The Black Dog
“He’s in the kingdom, to be sure. Reports have him moving east,” said the black cat, referring to the Black Dog.
It had been days before rumours of the Black Dog and his crew came back to the King, whose search had largely been unsuccessful. He had found a rather nice inn he had never heard of, and one or two promising new recruits for the palace service staff (never enough pages and the like, given the turnover), but no Queen. It was positively disheartening. It had been a rather long time since they had spent any great deal of time apart; the King found that he did not like it, not at all.
“He’s a pirate,” said the crow. “What’s he doing moving away from the water? And why would he take the Tiger Queen with him?”
“Bit of a coincidence, though, with the Queen disappearing and the Black Dog showing up like that,” said the cat.
The King thought of the Black Dog, and their chance meeting some time ago, before he was the king, and before the Black Dog was a pirate. Briefly, they had worked together, the king intent on rooting out a robber-baron haunting the eastern provinces, the Black Dog intent on rooting out the ill gotten gains of the baron’s hard work. Now the Dog was one of the most dreaded pirates on the Western Sea, a newcomer to be sure, but rapidly building a reputation as a scoundrel and a cut-throat, as well as a fearsome warrior and above-average tactician. His boat, the Canis Major, was a familiar sight in the worst of the Freeports, and the last sight of a great many merchant vessels. Already, tales of him and his crew were appearing in penny-dreadfuls, titillating parents and scaring children into eating their peas.
“I am not fond of peas,” said the king, slowly. His advisors paused and looked at him curiously, before resuming their discussion on the position and motivation of the notorious pirate.
The King did not relish meeting the Black Dog in battle, but would do anything for his Queen. He arose, said that they would head east. The search resumed.