“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”
The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.
“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”
As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Her author summarizes her thus:
Formerly a small-town barmaid, Molly Worth spent a brief stint as a captain of a stolen ship before joining another captain’s crew. Now the cabin boy aboard the Painted Lady, she can be found bonding with a winged child, tolerating cryptic conversation with an alleged witch, and keeping an ear out for the malevolent songs of a sea monster.
“Welcome, Molly-girl!” Will greets the lass now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – why are you frowning at me like that?”
Softly, but by no means indecisive, Molly says, “I don’t want you calling me that.”
“What, ‘Molly-girl’? But isn’t that what Crow calls you?”
“Crow is my captain,” Molly points out. “And I didn’t want him putting ‘girl’ where my ‘Worth’ belonged, either, the first time. But he got himself into the habit of it anyway, and I got out of the habit of minding it. From him. You and I don’t know each other yet, so just ‘Molly’ will do.”
“As you like it,” Will concedes. “So help me know you. What is it, exactly, that draws you to the sea?”
“It was the songs, first,” Molly muses. “The ones sailors sing. We get a lot of them, sailors, in Lower Lee, where I lived ‘til lately. They float in from all over the place, and they bring their lore with them, set to song. It makes their adventures and their everyday sound so much more than what I knew of land, and they— well, the songs sounded like the sea smells, if that makes sense to you. I could close my eyes and feel it like a rolling deck and taste it like a salty breeze. It put a hunger in me I didn’t know how to fill, ‘til Jessica came.”
“The living ship I stole,” says Molly, matter-of-fact. “It’s not only songs, but voices that called me seaward. I heard Jessica’s voice, and it asked me to take her. I heard the voice of the sea wolf,” – her round, brown face clouds over – “which wasn’t exactly a sea wolf after all… I don’t know, yet, what it’s asking of me. I don’t know what it means that I can hear these things that others can’t. I could hope it’s due to my being destined for greatness or made of magic, but more probably it’s a sign of ballad-worthy tragedy. Not best fun to think on it, really.”
“I know minstrels who’d say otherwise, but I’m all for ignoring tragedy in favor of amusing distractions. So, what’s been the funniest thing you’ve encountered on the Painted Lady?”
“The funniest?” Molly stares a while into the thinking distance before replying. “That’s more a question to ask of someone like Murdoch, the navigator. She’s the sort always ready to laugh. I suppose Semsen (boatswain, master gunner, cook, etc.) can be funny, in his sour way. Or maybe it’s only Crow who’s always making jokes of him. The captain seems to share some of your predilection for amusing distractions. As for what’s likeliest to get a smile out of me, that’s got to be little Johnny.”
“Odd,” Will remarks, “when the Little John I know is likeliest to scare the smile right off my face.”
“Johnny, not John. And the ‘little’ isn’t so much a part of his name as a way of saying we’re talking about the boy, not Captain Johnny Crow.”
“And not just any boy, but the boy with wings,” Will notes. “Does he ever take you flying?”
“Not apart from the night we first met, no. His wings are strong, but he’s only a child. He can’t go hauling his elders about for recreation. Our time’s mostly spent talking, or playing cards and such, or oh, you should hear him sing! His voice isn’t for me alone, but it’s no less extraordinary. Just, maybe you should avoid trying to helm a ship, while he does it. Blood could out.”
“Duly warned. And speaking of warnings, be informed that we’re heading now into this talk show’s signature waters. Tell me, Molly Worth, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Scarlet’s smile sparkles like a sunlit sea. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
Molly considers him solemnly. “I’ve never been one for giving out secrets or kisses, afore now. Then again, I wasn’t one for practically turning pirate until just a short while ago. And yours does look an inviting mouth…” Her gaze travels up from said mouth to his eyes. “What will it mean to you, if I kiss you?”
“Mean? Oh, not much of anything,” says Will, brightly expectant. “Everything in good fun, you understand.”
“All right, then. I suppose we can try it.”
Rising from her chair, Molly crosses the short space between them and touches her lips to Will’s, the act lingering just a little too long for perfect innocence. Scarlet tips a bit forward as she withdraws, as if physically tugged along.
“Good Lord,” says he. “I think I’ve just fallen a little in love with you.”
Molly’s expression crimps frownward. “It will pass. Kiss the arm of your chair, next, and swoon about that. You’re too hopeless by half, Cr— Will Scarlet.”
“Alas for the truth of it,” Will sighs. “Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”
“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, is brought to you by ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now (both in e-book and, at too long last, paperback)!
Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.
Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.
From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.
“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Molly! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”