This is part II; read Part I first.
The hat had been won in a game of cards not a month earlier, and though it was a clever style its change of ownership hadn’t changed its sizing, and it kept slipping down the smaller head that now donned it.
The head, too, had changed ownership recently. At least, the owner of the real head was no longer in any condition to use the one he had, and so this remarkable copy was for all intents and purposes the only one to speak of. The owner of this head was not used to the slightly-too-large hat, and indeed had no idea about the card game, and so was cursing under her breath at the baffoon who would wear such a hat. It didn’t help that she had been standing here in chill sea air for nearly two hours, fighting with a hat and a body that were each bigger than they had any right to be.
The head glanced inland. From here the steep slope of Tierm made the buildings look as if they were built on top of one another, and you could see the night life of the city play out in real time as people moved down The Ribbon looking for the next drink. Jil recognized the gait of a long-time patron as he ambled into one of his haunts, and wished that she could instead be hosting him in a nice warm bed right about now.
Then she heard the lapping of the waves against a hull and knew that showtime had arrived. She swiveled the borrowed body around and tugged the borrowed hat back to peer into the darkness. Whatever was out there was far enough away that she couldn’t yet see it, but the slow slap of water against wood echoed back as only a ship does. Figuring that she was now being watched, Jil tried to look as uncomfortable as this body would make the person suited for it and no more, which was a task but one she was up to.
A splash and the creak of oars came next. The little rowboat slid into view and toward the dock, and when it drew next to where Jil stood the guant man inside looked up at her expectantly, so she climbed in and sat down. The rower pushed off and began heading offshore, and Jil watched the dock recede. Dominic had expected a contact on the dock, and a change of plans was likely not a good sign. She tugged the borrowed hat back again and peered beyond her guant ferryman into the inky darkness beyond.
Slowly the outline of the ship became clear; she was a large vessel, but had a look of speed about her that belied her smuggling duties. She had a hawser taught to a jet-black pole of darkness plunged into the sea, but her sails weren’t trimmed; this was not to be a lengthy mooring. As the little rowboat crept closer to her home, a spark shone out on deck, and a face was lit by lamplight. Jil didn’t recognize the mustachioed man, but she knew immediately who he was: Captain Harrin had returned to Tierm.