Chapter 8 – The Art of Misdirection

I wasn't sure which was louder: my gurgling stomach or the yachtmarine surfacing. Wherever we were, it sounded like we had arrived. Ras looked at me with an icy stare, "So...so, this is it."

"Showtime", I said eyeing the door. Sure enough the wet slap of gilblin feet preceded Glint's dripping face, "C'mon out, the water's fine."

Although Frizz was out of sight, I could feel him watching me. A rowboat sat at the ready and we got in. Off the port side another sloop was heading into the battle with four or five goblins. 
Frizz stepped slowly into the boat, his rifle slung and a pistol held close by his side. "Well? Start rowing...I hear it's good for your casting arms", he chuckled pleased with himself and nodded to Glint. Glint plopped into the water and vanished below the waves. 

As we rowed, I looked over my shoulder to see pillars of smoke in the distance. The Steamwheedle cartel's buildings by the docks were burning against the symphony of the clanging swords and gunfire. Andre Firebeard and his men had fired several barrages just before his pirates had stormed the docks. The goblins of the Steamwheedle cartel already had put several bounties on Andre and his men and this attack was the ultimate provocation for the cartel - a direct attack. The small town of Gadgetzan would send help since it was the only other civilized place in the deserts of Tanaris. As I was taking everything in my thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a splash, pluming next to the sloop I saw earlier. A cannon's boom followed with a burst of orange flame and smoke that swallowed the boat, apparently hit by the Steamwheedle gunners. A shrill goblin cheer rose from the noise of battle.

Our rowboat had better luck slipping quietly past hidden in the clouds of smoke drifting across the water and we landed further upshore. Frizz looked at us and nodded, " Let's go, keep yer heads down and yer ears open" as he unslung his rifle.

We hugged the mountains and the ducked at the sound of occasional cannon fire. Glint mumbled to Frizz, "The Captain's giving quite the show!". Frizz snapped, "Shut yer mouth! I swear, how do you keep from drowning."
Glint stopped for a moment and pointed at his throat and stared at Frizz blankly, "Gills."
Up ahead sat Gadgetzan, locked tight as a drum. A group of goblin bruisers had just left the city headed to support the fight at Steamwheedle harbor. The large gate clanked shut behind them. Frizz pointed his rifle at the gate and looked at Raspootin, "Ya see that gearbox and jaws at the top of the wall? That'd be your job with the blue pet o' yours. Sit tight until I tell ya", Frizz patted his rifle, "understand?". Ras nodded nervously in agreement. Glint leaned over and added as he pointed towards me, "The rest of you will stay out of sight until the gate is open. The other 'locky will take care of the bank doors. The rest of you grab what we tell you. Cap'n was specific with his 'shinies' he wanted."

Back at the coast it was a hurricane of smoke, fire, blood, and fear; fair weather for Captain Skarlett. A pair of goblin cannons turned on the sloop that headed from the yachtmarine. The first misfired with a puff and the cannonball rolled off the deck into the sea. The other cannon belched with a loud crack-boom and engulfed the sloop in fire. A shrill goblin cheer rose from the Steamwheedle constabulary garrison. "There goes my warlocks Andre", Skarlett groaned, "you'd best pull your men back. There's no way I can get us into the city now." Andre seemed less than pleased, "You OWE me Skarlett. This cost me a lot of men, not to mention Bilgewhizzle will want my head for this little dance. Back to the boats you dogs!" Firebeard's men disappeared amongst the smoke like ghosts in a fog. Andre, whose flaming red hair and light skin contrasted against the charcoal palette of burnt buildings and smoldering decks, turned to Skarlett and jabbed him with his cutlass. "Don't think I'm taking a loss for this - either you show with some treasure or you'll find your fleet at the bottom of the seas. I'll be waiting.", he growled as he turned and headed to the boats.

Skarlett actually seemed a bit shaken, "Aye... Andre, you'll have your share", then a wicked smile curled up the side of his lips as Andre left, "just don't go loosin' yer head over this..."

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