Today you can’t only light a new candle, but also read a short story that occurs about half a year before the story of Gothic III. It is called “Unbidden guests” and takes place in the “Black Corsair”, the new pub we created in Ardea. Some new NPCs are introduced in it.
“Here. That’s all we have left.” With an apologetic glance Magda handed the old piece of cloth over to Jalena. The moth holes were big enough to stick a finger through them. The original color, whatever it may have been, had changed into several shades of grey. Magda was almost ashamed, but it was true: she didn’t have anything else left. The young maidservant thanked the hostess with a week nod. It seemed she didn’t have the energy for more. No surprise. The poor thing had just arrived and had went through enough on her way to Ardea.
Magda turned away and made her way to the exit of the huge room. The floor of the dormitory was strewn with old mats and blankets. The fugitives bodies lay extremely close to each other. Only with great effort she managed to step over an old couple without stepping on the hand of the woman. She knew them. The man had been a farmer by the road to Vengard. He had visited her inn at least once a week. Now his farm lay in ruins. His fields were burned down. Magda squeezed her way through one of the beds, which hadn’t been enough for a long time, and a man, whose arm was bleeding heavily. By his side, stuck between a sleeping menial and a maidservant drinking from her soup bowl, knelt Agathe. Magda forced herself to smile encouragingly and nodded to the herb-woman as friendly as possible. She didn’t notice it. She was too concentrated on her work. Just now she was pushing a Healing Herb to the bleeding wound at the mans arm. Magda went on, as fast as it was possible in the crowd. Although there had been many injured coming to Ardea lately she still didn’t get used to the sight.
“We should go back. If we don’t guard the farm, bandits will burn it down.”
“Father, they already did!”
Magda passed by an aged farmer who was tightly wrapped in one of the few blankets and apparently was suffering from a bad fever. A young woman knelt beside him holding his hand.
“We need to feed the pigs!”
“The pigs are gone, father”, the young woman tried to explain to him with tears in her eyes. “The bandits took them!”
“Bandits? We should go back. If we don’t guard the farm, the bandits will burn it down.”
The young woman sobbed loudly.
Magda bit her tongue and swallowed hard as she went on. But that didn’t rid her of the knot in her throat.
Then she finally reached the door. For a second she stood still and breathed the cool air of the night. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the silence at Ardea’s backdoor. She managed to ban the misery from her thought for a short while. But then she called herself to order. The fugitives needed her. She had to pull herself together! The people in there were far worse off than her.
She went down the stairs at the wall of the inn. At least the snow was gone. Spring was coming. That was a blessing, because else many of the refugees might have frozen to death quite soon. But how were they supposed to survive the next year? Just a few weeks ago the coastal area had still been the granary of the empire, but now the country was devastated, the cattle were stolen.
Magda reached the door. The sign above the door read “To the Black Corsair”. It had seen better days, too.
After entering the door, you first couldn’t see anything of the misery that afflicted the upper floor and the whole coastal are. At first sight.
At second sight, you could see there weren’t any farmers from the region, no shrimpers from Kap Dun and no hunters either, just a few villagers. At third sight you saw the fear and uncertainty in their faces. Nobody knew what was going to happen. They just knew the king had deserted them. The only question they were asking themselves was whether they would be killed by orcs, bandits or the famine that would surely soon begin.
She flashed her husband Wulf, who was standing behind the counter, a glance. She could see her own thoughts in his face: when the first refugees had arrived, Hamlar had ordered the couple to house them. “Just for one or two weeks.” And Jon, the commander of the militia had assured them: “Lord Hagen’s soldiers are going to bring these bandits to justice. Soon, the farmers will be able to return to their fields.” But both Wulf and Magda knew that the fugitives would still be with them when summer came. But they didn’t know how to feed them.
The landlady stepped to a huge pot behind the counter and started filling the soup that was simmering in it into small wooden bowls. Calling it “soup” was an euphemism as it was barely more than hot water. But she couldn’t afford putting any more vegetables into it. Not now, with the food supply being worse than ever.
As she was working the wanted poster that showed the former landlord’s face caught her eye. Jon had put it on the wall. She didn’t know whether it had been his own idea or that of his superiors. But whoever had put up this poster was either very naive or very desperate – or maybe both. The promised money would probably have solved her problems at once, but nobody would have been crazy enough to start a fight with Ortega and his men. When the orcs had arrived at the coast, Ortega had gone mad. Lord Hagen and his men had been able to fight the orcish attack off , but still many smaller farms had been destroyed and Ortega had lost many tenants. It was said he had personally requested men from the king to protect his fields. But not only did the king turn him down, he even sent some of Ortega’s workers into war. After that, Ortega announced he didn’t feel commited to the king anymore and promised to secure the coastal region himself. Reportedly he even proclaimed the free kingdom Tymoris and declared himself ruler of the coast. But instead of ruling and guarding it, he had taken his servants and fled to the mountains with them. Together with some deserters these bandits had been attacking the farmers and looting the farms which had endured the orcish attack. Lord Hagen hadn’t come again, though. The king didn’t consider the fight against the bandits important, now that Montera had fallen and the orcs were at the gates of the coastal area. Only the completely overstrained militia tried to defend them from Ortega’s men.
