Donnen Brennokovic was running out of leads to chase. He had only two weeks until retirement, just two weeks to find the man who'd murdered a magistrate and a Hightown nobleman—if Captain Hendallen didn't kick him from the ranks first.
The docks stank of piss and rotting fish, as foul as the men and women who worked there. But that was where Donnen had to go to find the raider captain Belladonna who had broken into the Comte de Favre's home.
The Dragon's Jewels was a big boat. She liked big boats. The pointy bits towered majestically over the water. That roundish wooden part seemed like it could crush armadas beneath its... shit, I don't know, wood. It was the greatest boat in the history of boats.
But even from the dock, Donnen knew something was wrong.
He ran up the gangplank to find a dead sailor on the deck and a blood trail leading down into the hold. Donnen drew his sword and followed. His eyes still hadn't adjusted to the dimness of the lower decks when he tripped over another dead sailor, stabbed in the gut and left where he'd fallen. The body was still warm. The ship creaked with every swell of the waves. Donnen held his breath and crept deeper into the hold.
He barely deflected the blade in time.
Steel rang against steel. Donnen parried a second blow, still half-blind in the low light. The third swing got past his guard and left a wicked slash in his forearm.
"Nobody attacks my crew, you flaming pile of dog shit!" the attacker swore, and Donnen recognized her voice.
"Hold! Kirkwall city guard!" he shouted, barely bringing his blade up in time.
"You again!" Donnen's eyes finally began to adjust, and he could make out Captain Belladonna. She was clutching her ribs with her right hand, a dagger in her left, and was covered in enough blood that Donnen was sure is wasn't all hers. She glowered at him. "Could have used a guard not five minutes ago. Useless as ever." She grudgingly lowered her weapon.
Donnen sheathed his sword. "Who did this?"
"Don't know. Didn't care to ask." She sniffed. "Bastard killed two of my men. Before I cut off his hand and he bolted." She waved indifferently towards the rear of the hold. "It's over there somewhere."
"Did he take the Comte's shipment?" Donnen asked.
"No. If that's what this was about, you can have it." She limped over to a trunk and removed a bundle of cloth tied with twine. She threw it at Donnen's feet. "Good riddance."