“Report, Mr. Sykers.”

“There be no question, cap’n,” Sykers said, removing his hat. “The logbook in city hall say there be no less than two thousand souls afoot in Scurvy Cove. Me raiding party found a hundred bodies, give ‘r’ take. There be but scant sign o’ the rest.”

“And their booty? What of their booty, Mr. Sykers?”

The bo’sun shifted his weight nervously. “There be some signs ‘o lootin’ about the place, cap’n, but on the slice o’ things looks like most every bit o’ plunder be where twas left. There be signs o’ battle aplenty though.”

“Curious.” Black Bill scratched at his long, carefully coiffed locks. “Most curious. Mr. McGinty?”

The Rotten Borough‘s quartermaster thoughtfully toyed with an unloaded flintlock. “I say arm the rest of the crew for raidin’, send ’em ashore, and plunder what there’s to take. Keep an eye out for whoever hit the place first, or townsfolk a-returnin’ from hidin’. When the hold’s full, set sail and have no lookin’ back.”

“Very prudent course, Mr. McGinty. I agree.” Black Bill stood, his dark, fine, frock coat’s golden embellishments glinting in the candlelit cabin. “See to it, Mr. Sykers.”

Sykers nodded, replaced his chapeau, and left. Black Bill immediately turned to McGinty with a meaningful look.

“I know. The men’ll be scared out of what few wits are about ’em,” the quartermaster said. “And I’ll admit to more’n a twinge of the uneasy myself. Whatever hit this port afore us…they didn’t do it natrual-like. And if they come back to see our men with arms full of plunder…”

“Right. The skeleton crew aboard will keep the ship in trim for a quick departure. With or without the raiding party.”

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