Three men entering the inn interrupted Magda’s thoughts. They were strangers. This alone was strange enough, now that neither hunters and travelers nor people from ships on their way to Vengard visited Ardea, like it had been in the past. But these strangers would have stood out even in the high period of the “Black Corsair”.
At first Magda noticed the bald giant with the thick black beard and bushy eyebrows. Barely had she turned her eyes away from his face when she noticed the heavy mace on the mans back.
Her widened eyes wandered to the figure on the left side. A rather small and skinny man, whose rapier matched his appearance as well as the mace of his companion. The white shirt, the dark vest, the battered tricorn and the extensively plaited beard gave him a mixture of venturous elegance and exotic eccentricity.
And finally the middle one. Had they been in Varant, he would have been the most unremarkable one. But they weren’t. They were in Ardea. And here people weren’t used to bent sabers and tanned skin.
The strange party headed directly for the counter. Magda looked at her husband and saw him standing petrified. But he shook it of and asked, his voice a little more high-pitched than usual: “What can I get you?”
“Rum” droned the giant.
“I suppose you don’t serve cactus liquor, my myrtanian friend? Of course not.” the varantean answered his own question in a tone indicating that only a fool could ask himself such a question. “Well, then it will have to bee some myrtanian booze. I assume you will take the same, Magister?” The last sentence had been directed to the third man.
He nodded. “Positive.”
Wulf carried out the order in a hurry that wasn’t like him at all. Magda realized the bowl she had been filling with soup was already flowing over. Quickly she put the scoop back into the pot, put down the bowl and wiped her hands on her apron. The fugitives would be waiting for there food, but she couldn’t go right now. She felt her husband would be needing her. Furthermore, she was too afraid to move or even walk by the three strangers on her way to the exit.
She was aware who was doing them the questionable honour of visiting their inn. Wulf surely knew it, too. Everyone near the coast knew the wanted posters of the three and their many comrades.
They were pirates. Pirates whose names were well known in Ardea and Kap Dun: Moeller, referred to as Hautot, Shaid, named the Sheik, and Goetke, who was called Magister. By now the three had got what they had ordered, and drank nearly synchronously. Hautot emptied his jar in one draft. His varantish comrade took his time. And Goetke put his jar down after one sip. With a disgusted look he said: “Villainous distillate!”
Magda clearly saw her husband jerk at these words. He threw a glance at the pirates rapier. But Shaid moved his hand in a pacifying way. “Don’t be afraid, father of sorrow. We haven’t come for you.”
Goetke nodded. “Our presence might be terrifying, but is just a temporary state.”
The three men silently leaned on the counter. While Moeller was watching Wulf and the magister was staring on the floor, Shaid let his gaze wander across the room. For split second he looked at Magda, but that was enough to send cold shivers down her back.
This varantean was so completely different from every other pirate. He had something melancholic in his eye, something that didn’t quite fit a buccaneer. And it was that what made him so frightening, even compared to his comrades.
“I hypothesize there is a man named Marlo residing near this village?”, Goetke interjected.
“Marlo? I don’t know a Marlo!”, Wulf hurried to reply while he wiped his forehead with the cloth he usually used to clean his jars.
“The contemplated sir operates in the field of commerce and currently resides in Tymoris.”
“I r-really d-don’t know…”
“Ah, never mind, Magister.” Moeller buzzed. “Waste of time.”
“Maybe you know someone who could help us”, the sheik barged in. “Someone who also works as a… tradesman.”
“Ermm… well.. there is Garvin. He manages the warehouse. On the left side just out the door. He…”
“Thank you, son of the kind advice. That’s enough.” Shaid signaled his comrades to follow him and together they left the “Black Corsair”.
It took a moment until Magda could move and finally relax a bit. She stepped to her man and took his sweaty hand. “Now even pirates”, Wulf muttered.
Yes, now even pirates. Until now they had all believed the attack of the orcish galleys had brought at least one good thing and freed the coastal region from that scourge.
When Magda stepped outside some minutes later to bring the refugees their soup, she saw the buccaneers standing in front of the warehouse and talking to the terrified storekeeper.
“The mine out in the forest”, she heard Garvin say. “He has hid there and now winds up his affairs from there.”
“The old Reddock’s hideout?” Shaid stroke his beard lost in thought. “I thought it had been abandoned since the great war with my home country.”
“It was. But I tell you, he is there!”
Magda quickened her steps. She didn’t even want to imagine what would happen to her if the pirates caught her eavesdropping.
She sighed as she went up the stairs to the dormitory and looked at the horizon. The orcs were coming closer, the landlord was looting the barnyards and now even the pirates had returned. “Innos, what will happen to us?”
And to close the deal we show you the three pirates, who you will be meeting in the completed CSP (like ever other character who appears in this story).