Today’s excerpt from The Incorrigible for Talk Like A Pirate Week is also from the visit to Dead Man’s Bluff: time for a sword fight!
The jasper-and-gold captain had drawn steel against Philippe Kingfisher, who met his blade with his own and with a laugh. The elegant lady with the lily in her hair backed up hurriedly with her knuckles to her mouth, stepping onto the edge of the Kingfisher’s shadow and following it wherever it turned.
“I’ll have yer hide for a scabbard! Ye barnacle-lickin’, gunpowder-suckin’, mud-chewin’ –“
“While I thank ye for the compliment, Captain Schumann,” Philippe grinned, parrying the captain’s lunges as if it were the easiest thing in the world, “I really must decline.” The tip of his rapier snipped a mother-of-pearl button off Schumann’s coat. “My skin is far too pretty to be wasted on the garb of such a buffoon as you.” He took an unexpected step to the side as their blades next met and his opponent lost his balance for a few moments, his sword wobbling. Another button went, from the tail of the captain’s coat.
“Watch and learn, sweet,” Captain Crow murmured to the new recruit, who nodded, speechless. The green-clad pirate captain, turning now and charging again, was very good with his blade – but Philippe Kingfisher was amazing. He moved around his rival as if he were dancing, knowing always where his own feet were and forcing the other’s steps. His sword was as agile as a live snake, snapping after the other, heavier blade and keeping it off true, never letting it choose its own course. Yet another button flew.
“Ye’re a liar and a blackguard an’ I’ll have yer blood te paint my ship!” Schumann roared, and the Kingfisher laughed.
“Oh but for a ship, Monsieur, ye should use yer own bile. It be more like tar.” A feint to the captain’s liver was parried well enough to break the elegant arc of the rapier, but Philippe deftly twirled his blade and thrust the broader steel away, making the captain stumble.
“Marianne!” Schumann exclaimed, charging again, and the lily-haired lady glared at him. “Back yon a few steps and close thine eye, I’ll run this rat through and ye’ll be safe once more!”
“Safe?!” she yelled back and crossed her arms over her chest. “I’ll watch ‘im run you through and be rid of yer ‘protection‘, ye … seagrass … fondlin’ … mermaid … mermaid-fuckin’ eunuck!”
The captain misstepped and Philippe Kingfisher’s sword knocked his sparkling hat off.
“If you ‘ad your way you’d nail me to your ugly ship as a figure-‘ead,” Marianne went on as the captain defended himself clumsily against the Kingfisher’s renewed attack, “so ye could paint me like you wanted me and know where I am the all time – and ye’d prefer a piece of wood, wouldn’t ya!”
“What she said,” Philippe laughed and cut a brass button off of the captain’s trousers, the blade moving like an extension of his hand.
“I shoulda wot better than te take up with a Frenchwoman, they all –“ Schumann began furiously, but stopped short as a long, straight line right across his face suddenly welled up with thick, dark blood. Philippe Kingfisher flicked crimson drops off his sword as it came down, while his opponent brought both his hands up to his face and screamed.
“Pardon, Capitaine, you were sayiŋ?” the Kingfisher drawled, his voice flat and cold as he straightened his shirt-cuffs. “Something about Frenchwomen, was it?”
The captain dropped to his knees, still keening, blood flowing over his fingers and dripping from his chin. Three other pirates came running up to him; two crouched down beside him but the third put his hand on the grip of his cutlass. Philippe Kingfisher raised his eyebrows and the man instantly backed away, ducking behind his crew mates as they helped their captain back on his feet, dragging him away into the crowd. The Frenchman drew a handkerchief from a breast pocket and cleaned the blood from the tip of his blade; Marianne walked up to his side to look him squarely in the eyes, a sly smile curving her mouth.