The blue silk found Liz while she searched through the wreck on a summer's eve along the rocks, wrapping its way around one slim ankle like a strand of hair or a soft breeze. Gilt threads twinkled in the light of her lantern; the ends, frayed and worn, stirred in the salty air off the ocean. She paused, mid-flight, down the embankment, her hands stroking the treasure before she wrapped it snugly about her neck. It was like being a noblewoman, she decided somewhat gleefully. It had been torn loose from a gown before the Countess escaped from the wreckage.
Gold glittered in Klaus’s hands as he touched the silk, worn fingers stroking torn fabric. “For Gloria.” He whispered. A fine surprise found in the corners of the musty, rented garret
before he would finally board the Albatross
, and much better than only paper to wrap the parcel he hid beneath his pillow each night from fellow boarders.
Tenderly, he drew out the brown wrapping, daring to stroke the outline of delicate ceramics and strings of expensive, lamp worked beads. “For Gloria,” he repeated. From the window, he could see the sunrise over the ship, and the promise of home.
Jack was a boor and not kind with his hands, and Isabel didn’t regret stealing a few silvers from his pouch, no she didn’t, hunching in the cloak stolen from the mark on High Street, or cracking the window to have a sweet one, smoking all proper-like. She sneered down at her john’s sprawled form and his snoring.
“Hope someone shivs you.” She whispered, tapping the last ashes free as she gathered up the finery of the blue silk around her. And if it ripped on a nail as she left, she noticed only later, swearing and cursing Jack’s hands.
“Crossbow’s on you, don’t even try your witch’s
tricks.” They’d told her, and so Maria went straight-backed and frightened in the clothes from Christobel. So easy to fake the proper posture, not easy to fake the accent, and her voice was all South Amberton. At her waist, she felt the chilled weight of the banestone. No tricks, not now, she thought. Her eyes were low and proper; her hand slipped into the agent’s for him to kiss sweetly
, giving him the vial as ordered.
When the thief slammed into her, the banestone slipped free, and shortly after, so did Maria.
Job stitches quickly and is always available, and if he buys his silks and velvets from an unscrupulous captain off in Threshwater, who’s to care? His seams don’t burst, his measurements are good, and he never talks if you call him late in the night to repair a corset ripped in passion.
Which is why Job is stitching up a cloak on the double after midnight bell. The length of blue and gilt silk slips through his fingers like fine butter, and if the coins that pay him are of the heretic Jasperite make, what’s it to him, really now?
came back from death five times, or so they say, but his hair doesn’t billow like the silk in his hold anymore, and women are more likely to scream and run than swoon, given the scars and the brand on his cheek. But he’s the well known for his exploits aboard the Falcon, and his sword’s faster than any man sailing out of Amberton Deep.
And if he’s a pirate like they say, he’s got coin, and a good sharp knife, and his men don’t talk or stay bought, so they don’t say it too loudly at all.
Singing Jade is named for her green eyes and her stony face, and so when the foreigner with the brand comes to see her, she does not change expression at the black circle of foreign magics on his cheek or his men arraigned behind her. She thinks nothing of the hammer and mask of the coins, and littler still of the threats to her sisters.
But the captain, as they call him, does have the ticking pendant Guildmistress Laughing Crane desires, and so, she takes the coin and the pendant and sells the bolts of import-banned blue silk without blinking.
Jade is named for Big Sister, and will not disgrace her with tears, even when the men say strange things in their pig-like voices and tie her up in the old rice warehouse. She knows just as well the honor of the Silk Guild, even at six, and she knows Big Sister will curse the silk with something far subtler than Jade’s little voice can make.
So she sits and stares, not quite stone-faced, and the pirates get quieter, and when her ransom is paid, she leaves without a single bruise or a single tear to her coal black robe.