PHINN LORE PART II: ‘SOCIAL CLIMBERS’
The moon, full as a fat white fruit, dangled just out of reach, just like everything Blackfeather craved. “Ah, Phinneas,” he murmured, whistling through his teeth as he gazed up at the moon beyond the castle balcony, “the best songs are written on nights such as these.”
“Can’t dance to a song about kidnapping,” replied Phinn. He scratched deep into his ear with a single long claw. The two ne’er-do-wells huddled in a dead end of the thorned Hardy Orange maze under the balcony. Phinn towered over the tallest thorny bush.
“Danger is our dance partner!” Black clothes camouflaged Blackfeather in the night, but he refused to hide his gleaming golden hair in any circumstance. Beauty, he said always, was its own weapon. “One can’t be a proper adventurer without abducting a princess. It’s what’s done.”
“Isn’t polite to pluck a poor girl from her home.”
“There’s nothing poor about this lady. Far and wide they’ll laud us …”
“… and hunt us.”
“With my steel and charm, and your … brawn … nothing can stop us. The very sight of you inspires fear in this kingdom, there not being many river trolls about.”
“I hear her parents are nice people, far as royalty goes.” Phinn cared little for matters of adventure, having been alive a good long time and seen a good many things. He thought it healthiest to avoid drama.
Blackfeather clasped his hand onto his friend’s giant, meaty shoulder. “My noble friend. Don’t you like money?”
“Better to have money than not.”
“There, then, is your reason. For in the hostelry where last night we lodged, I heard there is a considerable bounty out for the princess whose chamber turret I took the responsibility of scouting this afternoon during your second nap.” Blackfeather pointed up.
“Is there to be no thanks for my labor? No apology for your incessant slumber?”
Phinn slid two claws through the thorns to pluck out a bitter orange. “I get tired after lunch.”
“In this case, ten thousand gold bits is considerable. Half and half we’ll split it, a good three thousand each, and we’ll live a grand life.”
Phinn bit into the fruit, rind and all. “Until we can’t afford it anymore.”
“And then we shall set out on our next adventure.”
“What’ll we do with her?”
“The princess. The one from the kidnapping.”
“Well. We’ll turn her over to whomever set the bounty for her.”
“And how will we …”
“Trivialties! We’ll be rid of her by your second nap on the morrow, and ten thousand gold bits richer. We’ll live as good as that king yonder for as long as we can and tell a great story after.”
“Right, then,” agreed Phinn. Though he could add better than Blackfeather supposed, a loyal friend was on occasion a better thing than a fair one, and he hadn’t the care to argue further. “How will we get up there?”
“We shall scale the wall, naturally.” Blackfeather rested his fists on his waist and stared up at the balcony, as if the way to manage this would appear by magic. “What I wouldn’t give for a grappling hook.”
“Would this do?” And with that, Phinn pulled from his back an anchor.
“How did you get that?”
“At the ship we took here. It fit me so nice, I decided to keep it.”
“Well done, Phinneas! The princess awaits us. Tie a rope to that anchor and hook it to the balcony. Then we shall climb…”
“You have rope?”
“Of course I have rope. I’m an adventurer.”
“Well, then I suppose I’ll discard this chain.”
Blackfeather added an exaggerated head tilt to his eye roll so that it would be apparent in the darkness, and within minutes, the chained anchor sailed from Phinn’s hand to the balcony, locking into place with a great, satisfying, safety-inspiring ch-ch-CHOCK.
Phinn and Blackfeather began their ascent.