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Li Li wanted to retort, but the Buccaneers were closing in, and all her concentration had to be spent on the battle. She kicked, ducked, and used her staff to overturn and incapacitate her enemies. She threw enchanted dust every which way, and swarms of bees, tiny birds, and biting gnats distracted and harassed the attacking pirates, but the Buccaneers' onslaught never stopped. There were so many of them, and someone else was always waiting to take the place of whoever had just fallen.
Slowly, Li Li realized she was losing ground. She and Chen pressed shoulder to shoulder, fighting together even as they knew they were being overwhelmed. All the crew of the Neptulon's Bride was clumped alongside Catelyn, Li Li, and Chen in the center of the deck. They pointed their weapons outward, sweating, breath heaving, blood dripping from their wounds, and surrounded on all sides. Li Li gritted her teeth. The real fight had only begun.
A steady, rhythmic clomp across the wooden slats of the deck broke the pre-carnage silence. A captain's hat bobbed above the Bloodsail Buccaneers, its bearer a full head taller than anyone else around him. He pushed through to the front of the crowd, and Li Li got a clear look at him. He was an enormous draenei, his cloven hooves as big around as dinner plates. His facial tendrils spilled over the front of his red overcoat like the tentacles of a slimy blue octopus. A patch covered his right eye, and in his left hand he clutched the biggest cutlass Li Li had ever seen.
"Your journals said that the draenei were a peaceful, spiritual people!" Li Li hissed to Chen.
"I must have missed this guy," Chen whispered back.
"Well, well." The draenei's distinctive accent rolled smugly off his tongue. "I knew someone from the Raiders would get tangled in my net if I played it just right. How fortunate for me that the famed Catelyn Runeweaver—oh, come now, don't give me that look; that's your name, isn't it?—how fortunate that it should be you."
"That name sounds familiar," Chen muttered. "Where have I heard it before?"
"You're awfully special to Baron Revilgaz, Catelyn, you being quite the renowned duelist," the draenei captain continued. "Though I do understand you're in a bit of financial trouble at the moment. I might be able to help you with that."
"I'd rather be gutted for debt by the cartel than ever throw my lot in with you," Catelyn snarled. "Who the hell are you, anyway? I know every Bloodsail from here to Ratchet."
The draenei captain swept the hat from his head with an overdramatic flourish.
"I am Captain Koslov, and as you have correctly guessed, I am a new face along the chain of command. Judging by my success here today, a far more effective one than my predecessors as well."
A blinding flash of indigo-tinted light flared in the distance, back toward Booty Bay. Captain Koslov whipped around, facing the light's source, but nothing more occurred. He harrumphed and turned to Catelyn once again.
"You and everyone else on this boat have a choice," Koslov continued. "Surrender or die. Simple, no?"
"You haven't won yet," Catelyn snapped, shifting her weight and brandishing her dagger.
"I see you have chosen to die," Koslov answered, smirking. He raised his arm to give the signal to attack.
All around the ship, sounds like gunshots filled the air, popping and cracking. Everyone scrambled to take cover. The Neptulon's Bride began to shake as the hull rose from the water. Li Li lost her footing and slid gracelessly along the deck as the ship tilted, tripping over an unconscious Buccaneer as she did so. She slammed into the gunwale and caught herself, climbing to her feet as the ship steadied.
A great patch of the surrounding sea, encompassing the Neptulon's Bride and all three of the Bloodsail Buccaneers' ships, had turned to ice.
Li Li blinked. She could still see the coast of Stranglethorn off to the east. It was a jungle, covered in palm trees and thick growth. These were tropical waters.
"What is going on here?" Captain Koslov bellowed.
"That's what I want to know," Li Li muttered to herself.
"What's going on is that you are about to surrender," a male voice boomed.
Everyone looked around, puzzled.
Running nimbly atop the ice, four individuals in violet robes approached the ships. Led by a middle-aged human man with reddish-brown hair and pale skin, they easily climbed over the rail of the Neptulon's Bride to stand on the deck.
"Who are you?" Koslov asked, fuming.
"Father?" If the tone of a voice could alter reality, the disbelief in Catelyn's would have made the new arrivals simply vanish from existence.
The foremost of the magi cracked the barest of smiles.
"Ah ha, you must be Ansirem Runeweaver." Captain Koslov sneered. "What a touching family reunion. I'm afraid you'll just get to die together. Kill them!"
"Oh, I sincerely doubt that," Ansirem said.