The pirate brig Vespertine sits docked at the wharves of Carleon, capital city of Avalon. The ship’s quartermaster, Molly Hatchet, is starting her morning with a criminal parley at a storagehouse not far from the docks. Her contact, a man named Soapy O’Donovan, has put out word of a potentially dangerous cargo transport job and is interviewing interested parties. Soapy works for the criminal underworld known only as The Stoat and Molly is very much aware this simple ‘transport’ job won’t be as easy as it’s promoted. But when O’Donovan tells her that the client, the Vodacce governor Albano Bernouilli, is willing to pay 600 guilders for the delivery of a single wooden barrel, she finds herself intrigued. She asks O’Donovan if the barrel is itself dangerous. His answer is that so long as it is never opened, it will never bring harm to her ship. Begrudgingly, Molly accepts the contract. O’Donovan tells her that his man Martin will meet her with the barrel at the docks. Molly leaves O’Donovan to pick up remaining supplies.
Captain Corrigan wakes up in a lavish, four-post bed, covered in silk sheets. Next to him lays a human lump, soundly nestled under the blankets. He rolls over and discovers, to his shock and delight, the Countess Marbella, gradually waking up with a sated, pleasant smile. Slowly adjusting to his rum-lead situation, Corrigan trades sexual banter with the Countess… and is quickly startled by someone pounding on the bedroom door. The Countess’s husband, Antonio Marbella, is in a rage. Corrigan quickly scrambles to put his pants and boots on as the Count busts the door off its hinges, his razor sharp rapier at the ready. Corrigan rolls back, putting the bed between himself and the Count and then, recovering his hat and his sword, slashes at the Count to buy himself time. As the Count tends to his slashed arm, Corrigan scurries past him, slides down the opulent bannister, jumps over two guards and quickly darts out the front door.