you desire to feel seen. You want to be active participants in this world, instead of passively enduring abuse at the hands of pirates who could care less about your wellbeing."

He listened to the reactions of the women. This rousing speech was going well. The ladies were nodding along, biting their lips, looking fiercely towards him despite the morning sun that was quickly turning towards its noon-time position. They were listening to him, for he had listened to them.

"I will not pretend to be more virtuous than I actually am," he said. "Sure, I am literate. I am an intellectual, and I hold myself in high esteem for that. Some might say that I am a prideful man. But I am also, in my heart, just a man. And when I look at you ladies, I have never felt myself more of a man than I do now. I think you are all beautiful women, yet never shall I forget that you are also human beings. I will not force you to do anything you do not want to do for the sake of Maiden's Mercy."

He paused.

"Well, except for scrubbing the deck, which seems to be a fan favorite around here," he added, receiving an approving burst of laughter. "The thing is, expect me to be both your captain and a fallible human being, be good pirates, and in return, you will have a good captain who treats you like a true pirate captain treats his beloved crew."

He let the final words gather strength in his mind.

"And only if you ask such things of me, I shall be both Captain and husband to you."

That was it, that did the thing he had wanted to accomplish. He had been honest and elaborate, accurate in his poetic outburst, and the women were clapping, letting all notions of clapping civilly with mere pats flow into the wind, smashing their palms together and making some noise that would have been absolutely out of place in the opera or in a theater.

"Captain Bastian Black!" Amanda cried out with a satisfied smirk. "We will sail for gold and glory!"

"Raise the anchor and let me introduce ourselves to each other!" Bastian yelled. "Let us be free from the constraints of the mainland!"

It was a lucky thing that he had finished his speech before he started to feel that it was pretentious. Pretentiousness would have felt so dishonest and manipulative, when the future he had in mind for them all was actually quite wholesome, if one considered mutual carnal licentiousness to be within the reach of that word. He was going to wine and dine with these women, kill their enemies, let them kill his own enemies, bed them when they asked him real nicely, and then finish off his quest as the most powerful pirate wizard captain of all seas. Of course, this included getting rid of Captain Gorgo, and none of the newcomers seemed to have any kind of a soft spot for that man.

He was going to have to learn all these new names, though.

There was Deanna, then there was Sammy, Sammy was the impressive blonde in her thirties. He remembered a single thing about Deanna. That was her weird, gothic outfit and he could not say whether it was a dress or just a top with some really wide pants. Then there were Wilda, Sharona, who had a most unusual name for the setting, and Victoria, who was an outstanding beauty with platinum blonde hair and a memorable, pear-shaped, slender body. The final two ladies were called Rowena, with black hair and dark skin, almost black, and of course, the only woman in the crowd who had really short hair - Tilda. They were all pretty and smart enough to know when it was time to leave a place for good.

Making his own mental notes again, Bastian frowned. He would have to ask Lia to keep track of the girls somehow. Otherwise, every day would be like solving a puzzle with eyes folded. Not like these were not pleasant troubles to have, of course.

Many men would have given up all their limbs to have women like these working for them and perhaps even…doing something more. And they all seemed eager to help…

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