As the mystery frigate pulled alongside Harris’s barque, it ran up a fresh set of colors: all black, with a grinning skull above two crossed needles and a spool of blood-red thread.

“Fiber pirates!” Harris cried. “Full sail! Get us out of here!”

It was too late, though. The pirates fired a shot across the bow, and from the quarterdeck Harris could see the enemy guns being run out before his men even had a chance to man theirs. The pirate deck also bristled with armed corsairs, nearly all women, and an unruly mix of humans, dwarves, orcs, and even elves with the occasional halfling.

“Ahoy there!” A strong voice called from across the shrinking gulf between the two ships. “This is Short Joan Silky aboard the good ship Armscye, and I bid you welcome!”

Taking up his glass Harris looked across the waters to the pirate quarterdeck. A dwarf woman, bedecked in finery and bearing a double brace of pistols, and a cutlass besides, stood on a box addressing him with a speaking-cone, likely one lightly enchanted for extra projection. From what he could see, Harris guessed that Short Joan was, true to her name, clad in expensive silks and a custom-tailored garment that was part peacoat, part petticoat, and all style.

“You will surrender to us all of your fabric and thread, all your garments and jackets, all your boots and leather!” Short Joan continued. “In exchange, we will leave you with your undergarments and your lives, taking only the materials we need for our trade and a few vittles for sustenance! Refuse, and we will run up the red flag and the black thread: all will be cut short and we will take what is our anyway.”

“Run up the white flag,” Harris muttered.

His mate balked. “But sir…!”

“Do it!” the captain snapped. “While there’s still time.”

His colors hauled down, Harris watched as the fiber pirates swarmed aboard, taking every piece of cloth, thread, and clothing that wasn’t sail canvas or underwear. In his skivvies himself, he was sat down opposite Short Joan in his own great cabin. The dwarf pirate kindly provided him with bread and water, but he winced at the sound of the fine bolts of runecloth being plundered from his hold.

“Tell me,” he said at length. “What do you do with all of your prizes?”

Short Joan laughed. “My crew is full of seamstresses, haberdahsers, and milliners. We make fine outfits and sell them at our ports of call, for fancy ladies and game fops, all while keeping the best finery for ourselves and our grand and secret balls on Topstitch Island, our home and port of call. Perhaps we will see you and your crew in some distant port, Captain Harris, and we’ll sell you our wares with no ill will.”

“I would report you as pirates and corsairs rather than see us sold our own clothes back,” Harris replied.

“Oh, captain…who would be able to look their lovely spouse or sweetheart in the eye after turning us and our products away forever? No, lovers of fine tailoring are always powerful, and they know not to trifle with us or risk us boycotting their ports.” Short Joan’s voice darkened a register. “And you’d best not cross us in any event, captain, lest we decide to make up a shortage in supple leathers from your very hide.”

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